Friday, April 8, 2011

Culture & Heresy: Fr. Barron on the YouTube Heresies Pt 2

It seems that biblical fundamentalists and atheists agree on one thing - reading the Bible literalistically, without respect to historical or cultural context or even literary genre. They read what is not really a book but a library of books, written at different times by different hands in different genres - song and poetry, history, saga, wisdom literature, prophetic and apocalyptic utterance, as if it were all the same. As if when a friend writes in a Facebook post that it is raining cats and dogs here that we are to imagine that animals are falling from the sky. Or as if assembly instructions for a piece of furniture (assembly required), a Shakespeare play, Homer's Odyssey, A Harry Potter book, and the New York Times were all to be read the same way.

It is a strikingly modernist rejection of context and tradition. Those who wrote and read the Bible at the time millennia ago did not do so in that literalistic way. They were well able to discern the difference between the report of an event, to be understood as an accurate description of what happened and a love poem or an apocalyptic vision. Both fundamentalism and atheism - and the literalism with which they read the Bible - seem to be peculiarly products of the 19th century, notwithstanding their precursors.

As for how to read the Bible as a Christian with one's full intelligence, reason and faith, there is no better example than Benedict XVI's new Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection, a great book by a great pope.

No comments:

Post a Comment