Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: Preston Garrison <pngarrison@att.net>
Date: Tue Mar 24 2009 - 01:29:07 EDT

George,

I don't really disagree with anything you say. But I remain unclear
on one thing. Do you think that anyone put the sources together with
a unified intention, or did someone simply assemble them in a more or
less mindless way because they were all highly regarded, and they
just thought they should all be available together? Or do you have
some other view?

Obviously, any such view is a matter of literary and theological
judgement based on the text itself aided by the kind of information
about the culture and history and such that Dick puts together. So
what do you think - relatively mindless assembly, perhaps by a
committee, or a unified viewpoint?

Preston

>In order to respond adequately I need to say some preliminary things
>about theology.
>
>Theology is, in essence, thinking about what we belief - "faith in
>search of understanding" in the classic phrase. There is "one
>faith" (Eph.4:5) but believers in different contexts with different
>concerns will think & speak about the faith in different ways.
>Theological consensus then does not mean that we must all think &
>speak in the same way but that our different theologies must in some
>sense be equivalent.
>
>I find it helpful to make an analogy with physics here. Different
>observers in different reference frames will see things differently
>and measure some quantities (e.g., lengths and times) differently.
>What Einstein did with relativity theory was to provide a
>transformation that relates observations in one frame to those in
>another frame moving with respect to the first, and require that
>the true laws of physics be invariant (or technically, covariant)
>under this transformation - i.e., be of such a form that they are
>valid in every frame. In a similar way, a valid theological
>expression of the Christian faith must be properly related to other
>valid expressions of the faith. (Lest anyone be concerned about
>"relativism," remember that in relativity everything is NOT
>relative. There are absolutes - e.g., the speed of light.)
>
>The different biblical writers thought about and expressed the faith
>of Israel & the church in different ways - i.e., they had different
>theologies. In the NT, e.g., the way that Paul speaks about law,
>faith, righteousness and other matters is different from the way
>Matthew speaks about them. The different gospel writers have
>differing theological emphases. Luke, e.g., likes to emphasise the
>theme of prayer. In the Johannine books Jesus is the Word of God
>while other NT writers use the picture of him as Holy Wisdom. This
>does not mean that the different writers simply "contradict"one
>another! But it takes some serious reflection to see gow the
>theology of one writer is the "transform" of another writer's
>expression.
>
>To illustrate this for classes I've often given a handout that has
>two texts about the death of Lincoln - one from a good historian's
>(Benjamin Thomas) bio of Lincoln and the other Walt Whitman's poem
>"O Captain! My Captain!" They of course speak of Lincoln's death
>in very different ways - one focusing literally "Just the facts" and
>the other very figuratively on the meaning of Lincoln's death. It
>would be utterly wrong to try to "harmonize" them historically.
>Even their views of the significance of the event differ because one
>was written just after it happened & the other ~ 90 years later.
>But it would be even more wrong to say that they "contradict" one
>another.
>
>Turning now to the Pentateuch, and Genesis in particular,
>theological differences among the different "sources" that critical
>scholars have discerned can be seen. What is called the P source
>shows a much greater concern than the others for ritual matters,
>e.g. (That's where the P comes from - it's the Priestly source.)
>You see that already in the first creation account with the 7 day
>framework, pointing to the Sabbath. & in fact there are other
>differences between the 1st & 2d account. In one we have a
>sovereign God who brings things into being effortlessly by his
>command alone while in the other God literally gets down in the dirt
>to create the human. That's a difference of theological expression.
>
>& scripture is richer for that difference. It gives a broader
>picture of Israel's God than either account separately. God is, to
>use later philosophical language, both transcendent and immanent.
>We would be poorer for it if we had only one account, which is just
>one reason why many of the attempts to "harmonize" the two is so
>unfortunate. The situation is similar with the four gospels.
>
>How can we say that these different views aren't contradictory? One
>basic reason is that they are all included in the canon of
>scripture. In fact it's the canon that in a sense that gives us the
>limits of permissible theological diversity. Not all theologies are
>valid.
>
>Shalom
>George
><http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm>http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Preston Garrison" <<mailto:pngarrison@att.net>pngarrison@att.net>
>To: "George Murphy" <<mailto:GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
>Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 6:49 PM
>Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis
>
> > >
>>>This is not to say that no harmonizations of such texts are
>>>appropriate. But it should be theological harmonization rather than
>>>historical.
>>>
>>>Shalom
>>>George
>>>http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
>>>
>>
>>
>> The reason I think we should look for coherence in the story and very
>> likely a single author who used source materials is because the
>> theological perspective seems to be consistent. It looks like someone
>> put it together to tell a set of related stories from a very
>> consistent theological perspective, just as Dante and Milton did.
>>
>> Preston
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Received on Tue Mar 24 01:29:37 2009

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