Bible written and compiled by NON-PROTESTANTS

thewill's picture

This thread could lighten up the tone.

OK. So it should be read like on of those "National Inquirer" headlines. Lots of drama!

"Bible written and compiled by NON-PROTESTANTS!!!"

Eveyone goes, "HUUUUUHHHHHH!!! OOOOOOHHH!!!"

But we all know it is obvious because there were no Protestants alive and there would not be for ___________ years (that's the trivia question--two points).

Basic thought:

Does modern Protestant thought, in and of itself, contain assumptions that are 'alien' to that of the Biblical authors and compilers?

Put another way, are we predisposed to misunderstanding scripture because of our more recent and 'reactive' theological tradition ?


I know it sounds 'odd.' But I wonder what people think.

To narrow the scope we can focus on NT era as a contrasting era of authors and compilers. (ie: "...the New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament...").

PS-Got to have the word 'alien' in all National Inquirer headline.

jroberts's picture

it's an epistemological thing

So, I think, to answer 1-3, the problem is Protestant epistemology. I'll start at your (2). If you're trying to be a sole scriptura, and trying not to use Tradition, you've got problems. The first is that you're influenced by tradition anyway, and if you're not self-conscious of it, you're at the mercy of tradition. even if you think you're only reading scripture. More relevant to the discussion, is that the Bible's really big. Pretty huge. There's a lot going on there. One person, seeing authority only in scripture, would have to either spend all day every day of his or her entire life memorizing scripture in order to be able to comprehend the whole thing at once, or, you could take the lazy Romish way out, and use Tradition. If you're using 2000 years of people reading and discussing Scripture, you've got a leg up on someone who isn't, and have a better shot at an integrative, holistic, Catholic (i.e., by the whole) way of looking at Scripture. If you're a holistic thinker, almost all dichotomies are false, and instead you'll see tensions of emphasis. Of course, some Protestants do this too (many Anglicans, Karl Barth); but it is much more standard among Catholic theologians.

So, in answer to #1, if a person is using a "Scripture only" epistemology, then he's only got his own interpretative capabilities to form a theology. Of course, Sunday School at sermons aid too, but typically in a consultative manner to the person's own reading of scripture. So, then any disagreements and questions can only be resolved by appealing to Scripture, and not sermons, traditions, philosophy, etc. The argument then is which is a more valid reading of Scripture, and there's very little internal evidence in Scripture to justify any given reading. E.g., suppose a color-blind and a non-color blind person get an argument over whether something is green or red. Neither of them sees any evidence internal to their perception that would convince the other. It would take something external to perception to settle the debate. If two Protestants disagree, unless it's something really superficial to the text, there's no internal textual evidence that can persuade someone else.

As to 3, I think the only commonality is the commitment to a limited epistemology, each only trusting his or her own interpretative prowess. I mean, how else would you explain those who read the Bible and are most FASCINATED with Christ's ability to insult the Sadducees / Pharisees.

As to 4, the legalism being protested was with regard to Purgatory (and really only in parts of Germany. Tetzel was an aberration). And really, an insistence on right faith for salavation is as much a legalism as Tetzel. In some soteriologies ( e.g., Luther and Calvin), the only way to be saved is to be believe in that soteriology. The overfocus on Hell is a natural result of part of the dichotomous thinking. If everything's dichotomous and not in spectra, then there's a really clear demarcation between saved and not saved, and not going to Hell becomes the key issue. If, Purgatory is an option, salvation is understood as a process aimed at Holiness and the Beatific Vision. The distinction is between more or less Holy. Saved and unsaved are still qualitatively different, and not really on the spectra, but, has more to do with the person's conscious, which is unknowable. If you can't say on which end of the saved-unsaved dichotomy someone is at, it's not a useful construct to talk about. Holiness is more knowable.