Opening the Bible

Opening the Bible: Selected Writings of Antony Campbell SJ

Antony Campbell
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ATF (Australia) Ltd.
Pages: 551
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    Opening the Bible
    Book Description:

    "When Tony Campbell, aged 75, asked the Council of Jesuit Theological College for Emeritus status and retirement from JTC, both were granted most graciously, along with a testimonial document which said in part: ‘His teaching has combined evocation and provocation in the best sense of those terms. He has mentored research students with scholarly exactitude and personal care. He has published books of the highest scholarly quality, of engaging readability, and of passionate conviction.’ When we at ATF were considering asking him for a volume of Collected Works or Selected Writings, we were well aware that ‘published books of the highest scholarly quality’ were likely to be found on the shelves of libraries and of specialised academics, but not with students and others generally interested. There may be a dozen or more of Tony’s books on the list from booksellers, along with another two or three that are not listed there. But most are heavy-duty specialist works, not easily accessible even to the educated public. We were equally well aware that there was a surprising number of essays and articles scattered in journals and proceedings of conferences that were, because of the scattering, often just as inaccessible. We thought that a collection of these in a single volume would be of great value to those interested. In the Introduction to this volume, Father Campbell has gone into some detail about the contents. Suffice for us to say that Job and the issues associated with suffering concern us all, that the interplay of history and narrative is a constant in the understanding of much biblical text, and that the nature of the Bible and its role in our lives is a major concern for most thinking Christians. While Father Campbell’s focus is on the Older Testament, pondering what he looks at throws light on much of the Newer Testament as well. The writings Tony Campbell has pulled together in this single volume address significant issues within the readable length of an article or a talk. Addressed originally to thinking people, we at ATF believe they are likely to be of interest to a wide audience."

    eISBN: 978-1-922239-83-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    The beauty of a volume like this for someone like myself, whether collected essays or selected writings, is to see the struggle unfolding over a lifetime with fundamental issues of Christian faith and issues of the Older Testament, driven by the pressure of the biblical text.¹ Perhaps the younger me is best characterised by the reaction of the assembled students of the United Faculty of Theology to my selfdescription as a ‘simple Bible Christian’, a statement that was greeted with a wave of spontaneous laughter. Apparently students were not convinced; but I was sincere. I certainly held to the Bible...

  4. Summaries Of What Is To Come
    (pp. xvii-xxxviii)

    At this point, we offer a series of short summaries, one for each piece in the body of the book. They take the place of an index of subjects at the end of the book which, in a book like this, would be unwieldy and unhelpful. The summaries should help a reader find what they want to read and avoid what they don’t want to. If bogged down in reading a piece, the summary may help answer the question: what on earth am I doing reading this? Placed separately, current thinking does not contaminate past thought. The book of Job...

  5. The Book of Job
    • Life and Job
      (pp. 3-8)

      The book of Job is legendary as a study in human suffering before God. It deals with two questions.First: do people worship God unselfishly, or only for the benefits they believe in or hope for?Second: when people suffer, what is going on and where is God? I believe these questions are best kept separate.

      Thefirstquestion is handled in prose over a couple of chapters at the start of the book and about half a chapter at the end. God is portrayed in it behaving badly; Job comes out of it with flying colors (1:20 – 22; 2:10)....

    • Job: Case Study or Theology
      (pp. 9-16)

      It was a friend who practises both as psychologist and biblical scholar who pointed out to me that the encounter with a text proceeds on much the same lines as the encounter with a person. I suspect an academic approaches a book in much the same way that a psychiatrist approaches a client. You want a history from a client. So do we from a book. Where did the author study and under what scholars? What is the background to the book: doctoral dissertation or years of mature study? What problem is the client presenting? What insight or impulse drove...

    • God And Suffering—‘It Happens’: Job’s Silent Solution
      (pp. 17-30)

      When looking at suffering intellectually, JL McKenzie concludes with characteristic honesty: ‘We have no answer to the problem.’ He settles as such on ‘an experience of God’ as the ultimate answer (Two-Edged Sword, 237). Some such experience has to be the ultimate answer; there is no other. Nevertheless, I propose that the second section of the initial divine speech (Job 38:39–39:30, some thirty-three verses), may invite us or allow us to move ‘the problem’ to a quite different context. The experience of God is still crucial, but the context is radically other than generally allowed for in the book...

    • The Book of Job: Two Questions, One Answer
      (pp. 31-44)

      The book of Job asks two questions, but it only answers one. Once we see this and accept it, the structure of the book becomes clear. Once the refusal to answer the second question is recognised, the integrity of the book can be preserved.

      The first question is asked by the Accuser (the satan; ha-satan): ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ (1:9). The same favourable answer is given twice: ‘In all this Job did not sin’ (1:22; 2:10). The text involved is not coextensive with the prose; the issue is ended with 2:10, but the prose continues to 2:13. The...

  6. The Books of Samuel
    • Synchrony and the Storyteller
      (pp. 47-56)

      As recently as some thirty years ago, an influential scholar, a member of the western biblical establishment, published comments suggesting a redactor might have ‘mindlessly mutilated’ a text and referring to ‘the more or less mechanical piecework of a redactor’. Such remarks may betray what Robert Polzin has pilloried as a view of ancient editing involving the ‘damned hands’ of ‘inept redactors’.¹ Where this view exists, any attempt at serious synchronic study would be dishonest and a waste of time. I fear that it has been around for a long time and in some quarters has not yet vanished. When...

    • Diachrony and Synchrony: 1 Samuel 24 and 26
      (pp. 57-62)

      An introduction to the diachronic and synchronic approaches to I Samuel 24 and 26 needs to begin with close focus on the texts in their individuality and broad focus on their combination and context. Close focus on I Samuel 24 reveals the presence in the text of more than one version of the moment inside the cave and the need for filling out the text once Saul is outside the cave. As far as I am aware, similar concerns do not exist for I Samuel 26.

      The general scene is well known. Saul entered a desert cave, west of the...

    • From Philistine to Throne (1 Sam 16:14–18:16)
      (pp. 63-72)

      The story of David and Goliath is a widely known Bible story; without doubt, it is also often a misunderstood one. The alltoo-frequent tenor of its telling is the triumph of the bare–footed shepherd boy over the mighty Philistine warrior, through sheer trust in the power of God. Yet the description of himself given by David does not fit this picture. And besides this, any Israelite with minimal experience of military matters knew that a slinger was a dangerously accurate marksman (see Judg 20:16, also 2 Chron 26:14). An astonishing victory over the Philistine is not the primary concern....

    • Who Dares Wins: Reflections on the Story of David and Goliath and the Understanding of Human Freedom
      (pp. 73-82)

      This paper really begins where an article of mine in this year’sAustralian Biblical Reviewended. The article discusses the story of David and Goliath in the books of Samuel, and in its last footnote refers to the two theological positions latent in interpretations of this story. In one understanding, God’s role is to empower David to use his human talents and prowess in a courageous and daring act. But, in the more common interpretation, when the emphasis is shifted toward David as the little shepherd boy, God is no longer portrayed enabling full human potential to be realised, but...

    • 2 Samuel 21–24: The Enigma Factor
      (pp. 83-96)

      The collection constituted by these four chapters (2 Samuel 21–24) offers a particular contribution to our understanding of the conference theme: Story or History in the book of Samuel. The issue of story or history, of story or report, is form-critically extremely challenging and theologically extremely important. As any reader of Mark O’Brien and my recentRethinking the Pentateuchwill know, it is an issue that extends well beyond Israel’s ‘Former Prophets’¹. The enigma of this ‘special collection’ (chapters 21–24) and the enigma of its components both have considerable bearing on the understanding of the Davidic traditions in...

  7. Narrative and Storytelling
    • Pentateuch Beyond Sources: A New Paradigm
      (pp. 99-118)

      For some time now there has been controversy surrounding the academic understanding of the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) which for a couple of centuries or more has been dominated by the Documentary Hypothesis. In the intensity of study exploring specific texts and seeking some kind of consensus as to what might replace the Documentary Hypothesis, two factors have remained constant.¹ First, the widespread availability of biblical text is taken for granted. Second, concepts central to the hypothesis have been retained.

      Among the factors that bear most weight in the demise of the hypothesis, a couple are of particular significance. The...

    • The Nature of Biblical Narrative
      (pp. 119-132)

      Something of a paradigm shift has been in the making for a while in biblical studies. A future shape has yet to jell. The old historical-critical analysis has not been generating new life for a long time.¹ Other approaches have not so far struck lasting root. The interaction of developmental (cf diachronic) reading and interpretational (cf synchronic) reading is under way, but far from any agreed integration. A resolution of tensions between critical and literary approaches is still to be achieved. The factors involved in any shift are complex; among them, the often competing needs of faith communities, university communities,...

    • The Storyteller’s Role: Reported Story and Biblical Text
      (pp. 133-152)

      The three great narrative works of the Older Testament are the Pentateuch, the Deuteronomistic History (within Deuteronomy—Kings), and the Chronicler’s History.¹ All three draw on earlier traditions and, within them, larger or smaller story units are visible. Among others, three factors in particular impact on the understanding of these great narrative works or their component elements. All three are well known to us; their implications are not always fully integrated into the way such narrative text is discussed and understood.

      The three factors needing to be considered here are:

      i. Limited distribution of the works, resulting from the need...

    • Women Storytellers in Ancient Israel
      (pp. 153-156)

      Something of a paradigm shift has been in the making for a while in biblical studies. A future shape has yet to jell. The old historicalcritical analysis has not been generating new life for a long time.¹ Other approaches have not so far struck lasting root. The interaction of developmental (cf diachronic) reading and interpretational (cf synchronic) reading is under way, but far from any agreed integration. A resolution of tensions between critical and literary approaches is still on the far horizon. The factors involved in any shift are complex; among them, the often competing needs of faith communities, universities,...

    • Child Sacrifice and God Wrestling: Genesis 22 and 32
      (pp. 157-160)

      The two most outrageous stories in the Bible have to be what Christians call the sacrifice of Isaac (in Jewish tradition: the binding of Isaac) and Jacob’s wrestling with God all night at the Jabbok. In a recent novel, a son asks his father, ‘Daddy, if God ordered it would you sacrifice me?’ The father replied, ‘No. For the first time in my life I would disobey God’. The son and his father were talking about historic time, this life, here and now. The son asked his question in historic time. Of course the father could only say, ‘I would...

    • Preparatory Issues in Approaching Biblical Text
      (pp. 161-182)

      Interpretation does not happen in a void. Interpretation emerges out of a context and speaks into a context. Interpreters are not disembodied voices. There is an interplay of interests at work, whether social or emotional, cultural or national, academic, financial, or religious. It is tempting to focus exclusively on the insights and achievements of individuals; these are usually accessible in their publications. We need to be aware of the existence of wider influences and interests that surge around individual scholars and shape something of their work.

      This contribution toA Companion to the Old Testamentaims at providing those interested...

  8. Form-Criticism’s Future
    • The Emergence of the Form-critical and Traditio-historical Approaches
      (pp. 185-218)

      Before we examine the emergence of what is now called form criticism (German:Formgeschichte;‘criticism’ in English and ‘history’ in German—not an insignificant difference), a preliminary observation may be important. As a general rule, reflection on movements in human awareness (correlatively, religious awareness) is usually more appropriate a century or two after the movements have ended rather than a mere century or so after they have begun. In the present case, however, it may be necessary to hazard some preliminary thoughts related to moves in the world of Older Testament study over the last century or so.

      Primary among...

    • Form-Criticism’s Future
      (pp. 219-238)

      Form criticism had a meteoric rise in the early part of the twentieth century and fell from favour toward its end. For some, the future of form criticism is not an issue: it has none. But if form criticism embodies an essential insight, it will continue. If it is to continue in the reflective and thinking world of academic scholarship, the attraction that triggered its rise, the flaws that caused its fall, and the aspects that assure its future all need to be analysed. So this article will have three parts: the past—the rise and fall of form criticism;...

    • Structure Analysis and the Art of Exegesis (1 Samuel 16:14–18:30)
      (pp. 239-274)

      The Holy Grail of biblical interpretation should be the meaning of a text: the best insight the interpreter can offer, after all the acumen of scholarship has been brought to bear, as to what the text is doing or saying.¹ Like the Grail itself, meaning proves elusive to those who engage in its quest. It is easy to make archaeological, geographical, and historical comments or to note critical and linguistic issues. It is quite another question to lay bare one’s conviction as to a text’s meaning. The process tends to lay bare the interpreter’s being.²

      Gerhard von Rad noted long...

  9. Nature of the Bible
    • Creationism! Utterly Unbiblical
      (pp. 277-286)

      As a Bible person, it maddens me to read claims that creationism takes the Bible literally. It does not. There are numerous portrayals of creation in the Bible and there are radical differences between them. Three of the combat variety are noted by way of allusion and reference. They portray a picture of creation by combat between the God of Israel and the forces of chaos. They portray a picture of creation that should send shivers down a creationist’s spine. No wonder these portrayals do not get a mention. Two others are lengthier, more direct, and better known to us....

    • The Bible’s Basic Role
      (pp. 287-300)

      The Bible has many roles to play in support of the life of faith and in fanning the flame of spirit.

      For some, the well-supported avowal that 1–2 Samuel is not the best authenticated near-contemporary record of aspects of the history of Israel comes as a matter of relief and liberation; for others, such distancing from history is a cause for sorrow. For some, the realisation that 1–2 Samuel contains optional variants and conflicting, on occasion contradictory, traditions comes as no surprise; for others, the fact that it is not a reliable source of information, to be trusted...

    • Word of God or Word of God’s People: The Bible’s View
      (pp. 301-312)

      The most significant factor contributing to the weighty significance of the Bible is probably the phrase ‘the word of the Lord’ or ‘the word of God’ (debar yhwh) in its various equivalents in Hebrew and in translations. Church councils, church authorities, preachers, teachers, and so many others contribute to our understanding of the phrase, from literal to highly metaphoric. Leuven professor Msgr Raymond Collins in that most orthodox of reference works,The New Jerome Biblical Commentary,in his article on Inspiration, writes: ‘This traditional formula [the word of God], apparently simple, is extremely complex and polyvalent.’²

      It is valuable for...

    • The Pentateuch: Guard’s Van or Engine?
      (pp. 313-318)

      Current biblical studies face the question whether the Pentateuch (Genesis–Deuteronomy) records traditions powering the beginning of Israel’s story or traditions brought together at the end of Israel’s story and powered by that story. In a railway metaphor, engine or guard’s van (US: caboose).

      Genesis 1–11 holds the texts for creation, garden, Cain, flood, and Babel. Reflections on humanity, these can come from any period, early or late.

      The ancestral stories (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and also Joseph) fall into a different category altogether. Legendary is clear; early is unlikely.

      The material associated with the Exodus is problematic. The introductory...

    • Martin Noth and the Deuteronomistic History
      (pp. 319-352)

      My topic is ‘Noth and the Deuteronomistic History,’ and my instructions from my handlers were to stay close to Noth, which I am happy to do. In a short paper, it would be unwise to do anything else. Fifty years ago, in the middle of the bleak horror of World War II, Martin Noth presented the Deuteronomistic History to the world of biblical scholarship.¹ It met with wide but not total acceptance; it has been with us ever since. An architectural metaphor will help to structure discussion, so I invite you to think of it as ‘the house that Noth...

    • Rethinking Revelation: The Priority of the Present Over the Past
      (pp. 353-364)

      With the exception of some solidly conservative biblical scholarship, the assumption is widely accepted that the present text of the Pentateuch in its final form came together in post–exilic Israel. If most of the priestly writing (P) is situated around the time of Israel’s exile (587–538), it is clear enough that the final form of the Pentateuch has to be later. It should also be clear that the final form of the Pentateuch was not compiled in terms of the age of the texts concerned, but in terms of the chronology of their contents. The first chapter of...

    • The Reported Story: Midway Between Oral Performance and Literary Art
      (pp. 365-376)

      This paper emerges from a combination of three factors: intuition, commonsense logic, and everyday observation. The intuition is simply a storyteller’s conviction, after working with the text of 1–2 Samuel for a while, that no storytellers worth their salt would be able to tell some of the stories the way they are in the text.¹ In exciting areas, they are too bare, too bald; they cry out for embellishment. Commonsense logic says that as well as the simple telling of a story and the skilled fashioning of a story as a work of literary art, there is also the...

    • Past History and Present Text: The Clash of Classical and Post-Critical Approaches to Biblical Text
      (pp. 377-396)

      This paper is concerned with the current clash of academic approaches to the biblical text, specifically that of the Older Testament. These clashing approaches could be designated critical and literary, or classical and post-modern, but perhaps classical and post-critical catches the issue best. The new concerns—once structuralist, then canonical, now predominantly literary—are with the present text. Both enchantment and disenchantment seem to have had their role to play.

      Enchantment with the biblical text as literary text is as old as the Bible’s origins. The endeavour to bring this enchantment to fruition in compelling interpretation has, over recent decades,...

  10. Relationship to God
    • St Ignatius Loyola and God’s Unconditional Love
      (pp. 399-410)

      How can we say God loves us? What does it mean to use that language? The fine tissue of the life of spirit needs constant attention and regular revising of its language to express what is sometimes so faintly felt, so easily swamped, and yet is at the core of human life. We need words that move us, words of wonder, words of wisdom. It can happen, though, that what sounds right at one moment may have implications that in the long term are not right. Love is one of those words that touches deeply. The need has been in...

    • God: Judge or Lover?
      (pp. 411-422)

      There is no more challenging theme in contemporary faith’s struggle for understanding than that of God’s unconditional love for us and its relation to issues of divine justice, anger, and punishment. Here we will focus on some of the issues connected with anger, God’s anger and also ours.

      Talk of divine anger often leads into complexity and confusion. Formulating a dilemma at its starkest helps focus the issue. If God is all-powerful, retaining absolute sovereignty over human freedom, then God has no cause for anger or grief, while humans seemingly have plenty of cause for anger against God. But if...

    • The Growth of Joshua 1–12 and The Theology of Extermination
      (pp. 423-442)

      ‘Growth-of-text’ is certainly not flavor-of-the-month at the moment in exegetical circles. This article hews close to the contours of the present text, not attempting to go any further back into the history of the text than the pre–dtr level represented by Joshua 2. Joshua 1 provides the introduction to the deuteronomistic text of the book of Joshua.¹ It is a possibility worth considering that Joshua 2 provides the introduction to an earlier narrative version, with a significantly different presentation of the traditions. Identification of this possible narrative raises issues around the development of a theology of extermination.

      What is...

    • God, Anger, and The Old Testament
      (pp. 443-450)

      A part from a detour in defence of Job last year, my contributions to these gatherings have been focused on the appropriateness of the language we use when speaking about God. In 1985, I entered a plea for the right of the human analogy to be given full value as a paradigm for language about God: in a nutshell, it is unlikely to be appropriate or helpful to speak of God’s action upon a human person in ways that could not be applied to the action of another human person. In 1986, I appealed to the story of David and...

    • Dei Verbum: Literary Forms and Vatican II—an Old Testament Perspective
      (pp. 451-464)

      The invitation offered by the fiftieth anniversary of a Council document is a marvellous opportunity to look at the nature of an ecumenical council (such as Vatican II) and the nature of its documents. The nature of neither can be taken for granted. In days gone by, Council documents culminated in a series of propositions, each ending with ‘anathema sit’,—let any person holding this view be considered anathema, an outsider. Vatican II did not do this. At the earlier Councils, it was probably felt that the anathema would hold its force for all time. The passage of time would...

    • The Good News and The Year for Priests
      (pp. 465-470)

      In this ‘Year for Priests’ it is particularly appropriate to reflect on the Good News of Jesus Christ, the unshakeable evidence of God’s love for us, as experienced in the lives of ordinary people, ordained people and priestly people. Ordained priests, by vocation, are living witnesses to the ‘Good News’, possessed by that news, embodying that news in the totality of their lives. Priestly people, by commitment, take the Good News very seriously. Is witness to the Good News, kept vital and alive in the community, the core of priesthood from which all else flows? What is this Good News?...

    • Qohelet the Wise
      (pp. 471-472)

      ‘Live your life and see the value in what you do.’ Wise advice and a good mantra for human living. Simple, straightforward, and central to Qohelet (Eccl 2:24; 3:13; 5:17 [Heb.; NRSV 5:18]; cf 8:15). The Hebrew verbal root r--h is straightforward; it means ‘to see’. The Hebrew adjectivetobis straightforward; it means ‘good’. The Hebrew nounamalis just as straightforward; it means ‘toil’. In an agricultural society, most people work the land; working the land is toil. Toil is what most people do in an agricultural society. Today, in an industrial or post-industrial society, what most people...

    • Reflections Around Frank Gil’s Have Life Abundantly: Grass Roots First
      (pp. 473-484)

      The ultimate question for many may be: Have Life Abundantly—How? A burning question for some in today’s increasingly secular world is certainly whether to believe in God and what sort of a Church, if any, is helpful to sustain that belief. Earlier this year (2014) ATF Press published a book by Frank Gil,Have Life Abundantly: Grass Roots First. According to the back cover, Frank Gil was a pseudonym for a widely-published priest; we can treat him as simply Frank Gil. What is of interest for today’s ‘burning question’ is that Frank Gil abandons the idea of proving God’s...

    • Some Thoughts for a Theologically Fuller Eucharistic Prayer
      (pp. 485-488)

      We thank you, loving God our Sustainer—our loving Creator, loving Saviour, and loving Sanctifier—we thank you that you are and that you have brought us into being.

      We thank you, our loving God, for all of your creation. For our universe, so vast we see only the twinkling of its stars. Within our universe, we thank you for our own world that we can see and experience at closer hand, with its oceans, its mountains, the masses of its people, bringing home to us just how small we are—and yet how loved by you. And within this...

  11. Index of Biblical References
    (pp. 489-512)
  12. [Illustration]
    (pp. 513-513)