Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

SBL International Auckland – Day 3

Posted by NT Wrong on July 9, 2008

The first sessions of the day I went to were a bit ordinary, so I ducked unto the Book Review Session for Roland Boer’s Rescuing the Bible. This was a good move. George Aichele provided some excellent comments. He first questioned whether it is correct to say that the religious right had “stolen” the Bible (as Roland Boer had asserted), due to the fact that the very idea of a canon is intrinsically conservative. There can only be a “Bible” as long as we consider it authoritative. That is, the Bible would disappear if not considered authoritative. So, he reasoned, it is even impossible to say that the Bible can be taken “out of context”, to the contrary, the “Bible” is the context. What the Left should advocate, according to Aichele, is nothing less than the complete removal of the codex itself. And then he came out with this comment:

“The only good Bible is a dead Bible.”

George Aichele gave the example of The Brick Testament as a retelling of ‘biblical’ stories which manages to free the stories from their canonical context. The aim of the Left should be to reduce the Bible to a husk – reduce the Bible to the mere illusion of a book.

Aichele contrasted his view with those in the Left who want the Bible to act as canon, a venerated classic, to recover, as some have put it, “the dangerous memory of Jesus”. Such a view would try to rescue the radical bits, while failing to recognize the oppressive parts in which it is embedded.

George Aichele also questioned Boer’s advocation of a utopian socialist “myth” which should be aimed for, objecting that all myths are universalizing and totalitarian. Instead, with reference to Lyotard and Zipes, he advocated multiple fairy tales and fantasies rather than a single overbearing myth.

Aichele finished by pointing out that the motivation to be suspicious of the Bible’s contents is not something that derives from the Bible itself, but from outside, from a secular hermeneutical standpoint. If the motivation for suspicion were from the Bible, after all, we would have to be suspicious of that, too. Yet sometimes the Left has accepted the Right’s claim that we are not choosing our beliefs and actions, but we are “just following the Bible” (which, for the right means “just following the Bible” to oppress women, minorities, and homosexuals, encourage capitalism, etc, etc; for the Left means some illusory authentic radical core). Rather than rescuing the Bible, we therefore need to rescue people from the Bible.

Phew, eh?

Here’s Roland Boer in action:

2 Responses to “SBL International Auckland – Day 3”

  1. James Crossley said

    Sounds like the sexiest session of the conference and one I’d actually turn up to. On the picture, Roland isn’t shaking, is he??! Tell me it aint so!

  2. ntwrong said

    It’s his aura.

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