Saturday, May 24, 2014

Theology from Exile: Matthew

Legal note - "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product for free from The Speakeasy in hope that I would mention it on my blog, with no requirement to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR. Part 255: 'Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.'"

Theology from Exile on amazon.

on good reads

Gaia Rising, Sea Raven's blog

theology from exile cover I'll begin by stating a few years ago I'd sometimes make a theological observation and then add, "the Jesus seminar notwithstanding." Author Sea Raven has Jesus Seminar connections, but I'll leave it at that because I found so very much to like about this book, and I'll use it as a reference whenever Lectionary Year A, aka "Matthew's Year," rolls around.

Her constantly referring to the 1992 lectionary compilers as the Elves (she told us where she found that idea), and her endless comments about their "Cherry Picking" texts and portions of texts began annoying me by the 101th or so instance. With a quick search I couldn't find a synonym for cherry picking, and though I'd heard the term, I still needed a definition:

Wikipedia: "...suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position."

Merriam-Webster: "to decide to accept (someone or something) from a group of possibilities."

Like Sea Raven, I've been distressed when the RCL's gathering of texts seem to imply or at least point toward supersessionism. I've been at least annoyed when they've broken up a key text between a couple of Sundays. It irritates me almost no end when they've grouped texts together in a way that implicitly support our more theologically conservative brethren and sistern in Christ.

Sea Raven frames her thoughts on the RCL texts by presenting the God of the bible as nonviolent, inclusive, oriented to distributive (rather than retributive) justice, and to deliverance. But she seems to insist on only a single style of scriptural interpretation that apparently excludes mystery and paradox! Jesus' way is comprehensive, and though my theology tends toward the confessional traditions of the Reformation, I have almost no disagreement with the content of Theology from Exile, only long for at least some acknowledgment of the mysterious, paradoxical, humanly unexplainable ways in which God frequently self-reveals and acts in the world.

The omission of texts for Holy Week seemed like the big thing it really was, but the Speakeasy sent me a copy of Sea Raven's parallel Theology from Exile volume on the gospel of Luke that does include Holy Week; I plan to blog and review that book, too.

The mostly 3 or 4 pages long, relatively lightweight commentaries on each Sunday's RCL readings all incline to highlight ways that particular Sunday's texts come together―or sometimes don't cohere. Although like probably many of Sea Raven's readers, I attended a mainline (liberal, progressive... what terminology does one use these days?) seminary, and received instruction in twentieth century theological trends, that doesn't mean my entire theological perspective remains thus. Or ever was entirely grounded in what some folks have referred to as fundamentalism of the left―the type of apologetics that suddenly discovers or discerns the way scripture recorded an event is possible after all, because (after all) modern science has deemed it possible. But Theology from Exile still is a useful, insight-filled resource; it's a keeper for my library!

my amazon review: Theology from Exile: Matthew

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