Friday, January 31, 2014

Dark Passages of the Bible (CUA Press)

Dark Passages of the Bible begins by asking, "How can that be in the Bible?" This question, asked by many atheists, agnostics, and even some Christians, forms a brief introduction and starting point for this scholarly tome. We then dive into three problems in the Bible - 1. The Nature of God, 2. The Nature of Good and Evil, and 3. The Afterlife. Each problem or theme has ample Scripture passages that can be cited as evidence, and these passages read as troublesome for some. For example, regarding problem #2, "And that night the angel of the Lord went forth and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when the men arose early in the morning, behold these were all dead bodies (2 Kgs 19:35)."

When reading gruesome passages like these, people are often confused as to why God would condone such violence. Interpretation, which I will discuss in the next paragraph, is key here. We must read passages like this in their full context, both in Scripture and the time period. God's plan for man is slowly accomplished, sometimes in spite of man's resistance. God doesn't want man's death, but their salvation. Unfortunately, some pursue their own destruction so vehemently that God allows them to be destroyed so that extensive damage isn't done to the rest of the population. I'm sure I'm not explaining it as well as Dr. Ramage, so please read his book for better clarity.

Chapter Two, "Benedict's 'Method C' Proposal," was easily my favorite chapter. In this chapter, the reader receives an explanation on the two main methods for Biblical interpretation. Method A focuses on patristic-medieval exegesis. All Scripture is inspired by God and thus interpretation is viewed through the lens of faith. This is my preferred method of interpretation. Method B is better known as the historical-critical method. This method removes faith from interpretation and goes for cold, hard facts. Both have their merits, and both have their shortcomings. Pope Benedict's Method C draws upon the strength of both to create a fuller interpretation method. It seems so obvious, but it takes someone with a great mind to execute it. The rest of this book demonstrates how Method C exegesis would work, specifically as it relates to the Nature of God, the Nature of Good and Evil, and the Afterlife.

People often speak of the genius of Pope John Paul II and his Theology of the Body. I personally hope and pray it won't be long before more people realize the genius of Pope Benedict XVI.. Dark Passages of the Bible definitely serves as a demonstration of his brilliance. This scholarly tome is not for the casual reader, but for serious students of the Bible and biblical interpretation. However, to understand Pope Benedict's Method C, this book, and ultimately the Bible, you must be in communion with the Church, as it is "the primary setting for scriptural interpretation." And while this book is not an easy read, it is definitely a rewarding one. So if you fall into the category of serious Bible student, you will want a copy of this 5-star book.

This book was provided to me for free by Catholic University of America Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here! For an interview with Dr. Ramage, please click here. And for some interesting articles by Dr. Ramage, click here.