Friday, 11 July 2008

Bernard Brandon Scott

So I've just heard B.B. Scott talking about Paul, which is a topic I'm particularly interested in. There was lots said that is helpful in the task of redeeming Paul from the female-hater label he's had thrown on him. I'm not sure how much I'm going to write down, but the things that have leapt out at me follow. 

Paul wrote before 70CE - before the destruction of the Temple and the fall of Jerusalem. All other New Testament writings happen in the shadow of these events, and it colours their world view. The implication for me is that, hoping to read Paul's letters to an emerging church in the first century from the perspective of the emerging church in the 21st century for PhD research, the task might become reading letters written to re-emerging communities (emerging renewed, reforming the faith that still was Judaism) from the perspective of re-emerging communities (emerging renewed, reforming the faith of followers of Christ). And then to consider that the communities that Paul was writing to were not Christian, they were Jewish. There are wounds still to heal, a better relationship to form, between those of Christian and those of Jewish faith. i could get sidetracked on this thesis ... 

Paul understands that God does not discriminate. God has a covenant for everyone, through Abraham and through Christ. If God discriminated, God would not be God. If God discarded one covenant, why would the new covenant in Christ not be eligible for discarding? These are complicated thoughts, but it also helps to remember that Paul had fundamental experiences of God, and the rest he's working out as he goes along, as he learns more about God (paraphrasing Scott there). 

I loved the perspective, when you can strip away from Paul the letters that contain the unhelpful attitudes about and toward women written by others, that Paul is so egalitarian, interested in promoting mutuality, breaking down divisions. And he names the big divisions between people in his time - Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female. They do not exist as divisions, but I suppose more as difference, which in Paul's metaphor of the body, is essential. Difference is important, uniformity is dangerous. This is good stuff. 

So those are the important thoughts I wanted to record after this evening with BB Scott. There's another afternoon of thinking to be had on Sunday, so no doubt I'll have more to reflect on then. 

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