Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals: Overview

Hello world!

I have been slowly reading Slaves, Women & Homosexuals and am finding it very helpful. I am about 100 pages in, and while the material so far has been helpful, it hasn't been much worth writing about. Webb's book starts by acknowledging that ALL people interpret Scripture in some way, and he wants to setup a Biblical way to interpret Scripture that is not blind to nuance.

He begins with a rather funny list of statements in the Bible that alert us to the fact that we do make judgments of Scripture beyond what we'd like to admit. The list includes statements like these:

"Stop drinking water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses" (1 Tim 5:23)

"Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material" (Lev 19:19)

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor" (Luke 12:33)

"Women should remain silent in the churches" (1 Cor 14:34)

After this, Webb sets up 18 criteria which are helpful, to varying degrees, to assess specific pieces of Scripture. These criteria are:

Intra-Scriptural Criteria:
1) Preliminary Movement
2) Seed Ideas
3) Breakouts
4) Purpose/Intent Statements
5) Basis in Fall and/or Curse
6) Original Creation I: Patterns
7) Original Creation II: Primogeniture
8) New Creation
9) Competing Options
10) Opposition to Original Culture
11) Closely Related Issues
12) Penal Code
13) Specific Versus General
14) Basis in Theological Analogy
15) Contextual Comparisons
16) Appeal to Old Testament

Extra-Scriptural Criteria:
17) Pragmatics Between Two Cultures
18) Scientific Evidence

Now, after examining the cases of slaves, women, & homosexuals, he ranks them according to their helpfulness in each case. So, for instance, if "Seed Ideas" is a helpful criteria for determining the Scriptural meaning of verses about slavery, he does not suggest that it is necessarily helpful for every case in the Bible. The Bible is helpful to varying degrees depending on the subject matter, and we must realize that we can't blindly paint with large strokes when the Bible itself is not doing that. The criteria, in each case, are ranked as such:

Moderately Persuasive

This way, he seeks to stay true to Scripture rather than his own system of analysis.

Now, I've entered the meat of the book, which is working through each criteria, 1-18, one at a time, dealing with slavery, women, and homosexuals. I'm only in the first criteria right now, and it is quite helpful to this point, but I think I'll save writing about it for a new post.
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