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Response to Oddman (Reply #24)

Thu May 10, 2012, 02:46 PM

36. Oh for crying out loud.

Biblical literalism is a fairly recent phenomenon, and an almost uniquely American one. The notion that Christianity should even be centered on the Bible, and not on its rituals, can be traced in origination to 16th century Europe (what did that coincide with?). Puritans were early adopters of literalist interpretations, and they were persecuted for this heresy by established churches (both Roman Catholic and Church of England). They carried their vein of literalism to the US to escape that persecution, where it took root in pentecostalism and later in fundamentalist and evangelical bible-churches and revivals.

Biblical literalism is certainly not your supposed "essential" christian tenet. When St Augustine wrote his treatise called "The Literal Meaning of Genesis," for example, he argued explicitly for a symbolic interpretation, not a literal interpretation. Indeed, there is no christian creed that says anything about how to read biblical scriptures, and the highest claim the Bible itself makes is Paul's letter to Timothy stating that "Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness . . . ." This was a gloss on foundational Hebrew scriptures. It does not suggest literalism, and indeed, there is no history of literalism in foundational Judaic theology.


Of course, its handy for you to use this phony pronouncement of literalism as the sine qua non of christianity because it permits you to set it up as a sole measure, and to then burn all of christianity to the ground by putting a match to your single straw. It's really rather juvenile.

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