Be Your Own Bible Scholar

All you have to do is think like a Bible character.

Continued from page 2

Absolutely. The more people look at the Bible, the more they see. It's just so brilliant. I'm in love with it.

Are there passages where you haven't been able to explain what seems like very crude writing, where you say "that must be a scribal error"?

I never say that. I say "I must be such a cluck."

There are passages where I say "I don't understand this but I don't really

care

so much"--a war scene or whatever. And there are passages where I say "I don't understand this yet, but maybe someday something will happen in my life that will resonate, and I'll say 'Oh, that's what that meant.'"

I do think my explanations cover more of the ground without relying on scribal errors or saying, "this must be by a different author. "

You don't think there are ever any repetitions or garbled passages that are meaningless? You see it all as conscious devices and never just an accident?

No. Repetition is one of the Bible's favorite devices. So I'll stick with a text until I see an answer. I just don't feel that this author can be brilliant 99.44% of the time and yet speak gobblydegook the other 0.56%.



So you never blame problems on dual authorship?

I never do. I agree that the entire Bible was

not

written by the same author. But whoever did it was super-attentive. So if there are passages that look difficult, they're difficult! Let's figure 'em out. It's too easy a way out to dismiss the problem and say "oh, it must be a different author." If you're going to say that, then there are no problems in the Bible.

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You fill in plot gaps by suggesting motives for biblical characters. For example, you say that Joseph's brothers may have disobediently gone to a "town of ill repute"--an ancient equivalent of Las Vegas--and then tried to get rid of Joseph so Joseph wouldn't tell on them. Do any critics say you are relying too much on your imagination to fill in the gaps?

I do have plenty of people who don't agree with me, but if they say "You imagined this," I always feel I have enough logical evidence in any particular essay to back it up what I've said. For example, in Joseph story, Joseph is introduced with the words that he's a tattletale. Then, if you don't agree with my conclusion, you wouldn't see any tattling involved [later in the story]. The author tells us he's a tattletale and then drops it.

But if you agree that the brothers were afraid that Joseph would tell where he found them, and that the father was not expecting them to be there because it was a different place than where the father sent them, then the tattling is part and parcel of the story. The tattling is important because it shows the brothers' motivation.

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