Written by the Holy Ghost?

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Mon Feb 19 13:11:30 EST 2001

Samuel, one of the basic assumptions of this list (someone has written them
down somewhere, it doesn't serve my purpose at this moment to spell out the
details) is that we respect the beliefs of others. That rules out setting up
distorted versions of a belief you do not share and then trying to knock
down this straw man with ridicule.

If no one is actually offended by what you wrote, it is only because no one,
as far as I know, believes that the Holy Spirit dictated the actual words of
the Bible in the sort of mechanical way you have in mind. But your quotation
from Loisy manages to be offensive to both Christians and Jews, assuming
that "enfantin" is not exactly a positive word. If no one has objected to
this, perhaps it's because we don't all read French.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Samuel Payne [mailto:sam at sampayne.worldonline.co.uk]
Sent: 17 February 2001 09:53
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Written by the Holy Ghost?

The Letter to the Hebrews (2.6) introduces a quotation from Psalm 8 with the
words "Someone has written somewhere that . . . "

One can understand that as the product of a Christian preacher writing in a
hurry, or with no immediate access to a copy of the scriptures, or of an
arthritic old man who did not feel it was worth the struggle to get out and
unroll a hefty copy of the Hebrew Scriptures to search through it just for a
single quotation, but as a quotation by the Holy Ghost it does seem a bit
sloppy! Surely the Holy Ghost could have done a bit better than that!

I think the great Catholic modernist and historian, Alfred Loisy is right -

 L'idée de Dieu auteur de livre est plus contradictoire, plus absurde en
elle-même, que celle de l'homme-crapaud ou de la femme-serpent. C'est un
mythe enfantin, aussi enfantin que la fabrication du premier homme avec de l
'argile, et celle de la première femme avec une côte d'Adam. - Loisy,
Mémoires, vol. 1 page 306

Renan too insists that it is impossible for a theologian to be a true
historian, though it is an issue that few theologians are willing to even
consider. I think that real biblical scholarship BEGINS when we take the
various books as written by MEN, and men of their own times and environment.
This is not to deny that they may often have been very holy, and have had
profound religious insights.

If this questions the basic assumptions of this List, I apologise, but once
in a while it needs to be said - lest we forget completely.

Samuel Payne

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