The Prophetic Faith, by Martin Buber
Thomas à Kempis wrote: “Every holy writing ought to be read in the same spirit in which it was written.” Our modern era fails to understand the Bible to the degree to which it fails to heed Thomas’s warning.
The Hebrew Bible is a report of a succession of dialogues between God and Israel; the present-day student—formidably armed with philology, archaeology, and other tools of critical research—almost without reflection regards it as a metaphorical account of the “evolution of religious experience,” or—which is worse—religious “ideas.” He does not argue or attempt to prove, but takes it for granted that his categories are correct, and those of the Bible wrong. He forgets that the ability to disentangle historical and literary details is not identical with the ability to perceive the essence of Biblical faith. Let it be added quickly that this is, of course, no argument against Biblical criticism as such; and those apologists of Orthodoxy who occasionally attempt to use specific inadequacies of Biblical criticism as a prop are certainly misguided, if not intellectually dishonest. But it is an argument against the sort of Biblical criticism which is uncritical of itself.
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