Politics determining truth is one of the concerns permeating both these Personal Notes and my Western Civilization lectures at www.western-civilization.com God is in charge, even when humans do use politics to determine truth. That is what happened with Sacred Scripture during the Babylonian Exile in the mid-Sixth Century, B.C.
In 1943, Martin North, The Deuteronomistic History,
observed evidence that the Deuteronomist, Jeremiah perhaps, edited and revised Sacred
Scripture during the Babylonian Exile.
The idea that the Chosen People could ignore
the Commandments of their God with impunity was no longer viable. Where the Lectionary reads Moses
spoke … saying: “A prophet like me will the LORD … raise up for you,
Jeremiah may have had himself in mind, rather than some Jesus centuries later. Legitimacy required that the prophecies of
The Lectionary passage from Deuteronomy is
relevant to the time of
Where the king of
The papacy takes unto itself the notion of being a
spokesman for God. Papal infallibility,
therefore, is a correlative issue. The
doctrine of papal infallibility would have more credibility if the pope gave
more evidence of faith in the doctrine. So
far, the only doctrines defined infallibly are that the pope is infallible, when
the pope says he is, and that the body of
Especially with people laying their lives on the line to live up to the birth control teaching of the Magisterium, backing that teaching with infallibility seems like a pittance price to pay. There are other, similar, biological issues, such as stem cell research and abortion, for another time.
Before the Deuteronimist revision, the king ruled as a sort of god. With Deuteronomy, even the king had to obey the law. The only information that the Book of Deuteronomy offers about the king is that he is to have a copy of Deuteronomy at hand at all times (Deut. 17:18-20). Deuteronomy begins with the Ten Commandments, omitting everything that came before.
Christians are not concerned about when in history prophecies
are fulfilled; but the prophets were. Jeremiah
is “`the archetype of the true prophet around whom the Deuteronomist develops
his formula’ (Deut 18:21-22),
fulfillment within the prophet’s lifetime constitutes the predominant criterion
of legitimate authority.”
Religious politics do influence the
development of Sacred Scripture. Prophets,
in their own time, required that legitimating which comes from prophecies
fulfilled. Apart from New Testament
In changing history, the Deuteronomist also changed
the national identity. Deuteronomy 18,
used in the Lectionary, is part of Deuteronomy 12—26 that incorporates
welfare state injunctions on Israel. Deuteronomy
18 is part of a concern for “socially weak, vulnerable human beings [like some African-Americans]
and that these [newly incorporated Deuteronomist] laws affected the predicament
of this social subgrouping in ancient
Deuteronomy 18:20, if a prophet presumes to speak … he shall die is about intentional, arrogant, sinful actions, rather than an unintentional transgression. All are accountable before the law, especially for their intentional actions. There are no exceptions, prophets, people, or kings and, in the New Testament, popes.
After these observations, one may
wonder what the historical background of the text [Exodus 3:14a, “I am who I
am”] is. Was there a need to ground the
prophetic function in a great predecessor,
Turning from Deuteronomy to the Lectionary Psalm, the 95th Psalm dates from the monarchial period, before the Exile. Recognizing the king as both the representative of the people as well as the representative of God, the 95th Psalm tells the king to listen to God. Psalm 95:1 mentions, “the rock of our salvation.”
In Hebrew, rock can also mean presence. The Greek
Septuagint does not use the word rock
Rock implies stability; presence implies
flexibility. Both combine in the new
Deuteronomistic concept of God in the history of
Psalm 95 is one of two classic enthronement Psalms, the other is Psalm 99. Psalm 99:8 explicitly mentions the need to listen to the voice of God in order to avoid his judgment. The responsorial antiphon for the Faithful, Psalm 95:8, makes the point. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Voice means preaching and tradition, rather than the written Word alone.
Psalm 95:8 mentions Meribah and Psalm 95:9 mentions
Massah, where the people quarreled with
Shifting from the Psalm to the Epistle: only a king
can be carefree and that only when he is in full control. 1 Corinthians has such in mind when
Anxiety permeates these Personal Notes as they work to clear away human political correctness in favor of Divine political correctness. Like clear praying, clear thinking requires adhering to human truth in the midst of human politics. If God wants to reveal his mighty self, believing him is no problem, in the sense that “there are no atheists in a foxhole,” as the editor of Early Protestant Spirituality puts it. The problem arises because God informs humans with both free will and intelligence, the successful use of which causes anxiety over the issue of recognizing and loving truth in tension with loving power. What follows recognizes and describes some of these tensions, enveloped in the struggle between truth and politics.
In the modern feminist world of political correctness,
The Lectionary uses the same word, anxious, at 1 Corinthians 7:32, 33, 34,
and 34, whereas
Moving from a consideration of the written authority
of Sacred Scripture to the authority of
In summary, both the politics of
For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes
 William L. Holladay, “Elusive Deuteronomists, Jeremiah, and Proto-Deuteronomy,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 1 (January 2004) 66, 76.
 Brendan Byrne, S.J., “Jesus as Messiah in the Gospel of Luke: Discerning a Pattern of correction,”" the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 1 (January 2003) 87.
 Christopher T. Begg, “2 Kings 20:12-19 as an Element of the Deuteronomistic History,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1 (July 1986) 34.
Alister McGrath, In the Beginning: The
 Cornelis Den Hertog, “The Prophetic Dimension of the Divine Name: On Exodus 3:14a and Its Context,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 2 (April 2002) 228.
 Alan C. Mitchell, S.J., “The Use of prepein and Rhetorical Propriety in Hebrews 2:10,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 4 (October 1992) 691.
 Scott H. Hendrix, ed. and trans., Early Protestant Spirituality (New York, Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2009) 202.
 Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P., “Interpolations in 1 Corinthians," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1 (January 1986) 91.
 Michael Winger, “Word and Deed,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (October 2004) 681.