Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Redaction Criticism

I lectured today at the Training College on the subject of Redaction Criticism. It might not be the most inspiring subject but has an important message: one result of studying the distinctive theological voices of each of the gospel writers is the recognition that the gospel must be adapted to speak to different contexts.

The contents of this blog have illlustrated how my own understanding of the gospel is shaped by working with the poor and the marginalised in an inner urban area. I know that my own way of articulating this gospel does not have universal appeal and I don't claim to have captured absolute truth in any of my words. All human language is a frail and imperfect medium for trying to grasp the meaning of the sacred or the divine - yet it is all we have and hopefully our attempts have some resonance with the experience of others.

2 comments:

David said...

You don't claim to have captured absolute truth.

Another perspective for you: Are involved in a system that has any hope of grasping truth, whether divine or otherwise? Is this so-called divine truth you are seeking, just a word game with your chosen ancient texts. No more meaningful a match to an external reality than other theologies that play similar games (Islam, for example).

Why not use the scientific method? I would think that has a track record and more hope of discovering truth, than religious systems.

Still can't work out from Christians, why they are so attached to their beliefs. It's as if their beliefs have an addictive quality, strong emotional bonds, habitual behaviours. But ultimately a distraction from advancing the quest for truth. Whatever, it is, Christians aren't letting on, they're keeping it a closely guarded secret.

JDK said...

David,

Scientists will readily admit that their methods are only suitable for capturing certain types of knowledge. A fundamental principle of scientific methodology is that any hypothesis can potentially be disproven. Even well accepted theories like evolution are just our best guess at this point in time. Einstein's theory of relativity has been subject to modification in recent years. I am a fan of great scientists like Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies - I'm particularly interested in quantum physics at the moment. But science isn't able to answer questions of theology.

Theology is undoubtedly an "insiders' game" - that is, it doesn't make much sense unless you believe in the existence of a God of some sort. This isn't an excuse, it's just an unavoidable fact. You can study the Church from an outside perspective, but I'm not sure you can study God unless you believe in God's existence - and I'm not really sure why you would want to anyway.

If you believe in a God (this applies to any religion) then the primary question changes from 'is there a God or not?' to 'what is God like?'. That is perhaps the most vital theological question of our time.

There are many questions about the nature of truth - absolute and relative - that I don't have answers to. Epistemology and ontology are philosophical pursuits that are common to both science and religion and you might find worth exploring at some stage with someone more expert than myself.

Regards, JDK