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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Luther's Chronology, Part 6d (Barr – "theoretical schematism")

In Part 6c of this series (Table of Contents in Part 1 here), I reviewed the objections of Professor James Barr († 2006) on the general figure of 4000 years for the Old Testament.
Again, these reviews of Barr make use of his four essays:
  1. UBC – Ussher and Biblical Chronology, 1985
  2. BCLS – Biblical Chronology: Legend Or Science?, 1987
  3. LBC – Luther and Biblical Chronology, 1990
  4. PSC – Pre-scientific Chronology, 1999
In this Part 6d, I will cover Barr's use of the term he euphemistically calls "theoretical schematism", a term he prefers over what he really means for the Bible: legends or myths.

In the following, I will quote several passages from all four of Barr's essays that bear on this subject.  I highlight in yellow the pertinent wording and in some cases I follow with some comments of mine directly afterward highlighted in green.

UBC, pg 589:
... out of the 430 years found by simple addition from the books of Kings, 58 years have to be disposed of as cases of overlapping, results of textual mistakes, theoretical schematism or pure historical errors of the sources.

UBC, pg 599:
The Bible itself was something quite different [from fiction, for Ussher]. It never occurred to Ussher that a biblical text might be chronologically inexact, or that it might be the product of legend or of some intentionality other than correspondence with plain fact, with events as they had really been.

UBC, pg 601:
It is probable that in the last stages of the development of the Old Testament chronological interests became more lively, and that some of the data we now have in our Bibles are products of late editing and comparable with the adjustments we see in the Samaritan and Greek texts. ... But to us, of course, the idea that creation should be so close in time leads in a direction which to Ussher was quite unknown, that is, towards the recognition that the Bible's ideas about early chronology were legendary rather than being accurate recording.
*** Barr comes out of the closet all the way here... "it is probable" our Bibles are "products of late editing", "legendary" and therefore not from the original writers, i.e. Moses and the Prophets. ***

UBC, pg 603, appendix a.:
It is convenient to consider Old Testament chronology - that is, the chronology as presented by the Old Testament text, not necessarily the actual historical chronology of real events...
*** Barr is saying "actual historical chronology of real events" is not " the chronology as presented by the Old Testament text".  In other words, the Bible is not all actual history. ***

UBC, pg 605, appendix a.:
The figures of the kingdom [of Judah] must be accounted for through textual errors, or through overlaps and coregencies, or on the grounds that they were adjusted to fit a theoretical chronological schematism

BCLS, page 2, pdf page 3:
...1 Kings 6.1 tells us that Solomon began the building of the temple in the 480th year after the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt: does this belong to the category of real historical reckoning, or is it a schematic and theoretical construction?

BCLS, page 7, pdf page 9:
Attempts have been made to explain this through notions of co-regencies, overlaps and the like; alternatively the explanation may lie in schematism, that is, in theoretical schemes for dates and periods, to which the factual dates have at certain points been adjusted.

BCLS, page 8, pdf page 10:
A brief word should next be said about the probable purposes and motivations that may have lain behind the chronological references and schemes of the Bible. The central motive may be expressed with the strange term protology―the opposite of eschatology―that is to say, the interest not in the future end of the world but in its beginning and the time back towards that beginning. The time from the origins to the setting up of some particular stage, the reaching of some decisive landmark, was all-important, and there is Mesopotamian evidence that supports this. This is why biblical chronology works from the beginning and is at its best and clearest at the beginning.  The Book of Jubilees shows us the pattern: it was exactly fifty jubilees, 2450 years, from creation to the entry into the promised land. And this motif was well caught by Ussher.
*** This "motif" of Barr, "protology", may have indeed been a motive of some ancient historians and chronologists, and can indeed be a reason to downgrade the credibility of some of them.  But it is absolutly untrue of the Holy Scriptures, the product of the Holy Spirit.  And Luther states that it is the Holy Scriptures that are his basis, not "good historians" or other chronologists.  ***

BCLS, pg 12, pdf page 14:
The theoretical schematism of biblical chronology is well echoed by Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, with fourteen generations each from Abraham to David, from David to the Babylonian exile, and from the exile to Christ;

BCLS, pg 13, pdf page 16:
If other chronologies were legendary or mythical, possibly the biblical one had some element of the same character.

BCLS, pg 16, pdf page 19:
Of all the figures in the Bible, none has more clearly the air of a theoretical and schematic figure than this 480 [years], which is forty times twelve and combines two common schematic numbers of the Bible. The 480 years from exodus to temple has no more claim to historical accuracy than the 365 years that Enoch lived before he was taken up by God.

BCLS, page 16-17, pdf page 19:
Or, more correctly, we should say not ‘legend’ but ‘theological schematism’. Israel inherited legends that went back to the beginnings of the world,and doubtless modified them, built them into new forms, included historical realities within them,and [p.17] adjusted and adapted the whole to fit with and to express certain general theological currents of thought.

LBC, pg 57:
The figures given for all the kings of Judah, from the fourth year of Solomon, when the temple was commenced, to its destruction, add up to 430 years. Modern scholars consider the true historical period to have been just over 370 years: in other words, out of the sum of 430 found by pure addition they have to account for over fifty as cases of overlapping, theoretical schematism, different chronologies, mistakes of the authors and textual errors in transmission.
*** (see also UBC, pg 589 above) "theoretical schematism" is likely an idea Barr borrowed from Kantian philosophy, a schema ( "mistakes of the authors" is from pure unbelief.  ***

Barr did not want to be seen calling the Bible full of legends and myths so he invented the term "theoretical schematism".  Why was this?  Because he did not want to be seen for what he actually is – an enemy of God's Word.  For Franz Pieper said it best:
...whoever denies the inspiration of Scripture, i.e., denies that the Word of the Apostles and Prophets is God's own infallible Word, destroys, as far as lies in his power, the foundation of the Christian Church, because, according to Eph. 2:20, the Christian Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. 
In the next Part 6e, I will cover Barr's points on Textual Variations and Textual criticism.

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