Another enjoyable day at college. My friend and I even got a chance to coin our own theological method. Unimaginatively, we term it the trinitarian approach and we got to go up to the board and draw three circles thus:
Now it's no work of genius I know but it is our reaction to this pulling apart of the Bible with all these methods - source, form and historical critical. We decided that we are good as Anglicans at holding a lot of things in tension. So we will listen to what the historical critics have to say about their source JEDP theory and the form and their theories about parallels with the grand epics of other faiths and cultures but we hope to read the text, prayerfully with God as its author, Christ as its meaning and be open to what the Spirit is doing in applying these truths to our lives.
My friend and I decided that we need to constantly test what the Spirit might be saying against Jesus' teachings - he is the Word incarnate afterall and the Bible is a signpost to him. We also need to decide what God might have been saying to those original listeners. It is not that God's message had changed but with the onslaught of reader-response theory, there are those of us who will make the text 'mean' anything and so we need to look at what it meant for the original audiences in their context and what it means in its original languages. Test everything. I'm pretty sure I'm not finished here ;-) (as if!) and there's one thing for sure, I am more conscious now of the stuff that I just do not know and the inadequacies of my knowing than I would ever have realised. How does anyone ever feel like they are ever going to get their head around all this stuff in one life-time, it's a good job that God knows us completely and thoroughly for we are only ever going to get to scratch the surface with him. My lecturer has read the nineteenth century German critics in German, he can speak Hebrew and sing it! He can understand Greek and Accadian. He has read many of the Dead Sea Scrolls and been to rabinnic school. He is completing a Phd in Genesis one and two, and he says it's all a mystery and he has to rest back in his unknowing. Oh wow! I am only just getting started.