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Ten Questions about the Bible – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Feb 132007

The Book of KellsJendi Reiter wanted to know what my answers to these questions are. So here we go.

1. State briefly what you believe about the Bible. I believe the Bible is the people of God’s theological confession of faith. This is how God came to us, started a relationship, and continues that relationship.

2. How is the Bible inspired? I believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, which means I believe the Bible contains all truth necessary for faith and Christian living.

3. So is the book of Judges inspired, or only the Gospels? Yes, I believe the book of Judges is inspired. Most of it is a manual on how not to live, and the danger of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes.

4. How is the Bible authoritative? The Bible is authoritative in all things pertaining to faith and salvation. I don’t believe the cultural institutions of the day are authoritative today (like patriarchy and stoning someone for working on the Sabbath). That was the culture God had to work with and should not be taken as authoritative or inspired.

5. Is the Bible a human book? It is both a human and divine book. I don’t believe God zapped people and dictated through them. I believe God revealed God’s self to the people, and inspired them to write what they experienced. I believe it’s the faith community’s confession of faith in this God, and how this God has a relationship with us throughout history. It is both divine and human.

6. Are there aspects of the Bible that are not divine? As I said in 4, there are cultural things that are not divine. That is what God had to work with.

7. Why do you call the Bible a conversation? Because both God and people talk and have a relationship throughout the Bible. It’s not a one-sided monologue, but a diverse conversation with many different points of view.

8. What do you believe about canonization? These are the writings that have led people to a better understanding of God through time and many different communities. The community said these are the writings that are sacred and show us God and the way to live.

9. Do you reject the inspiration of some books? I don’t believe the Apocrypha is inspired.

10. Anything else you want to say? Nope, I think this covers it.

The picture is from The Book of the Kells. I found this picture at the University of British Columbia Library.

Did you know there are only eight verses in the Bible that discourage women from speaking and holding leadership positions in the church? Did you know there are thousands of verses in the Bible that tell the stories of women who were leaders in their homes, towns, and religious circles? Meet the women in the Bible who were religious & civic leaders, business women, & women who challenged both Jesus and Moses in What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School. What else didn’t you learn in Sunday School? Find out when you buy What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut Up & Sit Down from Wipf and Stock Publishers or Amazon.com today.

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  3 Responses to “Ten Questions about the Bible”

  1. Glad you picked up on this one. Your comment on #3 about “a manual on how not to live” really helps me make sense of some of the bloodier parts of the Hebrew Bible. One can feel forced to justify everything the heroes and patriarchs did, because it’s in the Bible – but they were sinners too, like us!

    What do you mean by “all truth necessary for faith and Christian living”? I’ve heard phrases like this before, but I am not sure what other view it is opposing. What is the role of interpretation and to what extent can we rely on extra-Biblical disciplines like history and psychology to figure out what the Bible is saying about faith and morals?

  2. Thanks for the read! Your answers to these questions are very different from how I would answer them, which is great. It is nice to hear other people’s opinions so as not to fall into thinking that everyone thinks the same as me.

    Just out of curiosity: why do you think the Apocrypha is not inspired (I’m using your own definition of inspired)?

  3. Matthew, the main reason I don’t believe the Apocrypha is not inspired is because I am Protestant, and most Protestant churches don’t look on the Apocrypha as Scripture. I trust my tradition on that call.

    Jendi, “all truth for faith and Christian living” means that I believe the Bible tells us how to have a relationship with God. But I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant for all of life’s concerns because the way we live has changed so much. We’ve done away with slavery for instance, which was perfectly acceptable in both Testaments.

    I think history helps because we need to know about the culture. “An eye for an eye” is a perfect example. We take it to mean revenge is perfectly fine, but that law is to put limits on revenge. You could only take an eye for an eye, not a hand for a eye. Back then if a poor person hurt a rich person, the rich person could kill or maim the poor person. This makes sure that doesn’t happen.

    Psychology I’m less sure on because there is so much fluidity within the discipline, so I am less likely to use that discipline for that reason. Along with a lot of the time we don’t know what is going on in someone’s head in the Bible. Personally Jung is my favorite, but that doesn’t mean I can read the patriarchs and matriarchs and say “Ah that’s Jungian!”

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