Pete Rollins on Cutting the Bible

Pete Rollins has an excellent post on cutting the Bible (without anyone noticing). Here’s a sample that I considered particularly poignant:

There have been various attempts by the liberal tradition within Christianity to remove parts of the Bible that they don’t agree with (e.g. the Jefferson Bible), something that conservative Christians have vehemently attacked. However the truth is that the conservative Christians simply engage in a different, more clandestine, form of deletion. One that doesn’t require physically cutting up the text: they do the cutting internally.

Philosophically speaking the claim that the Bible in its entirety is literal and inerrant (i.e. self-evident, internally coherent, and a reflection of the mind of God) operates as a ‘master signifier’. This means that it is a claim without any specific content that is worn as a badge to let you know what team you play for. It doesn’t matter too much how you actually fill in this empty container as long as you make the claim. It functions then as a shibboleth that identifies you as being in a certain tribe.

For as soon as one attempts to actually enact what it might mean to hold the bible as literal and inerrant (i.e. to fill this claim with content) one must treat large parts of the text as taboo. What becomes clear is that the person who makes the abstract claim that the bible is literal and inerrant, when enacting the claim, always refutes themselves.

Click through and read the rest. And on a not unrelated topic, see the post on “The Little Foxes” at Stuff Fundies Like.

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  • james Harrison

    Back in the 60s I wrote a long paper about Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals. In the course of researching the paper, I used a magic marker on a large part of the text. Years later, I made the experiment of reading only the sentences of the Genealogy that I hadn’t emphasized. Very revealing. What I had left out wasn’t the gristly connective tissue of the work, but simply the part that I didn’t find convenient at the time. The shadow Nietzsche was an interesting thinker in himself.

    Has anybody done the parallel experiment of seeing what’s left in the Bible when the usual proof texts are ignored?

  • James F. McGrath