Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Eternity, historicity, and the Bible

Don’t worry, I’m not resuming the series on the doctrine of Scripture! But I posted a comment on Michael Jensen’s blog which I wanted to reproduce partially here (I was replying to another comment, not to Michael himself):

Is there a stark contrast between human historicity and “eternal significance”? It seems to me that we need to resist exactly this contrast if we are to take seriously God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ. God’s eternal being is not located somewhere above this world, but it is an event that takes place in the history of the man Jesus.

And this means that we should think about questions of “eternal significance” not by turning away from ordinary human history, but by turning towards history, i.e., towards the history of one particular Jewish man.

I think it’s also best to approach the Bible in the same way: the Bible’s message has “eternal significance” not in spite of its ordinary historicity, but precisely by virtue of its thoroughgoing historicity. If the biblical texts were somehow removed from the normal processes of social and cultural conditioning, then these texts would no longer be witnesses to God, i.e., to the God who happens in human history.

Anyway, my point in all this is that historical-critical approaches to the Bible are not only valid and important, but are theologically necessary if we are to be faithful to the Bible itself.


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