Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mutilating the Old Testament

A bible burning event by an Anglican vicar in Wales reveals the logical conclusion of the Enlightenment biblical historical criticism. It also reveals the persistent anti-semitical streak of the higher criticism. The vicar justifies his action with a reference to a certain German philosopher. “Nietzsche said we should philosophise with a hammer, whereas I prefer to theologise with a scissors. I have not burnt a Bible, I have merely cut bits out and burned the little parts that were left over leaving most of the book intact.” The idea is to get rid of the parts of the Bible  that represent a "cruel and vile God" and that supposedly contradict the teachings of Jesus. It's all a rehash of a very old heresy, Marcionism. Coming closer to home, we heard someone at the 2011 General Assembly asserting that certain parts of Leviticus had "never been part of the Word of God". The "moral" repugnance is thrown off onto the Jews.

How is historical criticism anti-Semitic? Try William Robertson Smith and his Lectures on the Religion of the Semites, whose major theme is in showing how diļ¬€erent Christianity has always been from the lower ‘primitive’ 'ritualistic' Semitic religion out of which it emerged. Historical criticism is the application of an evolutionary 'scientific' method. Robertson Smith's mentor was Julius Wellhausen (inventor of the documentary hypothesis), whose anti-semitism has been discussed frequently. Johann David Michaelis defined the field of historical criticism and was virulently anti-semitic.

Solomon Schechter gave an address, “Higher Criticism—Higher Anti-Semitism” in 1903. Some warning signs  had been raised. Clearly, however the intellectual climate was prepared for the rise of Hitler when Adolf von Harnack was ready to rehabilitate Marcion.