I was contacted recently by someone who was looking for a meme that illustrated how fundamentalist Christians, who claim to rely on “the Bible alone,” are thoroughly dependent on academic work on the Bible in ways that they either fail to notice or simply refuse to acknowledge. Two memes came to mind, which I had shared on my blog previously. But I also thought that perhaps I ought to turn something that I myself wrote back in 2010 into a meme.
Here’s the text of that excerpt from my earlier post:
See also the following posts I wrote previously which also address this topic:
Just read the Bible for yourself, without the aid of scholarship.
Sounds simple, right? Sounds like just what you wanted to do? Not so fast…
- If you are going to do what I’ve challenged you to, then you cannot read an English translation of the Bible. Translations rely on all sorts of scholars and experts in both the original languages, the Biblical literature, and the theory of translation.
- You cannot simply read a critical edition of the Greek or Hebrew text. Those critical editions are also produced by scholars, who painstakingly compile the readings in manuscripts so as to give translators and other scholars convenient access to the text.
- You cannot use an original Greek or Hebrew manuscript that is held in a library or museum. Libraries and museums are likewise places of academic research and scholarship.
When you’ve done that, do get back to me. Or, alternatively, just acknowledge that you are entirely dependent on scholars for your access to the Bible throughout the process: study of original manuscripts, collation of readings in critical editions, translations into your native language, and the commentaries and other such helps that hopefully your pastor uses even if you do not.