A FB friend just posted his favorable review of this book.
Conclusion: Stanhope’s is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about the fascinating historical, literary, and cultural contexts of all those biblical passages that get brought up so much in most creation/evolution debates. If you want to know what those passages are actually saying, Stanhope’s book is a vital resource. Very readable, quite funny in parts, and immensely satisfying. If you want to properly interpret these biblical texts, you need to read (Mis)Interpreting Genesis .
We say you don’t need a scholar to explain ANE context to understand the basics of the Bible. Frankly I find the idea to be incredibly frustrating. Do we ever see the writers of the New Testament doing this with the Old Testament? No. Did Jesus call scholars? No, only Paul who probably had to unlearn most of what he was taught.
People were killed for wanting a Bible translated into their own language during the he Reformation. There is no need to add a scholarly class to tell us we can’t read it on our own. Is the believer in a remote part of the world that just got their hands on a Bible going to read Genesis 1-11 through its ANE context? No. You can learn scriptures as a child. Does any child reading Genesis 1 interpret them as he says, on their own? I would like to see one.
2 Timothy 3
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
This is the legacy of Martin Luther, more or less. That doesn’t mean there is no role for scholars who understand the history. We already have some 40,000 protestant churches, each with their own small variations on belief. What happens when it splinters to 40 million?
Well, I’m sure they must go to somebody, but I haven’t seen much of it. Ham and friends just have their stock responses all ready to go–I imagine the reason why they don’t openly “appeal” to others is because they want to emphasize that they are just “reading the Bible plainly” and they take God’s Word over “man’s word,” etc.
As for that last question, I really don’t know. I’d like to think most scholars and teachers at the seminary level discuss the ANE context and know that it is vital to understanding the inspired meaning of the biblical text, but that being said, I really don’t know.
Though Joel is right that the Hamsters focus on “plain meaning” sometimes to the neglect of scholarship, there are plenty of YEC PhD exegetes who know well Hebrew, hermeneutics, ANE background, etc. What I see from this group (and many of them are my friends and colleagues) is (1) an overly simplistic commitment to Gen 1(-11) as “historical narrative” in terms of genre, and (2) emphasizing more the distinction between the OT and ANE (tied to special revelation) rather than allowing more common ground. Obviously each of these would need some unpacking.
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