I know it has been a rather sporadic series of posts but today marks the final Bible Study post, the others can be found, in order of tracking the history of the Bible, at these places: And in the Beginning..., NewTestament, Humans Are Too Stupid and A Very Confusing Book Indeed.
The current modern Biblical malaise stems from a desire for certainty, as if to combat scientific certainty (which in itself is not totally certain) and to a degree, this has bred the modern, defensive Christian, who feels under siege from science and indeed modernity and has entrenched themselves in the warm comfort of Biblical dogma and apocalyptic visions. No longer is the Bible an act of faith in itself but an act of intellectual submission to a set of beliefs ruled errorless and binding.
This desperation had led to a disgusting distortion of the scriptural tradition, as witnessed in the idea of the Rapture and whereas in the past, the less than humane parts of the Bible were passed over or treated with exegesis, modern faith has actively sought these portions out and has invoked them ahistorically and literally.
Quite simply, the Bible is not there to back up political policy, doctrines or beliefs; it is an activity unto itself and not one to be abused as a mere block quote, to justify some insane position or another. The fundamentalist emphasis on the literal, which is ever restricting and limiting, is a breach with the long tradition of the figurative and the innovative.
It has not all been one way traffic though, modernity, with all of its advancements, has brought about unprecedented violence and tools of destruction, these have coloured interpretations of the Bible, apocalypse became a reality and the violence of modernity has in turn made the Bible more violently interpreted.
Modernity's assumptions about the Bible are, for the most part, horribly incorrect. The slavish conformity and dogma that is much of its current incarnation have little to do with Biblical tradition, the Bible is anti-orthodoxy and was always supposed to be contradictory and conflicting but more importantly it was supposed to be interactive and ever changing.
We have a long way to go to get back to that kind of subtle interpretation...