Bible blog 1967

'What happened in school today? Read my blog.'

 

I have just completed a reading of the first letter of John, which I started in bible blog 1958 and can be read in its entirety from my archive. I’ve just done that myself – to savour my genius as it were – and made the shameful discovery that it is full of contradictions. At one point I emphasise the wonderful fact that the holy community defines itself as sinners; at another I consider the proposition that believers cannot sin. In one place I commend the judgment that right action is more important than right doctrine; at another I criticise the modern church for being too permissive about doctrine. At some points I treat the letter as a source of profound teaching; at others I wonder if the authors are sectarian loopers. So what’s going on here apart from my own incompetence?

The truth is that my inconsistencies are those of the letter, which I was reading from start to finish, rather than providing a measured commentary based on an oversight of the letter. The contradictions which emerged are there in the text, blatantly present to any reader not blinded by a commentary which has harmonised them. I am not claiming that they cannot be harmonised, just that they exist and would puzzle any alert reader. For example,  in chapter 1 the authors say that if we deny our sin we are liars, while in chapter 5 they assert that those who are born from God cannot sin. As I have indicated in my last blog I think the contradiction can be understood, but I had not reached that understanding when I first noticed it. I was reading the bible rather than studying it academically.image

I think perhaps immodestly that this shows the virtue of reasonably disciplined bible reading, that it is confronted by the bare text to a degree that academic study is not. My motives for reading in this way are:

 

 

 

  1. It keeps me in touch with the roots of my tradition.
  2. It acquaints me with the original language and verbal expression of the biblical writers.
  3. It allows me to find my place in the various small narratives of the bible and also within the great overarching narrative from Genesis to Revelation.
  4. It challenges my understanding, my faith and my practice of the faith.
  5. Because I do it every day it pushes me to make sense of what I read in the context of the news of the world as I receive it.
  6. It feeds me because in its human fallibility it is God’s Word.
  7. It is my pleasure.image

After this pause, I will resume my Bible Blog on Monday with a reading of the book of Ruth.

 

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