My last opinion piece for Bible and Interpretation is out. Even before I woke up to read the email that it had been published Jim West had already posted a response (whose title I am too modest to trumpet, and which is accompanied by a flattering portrait ;) and Tom Verenna a longer piece: Tim Bulkeley on Reading the Scriptures. I do hope these signs of interest prove out, I’d love to see more reflection and argument about the issues I raise, because I think the gulf between seminary and church is dangerous to both, and most contemporary attempts to address the issue seem to miss the point…
Julia O’Brien’s piece in 2009 addressed some similar issues.
PS: Clayboy has written a fine post in response Training the schizophrenic scripture student that raises interesting and important questions for thinking the issues through further:
Firstly, I’m not quite content to leave methodological materialism to the atheists
With which I most thoroughly and heartily agree! My only discomfort with such an approach is when it becomes totalitarian, and excludes other approaches.His second point is fascinating and requires more thought :)
Second, I note that the emphasis on reading the texts of Scripture only with a literal hermeneutic owes a significant amount to the Reformation. In various ways sola scriptura reified the text as an object of investigation. It was the religious who separated the text in significant ways from the reading, listening and interpreting community. The Reformation initiated the divorce proceedings, modernity made them very messy.
Anabaptist styles of reading, and submitting to, Scripture might manage to avoid such a reification, treating the text more as a conversation partner, or perhaps better “authority” in the sense that we mean when we speak of a person having authority as “an authority”.