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Monday, November 26, 2007
  Reading the Bible as a Baptist (I)
We debate at length when human life begins, key ethical decisions are impacted by our "take" on the question. The conflict over abortion in most Western societies is just one example. Yet in many ways the major milestone in the development of the humanity of a child is when we develop the ability to recognise the “other”. In a sense it is only to the extent that we can respond to others as "other", that we can be said to be behaving as human. As we begin our lives we learn to master our bodies, and we learn to relate to others. However, if and when we master the other we (as well as they) are diminished.

John in posts like "Emmanuel Lévinas: A Brief Introduction" and "Lévinas: A Mentor for the 21st Century" gave me the idea which is developing into my paper for this year's ANZABS (Aotearoa NZ Association for Biblical Studies) conference (3-4 Dec).

Lithuanian/French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas made "alterity" the core of his philosophy, the notion that we live, move and exist in relationship with another like me, as Gen 2 puts it "flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone", like me yet different. Of all our interactions those with “the other” have the most profound impact on us. For, "others" call on us in ways that things do not.

It struck me that otherness ("alterity") might make a useful organizing concept "towards reading the Bible as a Baptist in the 21st century" which is now, therefore, the sub-title of my paper. For Baptist approaches to reading the Bible, if they are to be distinctively "Baptist" need to take seriously the fact that reading is always a situated reading with, or against, "others".

So, my title is: "Alterity and biblical hermeneutics", and I plan to post some summaries of some of the ideas in the paper to this blog as I begin to work them out this week!

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