Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Taking the Bible seriously means reading it figurally

From Christian Century-

Because I had recently become a Christian, I enrolled in a New Testament studies course during my first year as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. Our guiding textbook was Bart Ehrman’s The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. I recall one stuffy fall afternoon when the teaching assistant for our precept group (who happened to be a clergyman) explained that we would investigate the Christian scriptures as though they were no different from any other historical document or work of literature. “We’ll be reading and studying the New Testament the same way they’ll approach Beowulf down the hall from us.”

His comment about Beowulf sticks in both my memory and my craw because it ignited a small rebellion among my evangelical classmates, who resisted the idea of reckoning with scripture the way one would any other historical document. I also recall the titters of patronizing laughter set off by one classmate’s protest: “But it’s not like the Iliad; it’s God’s Word.”

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