Monday, April 14, 2008

[Xanga] the validity of postmodern influences on the interpretation of the Bible?

Postmodernism is a movement that is at once, depending on the individual with whom you're discussing it, ill-defined, vitally crucial to intellectual endeavours, a complete crock of nonsense, or the most revolutionary (and true, whatever that means) paradigm to come along in the history of human knowledge (again, whatever that means). Regardless of one's stance on the postmodern worldview, however, one is hard-pressed to not at least admit that it has strongly influenced post-Enlightenment readings and conceptions of truth.

My question is whether the postmodern hypothesis, construed by me to in general be such: "the meaning of any text is solely a matter of cultural and social interpretation," (and I readily admit that this may be a straw man, and that postmodernism in its true form would hold to something other than this tenet; though I would defend this statement as one which is strongly characteristic of a postmodern worldview) has any bearing (or what bearing it has, if any) on the interpretation of the Bible by a Christian; the latter designation I take to mean "one who believes in the existence of God as a trinitarian entity, and moreover in the doctrines of divine creation, incarnation, atonement, intercession of the Holy Spirit, and special as well as general (including Biblical) revelation." (generally, one who accepts in full the Nicene Creed, though I find it plausible, if improbable, that one would reject in part the Nicene Creed but still fall under the ability to receive the intercession of the Paraclete [Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost] in the revelation of Scripture)

As a caveat preceding the following, I note that my line of thought follows the presumptions that I stated above under the designation of a Christian. The validity of these assumptions (both in their use to define Christian as well as their truth value) may be called into question, but for now I beg the use of these.

The basic question at hand is to what degree I may lend credence to the version of the Bible that I own, that now sits on my desktop. I see two general categories into which a Christian, in good faith, may place his or her belief regarding the veracity of that Bible: first, that it is in whole and in part the work of God, from the first writing divinely inspired and subsequently divinely translated, with every word yet extant and meaning what it did when it first "proceeded from the mouth of God". Second, that it is a human translation of a divine text, whose original language was and yet is divinely ordained, but the translations of which contain human error and bias; the latter which may yet be of value, but require great thought in order to "rightly divide the word of truth" and thereby arrive at the original meaning of the text from a corruption, as applying a Photoshop filter to sharpen a blurry or corrupted image file (On a side note, I take this second stance to be that of many Muslims, who find it necessary to study Arabic in order that their examinations of the Qu'ran be examinations of the direct words of Allah, not born of any intermediary). (Note that I ask here not whether or not the Bible is the extent of God's revelation to man, but where the extent of the Bible's authority falls: divine revelation or human translation. This question limits its scope to the Bible; another, equally [if not more] crucial issue, is whether or not the scope of divine literary revelation is likewise limited, an issue of great importance to Muslims, Mormons, and certain other religions. Regardless of the Bible's current translation as either a human or divine work, one may hold that it is or is not the whole extent of literary revelation, though I tend to believe that the most reasonable reading of the Bible in my native tongue is a claim to exclusivity among literature.)

These overly bold statement - that one's belief may only fall into one of these two categories - immediately begs the question, as to whether or not one may hold another. Is there a middle ground, or a third point of view?

(work in progress)

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