Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.
What has consistently drawn me to the study of the Bible is my never-ending fascination with the parts of this collection of literature, history, oral tradition, repurposings, fables, parables, stories, moralities that lend themselves to seeing the whole as a collective spider web of many disparate and conflicting modules.
As a qualifier, this does not mean that I view the Bible as some hodgepodge mashup of borrowed tales thrown together to accomplish a particular agenda. Rather, the Bible has succeeded in holding the captivation of billions of members of species because of its incongruences and its non-linear modes of telling God’s story.
Whatever remains of modern mass-culture America has an ongoing fascination with the Bible as well. However, this fascination has a different tone and temper than the one I illustrate above. Instead of the beauty of incongruences and all-night wrestling with the text by the banks of the Jabbok, the veneer of beauty is located in the surface sacrificial history reading giving the Old and New Testaments an ultimate purpose of affirming the central Godliness of Jesus the human above and beyond any other textual issues that may arise.
Pointing out these textual issues or asking questions about the apparent (and evident) inconsistencies within the Bible is an anathema to The Faith. You are spitting upon the cross when you dare to ask how many times Jesus went up to Jerusalem or who actually killed Goliath or what the narrator tells us about the characters involved in the Rape of Tamar.
Rather, consistency is godliness and godliness is finding a foreshadow of the Christ in every literal corner of the text. Veneers crack easily, and the veneer of biblical inerrancy is certainly composed of such brittle molecular bonds.
Nonetheless, this veneer of the Bible’s simplicity, literalness and accurate historicity is not a construction of the οἱ πολλοί. Certainly, folks of all religious and denominational stripes have contributed to this hegemonic stranglehold on the Scriptures. However, the real fault in reinforcing the cult of simplicity lies with the modern book and news publishers (both secular and religious) who feed their molochs with the blood of revenue generated from pushing out formulaic factory books exposing “startling new revelations about the historical nature of the Flood/Exodus/Resurrection/Jesus Story/Revelation.”
This will not change in the foreseeable future. The publishing business is facing a crisis of identity and revenue. That publishing business will continue to churn out what pays the bills. For the time being, one of the areas that pays the bills are “Secrets of the Bible” series or “A New Look on the Flood” books or “Left Around” serializations verging on heresy.
So, where do the few of us who care enough about the Bible to not turn a blind eye to this dumbing-down of Scriptures turn? I would suggest following Jesus’ example and telling God’s story as authentically, incongruously, raw and as dangerously as possible.
– Geologist claims scientific explanation for Exodus
– Religion in America: A many splendored thing
– The Bible’s Literary Merits