[b-hebrew] Academic Debate"

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Oct 30 02:22:02 EDT 2007

Dear Bryant,

I actually agree with most of what you wrote below, but without the implied 
personal criticism. I agree that both people who study the Bible as a source 
of religious inspiration and those who study the Bible out of a detatched 
academic curiosity, and everyone in between (probably most) deserve to be 
called "scholars", and in no way intended to imply that those who do not 
accept my position are not scholars. So let me re-state: by "faith" I mean 
acceptance of the basic Judeo-Christian doctrine that Scripture (however one 
defines the word) is "the word of God" and thus must be "correct" (and yes, 
I am perfectly aware that there are many different definitions of both "word 
of God" and "correct"). God delivered His word through the sayings and 
writing of prophets and these are recorded in the Bible. And so the Bible is 
to be believed. This of course still leaves a wide range of possibilities 
for interpretation, but the basic doctrine is still there.

Modern Critical Academic study of the Bible, as practiced in the world of 
"academic scholarship" in major universities wroldwide and whatever the 
personal "faith" of the scholar, does not accept this premise. The Bible is 
an ancient text which should be subjected to the same critical analysis as 
any other ancient text, and questions of dating, authorship, sources and 
authority are at the core of that analysis. Since modern critical science 
(of any kind) cannot take the supernatural into account, it must resort to 
the logic and experience that we mere humans have with the natural world 
around us. Since none of us have yet recieved direct prophecy from God, we 
cannot "take on faith" that the authors of the Bible did either. Which leads 
us to question: who wrote the books, why did they write them, when were they 
written and what were their sources? The answers often leave the historical 
reliability of the various book very much in doubt.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bryant J. Williams III" <bjwvmw at com-pair.net>
To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew" 
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2007 7:20 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Academic Debate was P.S. Re: 6-Month "Year"

> Dear Yigal,
> [Yigal]
> The academic/scientific approach does not accept any authority just on 
> faith,
> and considers everything open to questioning - including whether any sort 
> of
> deity is behind the composition of the Bible in the first place. You know
> that, we know that, and there is no use in repetedly re-hashing it.
> [Bryant]
> You must remember that all people use "faith" in everything they do, 
> think, or
> say. Do not make the mistake that "faith is without knowledge." Quite the
> contrary. Faith always includes knowledge. Without faith knowledge makes 
> no
> sense. Without knowledge faith is irrational. Faith and knowledge go hand 
> in
> hand. The one cannot exist without the other.
> Frequently, academic circles of the liberal side make a dichotomy between 
> faith
> and reason (knowledge). This type of dichotomy is a false one. Everyone 
> uses
> faith. It is the question of the accuracy/creditability of the knowledge 
> behind
> that faith that is the problem. I accept the text as written unless the 
> context:
> literary genre, grammar, historical markers, rhetorical devices: 
> hyperbole,
> metaphor, understatement, overstatement, chiasm, acrostics, puns, etc., 
> tell me
> otherwise. If there is a problem, as in the problem of the text between 
> Jeremiah
> 52 and II Kings 25 on another thread, then that requires that any decision 
> will
> always be tentative until more information becomes available that can 
> decide the
> issue one way or the other; if that is even possible. That is being
> intellectually honest. I do not use phrases such as, "most scholars,"
> "scholars," etc., because frequently that is basically implying/stating, 
> "You
> are not a scholar if you do not accept this reasoning or fact." That is
> intellectually dishonest. Everyone is a scholar. The question then becomes 
> the
> degree of competency. In fact, this last question cannot be spoken about 
> on this
> list because it would be ill-mannered to do so. The person's own writings 
> will
> make it evident without comment being necessary.
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

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