Fundamentally Speaking …

Many Fundamentalists have no idea that the Old Testament was never supposed to have been written and that it had been as a result of the first destruction of the Temple. That it was written down caused a huge schism in Judaism; the liberals wanting it written for the sake of preservation, and the conservatives wanting to follow the letter of the law and rejecting the written scriptures.

This presents a fantastic irony!

Conservative Hebrews feared that scripture would become sacrosanct and then idolized, feared the contents of scripture would cease to be community stories that bound them together and instead would become something inaccessible to all but priests, rabbis, and scribes, feared God’s word would be lost along with their national identity were it written down.

The New Testament appears to be a collection of writings also never meant to be written scripture, and also the product of the Temple’s destruction (this in 69 CE, and the first in 6 BCE). That’s some 30 years of purely oral tradition with no emphasis on a written expression of the meaning and practice of Christianity until as before, some believed the ideas that centered their community could be lost.

The irony is in many places, but one is that it is only because of liberal Hebrews that conservative Christians are possible. Second is that it’s an identical mindset between conservative Hebrews and conservative Christians but each would have repudiated the other. Another is that in each case, the liberal saw the importance of not putting blind faith into the idea that God would preserve the people (thus needing or not needing to write the scriptures). In so doing, the liberal of old agreed with the conservative today to the importance of scripture. And the liberal today cautions in agreement with the conservative of old, that we must take scripture seriously, but not literally, and not idolize it as God’s words, but as a set of stories through which people may understand the will of God, which is what Hebrews and Greeks alike meant by “word”.

The most significant irony to me is that Christans want to write off liberal theology, having no idea that what goes for liberal and what goes for conservative is purely seasonal.

This is no more clearly demonstrated than by Christian fundamentalists failing to note that they’re merely a very extreme form of 6 century, Hebrew liberalism!

Go figure.

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