Re: Genealogies (was Re: personal revelations)

From: George Murphy (
Date: Wed Mar 12 2003 - 07:02:48 EST

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    John Burgeson wrote:
    > George wrote: " I don't approach the issue in terms of "inerrancy" at all."
    > I am a little puzzled. If "inerrancy" isn't the issue, what is?
    > "That term has been so compromised by being associated with the idea that
    > narratives can be considered true only if they are accurate scientific &/or
    > historical accounts that it just isn't useful
    > anymore outside of debates with fundamentalists."
    > Partially, I agree. That is why I like Davis's book. He uses "infallibility"
    > and defends that term. Even so, I note, he sees "bad morality" in some parts
    > of scripture and does not believe that God really did order the slaughter of
    > women & children of the Caananites (in Joshua) but holds that the writer of
    > that book appropriated the favor of God when it was not given.
    > Have you ever read Davis's book? Or my notes on it?
    > "'s clear that there are some errors like those in Mt.27:9."
    > I am aware of several ad hocs for Matthew 27:9 -- IMHO I could see it as w/o
    > error much more easily that Mt 1.
    > As I said before, I wrestle with this stuff. I'd dearly love for the Bible
    > to be inerrant. But I cannot assume that a priori. Lacking that, I think I
    > can accept the term "infallible," at least as Davis uses it.
    > I appreciate the discussion.

    Burgy -
            Perhaps we've mined out this topic but since you say you're "a little puzzled"
    by my statement, let me explain briefly.
            Inerrancy isn't the issue - there are, inter alia, errors of fact in the
    biblical text. But I think Christians should give it the benefit of the doubt & before
    concluding that some passage is in error, try to understand what theological point the
    writer may have been making. In the case of the genealogy, it's hard to see why the
    writer would have made an elementary arithmetic error & it seems plausible that
    Gundry's suggestion (& which may not be original with him) provides a theological
    rationale. For Mt.27:9 OTOH it's fairly easy to see how a simple error of citation
    could have occurred & I know of no theological point to be made by citing Jer. instead
    of Zech. But in neither case would I make the statement with 100% confidence.
            Questions about the truth of texts like the killing of civilian populations in
    Joshua are of course more important but also more difficult. Here one has to consider
            a. Did these things really happen historically?
            b. Did the Israelites in Joshua's time bleieve that God commanded
            c. _Did_ God command extermination?
            d. What, if any, was the theological rationale for including passages approving
    extermination by writers & editors centuries later?

    George L. Murphy

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