In the first part of our Lent series, we are asking a simple question “Is the Bible true?” The question may be true but the answer is anything but. Many things that are recorded there – from the parting of the Red Sea to the miracles of Jesus – seem to be impossible from any purely naturalistic standpoint. They need to be approached from the position of faith and trust.
As I was preparing my thoughts for this first session, I came across a book called Jesus by Michael Grant. He approaches the Bible with the eye of an historian. He is interested to see what happens if you treat scripture in the same way as you would any work of ancient literature capable of yielding historical information. This paragraph struck me as particularly helpful:
“To the ancient Jew, the natural and supernatural spheres, the visible and invisible, were one and inseparable and equally real, both manifesting in their different ways to the divine will. But the supernatural and invisible realm was hard to describe. Abstract argument was no use; this extra-logical, extra-historical dimension could be expressed only figuratively, by means of metaphor and imagery. For what had to be conveyed was not mere statistics but a higher, more elusive sort of truth: dry literalism was of no avail when people’s imaginations had to be kindled. And these considerations were particularly relevant to Palestine, ‘where words have never been regarded as necessarily a reflection of fact’, but possess a life and vigour of their own. It was a world in which stories were used as freely as we use metaphors – a world in which possibility or impossibility, prosaic truth or untruth, often seem to be beside the point.”
Please join us after Mass on either Tuesday or Thursday of this week as we look at this interesting and exciting subject.
Fr. Neil Gray