Error and epistemological process in the Pentateuch and Mark's Gospel : a biblical theology of knowing from foundational texts
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This thesis will consider the possibility of an epistemological process described in the narratives and teaching of the Pentateuch and the Gospel of Mark. The specific nature of this epistemological process will be explored upon the priorities constrained by the texts themselves. While the epistemological objectives are not always perspicuous to the reader of the canon, error is more clearly diagnosed in these narratives. This thesis then investigates the epistemological process by looking primarily at where characters of the narratives 'get it wrong' according to the narrative's diagnosis. Primacy appears to be given in these texts to heeding the authenticated and authoritative voice first, and then enacting the authoritative guidance in order to see what is being shown; in order 'to know'. Errors occur along the same boundaries. Failure to heed the authoritative voice creates a first order of error, while failure to enact the guidance yields a second order of error. We begin at the fore of the canon working through these Pentateuchal texts as they are presented to the reader. In the first chapter, the necessity of this current study will be defended. As well, we will survey various attempts at describing a 'biblical epistemology' and their deficiencies and/or methodological shortcomings. Chapter 2 will advance the case that Genesis 2-3 actually yields sufficient epistemological categories which resemble the rest of the Pentateuchal descriptions of error in more than superficial ways. Genesis 2 is analyzed as paradigmatic for proper epistemological process while Genesis 3 is paradigmatic of error. It is upon the boundary of the authenticated voice that error is assessed in the Garden of Eden. These patterns of error are lexically and conceptually reverberated in the stories of the patriarchs and Joseph. Chapter 3 then looks at how these features discovered in Genesis are interwoven in the reader's mind as they come to the stories regarding Moses' prophetic authentication, Pharaoh's errors, and eventually Israel's own errors. The errors of Balak with Balaam in Numbers are considered as further reason to believe that this epistemological process is not reserved for Israel. Chapter 4 explores the unique connections between Israel's Deuteronomic reflections and the creation narratives of Genesis. The fifth chapter leaps to the Gospel of Mark to discern whether or not any of these patterns from the Pentateuch remain in the Gospel narrative. In the final chapter, the fruit of our theological reading is brought forward to interact with current epistemological theories (mostly in analytic philosophy). These contemporary epistemologies are found wanting to describe anything like what we found in the scriptures. Implications are then drawn for theological prolegomena and praxis.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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