[We] are too comfortable with viewing biblical religion through prisms of living religious traditions that have interpreted these texts for us; traditions that we accept or reject, or to which we feign indifference, or to which we are indifferent. Having been informed by these traditions, however, we are influenced by them and somehow look back through them, as through a glass darkly, to seek ancient Israel. (Sometimes, without realizing, we confuse our reflection with what lies beyond the glass.) This is a handicap to be overcome.
2) Is being influenced by a faith community such a handicap? Is it so desirable to jettison the traditions that grew out of the Bible, in whatever fashion and including whatever dialectics? On my understanding, the Bible's true subject matter is not the religion of the authors who wrote it (important background information that may be), but the living God who broke into their reality, shaped it, and guided/guides them in a particular journey. On that take, religio-historical analysis may well be done and come up with various interesting hypotheses about the development of Israelite religion. They will no doubt help us read the Bible less ethnocentrically. But ultimately it is God himself, mediated through the community of faith he called into being through the text and history, who can guarantee that we actually are wrestling with what the Bible is really all about. And for that, we need to be active members of a community of faith.