Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Biblical Texts (again)

My thoughts on the nature and authority of biblical texts continue to develop over time. The last post about this was a retreat into ambiguity, I think. Although I still think that it's important to elevate the involvement of the human author, I think there is still something to be gained by classifying the texts.

Kierkegaard moved in this direction when he insisted that we should take any text from the New Testament and just do it. As far as he was concerned, any New Testament command must be obeyed. It had the status of unquestionable authority. As has been pointed out elsewhere, he didn't give the Old Testament this kind of lofty status.

While I won't go so far as to advocate for the inerrancy of the New Testament, I'm happy to leave those texts as canonical for Christianity. That makes it the core of the Christian scriptures. And as for the Old Testament? I like to think of it as apocryphal. I don't quite take the approach of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglicans though:
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine;
Rather, I think the apocryphal works are the texts of the situation of the Christian Event. They describe the ideology, philosophy and theology of the time but are not the foundation of Christianity.

I think they're still worth reading, but only as situational documents. There's much better reading with the Christian Scriptures, and much more that can be followed.
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