Friday, July 15, 2011

Misquoting Jesus

So -- besides my wandering placenta and the crop of eager and (mostly) pleasant TFA newbies at work -- this week was most about this Bart D. Ehrman and Marcus J. Borg, two guys who know more about the Bible than the collective congregations of my child and who I suspect would still have been wrenched out of my hands back in eighth grade.

I'm only a couple of chapters into Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, but I am already trying to piece together my sense of well-being, rocked a little by the (somewhat obvious?) revelation that, in a literal sense, the Bible I'm reading was pieced together, copied, edited, sometimes probably approximated or guessed at or changed, rather than being spoken into its current (English, typeset, formatted) iteration by God Himself.

I'm not sure how this figures into to my understanding of the Bible, though I'm starting to feel less like it pretty much rips God out of my reach.

Borg's The Heart of Christianity is kind of a soothing counterpoint, at least so far -- I think it's one I'm going to have to read twice before returning. Borg, unlike Ehrman, is pretty forthcoming about the fact that he considers himself a Christian. He makes an extremely comforting distinction between kinds of faith, and between faith as an intimacy with God and faith as subscription to specific ideas about God.

The problem is that, however tense and frustrated I became trying to generate a belief that the Bible was literally true -- to be sure I really believed it and wasn't just trying to make myself feel better, to argue my way into knowing things that contradict most of the other things I know -- it is terrifying to think about just not trying to do that anymore. Just... entertaining the idea that the virgin birth might not be literal is not just scary, and isn't scary because of the threat of punishment; it's sad, and it's sad because it feels good to feel sure of things, however vulnerable that sureness feels.