Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hebrew Bible

I started my Hebrew Bible class on Monday nights, and one of the extra credit options was to blog about the class every week. Well, since I already blog and I tend to blog about things I am learning, it seemed like a no-brainer. Thus, every week I will be blogging about my Hebrew Bible class.

Monday was our second class, and one of the things that has come up so far is the idea of each person having a context for reading the Bible. We also talked some about the way the Bible "came to be." We talked about the documentary hypothesis, which I learned about in my Ancient Biblical History and Culture Class at UMD. Studying the history of the Bible is actually so faith-affirming for me, because I find the idea of the Bible being strictly word for word literal to be so stifling. But the idea of the Bible evolving over time from different contexts and different peoples' experiences actually gives it more credibility in my eyes, and reminds me that God uses all sorts of people and cultures.

This topic came up in Pastor Amy's Bible study this morning, because she is preaching on "How God Speaks" this Sunday, and she's going to focus on scripture. We talked a little about the fact that we impose a contemporary definition of truth on the scripture, when the Bible was not written as journalism, but as a way of understanding the character of God and the relationship between God and God's people.

I am wrestling a little with how to teach my youth group to think and read critically, without pushing them too hard. In Bible studies at Camp this summer I had at least one kid a week ask me if the flood really happened, or if Moses really performed all of the miracles. It is a really touchy subject when we have such a wide range of theological backgrounds, so I usually ask "What do you believe?" and "What does it mean for you to believe that?" I found that when I took classes that questioned the historical accuracy of the Bible in college, it helped me to grow in my faith. How young is too young for these ideas? I don't want to confuse my youth and push their questioning too far, but I also don't want them to go unchallenged until they get to college.


Blogger Prisca said...

Hi, Megan!
I'm so glad to hear you are already thinking so clearly about how seminary education 'works' in real life. I have an M.Div education and two pre-schoolers at home so I don't think it's EVER too early to help kids understand the Bible as one's faith story as opposed to historical document. Of course we don't know how much is historically true, but we DO know the stories to be the 'true' expression of a life of faith and love in a God who doesn't change no matter how much we change. That's how I try to teach both kids and adults. I also remind folks that if they have what I call a 'one tack faith' (everything falls apart if you pull the one belief/tack out) then they will be destined for disappointment. Fall back on your Wesleyan heritage. United Methodism gives us the quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience for a reason. :) God's greatness can't be tacked down to just one means of expression/revelation so we have the 4 to help us translate God's work in our lives to others.

Sorry to take over here, I'm passionate about teaching the Biblical story well-- thanks for sharing your stories, Your kids are so lucky to have you! ;)

3:48 PM  
Blogger B said...

I don't know how much this'll makes sense, but I feel the Bible was basically written as poetry. A poem is not taken literally, but it is true (in fact, usually if you read a poem literally, you will completely miss the point). Everyone gets that Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is not really about his trip through a forest. Maybe he did take such a trip and come to an actual fork in the road, or maybe he didn't; the poem is true regardless. It's true not because it happened to him, but because it happens to us when we read the poem, because we take this trip through the poem and it shapes our lives.

So just like poetry, the Bible (IMO) isn't about the writer's experience but about the reader's experience while reading it. Abraham Joshua Heschel said the Bible isn't man's book about God, it's God's book about man. So I think the question you're asking the kids is exactly the right one: What does this mean for you? After all, it's about you, and lives on through you. What does the story of the flood (for example) make you learn/think about/feel?

I realize that teaching kids about metaphorical truth is about 50 times easier said than done, but that's my $0.02. :D

12:11 AM  
Blogger the reverend mommy said...

BTW, we posted an official welcome on the RevGal blog this afternoon.
It's good to have you!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

welcome to revgals- enjoyed your post... extra credit for blogging- I need to look into that!

7:03 AM  
Blogger revabi said...

Hi Megan, welcome to Hebrew.
And welcome to revgalblogpals.

4:43 PM  

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