There are two traditional approaches to this ... problem, both of which, in my judgement, are inadequate. The first is the 'supernaturalistic' viewpoint. According to this position the biblical witness is the normative, and therefore historically accurate, record of the event in accordance with which the extra-biblical evidence must be corrected and controlled. This position suffers in that it seeks to employ categories taken from outside the Bible, such as historicity, objectivity, and the like, and yet to retain without criticism the content of the canonical witness. It seeks to guarantee a reality testified to in the canon by means of dogmatic controls employed outside the area of faith. The second position, which is that of rationalism, represents the opposite extreme. It seeks to determine the truth of the biblical testimony on the basis of critical evaluation according to rational criteria, based on past human experience. It suffers from assuming that its criteria are adequate to test all reality, and it eliminates the basic theological issue by definition. In terms of the manna story, the supernaturalists claim that the exodus story is a historically accurate report of a unique miracle which is unrelated to any natural food of the desert. The rationalists conversely claim that the exodus story is an imaginary (or poetic) projection into the supernatural sphere of a natural phenomenon of the desert which can be fully described scientifically. [*]So what's the solution?
Monday, 28 April 2008
Historicity and Canonical Witness
In his discussion of the miracles of the wilderness traditions in Exodus, Childs deals briefly with the question of the relationship of the witness within the canon to extra biblical evidence. His answer is frustratingly ambiguous, so I post it here to hear what others have to say on the matter:
[*] Childs, The Book of Exodus 1974: 299, 300.