Saturday, January 28, 2012

Asking Questions

Be still, and know that I am God ... The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.   -- Psalm 46:10a,11

I was struggling earlier in the week with the Documentary Hypothesis.  As I wrote last week, Richard Friedman's book, "Who Wrote the Bible?" helped me to understand, in a way I hadn't before, that there are several different points of view, from several different writers, revealed in the first books of the Bible. In an effort to test whether Friedman's conclusions were accurate, I decided to try to determine for myself where one writer begins and another writer ends, based on the tone conveyed and common phrases used.  At times, it was pretty easy to figure out, as with the two creation stories.  But other times, as with the Flood Story, I found the different writers harder, much harder, to separate. 

After highlighting the entire book of Genesis in my NRSV Notetaker's Bible, with various colors of highlighters, trying to determine the different sources for myself, the only thing clear to me was that there is more than one source, or one writer, for the Books of Moses, and these writers had different points of view.  Well, that, and also that I now had a very colorful book! 

Undaunted, and still curious, I looked for other opinions on the subject.  There are other theories for the way these early books were written besides the Documentary Hypothesis.  There is the theory that the stories were fragments from many writers that were pieced together.   (Perhaps these came from oral traditions?).  And, there is the theory that one basic story (perhaps written by Moses?), was added to or taken away from over the years before the final version came to be.   Each of these theories made some sense to me.

Then I read from a more conservative theologian that unless we believe Moses wrote all five of The Books of Moses, our faith is null.  His reasoning was that if we don't believe that, then we might not believe that Christ said what he said, and so on. 

Hmmm.  I find this argument for not questioning the writings in the Bible to be absolutely fascinating.  First of all, it doesn't matter to me who wrote the Bible, as much as it matters what the writers have to say about God and our relationship to God.  And second of all, how would we continue to learn and grow if we couldn't ask the questions we have?   

As Jesus said, "Seek, and you shall find."  I firmly believe that if you don't seek, with all the heart, mind, body, and soul, that God gave you, you don't find. 

Sometimes the search leads to new understanding -- something to be greatly treasured.  And, sometimes you take a wrong turn.  Sometimes you go around and around in circles.  And, sometimes the search leads you back to where you started, as if for the first time.  And sometimes you discover that the answer you are searching for is not so important, after all -- like how many people wrote The Books of Moses.

Despite these challenges, I cannot imagine going back to a life of faith in which I never questioned what I was told.  For then, I can tell you for a fact, I did not know God.

Dear God, thank you for letting me know, in the midst of my struggles of trying to understand everything, that you hear me and that you know how to comfort me.  You alone hold the keys to the ultimate truth.  Whenever I get pulled in many directions, you remind me of this.  And I rest in you.  Love always, Pam


Elizabeth said...

I find this blog very interesting and see glimpsings of my own "searching" in this.
And as for your prayer at the end, Amen to that.
Great blog.
~ Elizabeth

marie said...

The Quran says we must continually seek knowledge. I think the world would be much better off if we all did this.