Friday, January 02, 2015

Newsweek writer's "jaw-dropping ignorance" of the Bible

Every Christmas I write a post about how every Christmas the old weekly news magazines write an article that poses as a intellectually responsible treatment of the Bible but is actually a low-grade amateur attempt at historical research and literary analysis. So here we are again.

With mind-numbing regularity, Time, Newsweek, and their ilk publish an article about the traditional Christian belief about how the virgin Birth of Christ and other traditional Biblical beliefs are outmoded by "modern" Biblical scholarship. And the way they do it is to quote scholars on one extreme end of the scholarly spectrum who, far from being modern, are still stuck in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-1869). Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). Check it out.

Liberal theologians are a bit like those Japanese soldiers hiding out in the jungle on isolated Pacific Islands who finally wandered into villages where they were informed that World War II had been over for 30 years.

Methods that were abandoned long ago in other literary disciplines are bandied about in contemporary liberal biblical circles as the brand spankin' newest thing. They survive only by virtue of a naive materialist rationalism fashionable in Germany 100 years ago which has been largely abandoned by everyone except a few American seminary professors who have yet to be informed that that we are living in the 21st century now and whose chief occupation seems to be taking calls from equally ignorant mainstream journalists looking for their annual Easter or Christmas cover story.

Who was it that said that America is where old German heresies come to die?

Justin Taylor at Sojourners makes the appropriate observations:
It is a tradition in American journalism as predictable as Easter and Christmas itself: a cover story purporting to reveal the true story behind the Bible we thought we knew.
...Even with a generous 8,487 words, Eichenwald reveals he is out of his depth for this subject matter. Though he doggedly advances his predetermined thesis from a mishmash of angles, experts quickly showed online that Eichenwald has not really done his historical homework or read his Bible carefully.
Read the rest here.

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