‘The Bible Is Dead; Long Live the Bible’

The Codex Gigas from the 13th century, held at...

Image via Wikipedia

Read Timothy Beal’s outstanding article in The Chronicle Review here.

Listen to NPR’s On Point interview with Beal here.

While I think Beal fails to account for the messianic thrust in Scripture, he demolishes the post-Enlightenment fundamentalist view of the canon — which needs to be demolished so Christians can have intelligent conversations about the Bible.


3 responses to “‘The Bible Is Dead; Long Live the Bible’

  1. Please, I adjure you, how does Beal “demolish” any argument? I saw little to no support for his primary argument. How is the Biblical witness contradictory?


  2. I’ll answer your second question first.

    Genesis 1:1-2:3 conflicts with Genesis 2:4-2:25 — two different accounts of creation with different chronologies of what was created first, second, third, etc.

    Did Jesus tell the disciples to take staffs with them or not to take staffs with them? Luke 9:3 and Mark 6:8 disagree.

    And the following come from Michael J. Christensen’s book, “C.S. Lewis on Scripture,” which you can verify with your own Bible.

    “According to Matthew there was one angel at Jesus’ empty tomb. Mark says it was a young man sitting down. Luke says two men stood by the women and proclaimed the resurrection. And John says two angels sat where the body of Jesus had lain, and appeared only to Mary Magdalene. …

    “Who commanded King David to take a census of Israel — the Lord or Satan? 2 Samuel 24:1 claims ‘the Lord.’ 1 Chronicles 21:1 claims ‘Satan.’ Whom did the voice from heaven address at the baptism of Jesus? Matthew 3:16 reads, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Luke 3:22 reads, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased’.”

    These are just some of the contradictions in the Biblical record.

    To answer your first question, I think you have a good point: I did not state what argument he is demolishing. I think what Beal was demolishing was an attitude, or a persuasion, or an approach to Scripture that I gained by aggregate over the years of going to schools operated by Independent Missionary Baptist Churches, and going to churches in the neo-Pentecostal/charismatic vein. These two groups actually disliked each other, for a variety of reasons, but actually handled the Bible in remarkably similar ways — mostly as proof texts for their agendas, with little analysis of the conflicting information in the texts.