On Reading Mistakenly . . . and Otherwise

A Response to Roland Boer, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015)

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
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This response to Boer’s fine study accepts that his analysis of the “sacred economy” of ancient Israel is fully on target. This response asks, in turn, “How did we learn to read the Bible mistakenly?” and “How do we learn to read it more honestly and knowingly?” Our long-term mistaken reading, I suggest, arises from our excessive commitment to positivistic history that caused a disregard of “on the ground” social reality. We may read more honestly and knowingly when we attend, as Boer shows us how to do, more fully to the insistent materiality of this society and of this textual attestation to that society. The “more” beyond Boer’s analysis includes a critical awareness of the claim in the text that the mystery of holiness pervades the text and its articulation of social reality, a holiness that cannot be legitimately disregarded in our reading.

  • 1

    Norman K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 B.C. (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1979). See my review in “Theological Issues in The Tribes of Yahweh by N. K. Gottwald: Four Critical Reviews,” The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics ed. by Norman K. Gottwald (Revised edition; Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983) 173-181.

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  • 2

    See Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1973).

  • 9

    Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh 609.

  • 10

    Marvin L. Chaney, “ ‘Coveting Your Neighbor’s House’ in Social Context,” The Ten Commandments: The Reciprocity of Faithfulness ed. by William P. Brown (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004) 309.

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  • 11

    Ibid., 317.

  • 12

    Gerald T. Sheppard, “ ‘Enemies’ and the Politics of Prayer in the Book of Psalms,” The Bible and the Politics of Exegesis ed. by David Jobling et al. (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1991) 69.

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  • 13

    Ibid., 72-73.

  • 14

    Ibid., 81.

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