PLURALISM IN THEOLOGY? AN OLD TESTAMENT INQUIRY 1 PART I SOJOURNERS WE ARE: SOCIAL ROOTINGS OF BIBLICAL WITNESSES
AbstractOne of the most serious errors theologians make, at least in the Western hemisphere, has been to see themselves as having the absolute truth, so that all other theological positions become error. This arrogant certitude has a long history. It can be found in some biblical writings, and even in some ancient Near Eastern documents written long before Israel came into being. Circumstances and realities, however, do not support those lofty claims. We live in a transient world: Our bodies, minds and capacities are not of the eternal fibre we wish they were. Even if divine actions and words descended into our time and space they would become stale and decay, like the manna of Ex 16, as we attempted to conserve, formalize, and manipulate them. Theology is essentially a thoroughly transient science; God-talk is a precarious affair: The words cannot be fixed but must constantly be renewed. To ears attuned to Western theological attitudes, Biblical witnesses do not point to enduring stability and unchangeable validity: They teach the transience, contextuality, and pluralism of human theological insights. This article (together with Part II that will follow later) presents a brief survey of concurrent as well as successive models of faith in the Hebrew Scriptures. These paradigms are tied to clearly recognizable social organizations.
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