Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it
-Flannery O'Connor
Vicisti, Galilaee ("You have won, Galilean")
-Julian the Apostate
"The Church is not a thing like the Athenaeum Club," he cried. If the Athenaeum Club lost all its members, the Athenaeum Club would dissolve and cease to exist. But when we belong to the Church we belong to something which is outside the Cardinals and the Pope. They belong to it, but it does not belong to them. If we all fell dead suddenly, the Church would still somehow exist in God. Confound it all, don't you see that I am more sure of its existence than I am of my own existence? And yet you ask me to trust my temperament; my own temperament which can be turned upside down by two bottles of claret or an attack of the jaundice. You ask me to trust that when it softens towards you and not to trust the thing which I believe to be outside myself and more real than the blood of my body."
-GK Chesterton in the Ball and the Cross
The traditional exegesis of the New Testament emphasized tapping the text for divine meaning. This was good as far as it went for the fathers and doctors were very effective in most cases in deriving or demonstrating doctrine right from the inspired words of Scripture. The only disadvantage of this was that they sometimes treated the narrative itself as an egg to be cracked through to obtain the nutritious yolk of God’s word. The importance of the egg itself was often missed. Often they did not read Luke as Luke or Paul as Paul but were interested mainly in the bottom line of truth apart from identification of truth with the author and his historical situation. Both the Church fathers and the scholastics tended to take isolated affirmations of Scripture and quickly press them into theological service sometimes quite apart from the literary context or the intentions of the original authors. Moreover historical questions about the sources used by biblical writers and their particular literary style in conveying truth were usually not even asked. The unsystematic character (real or imagined) of patristic and medieval exegesis has made it most difficult to incorporate the insights of the ancients into the modern discussion, even when there has been a desire to do so.
-Peter Brown on Catholic Biblical Scholarship

No comments:

Post a Comment