A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Theology: The Public Option

Tonight, I’m the guest speaker at the Theology with a Twist meeting at the Kutztown (PA) Tavern.  This program, like ones called Theology on Tap, offers a public option for those interested in theological conversation.  While it is supported by churches, its founders recognize that people inside church buildings aren’t the only ones who care about life after death, what the Bible has to say about marriage, the ethics of immigration reform, and a myriad other concerns.

My topic tonight is violence and the Bible.  Here’s the blurb:

A Good Book or Not?  Violence and the Bible

For a book that’s supposed to be good, the Bible certainly includes a lot of violence–threatening, smiting, conquering, and raping.  What’s a Christian, or any responsible reader, to do with these biblical accounts?  Should we just pretend they aren’t there? Explain them away somehow?  Assume that they really are OK because, after all, they are in the Bible?

Julia M. O’Brien, Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary, will invite the Theology with a Twist crowd to talk about the violence in the Old and New Testaments. She’ll then share her own current thinking about these texts, as well as her dissatisfaction with the way most Christians respond to them.

If you’re in the area, we’d love to have you join us.  The conversation starts at 7 pm.

If you’re not and are interested, check back with the blog later.  I’ll post my talking points.


One Response to Theology: The Public Option

  • Hi Julia,
    I just wanted to tell you everyone at our table enjoyed the discussion at the Tavern. One item that I have used to explain some of the violence is that we rarely even know the authors of most of the books of the Bible. But most people agree that God(Himself/Herself)did not write the Scriptures and probably did not call anyone into His/Her Holy Office and dictate the books to them. Instead I believe these books were originally written by people who sought a relationship or had some extraordinary spiritual occurence, which they needed to record. Whether all their words or actions were sanctioned by God, well that should be open to debate. I am more intriqued that there seems to be some recurring themes in the Bible, mainly God’s Love with His/Her Creation, God’s Forgiveness, God seeking a relationship with All people. I’m not sure this holds up to scholarly observation, but it has worked to solve some of my anxiety with vengeful Christians or even a vengeful God.Thanks for the many insights. Gary

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