Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An article recommendation


Our Catholic brother in Christ, Nick, linked to the following article at the Called to Communion blog:

The Tradition and the Lexicon

I have read the opening post/article, and some of the 178 comments. Before returning to the combox, I felt compelled to recommend and link to this informative thread.

Enjoy!


Grace and peace,

David

7 comments:

Chris said...

An interesting post, David, though problematic in several respects. For example, it simply is not true that the methodology by which the lexica were compiled ignores the "family tradition", as it were. Quite to the contrary, lexicographers began within that tradition, and used its language as a starting point. Nor is it true that their methodology assumes the falsity of Catholicism. Rather, it simply assumes that the way words are used by the Catholic family today are not necessarily the same as the way they were used two thousand years ago. And scholarship seems to bear out that assumption.

I like the concept of the "hermeneutical spiral". We begin with a set of assumptions about the meanings of words and expressions that is shaped by the "family tradition". As we read the texts of the first century, however, our assumptions are gradually modified. We begin to see things in the texts and contexts of that century that don't fit with our assumptions. Each time we approach those texts, we do so with slightly different assumptions. And each time, they change our assumptions a little more-- bring them a little more into agreement with those of the authors. Ideally,we will eventually achieve a unity of understanding with the authors at the center of the spiral-- though realistically, all we can hope for is a general approximation.

All of this is to say that the "family tradition" is an indispensible starting point-- without which it would have been difficult or impossible to begin to engage the texts-- but we can't stop at that tradition if we believe that the Church, like everything else in the universe, changes over time.

Peace,

-Chris

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

So good to see you back; before I comment on some of your reflections, wanted to ask when you head back to school—is this going to be your second year at Claremont?

You posted:

>>I like the concept of the "hermeneutical spiral". We begin with a set of assumptions about the meanings of words and expressions that is shaped by the "family tradition". As we read the texts of the first century, however, our assumptions are gradually modified. We begin to see things in the texts and contexts of that century that don't fit with our assumptions. Each time we approach those texts, we do so with slightly different assumptions. And each time, they change our assumptions a little more-- bring them a little more into agreement with those of the authors. Ideally,we will eventually achieve a unity of understanding with the authors at the center of the spiral-- though realistically, all we can hope for is a general approximation.>>

Me: Good points Chris; and though I believe that you are substantially correct, I suspect that theological bias still lurks in the background (though certainly not as prominent in the late 20th century and early 21st).


Hope all is well with you and yours!


Grace and peace,

David

Chris said...

Unfortunately bias is unavoidable. Even an infallible teaching authority cannot solve the problem, since bias is as operative in selecting and submitting to such an authority as in interpreting the Bible.

School actually just started this week. I attended a Hinduism class on Monday, and tomorrow I have a class on extremism and another on US religious history since 1870. I suspect they will all be thoroughly enjoyable. How goes the Arabic study?

David Waltz said...

Hey Chris,

Hinduism? Interesting; care to share your motive for taking the class?

The class on extremism sounds very interesting--which textbook/s will you be using.

Arabic is moving at a slow, painful (grin) pace; but I am making progress.


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

A class on extremism?

I hope they have something to say about the instructions to motorcyclists around here in Washington State. When there is road construction, the government is imploring motorcyclists to use "extreme caution" in their travel. I think this is terrible public policy.

There is now no limit to the amount of caution that a motorcyclist is lawfully required to use when in construction zones in Clark County, Washington. This means that there is no speed that is slow enough. There is no amount of protective wear that is adequate. In short, they have outlawed any reasonable, practical use of motorcycles through these construction zones.

I could not possibly share Dave's enthusiasm for an entire class on this subject. When it comes to so-called "safety" in general Americans are extremists. Extreme safety advocates are an extreme problem that we must use moderate measures to overcome. I am against extremism in every form, but especially when it comes to personal safety. But I would never want to read a book or make a report on it. In fact, I am getting bored with my own post!

Let us know how it goes Chris.

Rory

Chris said...

lol, Rory!

There are quite a few books and articles for that class-- it would be tough to list them all-- but a few that sound interesting are Psychology of Terrorism, The Racist Mind: Portraits of American Neo-Nazis and Klansmen, and In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion. Mostly the course readings seem to be individual articles and book chapters rather than whole textbooks.

I am taking the Hinduism class mostly because I want to be qualified to teach world religions someday, so it's important to to expose myself to traditions with which I have little familiarity. Another reason is that Hindu thought may have influenced Greek philosophy-- especially Platonism-- which then influenced gnostic and mystical Christianity.

Anyway, I've enjoyed it so far. My initial impressions are that much Hindu thought has an integrity that is difficult for us Westerners to see, given our different cultural lenses. I have very much enjoyed the poetry of Kabir, especially.

Peace,

-Chris

Chris said...

As a side note, it might surprise you to learn that the faith vs. works debate has been as polarizing for Hindus as it has for Christians. People are fighting the same theological battles in a thousand tongues. :)