Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Written by God, best selling author of all that you behold."

So, when we're talking about the authorship of the Bible, an obvious answer that you hear a lot is  -- well, God.  We do consider the Bible the word of God, after all.  So, uh... duh.

Now, there's something important in that answer.  But let's start with the problem. God, as far as we know, is not corporeal.  Or if he is, he's really sneaky, because as far as I know, he's not ever been identified walking down the street.  Until Jesus, anyway, and he wasn't an author. Our savior, yes; a writer, no.

Another way of putting this might be that the whole corporeal category doesn't fit for God.  Like most categories for God, really.  I heard someone give a talk recently where they said, you can't say God exists.  Not because he doesn't, but because that whole idea of exists/doesn't exist is too small and limited for God.  It's a category for us, for the created, not the creator.

Have I got your head spinning?  Sorry.

Back to God as author.  So -- if we agree that he has no body in the way that you and I do, he can't literally be the guy who wrote the text.  He needed someone else to do it for him.  So he had human author or authors.

But maybe those human authors were really just God's mouthpieces?  In the Catholic church we say the texts were divinely inspired, and this is a common interpretation of that -- certain people (i.e. my neighbor Vern, whom we'll talk about in the next post) sort of channelled God.   They received his dictation.  And therefore, every single word in every single text is actually literally word for word what God intended to say.

The problem is -- well, let me give you two.  First, have you ever played telephone?   You see where I'm going...  even if someone listens really really well, eventually, they miss a word or two here or there. Unless, God actually "takes over" the person, makes them the "vessel" of what he wanted to say.  Which sounds like a lot of creepy movies, yes?  Talk about head spinning...

Now, maybe we'd say, hey, if Linda Blair was writing hopeful words instead of levitating and groaning, we'd be good with that.  But either way, you're talking about an end to free will, and that is not really the way we believe God works.

Sorry, Linda.
(And Lord, put something on those pores, you're really breaking out.)

So, what we're talking about ultimately is some sort of a collaboration between God and human beings.  God, maybe understood best here as the Holy Spirit, inspiring the skills and imagination of human beings in such a way as to create these rich, spirit-filled stories.   And this can take different forms, hence on the one hand the relative dictation of the 10 commandments to Moses to the songs King David creates out of devotion to the Lord, which we call the Psalms.

All of which leads us to Vern.

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