Comments: opinion

The article by Christopher Howse is well timed given the release of the Ridley Scott movie. For something that does more than tinker around the edges of mythology and piggy back on movie magic, there is a very interesting book titled, The Birth of Monotheism: The Rise and Disappearance of Yahwism by André Lemaire.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 3 January 2015 at 8:00pm GMT

Does the Church Times realise the implication of a statement in its editorial like:

neither the language nor the debate about sacred matters is owned by a particular religious faith, even less by a particular denomination...

Oh really? So has the Church of England, then, become a sort of undeclared Unitarianism?

Presumably if people believe that Christ is the incarnation of the God then a particular religious faith does own sacred language. I don't believe this. That's why, for me, a loose gathering of people can use any religious language in order to express matters of the sacred. Pleased indeed to see that the Church Times has this editorial line.

Posted by Pluralist at Saturday, 3 January 2015 at 9:14pm GMT

A number of years ago, my family hosted a Japanese student for two weeks. His English was passable and he was very polite and eager to share our life for this brief time. One night we all wandered out into our front yard to see the stars, at his request. Best time of the visit. What a clever, wondrous God we have. Thanks to Archdruid Eileen for reminding me.

Posted by Pam at Saturday, 3 January 2015 at 9:34pm GMT

Christoper Howse seems to take the book of Exodus as history, and attempts to find confirmation. But archaeology has found no confirmation of Bible stories before King Ahab in the 9th century BCE:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/02/the-connection-between-archaeology-and-ideology-in-the-middle-east/

King Josiah in the 7th century BCE wanted a grand history to bring his people together. Under him, scribes and scholars collected, edited, and wrote what is now the Hebrew scriptures. It's a magnificent folk tale, great literature, but it's not history.

Posted by Murdoch at Saturday, 3 January 2015 at 11:30pm GMT

@ Murdoch, interesting post. Leo G. Perdue has a very engaging read, Reconstructing Old Testament Theology: After The Collapse of History ( 2005, Augsburg Fortress). He considers a wide range of issues i.e., the history of religion approach, the bible as colonial and post colonial text, from Euro-centric history to voices from the margins, and so forth. Of special interest, and on the point you raise, is his treatment of the perspectives of Marc Zvi Brettler and the relationship between Jewish biblical theology and history.( p. 201 ff.)

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 January 2015 at 3:32am GMT

Good address from a rather unwell-looking Abp of Canterbury. As presumably he is well aware - and intends - there are many 'generosities', including that of traditionalists/Evangelicals (of various shades)towards 'liberals' (of various shades) and of 'liberals' towards traditionalists/Evangelicals. Let's do deals, live with them, shut down internal conflicts, and get on with externals.

Posted by John at Sunday, 4 January 2015 at 7:38pm GMT

John,
"Shut down" internal conflicts -- or "resolve", "defuse", or "amicably live with" internal conflicts?
In any spiritual or religious movement of any size, there are always going to be disputes about doctrine, origins, structure, administration, etc. The question is how disputes are handled.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Sunday, 4 January 2015 at 7:47pm GMT

There possibly was a small group of Hebrews who left Egypt after persecution. They eventually joined up with other hill tribe people already living in Israel. Somehow their story became the story of the nation and gathered other stories round it like iron filings but it remains true what Professor John Rogerson wrote years ago

'The history of Israel begins in Israel .That is it begins with an association of tribes that were occupying the Samaria and Bethel Hills and possibly part of Lower Galilee around 1230 BCE.' 1230 is the date of the earliest reference to a text that can be dated with confidence ie the Stella of Merneptah

Posted by Jean Mayland (Revd) at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 12:59pm GMT

Murdoch's posting above is the only one that makes sense to me and makes sense of the scriptures as they stand. Prior to Josiah's reform, bits and pieces of popular lore, yarns and tall tales hadn't been spun into a national epic. And after Josiah's time, the product still had a lot of editing, re-telling, spinning and slanting to go through before it became what Jews call the Tanakh and Christians usually call the Old Testament. The bible is actually a much more interesting collection of documents than most believers believe - or want - it to be.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Monday, 5 January 2015 at 4:53pm GMT
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