Jesus Creed

Gutenberg_Bible ds.JPGLet’s begin today with a question: How do we justify abolition of slavery when the Bible contains it and in some ways justifies it?

How do you deal with that question?

The big questions in this series of posts have been these: How do we move beyond the Bible? Should we? Better yet: Since we have to, how do we move beyond the Bible into our world but do this biblically? 
This is the concern of Zondervan’s new Counterpoint book edited by Gary Meadors: Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)
.  We’ve looked at Walt Kaiser’s principlizing method, Daniel Doriani’s redemptive-historical, Kevin Vanhoozer’s theo-dramatic approach, and today we look at William Webb’s redemptive movement approach. Here’s a great entrance for us:
“It would appear that many biblical texts were written within a cultural framework with limited or incremental movement toward an ultimate ethic” (217).

Webb proposes understanding the underlying “spirit” of the text — and I am convinced in some ways the “spirit” of a text can be connected to Kaiser’s principlizing (not as woodenly, of course) but done so more along the line of Vanhoozer’s theo-dramatic need to carry forward the spirit of the Bible and its intent, etc, into our world.

For Webb there is a chart:
Original context (historical) <– Biblical Text —> Ultimate ethic
The Bible speaks from and into the original context, but it does so on a spectrum as it moves toward the ultimate ethic in the kingdom of God. That’s the redemptive movement — to recognize “that was then, but this is now” (Vanhoozer and Webb) — and to recognize that there is movement within the Bible that is not fully realized by or in the Bible, though that ultimate ethic is taught in the Bible itself (a point not often enough respected for what Webb is saying).
Webb has an amazingly complete sketch of how Christians appropriate Biblical texts on spanking and corporal punishment.
Here’s a terrorizing text from Deut 21:10-14, and I’d be interested how we can read this apart from Webb’s redemptive movement, who argues that even this text — as horrifying as it can be appear — is a powerful redemptive contrast to what is found in many ANE texts, where the treatment of women was disgustingly barbaric.

21:10 When you go out to do battle with your enemies and the Lord your God allows you to prevail and you take prisoners, 21:11 if you should see among them an attractive woman whom you wish to take as a wife, 21:12 you may bring her back to your house. She must shave her head, trim her nails, 21:13 discard the clothing she was wearing when captured, and stay in your house, lamenting for her father and mother for a full month. After that you may have sexual relations with her and become her husband and she your wife. 21:14 If you are not pleased with her, then you must let her go where she pleases. You cannot in any case sell her; you must not take advantage of her, since you have already humiliated her.

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