Reading Noah and the flood through the Source Theory Lens (c)

See:  Reading Noah and the flood through the Source Theory Lens (b)

 The entire selection of God Questions His Creation: The Story of the Flood is also available as one PDF document rather than a series of blogs

Generally, when reading Scripture, if you accept it as the inspired word of God, you can have a couple of different approaches when you encounter “inconsistencies” in the test, among these approaches:

A)   You can accept a notion that the text is inspired and therefore the inconsistencies are apparent but not real.  This requires then developing an interpretive method in which you find a way to harmonize the differences – explain them away, spiritualize them, show in some way that they are not in fact inconsistent.   The Patristic writers frequently attempted this method as have modern believers who demand that the text be read literally.         

What does it take to open the the text to our understanding?

 B)  You can also sort out the differences to see if the “inconsistencies” might be explained by there being more than one author/editor/story contributing to the narrative.  This is an interpretive method in which you decide not to harmonize the differences, but to accept them as contributing to our understanding of God and His revelation.   This method is also frequently used by the Patristic writers (though they never conceived of a different source idea, they did believe that all the differences were placed in the text intentionally by the Holy Spirit and were part of the depth and richness of Scriptures which we are to discover).  It is also the method of many modern Biblical scholars.  This method tends to assume that the importance is not in the literal reading of the text, the importance lies in the grand revelation which we encounter in the Scriptures.    This generally means we are looking for a deeper meaning beyond the “plain” reading of the words.   Even when the Patristic writers accepted the Genesis narrative as literally true, they always also and simultaneously believed the text had much more significance than its “plain” meaning.  They frequently looked for the not-so-obvious or hidden meaning of the text – and certainly the notion of more than one author remained hidden from them!  But they advocated digging deep into the text until all of its meanings were revealed.  They always assumed the text had some relationship to and revelation about Christ, and only in Christ would the full meaning of the text be revealed.

 Is separating out the received text into two separate stories ever an “Orthodox” way of approaching Scripture?   One need only think about the “Composite” Old Testament Paramoia which are read during Vespers on the eve of certain Feasts to realize Orthodoxy engaged in similar Bible editing in its own communal and liturgical vocalized reading of Scriptures.  Think also of  the Gospel Lesson for the feasts of the Virgin Mary – Luke 10:38-42 is connected to and read uninterruptedly and continuously with 11:27-28 giving the Orthodox listener the impression that those texts flow seamlessly and naturally together whereas in Luke’s Gospel they are not connected at all.   The Church thus has on limited occasions selectively chosen and “re-arranged” verses to fit its own purposes.

The use of ideas from Source Theory are offered here only as one additional tool in the study of the inspired Scriptures of God.   Please remember even the chapter and verse numbering system in our Bibles is an invention of biblical scholars as those numbers are not in the original text, and yet they do influence how we think about and read the Scriptures.  We often read a “chapter” at a time, but that is following an artificial division introduced into the biblical text by scholars.  This numbering system also is a potentially good tool for us, but again we have to recognize it is a tool, it isn’t Scripture.

The entire selection of God Questions His Creation: The Story of the Flood is also available as one PDF document rather than a series of blogs

Next:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 6:1-2,4

Great & Holy Monday (2010)

A main theme of the first days of Holy Week is the return of Christ – imaged as the Bridegroom coming at midnight, with those who were expecting Him being either foolish or wise in terms of preparedness.  The greatest act of preparedness according to the Patristic commentators is actively loving one another.  We don’t “prepare” by suddenly reacting to that which catches us by surprise.  Preparedness is that which we do everyday even when an expected event seems distant and remote.  We are to be disciples daily – take up your cross daily and follow me says Jesus – not just in a last-minute reaction to the end’s imminent arrival.  We are to be vigilant regarding Christ’s coming again.

“The Fathers’ commentary on the parable of wise and foolish virgins discerns in the image of the empty lamps the drying up of love…The Swiss socialist Ragaz stressed the tragic rift between those who believe in God but are not interested in His Kingdom and the atheists who want to build the Kingdom, but who do not believe in God.”    (In the World, of the Church: A Paul Evdokimov Reader)