Oct 2 2014

The Function of Texts in an Oral Culture


Some excerpts from Ben Witherington’s long summary of William A. Johnson’s short book, Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire:

Let me be clear that this book focuses on people like Pliny or Aulus Gellius or Galen, or Fronto or Lucian, but there is much to be learned from this book that can be applied, mutatis mutandis to literate Christians, their scribes, and early Christian communities of reading and writing…

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Mar 1 2010

Ye Are Gods

The Bible vindicated yet again, by a site that dwarfs Pompeii


Ben Witherington comments on the unearthing of a huge temple complex and its relevance to Genesis:

This temple lies west of the Biblical plain called Haran and is only 20 miles from the Syrian border. This places it right in the fertile crescent which begins below modern day Iraq, includings the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and winds its way north through Syria and into eastern Turkey.  This is the world not only of Genesis, but of the great Anatolian civilization of the Hittites (yes those Hittites as in Uriah the Hittite—husband of Bathsheba)… Klaus Schmidt and his team of Kurdish diggers have uncovered an enormous temple complex that pre-dates the Great Pyramids by some 7,000 years and Stonehenge by at least 6,000 years!… After 12 years of hard work, Schmidt has found at least four temple complexes. The radar scans of the area indicate there is a huge amount more to uncover here. And Schmidt has a thesis about this temple complex—here is a short excerpt from the Newsweek article on this:

“Schmidt’s thesis is simple and bold: it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in the very first urban conglomerations. The need to build and maintain this temple, he says, drove the builders to seek stable food sources, like grains and animals that could be domesticated, and then to settle down to guard their new way of life. The temple begat the city.”

The importance of this find for Biblical thinking is this—the Bible says that from the outset, human beings were created in God’s image. Human beings were religious creatures from Day One. Archaeologists and sociologists have long dismissed this theory saying organized religion comes much later in the game than the beginning of civilization and city building. As Ian Holder director of Stanford’s prestigous archaeology program says— this is a game changer. Indeed, it changes everything experts in the Neolithic era have been thinking. Schmidt is saying that religion is the cause of civilization, not the result of it. Towns were built to be near the Temple complex. Agriculture was undertaken to feed those living there and supply the temple complex, and so on. The first instincts of humans were to put religion first. Maybe there is more to that Genesis story than some have been willing to think or admit. Maybe human beings are inherently homo religiosis.

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