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Re: orion re: Altman & Crowder
Don't get carried away! Obviously Altman was speaking metaphorically. He
meant that the DSS (just like the Nag Hammadi finds in the case of the NT)
are changing our understanding of the Bible -- as does every relevant
extra-biblical archaeological or literary find. Seeing things in
historical context is exactly what improves our understanding of who wrote
so-called sacred texts and why. And it was precisely the desire to
prevent the hoi polloi from seeing the Scriptures in any kind of context
that motivated the medieval Church to keep the Bible from the people by
providing Latin versions only, mostly chained up in Churches, and
discouraging translations into the vernacular.
While no one is more of an elitist than yours truly, and certainly no one
regrets more than I do the dismal state of foreign language teaching in
the U.S.A. (and the notion of going back to Latin for our *disputationes*
tickles my fancy, too) , the idea of going back to a situation where the
average Joe can't even READ the scriptures, let alone figure out who wrote
them and why, strikes me as indefensible. What we need is to point people
to the right kind of reading in English -- to popular distillations of
actual scholarship, like the work of Richard Elliott Friedman, Karen
Armstrong, and away from rubbish like "The Book of J", "The Bible Code" and
the more sensationalist treatments of the DSS (and no, I won't fall into
the trap of naming my betes noires in this forum!), The main thing for
which we have to thank the Reformation -- even those of us who are not
Christians -- is the impetus it gave to the translating of the Bible into
Judith Romney Wegner
>My question- how exactly are the scrolls changing the Bible? They are, in
>my estimation, shedding very useful light on a segment of Judaism in the
>first c. CE; and they do give us very ancient evidence of the text of the
>Bible as it existed in one small corner of Palestine. But to suggest that
>they are changing the Bible does not, to me, make any sense.
>Further, Altman's dating of the scrolls is perfectly impossible.
>Paleographically, and textually, there is no basis at all for his suggestions.
>Small wonder that the Medieval Church discussed issues in Latin so that the
>common folk would not be carried away by ludicrous and dangerous ideas
>gained from a snippet here and a sample there. Perhaps a return to latin as
>the language of scholarly dialogue today would be most helpful to the very
>lay folks who are affected by press releases.