Why do I want to write a second blog at all, and why one on this subject? Perhaps the first reason is that, since I am no longer writing sermons and teaching, I miss pushing my thinking on biblical passages and ideas. A second reason is that friends ask me questions about interpretations and applications of parts of the Bible. The third reason grows out of my work on the interrelations of faith and shame, as shame is understood by Affect Script Psychology. Toward the end of my study paper on biblical images of shame, I suggest that people read two different Christian bibles, even though both contain the same books with the same words. I call one the vindictive bible, the other the salvific bible. Advocates of each are able to marshal plenty of quotations from the Bible itself to support their choice of vindictive or salvific, but I do not believe the support for one is truly equal to the support for the other.
So, this blog will be blatantly biblical. The subject is biblical interpretation applied to specific readings from the Bible. As the posts progress, perhaps it will become clear why I do not see the vindictive bible as nearly so valid as the salvific bible, but more has been needed for me to reach that conclusion than just picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to read and which to ignore.
I’m not sure yet where I’ll start, but I will not be working straight through the Bible or even straight through a particular book of the Bible. Neither do I intend to follow any formalized scheme including the ecumenical lectionary. Rather, I’ll accept urging from within and without to probe one passage or type of passage from the Bible over another at the moment. Sometimes it may seem I’ve merely spun the mental wheel and accepted its stopping point for my departure.
I am not and have never been a biblical literalist or fundamentalist, but all my life I have taken the Bible very seriously, believing it to be the witness to the truth of God, and I have spent my life studying it. My study of the Bible is what scholars call critical, and I have found over decades of work that critical study of the Bible does not damage its ability to lead us to the salvific truth of God but, rather, enhances it. I do not find all methods of biblical criticism equally helpful, but neither do I fear any scholarly method or say to myself or others, “You can’t ask that question!” There are, of course, un-scholarly and even ridiculous approaches to interpreting the Bible, some quite popular, but these misunderstandings I will generally ignore unless one is thrust upon me. This blog will not be a series of essays on biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) but, I suspect, a seemingly random progression of explorations of biblical texts.
Enough introduction. When I post again on this second blog, it will be to probe some part of the Bible.