To be totally honest...

I'm afraid that reading this book might get me in trouble with my local church as Richard Elliott Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? dares to ask something that which cannot be spoken in conservative Christian traditions that I came from. Basically because the book functions as a contemporary description of what is known in biblical scholarship as the Documentary Hypothesis which holds that the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses) was originally taken from independent, parallel and complete narratives, that were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of editors upon which we get the Bible that we have now.

As he writes:
"PEOPLE have been reading the Bible for nearly two thousand years. They have taken it literally, figuratively, or symbolically. They have regarded it as divinely dictated, revealed, or inspired, or as a human creation. They have acquired more copies of it than of any other book. It is quoted (and misquoted) more often than other books. It is translated (and mistranslated) more than the others as well. It is called a great work of literature, the first work of history. It is at the heart of Christianity and Judaism. Ministers, priests, and rabbis preach it. Scholars spend their lives studying and teaching it in universities and seminaries. People read it , study it, admire it , disdain it, write about it , argue about it , and love it . People have lived by it and died for it. And we do not know who wrote it. It is a strange fact that we have never known with." - Friedman, Richard Elliot, Who Wrote the Bible? (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1997) p.15
But interestingly I think intellectual honesty and an admition of what we do not know is a good starting point in a quest that passionately dares to arrive at the truth, and for me that is what I believe I am after. That's why I believe saying: "I don't know" as a qualified answer to the question is the best start because if one is to pursue truth it is then equally important that one has to start with truth in such a pursuit.

No comments: