Monday, October 18, 2010

The Old Testament… more than human (Part 7)

If the Old Testament is... more than human, we can of course set no limit to the weight or multiplicity of meanings which have been laid upon it. If any writer may say more than he knows (see “Second Meanings”) and mean more than he meant, then these writers will be especially likely to do so. And not by accident.

Ted-Kennedy-and-Portugese-Water-Hound    Certainly it seems to me that from having had to reach what is really the Voice of God in the cursing Psalms through all the horrible distortions of the human medium, I have gained something I might not have gained from a flawless, ethical exposition. The shadows have indicated (at least to my heart) something more about the light. Nor would I (now) willingly spare from my Bible something in itself so anti-religious as the nihilism of Ecclesiastes. We get there a clear, cold picture of man’s life without God. That statement is itself part of God’s word. We need to have heard it. Even to have assimilated Ecclesiastes and no other book in the Bible would be to have advanced further towards truth than some men do. 
    But of course these conjectures as to why God does what He does are probably of no more value than my dog’s ideas of what I am up to when I sit and read. But though we can only guess the reasons, we can at least observe the consistency.

C.S. Lewis, “Scripture,” Reflections on the Psalms (1958, this excerpt taken from The Essential C.S. Lewis Touchstone, 1998) 404.


  1. If you've been tracking this present series of readings, you'll notice that I did some tweaking over the weekend on the readings posted last week. This chapter in Lewis' book Reflections on the Psalms is simply called "Scripture," but it's really the second part of an argument Lewis is presenting. In the previous chapter, "Second Meanings," Lewis argues that writings may legitimately have a second meaning beyond what the author intended. And in this present chapter, "Scripture," he is arguing that this is all the more like to have happened in the Holy Scriptures which are, after all, more than human writings.

    Though the chapter is titled "Scripture," and though he comments on much of Scripture, Lewis' special focus is on how the Old Testament may carry multiple meanings. Thus, I've more or less re-titled this series as "The Old Testament... more than human."

    After today, there are two more readings from this very important (and yet somewhat neglected) chapter from Lewis.

    I'd love to know your thoughts on what Lewis is presenting here.

  2. Very good quote from Lewis, but you do know your pic is Ted Kennedy with a dog and not C.S. Lewis, right? ;)

    In the past, I was trained not to take the text too seriously. It's not really cursing. It's not really that bad. It's not really despair. Now, I know that we must respect the text and the literary forms. There really are curses and bad feelings expressed and even despair (Ps 88). It really is a human text, but there's more to it than just that.

    Excellent stuff!