A People's Commentary on the New TestamentFacebook to let me know when you've posted. I'll do my part and spread the word.
Monday, April 14, 2014
A People's Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew 1
Lately as I've listened to sermons at churches I visit, as I sit in plenary sessions at Christian conferences, even as I occasionally teach from the Scriptures myself, I've felt an uneasiness about what I'm hearing - even sometimes coming from my own mouth. It's not heresy per se that I'm reacting to; it's more that I feel as though I'm missing a part of the whole story. For all the Reformation-yelping about sola Scriptura and the priesthood of all believers, the Bible is, by and large, mediated to the masses through the literati - through scholars who write commentaries, through trained (and untrained) clergy who interpret the text in their sermons, through Sunday school teachers who direct the learning of their students, through publishers with fallen and finite editors such as myself. Nothing wrong with that - except that, like everyone, the literati have blind spots. As Geoff Holsclaw recently posted on Facebook (which means it must be true), "In the West, we often do not understand the Bible because it is written from and to a minority group people." Not all parts, of course; much of the writings of the prophets and the wisdom literature were directed toward what could be thought of as the empire of Israel. And of course, the Bible has never been closed to the powerful or the majority. But these qualifications don't disqualify the observation: in contrast to the default expectations that a Western literati brings to the Scriptures, they are, by and large, set in a context of oppression and marginalization. And for most of us who read them in the West, we overlook stuff when we forget that. Hence the project I'm now thinking of: