Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Reading of Books

It is said that many of the Biblical critics are highly intelligent people who have spent many hours studying the Bible. I do not question this. But sometimes I wonder, with C. S. Lewis, if they have ever read any other books or if they have totally compartmentalized the experience.  I have been been a bookworm much longer than I have been a Christian, and people do not write books that way. They do not grow up slowly in a community, nor are they made by putting pieces of sentences together from various sources. The issue is not whether the Bible is inspired by God. I would not consider such theories as explaining any secular book. Now if someone produced for me the physical or historical evidence, I might be forced, against my better judgment, to accept such a theory. But such evidence does not exist. We are asked to believe these things based on the plausibility of the theories. And the theories are not plausible. It is tempting to argue that if this is this best alternative to the inspiration of Scripture, it is a great proof of the inspiration of Scripture. But it is not really fair. It ought to be possible for someone with less scholarship and more common sense to come up with a more plausible theory. There is a kind of scholarship that want to prove its intelligence by coming up with complicated theories that do not stand up in real life. This is one such case.

For comparison it is helpful to look at other literature. I have always wanted to write a book (and may still someday) called The Textual Criticism of the Red Book of Westmarch in which I prove how impossible it is that The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion could be written by the same man. And on their logic one could argue for Strider, Aragorn, and Elessar sources in The Lord of the Rings. Or, even leaving aside the other works of Charles Dickens, how could The Pickwick Papers, which ranges from light comedy to some incredibly dark passages, have all been by the same person? Or how could the same author have written Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Yet on the basis of far more questionable reasoning, these critics claim to be able to deduce how ancient books were written. Now the world is full of interesting theories, and people will never cease to speculate. There will always be new theories as to how The Iliad and The Odyssey were written or what the real meaning of Hamlet is. But for anyone to bet twenty dollars, let alone one's eternal destiny, on the truth of such a theory seems incredibly foolish. The truth or falsehood of Christianity has been and will continue to be argued on various grounds. But such speculation does not seem an adequate basis for arguing one way or the other.    

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