New students’ approaches to religious texts exhibit scant sensitivity to the complex recipes by which hearers and readers construct meaning. Yet interpretive skills are useful for making sense not only of sacred texts but of all texts, and of other communication tools as well.
Much of the debate in the church over the issue of homosexuality has been far from edifying, and too many arguments simply rehearse points made earlier without advancing the discussion in any material way.
Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus has caused something of a sensation. This is no small achievement for an introduction to New Testament textual criticism, a field known for writing that is dry and inaccessible to non-specialists.
Today, as the center of gravity of the Christian world moves ever southward, the conservative traditions prevailing in the global South matter more and more. To adapt a phrase from missions scholar Lamin Sanneh: Whose reading—whose Christianity—is normal now?
Christians of good heart and good faith sincerely disagree about whether or how biblical passages regarding homosexual behavior relate to the current debates. Exegesis is not solving the problem. What to do? One way is to seek help from a parallel situation in the Bible, like the one Israel faced following the exile. The question was how to reconstitute the nation. With its institutions shattered, how would Israel move forward?
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