Friday, May 15, 2009
  Urgent action: Aung San Suu Kyi imprisoned
Email frrom Burma Campaign:
This morning Burma¹s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested by the regime and moved to Burma¹s notorious Insein prison. It appears she will face trial for breaking the terms of her house arrest which forbids visitors, after an American man, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake and refused to leave her house.

Aung San Suu Kyi has committed no crime, she is the victim of a crime. There was an intruder in her house who refused to leave, yet she is the one being mprisoned.

The United Nations and ASEAN must dispatch envoys to Burma to demand the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all Burma¹s political prisoners.

Please go to this page where you can email the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and ASEAN leaders to urge them to send envoys immediately.

As you know Burma¹s generals will use any excuse to keep Aung San Suu Kyi detained. If strong action isn¹t taken, Aung San Suu Kyi could face the rest of her life in jail.

Please take action now. Aung San Suu Kyi could now spend the rest of her
life in jail.

It is not acceptable that the UN and ASEAN only speak out ­ they must take action. In the past their expressions of concern and statements have been ignored and defied by the Burmese regime. Words alone are not enough. The UN and ASEAN must immediately take real action and send high level envoys to Burma to ensure that Suu Kyi does not spend the rest of her life in jail.

Today Aung San Suu Kyi will have spent a total of 13 years and 202 days in detention. The United Nations has ruled that Aung San Suu Kyi¹s detention is illegal under international law, and also under Burmese law. The United Nations Security Council has also told the dictatorship that they must release Aung San Suu Kyi.

Please take action now and ensure that Aung San Suu Kyi does not spend the rest of her life under arrest.


Monday, March 30, 2009
  The story and the narratives
I'm teaching biblical narrative this semester, so I was interested in the post by Nick Montfort to narrations of "Little Red Riding Hood":
to which we can add Mary Hess' link to Little Red Riding Hood as infographic.

So, tell me please gentle reader, was/were the one(s) you consumed "same" story, or a new story? And why?

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Friday, February 27, 2009
  Theological Interpretation
Anthony with HT to Philip Davies posted a nice clip from nijay gupta enjoy:

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Saturday, January 10, 2009
  Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah - Introduction to the series
Yesterday I began posting thoughts on Stephen Cook's book Conversations with Scripture : 2 Isaiah today I'll look at the part Stephen did NOT write ;)

In the "Introduction to the series" Frederick W. Schmidt seeks to unpack what a "distinctively Anglican approach to Scripture looks like.

First he seeks to understand how Scripture is Authoritative. Claiming that for Anglicans it is more like a city we inhabit, and within whose bounds we enjoy our creative space. That image is exciting, but probably (Anglican friends may correct me) not distinctively Anglican, though it may find expression better in Episcopalian tradition than in other less "broad" communities. He also tells of his reply to an Evangelical Free Church friend who wondered "why someone with such obvious interest in the Bible would be Anglican". The reply is a fine and rousing slogan, that presents a sharp critique to many Baptist churches (a friend and I were bemoaning last night how little of the Bible is read in most NZ Baptist churches of a Sunday). But: "Because we read the whole of Scripture and not just the parts that suit us." cannot be left unchallenged by this Baptist. It is true that the Anglican (Catholic, Methodist... name any church that uses a lectionary including many Baptist churches) habit of reading all (or at least to be more honest, 'most of' since certain "difficult" texts are censored from all lectionaries I have seen!) of the Bible from time to time. It is also true that the (ana)Baptist habit of favouring certain parts of the Bible - like the gospel accounts of Jesus teaching - also has strengths, and it is essential to recognise that all of the canon is not at the same level of "authority".

Schmidt's second category of an "Anglican" approach to Scripture, that it is illuminative is simply something that most Christians would agree on, and indeed insofar as "illuminative" means that Scripture demands a change in the life of the reader is one that early Baptists fought with Anglicans over. In my post (Ana)Baptist Hermeneutics I even claimed as a distinctively (ana)Baptist form of hermeneutics - under the title "Hermeneutics of Obedience", that I borrowed from Stuart Murray (from Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition 206 or see the summary by Stuart Murray-Williams).

His third, critical engagement also begs several questions, British Baptists are not without their own roll call of distinguished 19th and 20th century biblical scholars...

So, this "Introduction to the Series" is something of a curate's egg, the discussion of authority is stimulating, but some of claims seem unnecessarily chauvinistic. Perhaps rather than the parts, it is the whole that matters, it may be that it is the selection of just these characteristics that distinguishes Anglican approaches to Scripture... certainly I did not find equivalents for all of Murray's list:
  • The Bible as Self-interpreting
  • Christocentrism
  • The Two Testaments
  • Spirit and Word
  • Congregational Hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics of Obedience
And equally neither Murray, nor I, placed "critical engagement" in the list at all, though I think "diversity" does appear as an inference from our "Congregational Hermeneutics" - which implies that different locations produce different local readings.

[The next post, which won't appear on Sunday - since I am preaching, will begin at last to read Stephen's own work, after all this preparation!]

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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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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
  (Ana)Baptist Hermeneutics
I've just finished marking a research essay concerned with "Anabaptist Hermeneutics", with Elaine I'm busy putting the finishing touches to the course outline for "Biblical texts and contexts", tomorrow we have another supervision meeting with an excellent PhD candidate (Nasili Vakauta, whose theme is "Reading the Bible Tu'a-wise: Oceanic Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation" - tu'a are Tongan commoners) and I am about to start reading semi-final drafts of Karen's master's thesis (her topic is the usefulness of various recent synchronic approaches to biblical studies for creating Church curriculum). So, hermeneutics is in the air round here...

My context, teaching in both Carey (a Baptist theological college) and the University of Auckland (in a School of Theology very committed to various forms of contextual reading - not least forms of liberational readings that of use varieties of hermeneutic suspicion), leaves me pondering two issues:
  1. Can Evangelical biblical scholarship and what (to distinguish it, yet not use evaluative language) I'll call Western Academic biblical scholarship talk to each other?
  2. Can a Baptist hermeneutic survive in the academy?
The first question arises, for me, from the increasing lack of significant overlap between the books and articles on my Carey and University bibliographies. The books tend in both places to come from a limited and select range of publishers. Despite some publishers, like Eerdmans, appearing strongly on both lists the Carey lists tend towards Baker Academic, IVP and Zondervan, while the University lists tend more to Fortress Press, Liturgical Press, OUP and the like. Journals obscure this gulf, but it is noticeable that I tend to choose different articles in the two contexts.

Both lists reflect my interests, combined they would reflect the much of the breadth of contemporary biblical studies. Separated they each represent communities that are unwilling, or unable, to converse. Something like this experience is reflected (unless I have badly misunderstood) in posts in the biblioblogsphere often responding to Jacques Berlinerblau's Chronicle of Higher Education piece "What's Wrong With the Society of Biblical Literature?" (subscription required). These included:

Wow, something touched a nerve!

So, how does Baptist Hermeneutics, assuming there might actually be such an animal (you know the joke "four Baptists = seven opinions"), relate to all this?

There are some common threads and tendencies that run through recognisably "Baptist" interpretation of the Bible. (By 'recognisably "Baptist"' I mean acts of interpretation not merely by Baptist interpreters, but that have some character or style that makes them seem more "Baptist" than others - I know a vague, arbitrary and subjective criterion, but you do better!) Something like Stuart Murray's (from Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition 206 or see the summary by Stuart Murray-Williams) list seems about right:
  • The Bible as Self-interpreting
  • Christocentrism
  • The Two Testaments
  • Spirit and Word
  • Congregational Hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics of Obedience
Taken together these items produce a hermeneutic which privileges the gospels, reads the Old Testament in the light of its "fulfillment" in Christ (which to me means the way Jesus fills out or completes) and understands any part of the Bible in the light of the whole. Such reading is constrained also in two ways that academic reading is not.
  • It is reading in community - not individualistic.
  • It is reading for and in obedience to Christ - not reading for its own sake or with its own value.
Such reading is therefore deeply at odds with the Western Academic tradition, which is individualistic and "proud". (By "proud" I mean the opposite of "humble", a humble reading respects the text, seeks to follow and to learn from the text, but will not judge or evaluate. Western Academic reading is most un-proud in the sense that it expects robust peer review and argument, but it is often proud with respect to the biblical text.)

Does this mean that such an (Ana)Baptist reading cannot survive in the academy, but only in the church? (Wait for the next installment of these musings...)

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