Etiology

CT-advertisementI have written a series of posts here on Bible verses related to same-sex sex and marriage. In my last post, I shifted my focus to Genesis 2:24, a verse commonly described by traditionalists as G-d’s Marriage Law or G-d’s Design for Marriage, but which I think is a more general observation about how we don’t want to be alone. In that post, I introduced an idea I’ve been toying with, that there are certain Bible-reading techniques that fit well with interfaith dialogue. These are techniques that we can share in common, techniques where we don’t give preference to any particular tradition for reading the Bible. The fact that Jesus or Paul may have read an Old Testament text in a certain way cannot settle how Jews and Christians read this text together, any more than the reading of a Jewish sage like Rashi can settle this matter.

How should we deal with our divergent traditional readings of the Bible? Well … we can share them. That’s often the best we can do. Your Bible may read Isaiah 7:14 to have Isaiah predict that a “virgin” will give birth; my Bible may say that a “young woman” will give birth. Some Christians may agree that “young woman” is the right translation, but I don’t see what is gained by Jews and Christians arguing the point. Similarly, your church may teach that Isaiah 53 is a messianic prediction, or more specifically, a prediction that the Jewish Messiah must suffer and die. In contrast, my synagogue may teach that Isaiah 53 is prophecy concerning the entire Jewish people, that we will suffer persecution until the world comes to its senses and recognizes the G-d of the Bible. Jews and Christians have been batting this verse back and forth for 1,800 years, without any advance in Bible knowledge or mutual understanding.

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