Monday, December 12, 2011
"The Way of Peace and Grace: How Paul wrestled with violent passages in the Hebrew Bible"
You can read it online at the SoJo website for free (you just need to register).
EDIT: For those who don't want to register, here's a direct link to a
PDF of the article
As the title suggests, it deals with how we can faithfully wrestle with really disturbing passages in the Bible that seem to advocate and even command committing violence in God's name. As I've mentioned before, most commentaries tend to either justify or downplay these passages. What I propose is a very different approach: if we learn to read the Bible the way that Jesus and Paul did, we can deal with them like they did.
In the Sojourners article I deal in particular with how Paul wrestles with violent passages from the Old Testament, disarming them and putting them under Christ. You'll need to read the article for the details, but Paul's approach is pretty awesome. If Paul read the Old Testament like this, then I think its fair to say we would be on pretty solid ground if we read it that way too.
I'm really excited about this article, and am thrilled to finally be able to share it. As far as I know, it represents a unique contribution to biblical scholarship. I've found scholars making similar conclusions about Paul, buried in the middle of some obscure footnote in a dense technical commentary, but I have not seen anyone connect all the dots like this. In fact, books like the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament miss (or intentionally omit?) this pattern in Paul's reading entirely, even though Paul does this constantly. In doing so, they completely miss how Paul reads his Bible and arrives at a gospel of grace that is so different from how he previously read his Bible before his conversion to Christ.
What's more important than scholarship though is how we, as followers of Christ, read the Bible as Scripture. Adopting Paul's way of wrestling with these violent passages opens up a way for all of us to read the Bible that does not force us to check our conscience at the door. Jesus and Paul didn't, and neither should we!
So if you've ever wondered how Jesus or Paul could have read the Old Testament and arrived at a loving, radically grace-focused understanding of God, then check out the article.