Author of book question and tackling a lecturer


(David Cieszynski) #1

Happy New Year everyone,

I’m back in college Thursday night and the key text for this term is 'Introduction to the Bible’s by Christine Hayes.

She doesn’t appear to be saved and claims that Christianity is Western Theological Speculation and that most of Genesis is based on mythical stories, and the Bible is a ‘library’ of books which has been altered over time.

Can anyone give me some insight into her background, the web is very sparse on her beliefs.

How would you tackle the lecturer on the selection of the key text. The lecturer for this term is some high vicar in the CofE, who I’m not keen on as he has a tendency dodge questions when it’s about God and judging people.

Sorry for the long and disjointed questions.


(SeanO) #2

What college are you attending?

I think an important concept when considering challenging another person on their beliefs, especially a teacher, is sphere of influence. Does this lecturer have any good reason to listen to you? If the whole class protested that might work - but I had professors with these types of beliefs in undergrad and they were just as intent on proselytizing their students to unbelief as I was about believing. They were not going to budge.

I found her whole CV on google - which includes talks like “The Dangers of Absolutism” - so she is obviously a relativist in some sense of that word.

Also, her book “What’s Divine About Divine Law” apparently makes the following argument:


Christine Hayes shows that for the ancient Greeks, divine law was divine by virtue of its inherent qualities of intrinsic rationality, truth, universality, and immutability, while for the biblical authors, divine law was divine because it was grounded in revelation with no presumption of rationality, conformity to truth, universality, or immutability. Hayes describes the collision of these opposing conceptions in the Hellenistic period, and details competing attempts to resolve the resulting cognitive dissonance. She shows how Second Temple and Hellenistic Jewish writers, from the author of 1 Enoch to Philo of Alexandria, were engaged in a common project of bridging the gulf between classical and biblical notions of divine law, while Paul, in his letters to the early Christian church, sought to widen it.


So - she views following divine commandments as being in opposition to truth, rationality and universality. Of course - not believing in God probably inevitably results in this conclusion. If only she believed Job was written when it actually was - or that he actually lived - she would understand that from the beginning God followers have expected God to be rational, but also understood that it is better to know Him than to know why He does all that He does.

She also seems to have strong ties to the Jewish community - though I am not sure whether this is simply a result of her area of study or of some sort of personal history.

My tentative recommendation would be to avoid direct confrontation with the professor, ask good questions in class, reach out to any fellow students who seem open to truth and read some good books to counterbalance such an uneven perspective.

My personal recommendations would be:

The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce
Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright

May the Lord give you wisdom to be a light in the darkness!


(David Cieszynski) #3

Thanks @Sean_Oesch I’m on the Lay Reader Training in the Manchester diocese, I’ll have at the books you recommended.

I find it worrying that this book is a key text for the next module which introduction to the Old Testament, I will be asking questions but now I’ve been exposed to RZIM speakers via YouTube I’ve adapted my questioning technique. I am known on my course to speak my mind and not sit back and be the proverbial nodding dog.


(SeanO) #4

@David_Cieszynski Ah - that is different than a university setting.

Yes, it’s not good to be a nodding dog. But also not to be a dog barking into the void if no one is listening.

Perhaps simply don’t attend the course? Is it required for some type of credential you are seeking? Is your Church well rooted in the Scriptures?

Recently I had to stop attending a Church I thought I was going to really enjoy because when I attended one of their classes I discovered that while they used Bible language they simply rejected the authority of God’s Word.


(David Cieszynski) #5

I’m training to be a Lay Reader as currently our Vicar is open for people he can trust to preach on a Sunday, but it only takes his replacement when he retires to be a ‘traditionalist’ where only vicars and ‘trained’ people can preach.

By doing this course I will obtain a Higher Certificate in Christian Theology and the diocese will sponsor me to do a diploma, which will come in use as I feel called to open a small theology centre within our parish.


(SeanO) #6

Wow - inspirational! Hope the theology centre works out. That sounds like a very exciting idea!

If God is calling you to be a witness in a place that is growing darker praise Him! May it prosper. But if you yourself are not being edified - may the Lord provide a source of solid food.


(Jimmy Sellers) #7

@David_Cieszynski
I have not gone to school (Seminary) but I have found this book helpful in understanding the intertestamental years. I might add that NT Wright’s PFG is excellent book recommendation also.

Introducing the Apocrypha Message, Context, and Significance
David A. deSilva


(Jimmy Sellers) #8

@David_Cieszynski, I just had an after thought. If Genesis is based on stories could she list the similarities and perhaps the differences? There at are some. It would interesting to see her list. I think that this is a question that can be ask without challenging the authority of the instructor. It would also allow for you to interject what those differences are and change the direction of thought and enlist comments from the class.
Just a thought .:grinning:


(David Cieszynski) #9

Thanks Jimmy, I’ve ordered the second book you recommended.

Here are some links which may answer some of your questions in what she’s written: -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2010/02/an_introduction_to_the_old_tes.html
https://oyc.yale.edu/religious-studies/rlst-145/lecture-1

“This lecture provides an introduction to the literature of the Hebrew Bible and its structure and contents. Common misconceptions about the Bible are dispelled: the Bible is a library of books from diverse times and places rather than a single, unified book; biblical narratives contain complex themes and realistic characters and are not “pious parables” about saintly persons; the Bible is a literarily sophisticated narrative not for children; the Bible is an account of the odyssey of a people rather than a book of theology; and finally, the Bible was written by many human contributors with diverse perspectives and viewpoints.”


(David Cieszynski) #10

Hi Sean,

As the course is for teaching purposes I still attend my church, so still getting spiritual input, I’m not looking forward to have some lecturer tell me the Bible is based on ‘ancient eastern mythical stories’.

My associate Vicar said I should try and think how would I respond to such statements at work.


(Jimmy Sellers) #11

I know that this going to sound crazy but I watched some of her videos. I was impressed but then I also liked Christopher Hitchens. This one is interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl2wsYIhg-E


(SeanO) #12

@Jimmy_Sellers I do not think that is crazy at all

I liked my NT / OT professors at my undergrad as professors. They were thoughtful and allowed me to disagree without docking points. They also had some interesting ideas.

People can be intriguing, considerate and thoughtful without being correct. I also enjoyed listening to Christopher Hitchens. I like his brother Peter Hitchens a lot - interesting conversion story. I don’t know how many people are moved to fear of God by medieval paintings of the horrors of judgment.

However, I am not sure an intriguing unbeliever is the right source material for an introductory course on the Bible to laity - unless they all just so happen to be very highly educated and skeptical themselves. And there are some other books to balance it out - like N. T. Wright, etc.


(David Cieszynski) #13

Evening Sean, it’s my concern that our key text for this module is the book in question. The first lesson of 2018 is tomorrow so I will let you know how it goes.


(SeanO) #14

@David_Cieszynski Hopefully it turns out your professor either has a good reason for using the book or is not using it. May the Lord grant you discernment.


(David Cieszynski) #15

Thank you Sean most appreciated


(David Cieszynski) #16

Hi everyone just to say it went better than expected will give a proper update when children are in bed.

Thanks for your comments and support.


(Katherine Anderegg) #17

Her general info is here:https://religiousstudies.yale.edu/people/christine-hayes; somewhat more helpful is the link to her c.v. at the site:
PDF icon hayes_cv.pdf

Hayes believes that the Jewish people accepted revelation with no assumption that it was true, rational, or immutable. She is herself an admitted atheist, but at times in her writing comes very close to an open theism view of God and religion. One of her more unusual beliefs is that (religious) conversion is a “legal fiction invented by the Romans” to unify the empire and incorporate non-Romans into assimilated citizens or residents. It was accomplished by using a nominalist approach in defining conversion.


(David Cieszynski) #18

Hello everyone,

Finally got a few minutes to think straight, just to say the module for introduction to the Old Testament is going well. The tutor makes little reference to the book in question, but couldn’t really answer why this was a key text book. I think we’re suppose to look at it from an academic point of view, which in my opinion is bizarre considering we’re doing a theological course.

The tutor is a believer and passionate about the Old Testament, her delivery method is a scatter gun approach meaning you can’t let your mind wonder for a bit.

I’ve got to do a exegesis on Deuteronomy Ch6 v4-9 (first time for everything).

Thanks for your support and comments on this thread.


(SeanO) #19

@David_Cieszynski Glad it’s going better than expected and may the Lord bless you with wisdom as you study!