In my previous post I began responding to the question of why I would study a book that I don’t “believe in.” In that response I gave more or less the “official” line as found in my just-now published introductory textbook on the Bible. Here I’ll say something a bit more casual and personal about it.
I get asked the question a lot, sometimes by agnostics/atheists who have no time for religion and don’t understand why I would waste my time with it, and more often by hard-core believers who think the Bible is *their* book and don’t appreciate me encroaching on their turf. I understand both objections and am somewhat sympathetic with them, although at the end of the day I have deep and heart-felt objections to them.
First, my agnostic/atheist friends. I think it is very strange indeed to think that one should not become intimately familiar with what one opposes. If I’m a capitalist who thinks socialism or communism is heinous, I really should know a lot about them before attacking them. I know lots of people who attack Marx – and in another realm of discourse, who attack Freud – without knowing the first thing about him. On one hand, I don’t see the point of that; on the other hand, I think it just makes a person look like an idiot.
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