Re: Something must change

George Murphy (
Sat, 22 Aug 1998 07:43:27 -0400

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> At 08:10 AM 8/21/98 -0400, George Murphy wrote:

> > The
> > point isn't that the Good Samaritan _couldn't_ have happened
> > but that its historicisty has nothing to do with its truth
> > in the way Jesus uses it.
> But, that is irrelevant as I see it. When I jumped into this thread, I
> used the example of Clinton having difficulty coming up with a scenario
> that fit the facts of the witnesses which at the same time kept him out of
> trouble. As long as I give enough background for you to understand my
> point it really doesn't matter whether or not there is a Clinton in the way
> I used the example. So, for the purpose of my point, Clinton's existence or
> lack there of is of no relevance.

You are making precisely the point that I did.

> > Again, I'm not just speaking of your flood scenario but of
> > the general idea that all biblical accounts must be accurate
> > history to be true. ...................................

> But Genesis 11
> and Genesis 5 consists largely of genealogies. What possible
> 'metaphorical' message could be conveyed by such a list of names. The
> relationships listed are either historically true or they are historically
> false. And I can see little of theological significance in a list of names.
> > ........................................ I think the latter comment in more indicative of your unwillingness
to see theological significance in anything that doesn't consist of
dogmatic propositions. The genealogy of Mt.1, e.g., is clearly there
to show the connection of the Messiah with Abraham. The genealogies
of Gen.5 & 11 serve the function of stating that there is some
continuity between the origination of the world & the beginning of
the story of Abraham, with which (from a modern standpoint) we begin
to get into more clearly historical material. The genealogy of Lk.3
takes up both concerns together.

> > ...................................
> >> Theological themes are in the eye of the beholder. I have collected
> >> something like 23 different and mutually exclusive theological themes which
> >> have been suggested for the Garden of Eden story. Some say it is a story
> >> of the change from hunting to farming. Others an overthrow of a king by the
> >> proletariat. No one can really prove WHICH theological meaning the story
> >> actually was intended to convey. But I can tell whether or not it is
> >> historical.
> >
> > In fact none of these interpretations you mention are
> > theological at all.
> Well, those that advocate them would take exception with your
> characterization. They think the theological 'message' being delivered is
> the nonsense they advocate!

The word "theology" means at its most basic level talking or
thinking about God. Most of your examples aren't. That doesn't
mean that the texts have nothing to do with those themes at some
level of their development, but a Christian theologian can't be
content with having found the "meaning" of a passage in Genesis
in some message about some "conflict between the economic elite
and the peasants."

> So the question is: Without objective evidence, how does one tell the true
> "truths" from the false "truths"?
The fundamental message of Scripture is Christ. "All Scripture
everywhere speaks only of Christ." (Cf.Lk.24:44.) The fact
that a great deal of conservative Christian discussion of Scripture
can say so much about its truth without ever making any connection
with Christ betrays a fundamental misunderstanding.

> >> Yes, but if they CAN be read as accurate history why would you prefer the
> >> other, more nebulous version?
> >
> > _Proving_ negative results is difficult. What
> > sort of proof could there be that all the inhabitants of
> > Nineveh _weren't_ converted through Jonah's five word
> > message? Historians can point out that there is no
> > trace of evidence of such repentance & conversion of the
> > capital of Assyria at that point in its history, but your
> > response would seem to be that we can just keep looking
> > until we find a cuneiform tablet at Nineveh that says
> > "Jonah was not here."
> > Part of the problem is that you refuse to look
> > at internal evidence - the nature of the text itself.
> I would suggest that part of the problem is that you are raising a straw
> man. I have not discussed Jonah as it is not within my area of expertise.
> Although I would point out that Jonah 3:5 says, "So the people of Nineveh
> believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the
> greatest of them even to the least of them." It does not say 'all the
> people of Ninevah' either in the English or the Hebrew. Where you get the
> idea that I or the Scripture says "all people" I don't know.

What do you think "from the greatest of them to the least" means?
(& this is in fulfillment of the king's command which is directed
to the whole population.) Read the story, don't just look for the
word _kol_.& don't forget the animals being covered in sackcloth!
A _wonderful_ hyperbolic touch - but of course you must consider it
historically accurate to be "true".

> > & calling what I'm speaking of "the more nebulous
> > version" is false. The Good Samaritan is not "more nebulous"
> > if it's fictional, & neither is Jonah.
> And Jonah doesn't say what you implied it said anyway. And I certainly
> don't believe that Jonah says what you say it does.

Sorry, it does. You seem to be whittling down the text to a point
at which it can plausibly be considered historical.
& I think it's kind of sad that you have to hold

George L. Murphy