söndag 12 augusti 2007

Believing in the Bible

The revival of Evangelical or Bible-Believing Christianity is a menace second only to the rise in Fundamentalist Islam. As a Catholic I find myself agreeing with the atheists and agnostics in discussions about believing the bible and regarding evolution as nonsense, or "just a theory".

The bible is a collection of texts that were adopted by the Catholic Church as being worthy of study and for the purposes of contemplation. The Catholic Church has always taken the view that it is the authority when it comes to the interpretation of these texts. The main point is that the New Testament takes precedence over the old. The rest is primarily theological. Evangelical Christians have taken these texts and given them all sorts of interpretations, often weird and wacky

Anyone who interprets scripture literally is either naive or mischievous, or both.The New Testament is essentially a narrative to help understanding of the theology of the Catholic Church. It is not in itself meant to be regarded as authoritative.

As for the Old Testament, this was originally written in Classical Hebrew. Until modern archeological finds, the oldest text was the Septuagint which was made from Hebrew about 200BC, if I recall. This is a translation from Hebrew with all the implications it has for loss in accuracy. The King James bible was from the Hebrew but this was from a late version which is obviously different from the Hebrew version the Septuagint was made from.

But the major problems for people who want to interpret it literally are

(1) Hebrew is written without vowels and there are many words that are written the same but are actually different. eg it is like trying to decide what B*G actually is.

(2) The bible was written down before 200, possibly a long time before. Over such a long period both the meaning of words and their usage changes. So it is arrogant and stupid to claim to know exactly what it all means.

(3) The overall style of writing is poetic and metaphoric. So it is even more silly to claim to be able to interpret it all "literally".

Those who are attacking bible-believing Christians, should just remember that there is a lot more to Christianity than the sort of half-baked tosh they keep on coming up with, which is giving religion a bad name. In fact, it really has almost nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity as traditionally presented.

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