Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Objectivity and the Bible

I have read a lot of debates in recent years in which two biblical scholars on opposite sides of the gay love question squared off on what the Bible had to say about the matter. If I knew the general moral and theological outlook of the opponents, I could nearly always predict in advance the outcome of these objective inquiries. Liberals generally come out saying that what the Bible really rejects is sexual abuse and exploitation and not monogamous, faithful relationships between two gay men or two lesbians. Conservatives are sure that what those passages in the New Testament condemn is the same sort of thing we mean by homosexual sex in our time. The Old Testament, of course, raises other issues, but the outcome really hangs on what is done with those verses in Romans and Corinthians.

I suggest no dishonesty, no tricks. Somehow the objective exegesis always produced results that agree with the personal opinion of the interpreter. That's just the way it turns out. Am I right?

Objectivity functions within a general framework consisting of the total set of assumptions the exegete brings to the task of biblical inquiry. That is the human condition. Nietzsche said, "There are no facts, only opinions." Well, I wouldn't go that far, but the philosopher had a point.

No comments: