Sunday, November 30, 2014

What's the point in reading Matthew's gospel?

"Face it. No one knows shit about what could have happened back then, and it's all made up," commented someone on Facebook about last week's post on the different versions of the story about the woman or women who anointed Jesus.

"That kinda misses the point," I replied.

I was glad no one then asked me the obvious question, because I wasn't ready to think about it.

What IS the point of reading these stories and thinking about them?
Is there a point?
Need there be a point?

I enjoy reading the scriptures and contemplating them. I don't know which, if any, of the sentences in these texts describe events that actually happened, or people who actually existed. There is no way to verify any of the statements made, and although there are people who think finding Noah's Ark would prove that the Book is essentially a collection of true statements of fact, it would not.
I don't think there is a need to prove that the Christian canon is, along with Greek and Latin  literature, foundational to our culture, or that a study of ideologies  would be incomplete if it did not confront this collection of writings canonized by the Nicean Council. 
I can understand people being confused by my enjoyment of scripture, but I am confused by those who don't see the scholarly interest, even if it is not something they care to pursue, or even if they experience Christianity as an alien and hostile meaning system. On the weekend following Thanksgiving it is hard not to notice that some form of something called "Christianity" dominates our culture, such that no president, or candidate for the presidency, dare question any of it. 
Some readers are existentially engaged by the text. This is when one finds oneself being challenged in a way that forces one to question oneself fundamentally, to question values,  perspective, meaning system, in a way that places one at a crossroads. When this happens, it is even more critical to ask the text questions, because maybe the point in question is at this intersection.

"Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

I am reading Matthew 26, still, and will be making notes, asking questions.
Also, Mark 14 


Blogger DEE SHAPIRO said...

Wonderful stories in those books.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Camilla said...

So many of the stories are complex and raise questions about human nature and why not? It's a wonderful thing and I'm glad you are writing about it. I find it fascinating.

6:20 PM  

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