Monday, October 5, 2009

Barnstone, Aristotle & Paul

Its disturbing message reveals how strong were the ties of many early Christian Jews with the Roman Empire and its vast slave network, which Paul, as a possible Roman citizen, espouses without criticism.

     For all these good reasons, because the Bible should sing us into its depths and rapture, Romans and Corinthians begin the letters.  A Bible like a novel, play, or opera has a movement leading to the reader's pleasure and enlightenment.  As with the classical drama, following Aristotle's dictum, we have suspension of disbelief in order to become fully involved in the drama and achieve catharsis.  All these instructions are applicable to the Bible, and they work for the believer and the skeptic.

     The Bible is a work of art.  Were it not art, were it simply an instruction manual, it would not satisfy or convince, and very likely wound not have survived.

--Willis Barnstone, "Introduction, Canon of the Restored New Testament," page 116, The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Thomas, Mary, and Judas 

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