Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm an Academic, You're an Academic ...

Someday, when I write a book, I promise I won't put in snide remarks that reveal my sentiments about great individuals long dead (now, I'm not saying I think St. Augustine was great, but you get my drift). In a text I'm reading for my Bible course, when discussing the Adam/Eve/Eden sin issue, the book's author says ...
The influential Christian theologian, St. Augustine, who was not very good at Greek, read the Latin translation of Romans 5:12 to mean that the sin of Adam was a prototype -- it caused others to sin. Augustine's interpretation gave rise to the doctrine known as "original sin," the view that sin is inherited by all subsequent humans after Adam and Eve. In Paul's original Greek, it seems pretty clear that Paul understood Adam's sin to be an archetype. Death spread to all people because all people sinned. In other words, sin is humanity's first and most persistent copycat crime.
Now, I think the point would have been perfectly valid to leave out the snarky remark. Alternatively, I do enjoy the author's take on the idea of minimalism in explaining the historicity of the Tanakh. Minimalists in biblical scholarship essentially say that the books of Tanakh were edited so late that they can't possibly contain any valid historical information about earlier periods. They tend to reject or explain away any archeological evidence that might happen to prove a historical theory, and the author tells us that the "best evaluation of minimalism as a whole was probably supplied by a British archaeologist who entitled his review of a rather fanciful book on another subject, 'Not a Bad Theory, If Facts Don't Matter.' "

Oh academics and their opinions. It makes me wonder, though, if I really will be able to distance my opinions from the work. I guess that's how we test ourselves in academia? I suppose I should get one of these buttons, though, don't you think?

While I figure out an answer to my questions, check out this week's Haveil Havalim over on Jack's blog! Stay tuned for blog posts on politics, the upcoming holidays, books I'm trying to read, and more. I gotta maintain substance, gall darn't.