February 14, 2012

On context and influence

Matthew Malcolm points to some of his own comments on Ciampa and Rosner's new 1 Corinthians commentary in the Pillar series, along with a response by Roy Ciampa. In reading the exchange, part of Ciampa's comment jumped out a me:

When a group understands itself in contrast to another group (whether a real group or a [sub-]cultural construction such as “paganism”) it has been deeply influenced by that context, beyond their own level of awareness.
It seems to present some sound wisdom for thinking about biblical writers and their contexts, but also some outstanding food for thought for our own day. I wonder how much our own formulations of doctrine or our positions on matters we hold dear are unwittingly influenced by the very people we oppose. The inerrancy debates, for one, often seem decisively shaped by the very categories "liberal" thinkers proposed for reading the Bible, even as conservative defenders seek to oppose the liberal positions. I can't help but wonder how my own thinking is shaped by my context (an interesting line of thought on its own), and particularly by contrasts I seek to hold. Hmmm.

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