From: Robert Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Dec 20 2002 - 15:03:55 EST
I see that I mispoke myself in the first paragraph of my reply: I meant to
say, and firmly believe, that there is NO INCOMPATIBILITY between a belief
in the divine inspiration of Scripture and the
historical-critical method, as the rest of the paragraph makes clear. Sorry
for the confusion.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Schneider" <email@example.com>
To: "Peter Ruest" <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2002 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: Does the Bible teach a flat earth?
> I shall comment on only a few of Peter Ruest's responses ("snipped" below)
> to my last exchange with him:
> Peter writes:
> > It seems that our disagreement results from starting with
> > mutually incompatible axioms - an inspiration belief vs. a
> > source-critical belief. Therefore I find it necessary to discuss this
> > question first, before answering your objections. Please understand me
> > correctly. I don't suggest that you don't believe in a divine
> > inspiration of Scripture, but rather that you too easily adopt (at
> > some of) the source fragmentation hypotheses of the historical-critical
> > method.
> As Michael Roberts pointed out in his note, there is no compatibility
> between a belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture and the
> historical-critical method. I think placing them against one another sets
> up an erroneous conflict. There is a difference between inspiration and
> interpretation; let's not confuse or conflate the two. Readers and
> of the Bible bring different hermeutical/interpretive methods to bear on
> their understanding of what they consider to be divinely inspired. One
> take a purely grammatical-historical approach to the texts of the OT, as
> Paul Seely and I have done on this topic, without applying any
> presuppositions, and reach the conclusions we have. Furthermore, on this
> topic, the issue of "source fragmentation hypotheses" (e.g., the
> "Documentary Hypothesis") is irrelevant.
> > I am not imposing modern knowledge on an old concept. In fact, I wrote
> > in my last post, "Does the Bible teach a flat earth, as your
> > argumentation suggests, or does it teach a spherical earth? I think it
> > does neither. But what _is_ formulated in the Bible is _at least_ as
> > easily harmonized (compatible) with the latter view as with the
> > All I wanted to show is that the flat-earth-mythology interpretation is
> > not at all required.
> I would not call what Paul and I advance as a "flat-earth-mythology
> interpretation." What I think we are both saying, using primarily
> grammatical analysis, is that the statements about the earth as part of
> creation in the OT refer to a "flat" land mass. I simply disagree that
> "what _is_ formulated in the Bible is _at least_ as easily harmonized
> (compatible) with the latter view as with the former." I don't think it
> compatible at all.
> > If you read the argumentation given in our PSCF article indicated above
> > for trying to harmonize biblical texts with scientific facts, you'll
> > that we don't claim infallibility for our interpretation, but that we
> > want to show the _possibility_ of a harmonization without forcing the
> > original texts. What we categorically reject is the near-infallibility
> > claim of the historical-critical method working absolutely outside any
> > consideration of divine inspiration.
> I reject the notion that persons who assert the traditional cosmological
> model are "forcing" the original texts or that they are "working
> outside any consideration of divine inspiration," as I noted above.
> >With the influence of divine
> > inspiration, we are not claiming that God teaches us science through
> > authors who couldn't know anything about it, but that He may have had
> > His reasons for guiding these authors to select some way of expressing
> > themselves which would not contradict reality, even if this reality
> > unknown to them, and even if the expressions selected are also
> > meaningful in different cosmologies.
> I think your last sentence leaves us nowhere. It makes it impossible to
> test a text in any meaningful way, even using the commonly respected and
> accepted method of grammatical-historical interpretation.
> > What we do have as solid facts (or very nearly so) is the Hebrew or
> > Greek texts of the biblical originals. All else, whatever we find in
> > translations or theological opinions, is interpretation which has to be
> > judged on the basis of the facts. And the fact that a biblical text
> > sometimes can have more than one "meaning" or legitimate application...
> I agree, as I said in my article, that a text may have more than one
> meaning, but that with Augustine I think that what the author originally
> intended is "more worth knowing."
> > As far as the sphericity of the earth is concerned, it is not a
> > of showing that biblical authors knew it (they may or may not have
> > it), but that what they wrote is, by God's subtle leading, compatible
> > with it. Therefore any traces of a flat-earth view in translations
> > (gyros, rather than sphaira) or theological writings are completely
> > irrelevant to the question of the interpretation of the inspired
> > originals.
> I am left speechless by this assertion.
> >While we certainly may judiciously
> > take into consideration the choices made by translaters (such as those
> > of the Septuagint or the KJV), they are not decisive, and philosophical
> > opinions such as Jerome's or of other Bible scholars are even of much
> > less relevance.
> Jerome's was not a "philosophical position." He was rejecting a
> philosophical position on the basis of his own grammatical-historical
> interpretation of the text. Like Paul and myself he rejected the notion
> that Isa. 40:22a refers to a spherical earth on the basis of the Hebrew,
> some pre-conceived philosophical position.
> I stand by my interpretation and conclusion: the passages I analyized in
> article do not refer to a spherical earth and do not leave themselves open
> to that meaning without doing violence to the semantic domains of the
> words in context.. This is the last thing I wish to say on the matter.
> Thanks for the exchange.
> Grace and peace, and a blessed Christmas,
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