Monday, September 17, 2012

History of Vietnam & History from the Bible

In our modern age, we are familiar with different "spin" on news sources.

In our modern age, we receive different perspectives on how events transpire.

With the War in Vietnam, as one example, we have numerous accounts of "what happened." We have accounts from U.S. News reports and from other Global sources.  We have accounts of events in specific places from Vietnamese civilians - and - from GI's.  We have accounts from women, as well as from children.  My daughter and I just read Inside Out & Back Again - a fictional account of a 10 year old girl's departure from Saigon, written by a female survivor, based on her life experiences.

This correlates with a section I read, too, from Hearing the Old Testament: Listening for God's Address (Eerdmans, 2012), Iain Provan’s essay includes these lines:
“We have no access to brute historical facts. To the extent that we know about the past at all, we know about it primarily through the testimony of other people. There is no way of writing historiography that does not involve such testimony or “story-telling.”. . .  All testimony about the past is also interpretation of the past. It has its ideology or theology; it has its presuppositions and its point of view; it has its narrative structure; and (if at all interesting to read or listen to) it has its narrative art, its rhetoric. It is intrinsically embroiled in advocacy, even if it may go out of its way to try to disguise this fact and appear neutral. There is no true neutrality, however; no dispassionate, unbiased, and presuppositionless presentation of the facts is possible. People always write about the past because they wish to communicate some kind of truth to their readers or to advocate some kind of virtue. It has always been so; it will always remain so.” (257)

When I read Inside Out & Back Again with my daughter - I wasn't expecting or needing to "get facts" - and, I only wanted her to be shaped by the "sense" of the story.  I wanted her to discern what happened to people in Vietnam.   She asked many great questions and she learned.  In fact, we learned together and we "experienced" through the story - the events with the primary character.  We are changed as a result.

The same kind of thing can & should happen with the Bible. 

Does the Bible have facts? Certainly! 

Are historical realities present in the Bible?  Of course! 

And yet, the entire Canon of Scripture is not "brute historical facts." And, large portions of the Bible -  poems, songs, & parables which are not intended to be historical  And yet, the Bible remains - even where it is not "brute historical facts" an invitation for us to discern the passionate theological truth imbedded in various genres of writing, encompassed in the Canon of the Bible.

No comments: