Re: Origins: reply to George Murphy

Murphy (
Sun, 08 Sep 1996 20:26:05 -0400

Juli Kuhl wrote:
> Doesn't the identity of the author have a bearing on some of these
> questions?
> Or the intent of the writer? To me it makes a big difference if someone
> is trying to create a following (a group loyal to him/her) or is trying to
> convey truth - whether that "person" is God or humankind.
> C S Lewis was intending to convey spiritual truth, similar to Jesus'
> intent with His parables. Genre seems significant mostly for
> purposes of accurate interpretation, too, I think. How one categorizes
> a biblical text matters; we need to decide if a text is poetry,
> historical narrative, fact, figure of speech, quotes of human origin
> (such as excerpts from the "helpful advice" of Job's three friends or
> accusations of Satan himself), specific proclamations to a specific
> audience (Gabriel's pronouncement to Mary, Jeremiah's promises to the
> remnant), etc. etc. etc.
> No end to the dialogue, is there? (sigh) I just hope all this
> cyberchatting strengthens our faith and makes us more godly
> (ie, more willing to set aside "self" while continuing to develop
> the gifts we were loaned of intellect, time, money, desire to study,
> willingness to serve others, etc.)
> Juli Kuhl
> I agree - questions of author's intent etc. are significant,
though it can be a precarious matter to try to reconstruct such intent,
especially for long-dead authors in cultures quite different from ours.
I think that frank discussions of the nature of biblical
material can be of positive value for the faith of Christians. There
may be some who are "offended" at having to consider the possibility
that, e.g., the Book of Jonah is fiction, but there are many others who
will be relieved to hear honest discussion of the matter. That assumes,
of course, that the discussion is carried on in a respectful way and not
in a spirit of sophomoric debunking.