So, I was just watching “The Bible: A History” by Ann Widdecome. It wasn’t long before it become obvious that this was a polemic from the slightly fundamental side of Christianity, one that slips a little over that line into Phariseac interpretation of the Bible.
After riduculing Biblical Scholarship, and wrongly citing it as “Secular” (obviously ignoring the fact that the quest for the historical status of the Bible has been done alternatively by believers and non-believers for varying different reasons), she then went to attempt to show Secular Heros, one of whom was Stephen Fry as being unreasonable. The entire program smacked of being very well edited, and the camera spent an innordinant amount of time on Ann.
Her experts were generally people of faith, as opposed to people of faith who had status, by that I mean it was a Rabbi and Priest, but not, say, a Rabi well known for his exegesis of the Bible, and the Priest, though learned, was not one of the many popular ones that would have no-doubt been available for such a program.
My main concern is that damage that such a program does to an already beleaugered Christianity. The entire program, billed as a documentary, rather than as a polemic, would no doubt irritate the “fringe” Christians who watch programs like this and don’t see in it the morality that they follow, that they believe. This then makes them more disenfranchised, and less likely to step foot in church. This, then, lets the conservative gain a bigger hold, and well.. it’s just one big Spiral.
Not all of us want to see things that way. Some of us want to interpret the Old Testament through eyes of love, which understand the context, which want to see that yes, the laws today seem barmy, but frankly, any law laid down that long ago would seem barmy. They are to be stories about how these people understood their world, their place in it, and the their palce in relation to God. They are, if you like, the Myths and Ledgends of Christianity. Perhaps if we were to treat them with the same respenct, reverence, and understanding that we treat other Myths and Ledgends we might have a better understanding of how to read the Old Testament.
Let me unpack that a little. Myths and Ledgends are the stuff of Stories. The stuff that we remember, that influence us in subtle ways, that live with us, and becomes part of our culture. The Stories of Aruthur giving us examples of leadership, being fun to read, watch, retell, reinvent, relive, and at every step a simple moral truth shining through. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the recent BBC Merlin, then you’ll know what I mean.
Ultimately, the Old Testament is full of many layers, those that were there when it was written, those that we have added, and those that appeared in public conciousness which are not always true, or accurate. With a bit of luck, this blog, and the posts on it can do a little something to counter-act it.