Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How the Courtiers Reply

I offer an important emendation to yesterday's scintillating post on Cathy Lynn Grossman's glass-is-half full approach to interpreting the Biblical texts during the holidays. At the risk of enraging antifoundationalist literary scholars the world over, I note that the Bible actually provides its own hermeneutic in Deuteronomy 4:2:

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
That's the florid King James version; the New International version is even clearer:
Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
Thus sayeth the writer who gave us Deuteronomy. I'm inclined to say it was just a guy or group of guys who wrote it, but that's only to say I am not a believer; the Cathy Lynn Grossmans of the world are committed to the view that the Bible is no mere work of people but the authorized word of a great sky-beast who did all the prime moving and renders all the final judgments.

The upshot is that the AHA and Phred Phelps are right to quote the Bible to understand what its chief protagonist is all about. They are not obliged -- nor, I would think, inclined -- to pull anything out of Cathy Lynn Grossman's wish basket and present that as "authentic" or "real" Judeo-Christianity. (There go those scare-quotes again.) The same holds true of other wish baskets that are proposed all too regularly, e.g., Karen Armstrong, the Midgley, Reza Aslan, the Eagleton, the Fish, and others.

Truly the Bible god's court counts many courtiers -- too many.

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