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Monday, May 18, 2009
  Monogamy, polygamy and the verbal inspiration of Scripture
John Hobbins nearly always provides a good read. I have lost count of the number of his posts I have pointed out to students. He is often at his most thought provoking when one diagrees with him, or when he is pushing a rhetorical point to its limits ;)

So, I found his post Theological vs. “Plain-Sense” Exegesis of Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 with respect to the Marriage Covenant stimulating, especially since we only partly agree about some of the key issues. In the course of his argument John wrote:
This [monogamous] take on Genesis 2 is possible if and only if it is read against the grain of its proximate context - the book of Genesis, in which polygamy is taken for granted - and with the grain of its macro-context – inclusive of the New Testament, in which the ideal of monogamy is upheld by Jesus and Paul. This kind of exegesis is convincing if and only if one has a high view of scripture according to which, in classical terms, it is verbally inspired. On this view, each and every word of scripture is there for a reason that goes beyond what its human author could possibly have imagined.
A fun argument, with stirring rhetoric, but is John right? Must I swallow the camel of verbal inspiration, imagining e.g. God putting on funny voices to "do" Jeremiah and Isaiah differently, if I want to read Gen 2 in the light of the rest of, and the trajectory of, Scripture as a whole. I do hope not, because a God with "mouth" squinched to make Mark sound different from John, though possessing a fine sense of humour can hardly be taken more seriously than one who assiduously plants fossil animals in order to confuse 19-20th century natural philosophers!

Surely the simple fact that Genesis 2 is found, read and used as part of a canon - a collection of literature that I perceive as related and (at least somewhat) coherent is sufficient to enable me to read Gen 2 in a way that is like the way Jesus does in the Gospels?

Fun rhetoric, but I submit no score!


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