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Doctrinal Damage of the Collateral Sort (Part 3)

My mother and her twin sister, Dorothy, were born five years after Neil's death.  When Dorothy died of rheumatic fever at age fourteen, it was assumed that God, having reconsidered the original punishment, had found it insufficient. This is a line of thinking that had its beginnings in the minds of those who, starting around 536 B.C.E. were trying to make sense out of what had brought about Israel's defeat fifty years earlier!

In other words, the world in which my grandmother lived was profoundly influenced by invasion and exile half a world away and two and a half millennia before she was born, by the returning exiles who, in their need to understand the tragedy in the life of their nation, wrote interpretations of the incident in the Garden of Eden that in turn influenced Paul, who influenced Augustine, who defined a doctrine that would reach across 1,600 years of history to tell her, just as if it were true, that the deaths of two of her children were her punishment for having had sex before marriage. HOW'S THAT FOR IRONY? Most of us raised in Christian households also received some of this indoctrination, even if as individuals we rejected it and our parents deemed Original Sin to be nonsense. Even non-Christians in Western culture are subjected to it when, for instance, Christian leaders from the far right blame the active sexuality of modern-day Eves and feminists—as well as homosexuals—for events ranging from Hurricane Katrina to 9/11 to economic recession.

More irony: Those same ancient interpreters, and the rabbis who carried forward the tradition of interpretation, made it clear that is no such thing as THE correct interpretation of the Bible, that it is the responsibility of each generation, in light of the realities in which it lives, to interpret the Bible for itself. Moreover, each individual is likewise responsible. So, that's what I've done in my book--written an interpretation of Genesis, one of a different sort. So far, this blog reflects some of what you'll find there.


By: John R. Coats On Thursday, 29 April 2010 | Comments( 0 ) | Views(6853)