Thought Leaders Series: 2018
In order to understand the Bible, one would need to understand the underlying principle or worldview of its contributors.
One of these principles is centred around the concept of objectivity, also referred to as the Objective Reality in some quarters.
By way of definition, largely, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.
So, similar to other ancient religions, for the Jews, reality is not seen objectively, but rather, through the lenses of a theological system. As such, subject to religious and cultural biases.
The implication of this is that history, data, and facts as we know today are completely irrelevant in understanding the Bible. These phenomena do not exist in the world of the Bible, hence, we struggle to make sense today of stories like Adam and Eve, Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark etc.
Case in point, their defeat against the armies of the Babylonians was not seen as a defeat as one will treat it in historical sense. For them, it was not a defeat, but the Sovereign Lord’s punishment for their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them. This fundamental principle anchors the Text, hence the constant admonition to faith and not rationality.
This is the challenge we face today when we start trying to rationalise the Text without doing the theology. When we do this, we are treating it as empirical or objective reality. Thus we start arguing with scientists and historians that the world was created in seven days, or that Noah’s Ark truly existed. When we do this we are merging two clearly distinct schools of thought: objective and subjective realities; and they are polar opposites.
The Bible is based on the latter. It was written with the biases of the contributors. This is reflected in the plots and character sketching. Therefore, if one is seeking objective versions of events, the Bible is not the right platform for such quest, academia will serve better.
These writers are not writing in the same genres we know today, therefore, to understand the Bible, we will need to understand their theology or philosophical framework.
If we really want to use the Bible as a tool for spiritual and social transformation, we will need to get into the world of its contributors, so that we can understand their message. Then we can begin the tedious work of extrapolation to see if, and how we can apply them to our world.
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