Saturday, January 14, 2012

Peter Lumpkins, Real Marriage footnotes, and redaction

Peter Lumpkins has spent a little bit of time considering the possibility of textual redaction in the footnotes of Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage, and considers whether or not the footnotes have not, in some cases, done a bit of interpolation in one case and excision in another.

If the Driscolls (or mainly Mark) like to throw in footnotes they're welcome to.  Adding a word here and cutting a word there that changes the meaning of some footnotes backing up some of the claims that the Bible endorses certain acts warrants some attention.

This wouldn't be the first time Driscoll has effectively made up something that doesn't fit the primary or secondary materials to get a point across.  The most easily documented claim was that the Targum Neofiti dates from the 2nd century BCE and that it shows some Jews read the Bible, believed what it said, and affirmed a Trinitarian formulation of Yahweh.  Uh huh.  So it's not an entirely huge shock that Mark Driscoll (because it's unlikely Grace has stumped for this over twelve years) has stuck with his citation and case for oral sex to be in Song of Songs since he got that idea about a decade ago. 

The thing is that most people don't pay attention to those small details.  They pay attention to the big picture and Driscoll knows people pay attention to the big picture.  So factual errors, misrepresentation, and bluffing aren't important or the people who focus on these small but sometimes telling errors as indicative of problematic patterns are, well, told these things are petty.  So if 1 Timothy 5 is habitually conscripted to say stay at home dads are in sin rather than focusing on the passage's discussion of widows, well, we're invited to not fret about it or people say that the whole thing is spot on because Mark Driscoll is going for an axiom or praxis we agree with. 

Citations and statistics aren't the end of every discussion.  Sometimes they are just the beginning. A citation to a "respected OT scholar" doesn't always lead to that citation proving the preacher was citing the scholar accurately.  Citing a commentator like Joseph Dillow does not in itself prove that Dillow knew what he was talking about.  If I cited Mark Driscoll authoritatively as having established that the Targum Neofiti taught the Jews believed Yahweh was a Trinity even before Jesus was born I do two things: 1) I prove that I trust a guy who has no idea what he's talking about but speaks authoritatively as though he has done meaningful study on a topic 2) more importantly, by shoe-horning an anachronistically Christian gloss on even this allegedly pre-Christian targum I have just trivialized the centuries of theological debate church fathers did about apostolic writings to arrive at the doctrine of the Trinity.  A guy like Driscoll can just pretend that the Church Fathers and Athanasius didn't have to do any real leg work to arrive at the Trinity because, hey, the Targum Neofiti was here! 

Except that it wasn't around until some centuries AFTER the time of Christ.  So if I invoked Driscollian authority about a targum I would be embracing two different levels of stupid, really three.  Sadly if Mark Driscoll would have us believe 1,000 members left during the 2008 Doctrine series as Mars Hill tightened up doctrinal requirements there's no evidence of more stringent demands on the part of Driscoll to make accurate quotes, citations, or historically compelling arguments about targums.  And the reality was that everyone's membership was cancelled out and people were asked to renew at that point.  It's all a matter of one's point of view.  Either 1,000 members "left" as Driscoll sees it or 1,000 members simply didn't continue renewing their membershp as they had in years past.  As Ben Kenobi told Luke, "What I have told you is true, from a certain point of view."  And for folks within that point of view, of course it's true, and because it's true in the important parts then fudging some footnotes isn't important. 

No comments: