Studying the Bible in the “Post-Truth” Era

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: Leslie Brisman1
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  • 1 Yale University, USA, New Haven, CT
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When Jesus tells Pilate “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), he may be reassuring Pilate that Jesus and his followers pose no political threat. In our time, however, the secular idea of “alternate facts” has become something of a new religion and affects both our politics and our academic study. The difficult questions of what constitutes facts or credible critical interpretation of literary facts is particularly vexed when there is a question of citation. This article does not deal with questionable abbreviations of citation (such as “The Lord is merciful and compassionate” Exod. 34:6 without the deflected punishment clauses) or expanded citation (such as “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies’ ” [Matt. 5:43]). It concerns rather some instances where a verse may or may not be a citation and where extra-biblical ideology can interfere with the interpretation of what is being quoted, if it is being quoted. “The poor you have always with you” (Mark 14:7, possibly citing Deut. 15:11) is one such example.

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