Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Latter Day Saints, Hindus, and Buddhists have sacred text identified as scripture. Believers may read their own script, sure it is the truth. Some may believe their scripture is true and none other. Many think the latest version is the best, for example the New displacing the Old Testament. The Quran trumps the Old and New by becoming the Final Testament. The final is displaced by Bahai even as the Quran is enrolled in the Bahai canon.
Do the Mormons get the last word?
Does Das Kapital replace all previous scripture, or the Bible of Nazism, Mein Kamph?
We struggle with scripture.
Is there one sure way to read the script?
Are rules for reading extant?
What is literal and what allegorical?
We begin with this broadest approach as a reminder that every culture and religion has a script and narrative.
Our first focus is on Western religion. We do not believe the Quran is The Final Testament. I prefer the title The Glorious Quran. I do not believe my Final Testament is a final testament. No need to call mine Holy, it is all commentary. As a joke I dressed the printed version of my Final Testament in bible black with gilded letters. The Book is out of print and I want it to stay that way. I am sure my script must remain an oral torah. The trees of the field rejoice in this thought.
The blogosphere is the Talmud of the future, and all my writings are Talmud Torah.
I have yet to meet a librarian who will classify The Final Age Testament. I would find it embarrassing to discover written editions in the philosophy, religion bibles, and science, biography and poetry sections. And do not forget both fiction and non.
Putting on my rabbi hat I must lecture on the three fictions we call The Old, the New and The Final Testament. The old is not replaced by the new nor does the final get the last word in western scripture. In fact the fiction of a New Testament is dangerous! Why do you think I wrote a Final Testament! Who knew my satire also spoke truth to Islam! Yes, I am shouting. This is my struggle! Hitler twisted the cross into a swastika. The son tried to kill his old man. First, the old man was ready to slay his son.
The script of western monotheism is sure of one thing. Progress. This is the problem with Bahai theology, but not its scripture, which by definition takes precedent as the real final age testament, since it is the latest .A fickle god must change her mind and always prefer her latest darling.
The future supersedes what came before. Covenants are broken, and bodies, all in the name of a god in the script. The superseding myth is a double and even triple edged sword.
The Old displaces the New which becomes an Old when it is replaced by a Final. The Quran is even harsher than the gospels towards “the Jews.”
(2:88, 4:46, 52, 5:13, 60, 64, 78. etc. etc.)
Returning to the Original Testament we define ways of reading and interpretation that put all western scripture into perspective. Firstly, scripture is not “Holy.” Scripture, being about humanity, contains the profane. Biblical characters are not plastic saints. The patriarchs and matriarchs do much that is not sacred. They are just like real people. This is what makes them special and worth studying and discussing. Moses has anger management issues and Aaron bad judgment.
Our warriors and spies were often wimps, our judges lacked judgment, and our kings were progressively worst in every dynasty. Ezra , who we can thank for the Torah, was rather ornery on the interfaith front, see his chapter nine. So much for progress. The Hebrew Bible ends with two chronicles, dull and dangerous. Ezra lurks about, and a dream that all will ascend to rebuild the Temple.
One wonders if the sequel must be a grade B movie complete with zealots
and explosives and a prelude to WWIII.
The Gospels attempt to be good news by portraying a messiah who is sinless and without blemish. No wonder the gap between Christendom and Christ. Christ must have had faults, being a biblical character. Inerrancy of scripture, and errorless characters, are surely fictions.
The Quran follows with a prophet who so embodies perfection that all future Muslims are destined to fall far short of the ideal. Being the seal of the prophets, is future inspiration possible? The script and its recitation become the only sure voice of Allah.
One thing I am sure about concerning scripture. We must all sit down together and study together and learn new ways of reading from one another. Fundamentalism must come to mean the basic teachings we all share that affirm life, charity, peace, and enlightenment.