I’ll get stuff wrong; I always do.
Despite my strong academic background in philosophy and antiquities, I’m sure I’ll die with lots of details in error. There’s a lot of research, but little of it is friendly. Most of the people who have studied and written about the Ancient Near East (ANE) don’t agree with much of what they find. I won’t matter how careful you are, if it doesn’t matter to you, it’s for sure you’ll dismiss something important.
And if it does matter to you, it’s for sure you’ll blow something out of proportion.
However, the underlying aim is not the ANE for its own sake. I’m not a devotee in the sense of wearing costumes and speaking the ancient languages — as if we could reliably estimate how it actually sounded. It’s all guesswork and those more obvious elements of ANE life aren’t that important. ANE folks would probably say that themselves. What matters is the philosophical turn or mind.
A critical element in my struggle with all this is the thing draws me. Over the decades as bits and pieces of this fell into my consciousness, each one already had a home, a proper place reserved in advance. It was like discovering my true self, buried under tons of rubble and trash. The more I learned, the more sense it made, and the more sense my world made. The critical time came about a decade ago. It was time to make or break, and I was nearly broken on the rocks of confusion. Once I got safely past the worst moments, things began to make sense, something which was a new experience for me. The world never made sense before, and it was always painful. Whether it helps anyone else, it’s the home I never knew.
If this thing isn’t calling you, too, I recommend you don’t follow. Just nod your head and smile when I blather about it.
On the other hand, if you don’t at least get some sense of how it works, I warn you the Bible will never make sense to you. It may seem to make sense, and for the better part of two thousand years folks have surely thought it did. But even non-believers with a decent education in antiquities understand most Christians have no clue what the Bible actually says. A very large collection of scholars past and present, who did understand something of the ANE mind, can easily point out the errors. It’s part of why some continue to dismiss Christianity in its current manifestation, because it seems intellectually dishonest. And it is dishonest if you’ve had a chance to learn the difference and refuse to accept the obvious truth.
But most don’t know, haven’t heard. Am I the best spokesman? Hardly. I can’t wait for someone better suited to step up and press this thing forward. Then again, Apostle Paul was a very poor orator, and wasn’t too happy about it. Yet we cannot deny the impact he made on his world. So with my ANE mind I realize God is in charge of the publicity and the results. I’ll do what I can with what He gives me, and readers can certainly grasp something of my depth of commitment. It’s a critical element of my prophetic calling, because just about everything I do and say rests on that different epistemology. I take it seriously, and I’m looking for ways to spread the word.
I can’t criticize because I wasn’t there, but I do surely wish more of the prophets in the Bible had offered a glimpse inside their heads. I hope no one can make that complaint about me now or when I’m gone.
If you’ve read this far, I’m certain God will bless you in some way.