Friday, May 29, 2009

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes- Cultural Studies in The Gospels

Hi There Folks,

This book seems to be getting some fabulous reviews out there. This reviewer will be making a case for it to be set on a ledge At The Brink of Hades (with many thanks to Richard Lyall for the home page picture). Let's see if the church is willing to "loose this book on earth" (Matt. 18:18)- that it may be loosed from the heavenly library.

Please send me your comments on my case. I hope to be humble enough for rebuke, correction and teaching. Try me!

Now, this book was selected to be a study guide for a mature Bible Study group that I was in. The rave reviews at Amazon was a factor. I would not recommend this book for an immature student. As someone in our group mentioned- "It may be useful as a conduit to the truth". Another mentioned, "It taught me the importance of context by being its failing to be contextual".
Indeed, God uses all books for His glory. Yet some are more edifying than others. Some are pretty good kindling. May Bailey revise this kindling- as a firebrand snatched from a blaze.

So... starting from the intro, the red flags started going up for me when Bailey lists the sources of his information (pg. 12). None of which are regarded as early or reliable witnesses by most New Testament textual critics.

Bailey later suggests (18) that our Greek texts do not allow for the certainty of the inspiration that the Koran may claim for its text- due to its evolutionary characteristics. I disagree. I believe that the wealth of more numerous and earlier manuscipt sources refutes this apostate theory of evolution. Bailey fails to provide evidence that this manuscript species has evolved into an uncertain or different species. As with apostate-textual critic Bart Ehrman- its all ipsi dixit (because I say so).
Bailey entertains far too much uncertainty in the inspiration within our current translations- though he claims to have followed "the Western debate over these matters with great care and interest" for the past fifty years (19). Indeed, the concept of biblical inerrancy is considered a Western innovation by the East as well as others. But then, "They're just people looking to the East" (a Doobie Brothers song) for inspiration :)
Bailey's concept of inspiration appears to be far more apostate than the apostate concept for which professor Peter Enns was loosed from Westminster Seminary. But then Bailey just teaches at an Episcopal seminary :)

Bailey then suggests that "we are obliged" to translate all of our gospel manuscripts back into Aramaic (as if Aramaic were the original) for a proper understanding. This suggests far too much. Very few words of the gospels were written in Aramaic. Few scholars would suggest that the gospel of John was written in Aramaic. Fewer would suggest that Luke would write his gospel in a tongue not native to him. Aramaic translations did not appear for centuries later. Bailey entertains far too much faith in later translations and commentaries as we shall see. We shall also see Bailey conceding that the evidence is growing "more and more" against his paradigm (219).
Bailey suggests that "we are obliged" to translate the life and teaching of Jesus back into Aramaic. A pretty difficult task for some Greek words Jesus used- like "hypocrite". As if the red letter words of Jesus are of greater import than the other God-breathed words of the Holy Spirit. And as if they are not one.
Also, that we are "obliged to consider the Aramaic eyewitness testimony to that life and teaching". I guess all of Luke is in dispute there. One wonders if we should consider only the Aramaic testimony of the Old Testament as well. Sure would make for a quicker read of The Bible :)
And finally in this paradigm, "we are obliged" to consider the selection, arrangement and editing of those Greek texts into Gospels. Indeed, a huge obligation which throws huge uncertainty into the gospel itself. This is an obligation of dangerous proportions. An obligation that causes many immature seminary students to lose what little faith they may have had. A mission that caused an immature Ehrman to lose what little faith he may have had. An obligation that has now caused Ehrman to embark on his apostate mission of Ehrancy :)

Well, so much for the intro to this book. Looking forward to your comments as we plow on...