Relevance for Today in Yesterday’s Bible Scholarship
Bible scholar Richard Elliott Friedman believes that the tools and methods developed in good Bible scholarship should now be applied in new ways to the Bible: relevance for understanding and discussing the hot topics of modern times, for example.
Archaeology, linguistics and textual criticism—all of which are essential parts of thorough Bible scholarship—can shed important light on today’s controversial topics, such as capital punishment, abortion, homosexuality, women’s status and the environment. Everyone from pastors to politicians is talking about these hot-button issues, calling on the authority of the Bible, relevance (if any) of the Bible in today’s society, and what the Bible has to say about them. As Richard Elliott Friedman stresses, good Bible scholarship has an essential role in these discussions.
Without taking sides on most of the issues, Friedman discusses how a careful study of the Bible can contribute to a better understanding of what the text really says—and doesn’t say. On the environment, however, he says that the message in the Bible is clear: As humans we are the stewards of this planet, and we should not abuse our power over it.
Read more about this important new approach toward Bible scholarship in Richard Elliot Friedman’s “The Bible Then—The Bible Now,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2011.
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