Almost every day somebody blames their bad behavior, or their close-minded rants, or their racist policies, or their latest fantasies, on the Bible.
I’ve been studying the Bible my entire adult life, and I can tell you: most of what passes for biblical interpretation in America is its own species of strange. I can read Greek and labor through the Hebrew, and I know many of the scholarly conversations, and so I’ll add this: a lot popular interpretations of the Bible are wildly inaccurate. In galactic terms, some aren’t even in the same quadrant of space as the biblical text. This blog is dedicated to those of you who, like me, want to escape from these weird and distorted agendas. Join me as I put on my hiking gear and re-calibrate my compass.
Bible Smart began as a how-to site for interested outsiders to the Bible, like college first-years or high school students enrolled in beginning biblical studies courses. I teach one of those, a required course. (By “interested” I don’t necessarily mean “wow, this is fascinating,” if you know what I mean. Interest can be provoked by a lot of things, like a GPA. But I digress.)
About a year after I started posting content to this blog, the Society of Biblical Literature launched their own version of what I was doing. (Find it here: Bible Odyssey). With the resources of the entire guild of biblical scholars at their beck and call (plus some money), they quickly outdid my one-man efforts. So it goes. I’ve left that basic how-to content up here under the category “Bible Basics” for those who might be “interested” (if you know what I mean).
Meanwhile, I’ve shifted gears by speaking out about how the Bible relates to the Christian faith, which is one thing the SBL site doesn’t much do. A lot of other sites do, but they aren’t all, well, very scholarly.
As a person trained in biblical studies who also happens to be a Christian living in the USA, I can’t help but notice that the Bible is more often misused than heard. Almost every day somebody blames their bad behavior, or their close-minded rants, or their racist policies, or their latest fantasies, on the Bible. So yeah, I’m going there.
Two ideas are behind whatever I’m trying to do on this site:
- Even though it’s a book of faith, the Bible can and should be read with intellectual honesty. Call me weird, but I think people should be honest about their scriptures, and about themselves. That includes not lying (by omission or commission) about what’s in there and what it says.
- There is a core to the Bible, for Christians, and that core is what Jesus taught and how he lived his life. His way of life included his death on a cross, yes, but that death doesn’t blot out what he said or what he did. As a Christian, I need to measure every interpretation of the Bible by Jesus’ way of reading and teaching the way of God.
Whenever I try to work on an issue, those ideas will be in the background. They were already there when I was working on the basic stuff on this site, but I’m bringing them out of the background, dusting them off, shining them up, and showing them to you.