Jul 7 2011

Shoddily Redacted Literary Scraps?

or The Bible is Smarter than We Are

Robert Alter, on reading the Hebrew Bible, again:

To understand a narrative art so bare of embellishment and explicit commentary, one must be constantly aware of two features: the repeated use of narrative analogy, through which one part of the text provides oblique commentary on another; and the richly expressive function of syntax, which often bears the kind of weight of meaning that, say, imagery does in a novel by Virginia Woolf or analysis in a novel by George Eliot.

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Mar 18 2011



A. T. Ross’ review of Peter Leithart’s recent book, The Four: A Survey of the Gospels. From www.goodreads.com

A wonderful follow-up book to Leithart’s A House For My Name, this one focusing on the gospels. I hope he plans to do a third to complete the set, focusing on a survey of the entire the New Testament as the completion of God’s house.

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Oct 28 2009

Uneducated Fishermen? Nuh-uh


Ignorant (willfully?) of ancient literary conventions, higher critics explained the carelessness of arrangement they thought was apparent in Old Testament books with fallacies like the JEDP theory. It turns out they were very wrong. James Jordan writes:

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Sep 5 2009

Ugly Mother of Modern Unbelief


Higher criticism, like the ape-people story, is a fabrication patched together by rebels.

The “potent cause of modern unbelief” (Herbert) is not belief in Biblical infallibility, but a century of disbelieving it.

Dissatisfaction with the traditional view of revelation was not created by the rise of Biblical criticism. Criticism was born out of its denial. Continue reading

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Jun 27 2009

Texts of Terror

or Silencing the Higher Critics


Yet more on literary analysis of the Bible as a ‘terrible marvel‘; a review of two books. As Warren Gage has commented, we are on the verge of a tremendously creative time in Biblical theology. But this to me seems also to be an element of scholarship returning home, older and wiser, from a wilderness of unbelief.

Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard
by Paul Borgman. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2001. 252 pages.

The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A Commentary on Genesis-Malachi
by David A. Dorsey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999. 330 pages.

Reviewed by Timothy Paul Erdel, Ph.D., Archivist and Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN.

“I have been fascinated by the primal power of Old Testament stories for as long as I can remember. From my perspective, there is no clearer window on human character, no greater storehouse of hard and holy truths. Yet some tales are deeply disturbing. Phyllis Trible calls them ‘texts of terror.’ Even the most familiar passages may seem strangely distant. So I relish each time a preacher or teacher sheds new light on these ancient Hebrew narratives.

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Apr 11 2009

A Cure for Modern Theology

Or, Reading the Bible without imposing your own worldview.

It seems we either read the Bible carefully but with the blinkers of remnant higher criticism (modernism), or we ‘get’ the narrative and typology but disregard the basic boundaries of responsible interpretation (postmodernism). Rich Lusk writes:

Biblical Theology requires us to learn to read the biblical narrative from within. We are insiders to the story of Scripture. It’s our story. We have to learn to read the Bible canonically. We have to allow the Word to absorb the world rather than allowing the world to absorb the Word. We have to take Scripture’s outlook as normative rather than imposing another worldview on our reading of Scripture. We must learn to read the Bible organically, in terms of itself. We should read the Bible the same way Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmond would read The Chronicles of Narnia: as a story not only for us, but about us.

Reading the Bible organically means reading it intertextually and typologically. Intertextual reading listens for echoes of and allusions to other passages within the canon, using Scripture to interpret Scripture. Typological reading looks for repeating patterns within the unfolding storyline of Scripture. Biblical typology is focused on totus Christus — the whole Christ, head and body, Jesus and the church. Typology means reading the Bible on its own terms, as a revelation of the suffering and glory of Christ (Lk. 24). As we move from type(s) to antitype, there is both correspondence and escalation.

Read his full article here.

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