Monday, 17 September 2012

Judging Judges

Tim Bulkeley was called "a politically correct idiot" after making a few germane points about the book of Judges in his excellent podcast.  (I suspect the accuser was one of those demented Calvinofascist types, but I'm only guessing.)  Anyway, Tim introduces the podcast thusly:
Judges is definitely not suitable for Sunday School reading, the bits that are told are firmly censored, and few of us go back to notice what we are missing. But, if we do, what we find is a book chock full of horrid twisted tales, brutal, brutish and sadly not short. Why? Can such a nasty collection of stories be justified, or should it simply be banned?
 "Nasty, horrid tales.  Grubby," says Tim who, believe it or not, teaches Old Testament (why not "Hebrew Bible"?) at Carey Baptist College in Auckland.  But after "all those tawdry tales" comes the last verse, which possibly provides some sort of moral for the tale... I think.  Maybe.  In fact, we're going to have to wait, for Tim promises more in the next instalment.  Cynic that I am, I get the feeling that he's going to apply the baptismal waters to the grubbiness, working up a sudsy lather with the exegete's version of something that washes "whiter than white," and then we'll all be able to breathe again.  This catalogue of travesties provides (again, I'm guessing here at Tim's approach) an example to avoid, thus justifying its existence in the canon.  If that's the line (which it might not be), I for one don't buy it.

My first question, if I were one of Tim's students (I can hear Tim intoning "God forbid!"), would be about the harmful influence Judges has had down through history.  It's influence on colonial powers, for example, and genocidal freaks.  Can any amount of gentle scrubbing remove the splattered blood stains of countless indigenous people - men, women and children - in South and Central America, for example, victims of the mindset which this book - in substantial part - either created or encouraged.

Just asking.

In any case, I'll be awaiting part 2 with great interest.  Do give part one a listen and see what you think.


  1. The book of Judges gives us a glimpse of what life was REALLY like among "god's people" before they had a king. It wasn't pretty.

  2. It gives a glimpse too of what life is really like for many people today. It's still not pretty :(

  3. Judges: the perfect example of the chosen doing what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). So, did a king help? Well, choosing a king seemed to be bit of a problem - God had to do the choosing but not directly, he had to go through Samuel. God can't do anything for himself. And what a leader ol' king Saul turned out to be, huh? So, another king had to be chosen - David. Because, you see, God did a bad job of selection the first time and had to do a "do-over". Because, evidently, God wasn't very good at doing what was right in his own eyes either.

  4. David wasn't exactly a model king either. He:
    - committed adultery and then had a man killed (not to worry, God punished others for that sin).
    - had several wives (I guess God hadn't communicated the "marriage is between one man and one woman" doctrine very clearly to a "man after God's own heart").
    - did all sorts of other deceitful and immoral acts, many of which are thankfully fading from my memory by now as I haven't been reading the bible very much lately.