Michael Coogan, God & Sex 最後一章節錄:
For readers who are believers, the Bible continues to be considered an
authoritative guide. Yet, while upholding it as such, individuals and
communities of faith today, as through the ages, have of necessity been
selective--not just adopting, but adapting, modifying, and even rejecting some
of its teachings.
Bible is an anthology of historically conditioned texts, how do these texts
apply to later situations?
What a foundational text meant when it was written is not the only question
that needs to be answered: we also have to determine what such a text means in
the present. To do so requires ascertaining the ideals that underlie the
As an illustration, let us consider a specific issue from the culture wars of
another era, the issue of slavery. Every part of the Bible reflects the views of
its writers, and for them all, from the early Israelites to the latest authors
of the New Testament, slavery was divinely ordained and beyond question. Yet the
biblical story and the laws embedded in it also imply an alternate, even
subversive view... [The] repeated references to the Exodus from Egypt is the
principle of imitation of God: if God had delivered the Israelites from slavery,
then perhaps Jews and Christians should do the same for their own slaves. They
should treat others as they themselves had been treated, and would wish to be
treated... The essence of the scripture, then, is fair and equitable treatment
of others; the actual words are not necessarily binding.
Hence, relying on the overarching authority of the Bible, rather than on the
actual words of specific biblical writers for whom slavery was not only
permissible but even divinely decreed, abolitionists argued that slavery should
be ended because it was contrary to the essence of the biblical message. The
same analysis can be applied to issues like the status of women and, I would
argue, of any individual or group perceived as inferior.
Any specific biblical text is an incomplete formulation of the ideal because
it is historically conditioned, and so it should not be taken as absolute in any
sense. Moreover, no single biblical text adequately expresses the ideal, and in
fact some texts clearly counter to it from our perspective.