Thursday, 5 May 2016

Francesca Stavrakopoulou on the Bible, no holds barred

Here's some direct talking from a major British biblical scholar. Doesn't look like a biblical scholar, doesn't sound like a biblical scholar, but be ye not deceived, she's the real McCoy.

The interview is from a recent ABC Australia talk show.



  1. I like her priorities: First throw out the Pauline corpus, then the rest of the New Testament.
    Paul of Tarsus was such a reckless but, granted, clever (obviously Jewish) Fanatic!

  2. Great stuff! I feel a bit less out of place as another atheist who loves The Bible...

  3. Sadly, her books are in the rarefied Routledge air (no annual cheap NT Wright popular paperbacks for her)...tracking her published work down is going to be difficult. I see that she's upsetting quite a few in the UK as the BBC's 'face of religion' currently. Her theory about the Garden of Eden being a real garden inside the Solomonic temple is fascinating...I need more!

  4. Thanks for that clip, Gavin. I enjoyed it immensely. It's not often I hear a bible commentary that I'm 99% in agreement with.

  5. Love her. Her Garden of Eden/Temple theory, I suspect, may have been influenced somewhat by the work of Margaret Barker, who is an older (independent) theologian also in the UK. I am not sure Barker has outlined that specific theory, but her work rests in the notion that first temple theology is at the core of the rise of the jewish apocalyptic messianism which became Christianity. It's remarkable that she has managed to carve such a career in the discipline of theology given her "double whammy" characteristics of being atheist and female. Bravo.

    1. I actually did think of Barker when I heard that...I had my mind blown by many of her articles several years ago, especially those that dealt with Jewish liturgy and the temple.

  6. This interview is a great example of how two people can accept the same evidence and reach some very different conclusions. I agree with Francesca that the evidence overwhelmingly points to the fact that Moses didn't write the Pentateuch, and that the Moses portrayed in Scripture probably didn't even exist (more likely a composite of several people over many years). I also accept the fact that the archeological and historical evidence refutes an actual exodus from Egypt. It is simply a fact that a great many of the stories in the Bible are not corroborated by the archeological and historical data available to us. I also agree with her reference to textual criticism in refuting notions that certain "books" were the work of one man writing at the time of the events being portrayed. I also concur with her statement that the Bible has been used to justify some of the most horrendous human behavior imaginable (especially in the two areas she cited as examples: gender - sexism and patriarchy and the environment).
    Nevertheless, while I find myself in agreement with the professor on all of these issues, I am a theist (not an atheist). I also don't agree with her advocacy for the removal of Paul's contributions to Scripture. Moreover, it does not follow that admitting all of these things about Scripture justifies the rejection of the whole. Finally, I liked her statement that Scripture is the bedrock of Western culture, and that is and of itself enough justification for being interested in studying and talking about it.

  7. Gosh, with all due respect, it's hard to take this professor seriously. She says she's not "emotionally invested" in the Bible like Christians and Jews are, and therefore she has a more objective and superior perspective on bibliology. Then she turns around and says the Bible's views on gender politics and environmental policy are "monstrous" and "damaging." Not emotionally invested? C'mon, at least she should be intellectually honest enough to admit her biases. She's obviously plenty emotionally invested! As to her theories: My goodness, somehow Genesis 1 connects with Job and then with some of the Psalms to show that the authors were signaling that God wrestled a mythical sea dragon to create the world? The Garden of Eden was a terrarium in Solomon's Temple (even though she thinks Solomon didn't exist--huh?)? I know she has a PhD, but so do scores of other scholars who utterly reject her system of biblical and historical analysis, which uses somewhat arbitrary linguistic and form analysis of texts to jump to the conclusion that the Jews, exiled to Babylon, suddenly decided to reject their millennia-long heritage of polytheism and convert to monotheism, so they rewrote or invented fake scriptures and committed to building a new civilization on what they knew was utter crap. I just don't buy this at all. Such methodology could be employed to assert almost anything you wanted. And her assertion that there are no literary or archaeological reasons to believe in the existence of Moses, Abraham, Joseph, the captivity and exodus, the conquest, etc.? There's a slew of contrary scholarship that she's either ignoring or is unaware of.