Saturday, November 14, 2009

Theology Quiz: Short Essay Question

Noted theologian and biblical scholar Carrie Prejean recently made the following exegetical statement:
I don't think there's anything wrong with getting breast implants as a Christian. I think it's a personal decision. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn't get breast implants.
In 500 words or less, defend or challenge that statement using source, form and redaction criticism as appropriate. Do not neglect to consider the sitz im leben of cited texts supporting your position and to footnote outside sources. Spelling counts.

Finally, do not hesitate to bring into your argument the rank hypocrisy of a woman arguing the Biblical efficacy of boob jobs "because they're not mentioned in the Bible" while making a career of yammering about the Bible condemning "gay marriage" when Jesus said zero, squat, zilch, nada about homosexuality in general or same-sex marriage in particular ... and the handful of texts historically used to condemn homosexuality* have nothing to do with committed, life-long unions but with ritual purity, gang rape and cultic prostitution.
[*For remedial reading on the aforementioned "clobber passages" read Mel White's "What the Bible Says & Doesn't Say About Homosexuality."]
Read. Set. Write!


Sandy said...

Poor, poor Ms. Prejean! She can't say anything without everyone out there jumping on her every word! Kind of reminds me of another pillar of the Conservative right who recently ran for VP.

Now let's see... would I watch one of Ms. Prejean's instructional videos on self-gratification? You betcha!

(Feeling snarky today...)

ROBERTA said...

sitz im leben - setting in life - i just love when i learn a new term! thank you susan

p.s. great post!

Mitchell said...

This is ridiculous, No serious Biblical scholar would take this women seriously.

On a more sobering note. I am not so sure that the Bible is not against modern homosexual relationships. Given the context in which the Bible was written,(Bronze Age Middle East) it would be impossible for them to be as enlightened as we are today. e.g. The Apostle Paul probably thought that the world was flat

Jim said...

There is a fundamental category error in the statement. She posits a Bible that contains a listing and condemnation of all possible evils.
Archbishop Temple is reputed to have said that the great American failure is considering the Bible a book of rules. The lady is a case study in that error.



Of course it's ridiculous, Mitchell. (That would be the POINT.)

Michele said...

Considering that, if I recall correctly, at least some branches of Judaism teach that body modification is a Bad Plan, I'd think cosmetic surgery would be something of an issue, too.

But it's late, and I don't feel inclined to dig out references. Seems more useful to recognize the whole thing as the story of a people's attempt to understand their relationship to the Godhead and go from there. You know, look for themes, like love, compassion, charity, transformation, the unexpected...

Paul (A.) said...

By the same token, Mitchell, no "serious Biblical scholar" should take her position on homosexuality "seriously" either, but you don't seem to be convinced.

Mitchell said...

Dear Paul A,

What world do you live in? The majority of the Christian faith still thinks that homosexuality is a sin.

Mel White is something of a radical when it comes to matters of Christian sexual morality.


Paula's talking about "serious biblical scholars" ... not the majority of Christians. That's like saying "serious constitutional scholars" when talking about issues of equal protection as opposed to the blind prejudice and bias a majority of voters sometimes exercise in the ballot box.

And that would be the point about Mel White -- and others like him. Mel has taken biblical scholarship that has been "old news" in seminaries for decades and made it accessible to the "people in the pews" who haven't been given the opportunity to challenge and grow in their understanding of the scripture.

Mitchell said...

Well, this is not "Old News" according to distinguished, DUKE UNIVERSITY Bible Scholar Richard B. Hays, check out his response to John Boswell's, "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality"

"Relations Natural and Unnatural: A Response to John Boswell's Exegesis of Romans I" by Richard B. Hays in the Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 14 (1986), pp. 199-201

Paul (A.) said...

You got anything more current than a thirteen-year-old book review in a journal I don't have access to, Mitchell? From the excerpts I was able to find on the internet, it appears that Hays generally lauds Boswell's reading of Romans 1 but disagrees with him on the concept of whether Paul is writing as an evangelist or as a theologian. I would opt, with Boswell, for the former, given those options. It is also clear to me at least that Hays seems misguided in his understanding of the Greek phrase "para physin". And in any event I doubt Ms. Prejean ever read Hays.

Expand your reading list, Mitchell. William Countryman and Tobias Haller give much more "serious" analyses of the texts involved.

Mitchell said...

Dear Paul (A.)

I don't know where your getting your information from.

Hays totally rejects Boswell's reading of Romans one.

Paul (A.) said...

The first page of Hays's article praises Boswell but notes a "flaw" at "one point". I do not have access to the rest of the article.

Another excerpt is here. Hays's weakness is illustrated in this quotation: "The 'exchange' of truth for a lie to which Paul refers in Rom 1:18-25 is a mythico-historical event in which the whole pagan world is implicated. This 'exchange' continues to find universal manifestation in the moral failings which beset human society, as exemplified by the illustrations given in 1:26-32." Hays may study the Bible but he shows ignorance of first-century pagan religious practice.

I believe that Haller's book (which I don't have to hand) more than adequately refutes Hays's suppositions.

How is your own reading of it coming along?

uffda51 said...

“Mel White is something of a radical.”

The early abolitionists were thought to be radical. So were the early anti-apartheid folks. So was Galileo. So was Martin Luther – and Martin Luther King. So were those who advocated women’s suffrage. So was Nelson Mandela. So are those advocating universal health care in the U.S. right now.

What all of these ideas and individuals have in common is that they were/are all strongly opposed by conservatives.


“Mel White is something of a radical.”

Yep. So am I. That's why I write this blog. And speak out on Capitol Hill about "liberty and justice for ALL." And push my church to step up and live up to it's call to include all the baptized in all the sacraments.

Radical stuff that.

Muerk said...

Hmmm... I don't think the comparison is fair. For a start cosmetic surgery as invasive as breast implants was just not a possibility when the Scriptures were written. Human emotions and desires are the same though, so what does Scripture say about vanity or a fear of not being loved? Maybe that could inform us about breast implants. Our technology changes, but we are the same creatures as we were in the stone age and before :)

Sex however was very much around when the Scriptures were written and Jesus does talk about sexual morality and his definition of marriage.

Clearly there are intelligent, deeply sincere theological and Scriptural arguments either way on this matter. In the end I think it comes down to how much value is placed on tradition and precedent.

I think Scripture is clear about sex being only acceptable within the marriage of a man and woman. The question then I think is, how central that ancient belief is to modern relationships?

Mitchell said...

Dear Paul (A),

If you would like I could send you a copy of Hay's response to Boswell. Just hit me with your email address if you feel this is a safe sight.


Mitchell McClain