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Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”? Addendum B

August 3, 2010

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. And I thought that this particular picture was interesting because I’m a bit of a Star Wars nerd, but also because it is a good visual representation of what scholars do.

Very likely most of you are familiar with the opening sequences from the Star Wars films:

It is also likely in our era of super-powerful computers and high tech graphics few have stopped to consider how they accomplished this. It’s probably different than you think.

There are a couple of points I would like to make from this picture.

Many understand the complex technology behind movie making; however, just as filming a moving picture is a technology so is writing. Because writing is so ubiquitous in our era we tend to forget that during the years as the Hebrew Bible and New Testament developed the technology of writing was fairly new and a skill that few possessed. Understanding more the technology of ancient writing, scribal communities, and copying of texts helps us to understand better the function of written texts in ancient oral cultures, and their development and transmission.

Second, some theological approaches to texts would be like reading/seeing the above video and understanding it ‘literally’ and then exegeting the historical fact of Hoth and the Rebel Alliance as if the words just magically showed up on the screen. However, we know that as a sci-fi genre we are not supposed to believe in a literal Hoth or Darth Vader and that the words just didn’t happen to show up. They were put there with an express purpose. More importantly, what the scholar actually does is not try to “destroy the Bible,” but rather, understanding that the text is a product of a technology “pulls back” so to speak and tries to see the possible context for the employment of that technology in an ancient society.

The picture is a good example of the scholar looking for that context… which most certainly is not an attempt to “destroy the Bible” (insert echo, evil laugh, and imposing music here).

If you’re just joining this conversation you might want to read these also:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Addendum A

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jon H permalink
    August 3, 2010 6:08 pm

    I’ve seen that picture before. What I don’t get is the string. What was it for? How was it removed?

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