A philosophical approach to gleaning contemporary wisdom from the Bible

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TO THE EDITOR:

In George Weigel’s commentary in the September 2, 2021, issue of the RI Catholic, “Wanted: A Catholic Chaim Potok,” he posed the question, “How can we learn from what modern archaeology, linguistic studies, and historical research teach us about the Bible without treating the Scriptural text as a literary corpse to be dissected?”
Professor Leon R. Kass addressed this matter in his books, “The Beginning of Wisdom Reading Genesis” and “Founding God’s Nation Reading Exodus.” In his Introductions he explains how he has learned to study the Bible and glean age old wisdom from the text that is as relevant today as it was to generations in the past, and will be to those that come in the future.
He approaches reading of the text in a philosophical way, assuming it to be an integrated whole, with a coherent order and plan. He sees that every word matters, their order, their use, nearby repetitions and previous uses. Lacunae, absences, and silences also count. He claims that it is the text’s sparseness, lacunae, ambiguity and reticence that invites the reader’s engagement.
Kass’ books demonstrate that one can approach the Bible in a spirit and manner that is both naive and philosophic, as well as reverent.

Deacon John Croy, Middletown

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