Hebraic Heritage: Religion and academia

The problem is, impressionable students are influenced by this blatant speculation (as opposed to real scholarship) and today we have seminaries turning out clergy who don't believe the Book from which they preach!

Jim Fletcher 88 224 (photo credit: )
Jim Fletcher 88 224
(photo credit: )
Back when Yasser Arafat was telling indifferent US State Department officials that the Jewish temples never stood in Jerusalem, many thought this was some new, outrageous propaganda. Outrageous, yes, but not new. For a very long time, change agents have sought to make Jewish claims to the Land of Israel illegitimate. They have attacked the Bible as unreliable and meant for primitive people, ancient and modern. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the worst propaganda came from Germany. And I don't mean only Nazi Germany. When Karl Graf's The Historical Books of the Old Testament was published in 1866, the Higher Criticism of the Bible was underway. Graf and his disciple, Julius Wellhausen, developed the so-called Documentary Hypothesis, which sought to transform the Pentateuch from an historical account of origins (including the origins of the Jews) into myth and half-truths. By the time Karl Barth began peddling his insane concept of "true myth," multitudes were confused about the integrity of the Bible. Wellhausen, for his part, started out holding the Hebrew scriptures in high regard. He even stated, "I read myself well into the prophetic and historical books of the Old Testament," but a year after Graf's book, Wellhausen had started down a slippery slope: "I learned through Ritschl that Karl Heinrich Graf placed the law later than the Prophets, and, almost without knowing his reasons for the hypothesis, I was prepared to accept it; I readily acknowledged to myself the possibility of understanding Hebrew antiquity without the book of the Torah." This extraordinary admission - that he was prepared to accept a brutal carving-up of Scripture without the slightest real evidence - gives us a glimpse into the motives of those who deny the Bible. They deny because they want to deny it. If Abraham was real in the sense that King Arthur was real, then we can't be sure of the very foundation of our faith. Not only Abraham, but David, Joshua, Moses, and other patriarchs are said by many scholars to be figments of Jewish scribes' imaginations. And if the land promises to the Jews are simply nationalistic stories, then all competing claims are just as valid, including those of the Palestinians. Bible prophecy, firmly rooted in reality, is smeared and mocked not only by non-believers, but even by many Christians today. They seek to relegate it to the realm of Bigfoot sightings and grainy photos of the Loch Ness Monster. Trashing predictive prophecy is big stuff in seminaries, where real effort is expended to separate ancient Jews from modern ones. All too often, scholars and professors and Christian leaders seek the approval of the academic world at large. This fosters a rejection of the miraculous parts of the Bible. This has led to all sorts of crazier theories, such as the whopper that "more than one Isaiah" wrote the prophetical book bearing his name. Some scholars say there were four Isaiahs; others insist on perhaps a dozen. Why? The reason is obvious. If prophecy is written after the fact, then it isn't prophecy, but history. Daniel has also always been one of the most-attacked books of the Bible, because of its marvelous and detailed prophecies. Proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis speculate that the early books of the Bible were written much later than the times in which they took place. This of course opens the text up to the very real possibility of mistakes, contradictions, and outright fabrication. Scholars such as Marcus Borg simply do not believe that predictive prophecy is legitimate, so they reject it. They reject it for the same reason Wellhausen did; it can't be true, so therefore it must not be. The problem is, impressionable students are influenced by this blatant speculation (as opposed to real scholarship) and today we have seminaries turning out clergy who don't believe the Book from which they preach! If we want to counter the lies of evil men like Yasser Arafat, we should know our Bible, and know the motives behind its critics. Critics will pass from the scene. The Bible will remain. Jim Fletcher is a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI). He can be reached at [email protected] Previous Entries Not enough good teaching material Our Jewish Roots - Educate, educate, educate