Thursday, August 28, 2003

More on the Mel Gibson Passion controversy. In an interview with the Jerusalem Report, The Gospels Agree - Jesus Was Killed by Rome, Eugene Fisher, "associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Consultor to the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews," reiterates current Catholic teachings:
Jesus really was killed under the authority of Rome, on the cross, which is not a Jewish way of doing things. But a gospel isn’t meant to be a newspaper. Look at Genesis 1 and 2, where you have two different versions of creation. Some Christians think the purpose of Genesis is to give us a cosmology. But it’s meant, rather, to teach us that God created the universe. It’s in a sense like asking whether a joke is true or not. Who cares? The Gospels were not primarily written to provide a historical record, but to provide understanding of humanity and of salvation.

It's interesting that he is very specifically refuting here some current notions that view the Bible as a whole as a kind of "newspaper," meant to state scientific and historical truths. When I teach about the Hebrew Scriptures it is often very hard to get students away from this way of reading the Bible -- for example, I have had students who have wanted to find a scientific explanation for all the plagues. It seems to me a curiously modern way of reading the biblical texts -- trying to make them "scientific" and "historical" to match the scientism and historicism of the modern world.

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