Lecture Twenty One The Transforming Word of Scripture

Scope: Because of the key role played by experience, Christianity has never been a "religion of the book" in the way that Judaism and Islam are. Christianity's relationship to Scripture has always involved a tension-filled dialectic. Its first "Scripture" was the Torah shared with Judaism, which Christians reinterpreted in light of the paradoxical experience of the crucified and raised Messiah, Jesus. Its own literary productions were composed at least in part on the basis of the appropriation and reinterpretation of Torah, and themselves became "Scripture" through the process of liturgical reading. The decisive moment in forming the Christian canon came in the mid-second century, when Gnostics promulgated an alternative version of Christianity based on an alternative set of sacred writings. The interpretation of the Christian Bible (as it now was) involved convictions concerning its inspiration, authority, harmony, and transforming power.

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