Thursday, April 5, 2012

Remembering where I read something

Indexes are really useful. Rendtorff (The Canonical Bebrew Bible, A Theology of the Old Testament), has a good index, with a warning that it is selective. But I wonder if the internal links have been completely updated from the German. And there is no section at the beginning on abbreviations so you have to read from the beginning to see the technique of the apparatus described in the text itself. Now who reads a book from the beginning?

Ask me about indexes in Word 10. I have a technique - not an easy one. My index is in 7 sections: 1 Torah, 2 Prophets, 3 Writings, 4 New Testament, 5 Names, 6 Themes, 7 Other. The Scripture index is partially automated - but it is not a repeatable automation. Get it mostly right, then update it and keep it up to date. The sequencing and boldface or italics must be added by hand. The automation is complete of course once the index markers are in. Anything else would be useless.

But don't ask me to do one for you for free. I have spent probably 200 hours in the last 2 months completing the index for my presentation of the Psalms, now 495 pages (shrinking).

Vick's book on authority and inspiration needs a better index. Making the index is a really good test of the coherence of your writing. It is like the experienced mechanic changing the oil who sees when the gaskets need replacing. I wanted to find where I read about 'reason' in Vick's book. I loved the little bit about reason, but in the 1.5 hours left before my daughter was to arrive from England with her husband, I couldn't find where I had read it. I even had little sticky arrows all over the text, but they didn't point me where I wanted to be.

I found it this morning. And it's a good line: He gives 10 false ways in which people claim that the authority of the Bible is established. Then he says:
You cannot establish the authority of the Bible by providing reasons. You can, however, reasonably give an account of the authority of the Bible.
I reconstructed this before I found it again - for it had stuck with me through 2 weeks of not reading. Here it is in essence - we cannot reason our way into God / theology / etc, nor can we reason our way out of a confession, but we can learn to give reasons as to why we are in - once we are in.  Well, I thought it put reason in her place. I like it. I am not married to reason, but to something creative that happened to me through an outside 'word' (logos if you like) which then made it reasonable - more than reasonable - for me to worship, for me to present my body a living sacrifice, for me to research the psalms, for me to find even more reason to give thanks for the unsurpassed gift of God that is in God's teaching, that is God's Torah.

I cannot reason my way into such a position. Nor can I be convinced of it. But in it, I can give reason. The convincing is not mine to do.

I think this has been valuable for me to think about. More little gems like this I hope to find. But I note that I am not qualified to review a book that is philosophical, yet I can find in it good excuses for reading the Bible slowly and carefully rather than reading books about the Bible. The book I am referring to is also noted here.

I made some further notes
  • about doing the right thing - some titles are brilliant, like No More Secondhand God (Buckminster Fuller), or Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee). 
  • about power and making the word in our own image.
  • about the authority of Abraham, Moses, Jesus in contrast to the authority of vested interests.
  • about the universal - even in Leviticus, vs the parochial.
  • about the desire to be right and put someone else wrong.
At base, I expect to find these issues developed in where I think Vick is going. But I have not been able to read much more these past two weeks. And I am sort of on holiday for the next 10 days. (Hoping too that my son in law, who reads Hebrew, will give some feedback on my now out of date paper copy of my book.)