Wednesday, August 22, 2007,5:18 PM
Bible Wars
To add to my ongoing commentary on the nature of Biblical interpretation...

In preparing for my sermon on Luke 22, I've once again encountered the ubiquitous disagreements among the commentaries. You know, where people who all claim to have studied the same original languages, studied the same cultures, and read the exact same scriptures "as they are written on the page" present interpretations of the passages that completely contradict each other. In this case the question is whether Jesus was a pacifist or if he promoted violence based on Luke 22:36. A rather small insignificant issue of course. Both interpretations can be supported from the text and so that leaves us with alternative slightly less scholarly methods of assessing the inspired (supposedly inerrant) word of the Lord.

In this case that method involves outright insult. That's right, to prove that their interpretation is better than others the typical commentator on this passage resorts to insults. There are the basic insults that refer to those of alternate interpretation as "thickheaded" and their interpretations as "impossible." Then there are the ad hominem attacks that accuse those of alternate interpretations of having base ulterior motives for propagating their interpretation. I always find this one amusing given that I have heard it levied against the emerging church so often. The whole we must obviously be only motivated by licentious desires for promiscuous sex and partying thing. A really thoughtful way to engage with that which you disagree with if you ask me.

While the crap is being thrown from both sides, so far my favorite has been from the minority side which claims that Jesus supports violence. That commentator writes of his opponents - "They cannot stand the idea that we would be told to defend ourselves, our families, and our Christian brothers and sisters with swords or the modern day equivalents. Not being able to find any corrupt texts that left out the verse, and not being able to find any way to make the word for sword (makhaira) mean daffodil, bottle of Jack Daniels, lace panties, young male prostitute, or whatever else that they might want it to mean, they clutched at straws by trying to cancel the verse through perverting the meaning of the word 'enough'. This is a another great proof of how completely dishonest these snakes are, and it also shows that their claim to rely on a better understanding of the Greek is completely false." (emphasis mine). This was admittedly from a KJV only guy who describes his mission as - "the preceding is part of a series of examples of KJV verses that arrogant would-be scholars have tried to correct and showed themselves to be fools. These examples are for the benefit of those who would like more ammunition to defend God's Word against the attacks of the arrogant Bible "correcting" modernists. I hope that some of you find them useful."

Ah, isn't this what the Bible is all about?


posted by Julie at 5:18 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 8/22/2007 07:23:00 PM, Anonymous julieH

    No, it's not what the bible is about, and I _hate_ when people resort to that stuff! We are all fallible humans, and we do the best we can... the truth is, we've probably all got something wrong in our interpretations. Attacking those who hold the opposite opinion stinks!

  • At 8/23/2007 07:11:00 AM, Blogger Erin Marshalek

    Julie, I just this morning read thoughts similar on a blog I think you'd like:

  • At 8/23/2007 03:25:00 PM, Blogger ryan notton

    Hah! I love it. You ever heard, "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups"? Well, let's take that one step further. Never underestimate the power of stupid people when it comes to getting published.

  • At 8/23/2007 04:15:00 PM, Anonymous sonja

    You have to wonder about the solidity of an argument when the person goes after his opponent rather than the substance of the opposing argument. It's like saying, "I disagree with you because you look stupid." Right. I thought we left kindergarten.

  • At 8/25/2007 10:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous


    For some reason I can't use my old password on blogger, so I post this comment:

    Who in the heck are you reading to hear such drivel? Oliver B. Greene?

    I've got six feet of books on Luke's Gospel and no one on my shelf utters such thoughts.

  • At 8/25/2007 10:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Sorry, Julie, that last comment was from me:

    Scot McKnight

  • At 8/25/2007 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    hey Scot - most of those are from various online sermon collections and "ministry" sites determined to spread the gospel and set the world straight in regards to truth. I always find it amusing to get the um, "popular" interpretations of the passages (although most of the sites to claim to be written by profs with PhDs at Christian Colleges...).

  • At 8/26/2007 06:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    My, my ... that's sad.


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