….please remember one thing – the second reading for this Sunday’s Lectionary reading has nothing to do with needing to understand “scripture” (in Greek – graphe) in any specific way. First of all, if Paul did write this letter (let’s assume it is Paul for now), he wasn’t talking about his own writings. There was no “New Testament” in Paul’s time. Such a thing as “New Testament” wouldn’t be talked about for another century, and it would take two more before there was any kind of consensus on what the “New Testament” would be (and even then, there was a lot of division among all Christians as to what “graphe” should be included, or not, in the NT). So Paul’s words are out, as far as Paul was concerned, in the literal sense.
Secondly, the “graphe” Paul’s actually referring to as “inspired by God” are in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures being used pretty uniformly by Paul, Matthew, John, etc.- all Jews, of Palestine and beyond, since Greek was the common language to use for written texts, not Hebrew. And the only Christians that still agree with Paul on this are the Orthodox- which is pretty impressive, seeing as how they’re one-third of the Christian world today. And really, Orthodox have deviated from Paul, because they, like all other Christians, use such letters of Paul as this one, and the rest of the “New Testament”, as “graphe” as well. Which Paul didn’t, and wouldn’t, do. In the literal sense.
Yea, if you’re not reading just from the LXX, then you’re actually NOT a fundamentalist, literalist, etc.- you’ve joined the ranks of the rest of the Christian world, using different canons of “graphe”, different translations and renditions of scripture, in your faith journey with Christ. Congratulations! Once you acknowledge this, you realize just how Christian you are- in that God continues to in-Spirit YOU with the POWER to understand what exactly is “graphe”, and what they really mean. For TODAY, not Paul’s time. Because YOU are part of this thing called Church, the Body of Christ, and what YOU think and imagine matters just as much as Paul. Yes, you realize that, as always, it’s up to YOU to figure this stuff out, not some ossified understanding of what THIS actually is. It’s your obligation as a member of this body.
So when the preacher goes on and on this weekend about what he (sic) thinks Paul actually meant by this phrase in 2 Timothy 3:16- which will sound something like “we are required to take every verse of scripture as the literal truth!”- get up outta your pew and kick his ass! You have your Pastor’s permission to do so….