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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

Episode 169: Pete & Jared – “The Bible & the “Problem of History”

What do you do when you notice something in the Bible that doesn’t pass the muster of historical research? In this episode of The Bible for Normal People Podcast,  Pete and Jared discuss the problem of history in the Bible as they explore the following questions: 

  • Why is the problem of history in the Bible a uniquely modern problem? 
  • When did the consciousness of history begin to impact matters of Christian life and faith?
  • What is historical consciousness?
  • How did archeology and science drive the rise of critical biblical scholarship?
  • Why can’t we go to the Bible to solve the historical problem?
  • How did modern consciousness place a wedge between history and theology?
  • Why do modern scholars examine the relationship between text and event? 
  • Why is Pete putting chicks in the oven?
  • How do we determine what it means to be a Christian in relationship to history?
  • Does the problem of history have to be solved in order to be a Christian?
  • How does the problem of history present an opportunity to question core assumptions of faith?
  • But seriously, why is Pete putting chicks in the oven? 

Tweetables

Pithy, shareable, less-than-280-character statements from Pete & Jared you can share. 

  • “Critical, I mean, that [word] gets a bad rap, but really, all critical means is digging into the past to the original context rather than assuming that your own context is normative.” @peteenns
  • “It’s important for us as modern people to parse out the difference between history and theology, between past and present. Both of those distinctions were not important distinctions to make in the ancient world. Those were just not even categories to think about.” @jbyas
  • “The Bible has its own problems just reading it on a surface level, but now when people start digging literally and figuratively into the past, it raises more questions than it answers.” @peteenns
  • “To have integrity with scholarship, you don’t get to pretend that we haven’t made all these advancements that do problematize the Bible, ignore all that, and then still make credible claims about history and the Bible.” @jybas
  • “You can’t sidestep historical questions in either testament, nor can you steer clear of it affecting fundamental things about our understanding of the nature of Christian faith or the Bible. It’s not going anywhere, and we don’t have to solve it in order to be Christian.” @peteenns
  • “I like the literary [and theological] value of the Bible and I struggle with the history of it. If you felt that, you are well within a long tradition of Christians who have wrestled with it and Christianity didn’t just go away because we couldn’t solve the problem.”  @jbyas

Mentioned in This Episode

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Read the transcript

0:00

Pete: You’re listening to The Bible for Normal People, the only God-ordained podcast on the internet. I’m Pete Enns.

Jared: And I’m Jared Byas.

[Jaunty intro music]

Pete: Well, welcome everyone to this episode and our topic for today is the Bible and the “Problem of History.”

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: That’s our topic man, and it’s a pretty cool topic.

Jared: I think so. It is a bit of a heavy topic. There’s a lot of concepts that might be new for people and just a reminder if you’re looking for some people to interact with about this, ask questions, have more conversation, we have this Slack group. So, you can go to https://www.patreon.com/thebiblefornormalpeople and learn more about it, but it can be helpful not to have to look over your shoulder at the coffee shop and see if you’re gonna be accused of being a heretic for having these conversations.

Pete: [Laughter]

Yeah.

Jared: It’s a group of people who are already asking these questions.

Pete: Supportive, you know? And Jared and I, we had experiences in seminary, where after class you can go out and hang out with people, maybe go to a pub or something and talk about this stuff. That’s, sometimes you have topics where you just need to go back and forth a little bit. And I think this is one of them because this really hits at the heart of what causes a little bit of distress sometimes for people or just like I don’t really know what to do with this anymore. And that is the “problem of history”. So…

Jared: Yeah. Well, let’s start with what do we mean by the problem of history? Why is this a problem?

Pete: What do we mean by that, Jared?

[Laughs at himself]

Jared: Well, it’s recognizing in our Bible, which I think a lot of listeners, it’s why they listen. It’s why we go through these faith shifts is we start to notice things in our Bible that aren’t passing the muster of historical research. Like, what the historians say about events that happened aren’t lining up with our Bible.

Pete: Right. And sometimes just, it’s even simpler than that. It’s just paying attention and seeing how, you know, again, we always talk about this, there are four Gospels. They tell the story of Jesus differently. You don’t have to be a scholar to see that. You just read it and say –

Jared: That’s right.

Pete: “How come it says this in Matthew and this in Luke and John doesn’t even care?” You know, so, why does that happen? Even just on the level of reading the Bible like a normal person, you’re going to be confronted with the problem of history in the Bible. And the Old Testament version of that, of course, is the two histories of Israel. The first one is basically in the books of Samuel and Kings and the other one is in the books of First and Second Chronicles.

Jared: And if you get, if you’re just a little bit closer of a reader, we get it from the very beginning with the two creation accounts in –

Pete: Yeah!

Jared: Genesis 1-2 and then 2-3. We have these, if we’re paying attention, we can see these.

Pete: Right. And you see the two stories of creation and, you know, assuming that those are even historical, then you have that problem, like, well how did that happen? But there you even have the added problem, you know, that people in our time are probably a little more conscious of than maybe from centuries past, but you know, is this really six days? Or a garden with two magic trees in the middle and then a snake that talks? So, what do we do with history? It raises the issues of things like myth, which we may or may not get into today.

Jared: So, the historical problem is our Bible bumps up against a few things is what I’m hearing you say. It bumps up against our close reading, meaning our own logic says if Luke has Jesus giving this same sermon on a plain and Matthew has it on a mount, well, they couldn’t have both been true. So, we were bumping up against our own logic. We’re also bumping up against science and we’re bumping up against archaeology…

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: …and that’s what we’re talking about.

Pete: But even if you know, Luke and Matthew’s sermons of Jesus, even if they could be both historically true, it’s the very fact that we’re asking the question, right? It’s our sensibilities make us ask those kinds of questions. So, another way of putting it is that the Bible doesn’t make it easy for us when it comes to, “oh, this is history.” Or what is history? It asks a lot of us and for some people this isn’t a problem, but for many others, it’s like, it makes you stop in your tracks – things like miracles. Not to say that miracles can’t happen, but we ask the question. We talk about it. People rise from the dead; this is not a common experience that we have. So, on different levels, Jared, there is a problem of history just from reading the Bible sort of on our own without any supervision. It just sort of happens.

Jared: Right. Right. Well, let’s talk about why this is a problem because you were hinting at it there for a minute about the, well, what I want to use is historical consciousness.

Pete: Go ahead then.

4:49

Jared: It’s understanding there was a world 600-700 years ago and before and then there’s a world 600-700 years ago and after. And there’s this really significant dividing point that scholars and theologians talk about in the modern period that makes this more of a problem. If you would have asked a medieval monk how they handled the historical problem of the Bible, they would likely have no idea what you’re talking about. So, what is it that led it to being a problem in the first place? Because it is a problem for us –

Pete: Right.

Jared: In a way that it was not a problem for the ancients.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: They just didn’t think about it. We don’t see in our Bible people wrestling with the historical problem. We don’t see theologians for hundreds of years, or anyone really, for hundreds of years wrestling with this, “well wait a minute, the text says this, what do we do with the historical account? Is this historically accurate? And why does that matter?”

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: These are very modern questions.

Pete: Right. Right. And, you know, I think the last thing we want to do is present a simplistic picture even if we want to present a simple picture, not simplistic. So, even that question, Jared, like where is that dividing line? When did things sort of begin and get rolling? That’s not an easy question to answer in and of itself, but we do have something that people have heard of which is the Renaissance and this movement of back to the sources. In other words, don’t just rely on the way things are, go back and dig into the past to really find out where things begin and therefore what things mean.

Jared: Right. Well, and all studies during, before the Renaissance, we have maybe, again we don’t want to be simplistic, but we call it the medieval period, and during that time all the authority for what’s true is really an ecclesial, it’s a church authority. The Pope is really determining what’s true and that comes through received tradition. Everything is received tradition. So, that’s why, I just say that because we might think, well, of course you go back to the sources. But we have several hundred years before the Renaissance where people aren’t going back to the sources. They’re saying, “No, no, no, we don’t need to go back to the sources. Why would you go back to the sources when we’ve built on the sources in this authoritative way, and that’s called tradition –

Pete: Right. Right.

Jared: And tradition is the truth.”

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: It’s only when people started questioning those traditions and said “wait a minute…”

You know, I think of Erasmus, who tried to be a good Catholic, it’s kind of like Martin Luther. They tried to be good Catholics and it doesn’t always turn out well for them. But, he says, like, “Wait a minute. What if the tradition got it wrong?”

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: “I’d like to…”

Pete: About the Bible itself.

Jared: Right. Well, and also during this time period we can’t separate that from the fact that we were just now finding the original sources.

Pete: Um hmm.

Jared: So, people were finding ancient Greek manuscripts and they were saying, “oh, yeah!” There’s sort of like lightbulbs going off. “Oh, I guess there were sources behind all this tradition.”

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: What do they actually say?

Pete: And how far back do they go? And what’s the original in questions like that?

Jared: Right.

Pete: So, that’s not a question that would’ve bothered someone in the 7th century.

Jared: Right.

Pete: But these are things that just happened. Why did they happen? Great question. People write a lot of books about that, but we can’t answer that. All we know is that it did, right? And this desire to, even simple things, again simple from maybe our point of view, but like, you really ought to learn Greek and Hebrew, right? That wasn’t invented during the Renaissance period, but it sort of got some legs there but it lasted and kept going. And that’s very much a part of our consciousness now when you go to seminary and you’re usually expected to pick up some Greek and Hebrew because it’s important to understand “originals,” even though that’s a complicated thing. What are originals? But leaving that to the side for a second you know, you have that consciousness of history that is beginning to invade, is that the right word Jared? Invade matters of Christian life and faith.

Jared: Right.

Pete: You know, invading is a negative way of putting it. It’s not a bad thing, but it just happened.

Jared: At first, maybe it wasn’t invasive until the implications started to come out.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: Then it felt like an invasion.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: But I just wanted to back up because the word historical consciousness can be very abstract, so again, not to be, this probably is simplistic, but people started around, we’re talking about the 1500s.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: The 1600’s, the 1700’s, people started asking the question, “well, what really happened?”

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: And when someone said, “Well, why would you want to know that?” They said, “just because.”

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: Because we want to know what really happened. That’s historical consciousness and that wasn’t, those weren’t sustained questions before that.

Pete: Yeah, that question has its own value.

Jared: Yeah, in and of itself.

Pete: In and of itself. Like, I think of myself. I have historical curiosity. Like, why do you study this stuff and dig into it? I just, I’m interested. I just want to know what happened. You know?

Jared: Um hmm.

9:59

Pete: And again, that’s a question that is fueled not by the medieval period, not by the biblical period, it’s fueled by events and movements and philosophies of the past few hundred years. And living in the modern world, it’s very, very hard to escape that. I mean, just to jump ahead a little bit, even if you’re really conservative and you think everything in the Bible happens exactly the way it says it happened, you’re still historically conscious because you’re talking about it.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Right? You’re defending it and you have arguments for it. This is not like a liberal/conservative kind of thing. It’s just everyone has this historical consciousness and the Bible itself raises certain questions that if you have a historical consciousness the way we do, we’re going to say, “Wait a minute! There are four Gospels that don’t agree.”

Jared: Right. And there are conservative ways of handling that.

Pete: Right.

Jared: But noticing it is a uniquely modern thing to do.

Pete: And feeling the need to handle it.

Jared: Right.

Pete: Right? I mean, so, there’s not really a good guy/bad guy here.

Jared: Right. Right.

Pete: That’s not the point of this. The point of this is just that there is a historical problem for us as readers with respect to the Bible that has biblical roots, in a sense, but the matters have gotten a lot more complicated and a lot more, just baked into the whole idea of Bible, the historical consciousness. And that really, you know, Jared, that blossomed then, you know, the Reformation was, it didn’t help, right?

Jared: [Light laughter]

Pete: The Reformation didn’t help because when you have, again, not to be, I keep saying this but we’re really conscious of not being simplistic, but with the Reformation, the Bible was elevated to a particular kind of authority that many people think wasn’t really at work before the time of people like Martin Luther and some precursors and then John Calvin, those are the two big names. So, there was a shift, so to speak, in what you expect from the Bible. If the authority by which you live your life is no longer, let’s say the Church authority of the Roman Catholic Church, but it’s the Bible alone, well, you need really clear information from the Bible and you can’t have it messing around with history. You need to able to find a way to reconcile Gospels or reconcile the histories of Israel in the Old Testament. Not that they were like modern people, necessarily, this was like a bridge, almost, from medieval to modern, the influence of the Reformation.

Jared: Right.

Pete: It elevates the Bible to a status that eventually, again, this is a connection people make and it’s really important, but there are a lot of nuances we’re not getting into, but the connection between, you know, the Renaissance and then the Reformation Period and then what eventually happens in Europe where the Bible becomes an object of historical study. When in the Reformation, when you have people like Martin Luther saying, “Hey Catholic Church, you can’t tell me what to do. I don’t recognize your spiritual authority. I’m just going to read the Bible and get my authority from that,” that sounds great. The next step is well, we don’t recognize the spiritual authority of the Bible either, because have you read it? Look at all the stuff that happens. You know? It’s a weird book. It’s contradictory. Historically, it makes no sense, this and the other thing. And that gave rise to the study of the Bible in modern universities all around this notion of a historical consciousness. You know the criticisms about the Bible were like, this couldn’t have happened, for whatever reason, they’re just saying x, y, and z could not have happened. It makes no sense. That rises from a historical consciousness.

Jared: Well, and the way I would say it, maybe, is during this Reformation time where we’re starting to ask questions of history on its own terms, I feel like there was an assumed authority within the Bible for that. There was an assumption that once we started asking these questions, the Bible fit squarely with what we would say is history. What the Bible says happened is what happened. Then we started doing things like science. And so, we started creating these processes whereby we can say, well, “when we filter this through these sets of questions and create hypotheses and all that, we’re coming out with some conclusions that actually aren’t lining up with the Bible.” Yikes.

14:48

And then we had this split between people who, this is where we start to think of, well, are we going to follow the scientific process or are we going to continue to assume that the Bible just is historically accurate and everything else has to flow from that. And that’s when we get, you know, what you’re talking about I would call, people call a critical study of the Bible.

Pete: Right.

Jared: We’re taking these critical tools that we’re learning from historians and scientists and now we’re starting to apply them to the Bible.

Pete: And critical, I mean that gets a bad rap, but really, all critical means is digging into the past to the original context rather than assuming that your own context is normative. So, trying to dig into the past and that’s exactly what biblical scholars did. And it was aided by things like, well for example, just a bunch of Germans sitting around with nothing better to do just really noticing things. I mean, legitimately noticing that there are anachronisms in the Bible, there are things that must have come from a later point in time. They could not have been written, like, by a Moses for example. Moses probably didn’t write about his own death. That’s an anachronism. Somebody else had to have done that. There are lists of these sorts of things. But that’s paying attention to the historical quality and raising to a certain level of prominence some of these historical problems. But maybe even more so is the study of archaeology, it really began in the 19th century, that’s when the “science” of biblical archaeology, doing it systematically, not just raiding tombs but actually mapping out what you’re digging and where you’re digging and what you’re finding and where deep down you’re finding it so you can date things. It’s all very interesting and fascinating, but it’s archaeology that unearthed things like creation stories from the ancient Assyrians or Babylonians or a bunch of other people, Egyptians, that look an awful lot like the biblical creation stories. They’re not the same, but man oh man, they’re breathing the same air. And that raises questions, it has raised questions about well, we don’t think these other things are historical. On what basis do we think now the Bible is historical since they share certain kinds of world views. And that’s not a small thing. And throw it, Jared you mentioned science, but it’s the rising of geology in the 18th century that led people to say, you know, the earth is not a few thousand years old, and theories began and they have different opinions and now we’re what, up to 4.5 billion or something like that? Whatever. But it’s very, very old. And in fact, you really can’t defend a global flood geologically. I know there are some who think they can, but no geologist I think that works outside of a very conservative Christian mindset would ever conclude you have a global flood and geological evidence for it. So, but the point is that people are debating it, right? Because there’s a science of geology that raises the question and the very presence of a debate makes the point we’re trying to make – there’s a historical consciousness. And then Darwin shows up in the 19th century and working off of what other people had already started and he’s got this theory of common descent and biological evolution and there you have it. So, all those things sort of come together. The science angle and the archeological angle, they all come together to raise to yet another level of almost urgency for people. I wouldn’t say almost, it was urgency for many people, the problem of history. Like, to what extent is the Bible historical? How do we know? What does it matter? The Bible has its own problems just reading it on a surface level, but now when people start digging literally and also figuratively into the past, it raises more questions than it answers.

Jared: I just want to make it clear that one of the reasons this is so difficult is because this isn’t a problem inherent in the Bible.

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, we started by saying, well, if we read the Bible closely, but what we have to make sure we mention is when we say that we’re saying we –

Pete: We.

Jared: In the last three hundred years.

Pete: With a historical consciousness.

Jared: When we read the Bible that’s a problem.

Pete: Right.

Jared: For the original readers of the Bible that we’re talking about, this wasn’t a problem.

Pete: Um hmm.

Jared: And I think that’s really important to recognize because –

Pete: They weren’t dumb.

Jared: Yeah. Right.

Pete: It’s just, I mean we would be no different, Jared and I, if we were living in this, we’d probably be killed or something for heresy.

Jared: [Laughter]

It’s true.

19:55

Pete: But anyway, you know the thing is, it’s not a matter of smart or dumb, it’s a matter of just, the historical context of the reader, right?

Jared: Mm hmm.

Pete: That’s just, we’re just saying this is the reality that we deal with, and this is why people talk about it.

Jared: I think it also limits though what we can expect from our Bible, which I think is really important. It highlights what we talk about on a Sunday morning anytime when the pastor says, “what do we do with social media today and how much we should be on our phones,” and we go back to the Bible as though the Bible is going to tell us that. This is like a grander version of that. Where it’s, we can’t go to the Bible to solve the historical problem because it wasn’t a problem for the people who wrote the Bible.

Pete: Right. What makes it extra tricky is that along with that the Bible does have a historical impulse.

Jared: Right.

Pete: It is telling a historical narrative.

Jared: Yes.

Pete: And I don’t deny, no one can really deny that. You’ve got a story of Israel that has movement and direction over time and the same thing with the rise of the church in the New Testament. That’s what makes it so difficult. There is a historical impulse, but not written by people with a historical consciousness that we have today. That’s, if the Bible said, “okay this isn’t history go read it and have fun,” we wouldn’t be talking about this.

Jared: Right.

Pete: But there is this historical assumption. Even though you have contradictory historical stories, that doesn’t matter. You can interpret history differently. Different people can interpret that history differently, but the very, again, you have these historical moments, not even moments. You have the structure of the Bible is so historical you can’t escape that, but the philosophy behind it, if that’s the right word, Jared, is different today than it was back then.

Jared: Well, I’m going try to, I’ll say it this way, you can tell me if I’m completely off because I’m processing out loud here. But I think the difference is it’s important for us as modern people to parse out the difference between history and theology between past and present. Both of those distinctions were not important distinctions to make in the ancient world.

Pete: Um hmm.

Jared: That wasn’t, so we’re weaving, we’re not just weaving, those were just not even categories to think about.

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, they’re doing history and, if you said “Is this historical or is this theological?” They would say, “Yes.”

Pete: Right.

Jared: “What do you, is this about the past or the present?”

“Yes.”

Pete: Yes.

Jared: These are all the same things.

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, that’s how I’m thinking. The modern consciousness put a wedge for us between history and theology. It put a wedge between past and present.

Pete: Um hmm.

Jared: In a way that wasn’t wedged before that.

Pete: Right. For any of us who’ve ever asked in reading the Bible, “yeah, but what actually happened,” or “did this actually happen,” that’s in a nutshell the historical consciousness.

Jared: That’s the fishbowl we swim in and can’t get out of.

Pete: Right. And we are in it, and we can’t get out of it. So, you have, for example, we just mentioned the Old Testament and what happened in the rise of critical biblical scholarship, what really drove it is things like archaeology and science and the New Testament as well. You know, the New Testament does not escape this. The more we’ve come to know, especially since the Dead Sea Scrolls, not to get into that topic and we won’t, but we’ve learned a lot about Judaism during the time of Jesus and Paul and before their time and how reading the biblical stories in light of that Jewish context actually affects, it actually leads us to ask questions of “Did this happen the way the Bible says it?” And then on top of that the Greco-Roman context as well that also raises kinds of questions for us.

Can I, one quick example, you know, there is a Roman inscription that was dated to, I don’t know, I think around the year 6 or 7 and the name of it doesn’t matter, but, and it talks about the birth of Caesar Augustus and about how his birth is of divine origin and he is the one who has come to save his people and he’s called the savior and his birth is to be celebrated for that reason and he, and what he brings is good news for all the people. And all you need to do is sort of compare this to Luke’s birth narrative and there are similarities between that.

24:57

Before that inscription is found and read, you’d never think to sort of ask, at least not in the same way you wouldn’t ask, “Well, what is it about the biblical birth story that’s historical if it seems to be so close to the story of Cesar’s birth?”

Or, you know, Moses escaping the threat of death and being put into a basket to float down a river until he’s picked up by someone else. You know, we know the story of Sargon who lived before the year 2000 and there’s a story very similar to that in the story of Sargon’s birth. We would not have even thought to ask the question, “It looks like the birth story of Moses, boy this looks a lot like that.” Right? So, it’s discovering those things, it’s archaeology, really, that has unearthed these stories and it forces us with the historical consciousness that we already have, it forces us to sort of ask the question – what is historical? How much of it is historical? And it’s just so hard to, Jared, to avoid those questions. You almost have to turn off a part of your brain to say, “I don’t care.” And actually, that’s fine. I shouldn’t have put it that way. I think some people just aren’t interested in that.

Jared: Right.

Pete: And that’s fine. Honestly, you don’t have to, we’re not trying to make our problem your problem.

Jared: Right, we’re not trying to create problems for people.

Pete: We’re just trying to lay out what the problem actually is. We do have a problem of history when reading the Bible and some people are just not interested in it and they don’t have to be.

Jared: Right.

Pete: That’s not what this is about.

Jared: But to have, maybe I’ll put it this strongly, to have integrity with scholarship, you don’t get to say I’m not interested about all that and then speak into history.

Pete: Right. And then make claims that the Bible is historically accurate here.

Jared: Make claims and conclusions. Right. You can’t ignore the scholarship and pretend that we haven’t made all these advancements that does problematize the Bible, ignore all that, and then still make credible claims about history and the Bible.

Pete: Right. I mean things like, “I don’t care about all that; all I know is what the Bible says.” Right? That’s not really a caricature, right? I mean, this is a very common way of saying it. That simply bypasses the reality of the historical problem that other people really find inescapable and the more one becomes attuned to that historical problem, the more you realize how that kind of a claim – it simply won’t support very much for very long.

Jared: It won’t be compelling.

Pete: It won’t be compelling. To others and maybe not even to yourself after a while.

Jared: [Laughter]

Right.

Pete: No, seriously.

Jared: Right.

Pete: I mean, you watch a special on cable tv or something about the Bible it’s like, oh my goodness gracious. I never knew any of this stuff.

Jared: Yeah. Well, let’s talk, let’s shift gears a little bit because there is, again, in scholarship with the rise of all this and this split between theology and history, and what do we do, there’s another problem that comes up and it’s the problem between the text and the event.

Pete: Right.

Jared: Because if we’re saying, “Okay, maybe the Bible as it portrays an event isn’t actually what happened,” now you have scholars who say, “Well, what I’m really interested in is what really happened.” So, now the Bible is maybe one piece of evidence, but it has to be placed alongside all this other evidence and I’m not privileging the Bible. If it comes out that this is what actually happened and the Bible got it wrong, so be it. I’m interested in historical study.

Pete: There are other standards by which the Bible should be judged and that’s the “historical standard.”

Jared: Right. So, we have those scholars who are more interested in that question. That’s the way they’re going to go. And then there are scholars who say, “Well, yeah, but for the last two thousand years our theology, our belief systems, our tradition isn’t based on what actually happened, it’s based on the text.”

Pete: Right.

Jared: And that is what needs to be normative for us is the text itself. So, we want to dig into the literary aspects, maybe, or the theological aspects of the text. And so there becomes this, would you, I don’t know, rift may be too strong of a word –

Pete: Well, debate. That’s for sure.

Jared: Yeah. Between text and event and which one is primary and what are we basing our belief system on? Is it the event? Are we going the historical route? Or is it the text? Are we going this theological route?

Pete: Well, I mean the, what we’re talking about is the relationship between text and event. And that is really another way of stating what we’re talking about when we say the problem of history when it comes to the Bible is what’s the relationship between what the text says and what actually happened. And, basically, modern scholars very much just work with the idea that they’re not the same thing, but what’s the relationship between them.

29:54

And some, you know this is, people really try to work this stuff out in the 20th century, sort of the middle of the 20th century, the biblical theology movement is what it was called, but there was a little bit of a debate there between, well, what’s normative, what really matters is what God did – the acts of God. And there’s a Harvard scholar, G. Ernest Wright, who wrote a book the The God Who Acts and this is sort of like a go-to kind of book to sort of see what this view was, but the Old Testament, what it does, the Old Testament is interpreting God’s acts but really the heart of it is what God did. It’s on the level of event. Well, how do you know what happened? Archaeology, right? That’s what comes in to sort of prove or disprove whatever happened.

Jared: It becomes your methodology.

Pete: It becomes your methodology, becomes your standard. And I love archaeology; I don’t know if it can do all of that for us, but that’s the idea. But then there were others, another German theologian, there won’t be a test on this, don’t worry, Gerhard von Rad who said, “Yeah, I get that, but you know what? The Old Testament is really the only significant axis we have to these events.” Right? So, what actually happened? Well, we really just have the Old Testament. So, it’s really on the level of the text that we sort of put all our cards, you know, put  our chicks in the oven, whatever the expression is-

Jared: [In a tone that betrays his bewilderment]

Chicks in the oven?

Pete: I know. That was a deranged Freudian thing.

Jared: Man, you just got dark!

[Laughter from both]

Pete: What am I trying to say?

Jared: You got eggs in a basket!

Pete: Eggs in a basket!

Jared: And you got chicks in an oven.

[Laughter]

Pete: I knew it was related to chickens somehow!

Jared: [Continued laughter]

Pete: Anyway. I don’t know if we’ll cut that out, but I hope not because –

Jared: No, we got to keep that in.

Pete: We got to keep it in.

Jared: We got to keep it real here.

Pete: Because I’m an idiot, so yeah.

Jared: Because you like to put live baby chicks in ovens apparently.

[Laughter]

Pete: I know. Apparently. That happened. That did get dark real quick.

Jared: Of course, this is why we’re talking – so I, yeah –

Pete: You know what made me think of that? Probably because I stepped on ants the other day on purpose and I don’t like doing that.

Jared: Oooh.

Pete: Like little, tiny ants that were in my house, and I just got sick of them, and I just stepped on them and as soon as I did that I said, “that was just so bad.” And I mean that. I actually don’t like killing animals. Anyway, can we get back to the topic here?

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: Where were we? Oh yeah, text and event?

Jared: Yes, text and event.

Pete: And von Rad, the German and –

Jared: Well, this is a good point, because I want to stop you for a second –

Pete: Okay.

Jared: Because you said the question is the relationship between text and event, but then you said something like normative. And I don’t think it’s the relationship between the text and the event, because that’s a very abstract scholarly endeavor.

Pete: Okay…

Jared: The relationship between text and event. The question is those who want to still be Christian, where do we put our emphasis?

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: Where is the value? And that’s a different question than hey, are we trying to – what’s the relationship between text and event? It’s an abstract question. I think it gets weight, so as a researcher as a scientist, that’s a question that I’m interested in and I could spend a whole career learning about and stuff, but it doesn’t really matter to me.

Pete: Mm hmm.

Jared: But as a Christian, it does matter.

Pete: Right.

Jared: And so, I just want to put a little more emphasis on it.

Pete: Right. So, let me put it this way. Okay, umm, as a Christian, it’s the text of the Bible that is the thing that it’s not trying to figure out what happened. It’s the text of the Bible. I actually support that. I think that’s not a, by any means, a ridiculous or naïve notion. Provided that you also realize there is a historical problem, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: And you’re willing to look at that squarely and face it and say, you know, what happened on Mount Sinai or what happened in Egypt in the Book of Exodus, there are historical problems with the way the Bible puts it, but for me, it’s the text, it’s the story, it’s the theology of the biblical writer that is really important for me. Let’s say it’s normative for me. It’s what drives me. But then you can’t say, “and then I simply believe this is what happened.”

Jared: Right.

Pete: Right?

Jared: Yes.

Pete: Without acknowledging the fact that there is a historical problem here, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: Now, others say again, “well, I guess the text is okay, but I really just want to know what God did,” right? And they might say, “well listen, I need to go there.” The thing is that, I mean, I may be wrong on this, but my sense is that emphasizing the event let’s say over the text is probably not nearly as popular as the text over the event. Right?

34:44

Jared: Yes, yeah. Well, because to emphasize the event over the text means you’re conversant with things like archaeology and it’s not as easily accessible to talk about events once you separate the biblical account of that from these other studies and research methods.

Pete: Right. The Bible, in other words, the text of the Bible doesn’t simply give us events.

Jared: Right.

Pete: There’s a, I don’t want to use the word gap or ditch, that’s really not a constructive way of talking about it, but there is some distance –

Jared: An interpretive layer. There’s a layer, maybe, maybe a layer is a word-

Pete: I don’t know. Layer, to me, is too nice.

Jared: [Laughter]

Pete: I would say there is an interpretive distance between event and the way people talk, as there is any time, right? I mean all human beings have the same problem here. This is why the problem of history is much broader than the Bible, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: Like how you recount past events is part of how we interpret the past too. So, in the Bible we have the interpretation of events and on one level, we may not be able to get much past that. Or maybe, maybe we can, I don’t know. But it seems like you have to hold those things together. So now text is very important, but text doesn’t give us event. But the event is not really accessible fully at all and the main axis we have to it is through the text, which is interpreting the event, and then there’s other stuff we know from science and archaeology that throws a wrench into all this stuff because it really cast into some doubt whether some things happened at all, right?

Jared: Um hmm.

Pete: That’s the historical consciousness conversation that we have in one level or not when we scratch our head at places in the Bible saying this just doesn’t seem like it’s something that actually happened, right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: And it’s hard to avoid that.

Jared: And as Christians, I can just say for me personally, I’ve definitely been divided on this. I’ve wrestled with these things. Because on the one hand, it’s very easy for me to say something like, we’ll take Jonah for example because that’s something that always comes to mind for me. It’s very easy for me to say the Bible is extremely important and matters a lot to me in the book of Jonah because it speaks to me as a story. There are some theological truths that I take from it. There are some moral truths that I take from it. These are very important things for me and I can kind of say that. And then someone will say, “Yeah, but does it matter if Jesus was raised from the dead? Does it matter if there really was an Exodus? What does that matter?” And then things start getting really murky for me.

Pete: Um hmm.

Jared: Because of this problem, the historical problem. And I just think we’re in a moment where I think a lot of Christians are trying to wrestle with what does it mean to be Christian and answering that question in relationship to history.

Pete: Um hmm. Right.

Jared: I think that’s a difficult question to answer that a lot of people are wrestling with.

Pete: That’s the big picture way of putting it. Right. I mean with Jonah, if, the historical problem is less of a problem if we have come to the conclusion, well, it seems to be a story. Right?

Jared: Right.

Pete: But the other parts of the Bible that don’t seem to be presented as a story or parable, they seem to be talking about kings-

Jared: Like Samuel, Kings, and yeah.

Pete: Exactly. Or, you know, the Exodus story with all the historical problems with it, it’s still presented as some event that was foundational to Israel’s existence, you know? And the New Testament too. Jesus’s birth and what he did and what he said, and you know resurrection, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, all those things. Those are historical kinds of things.

Jared: Right.

Pete: That’s how the New Testament writers talk about those things, as historical events. Um, you know, so you can’t escape, you can’t really sidestep this question in either testament, nor can you steer clear of it affecting even fundamental things about just our understanding of the nature of the Christian faith or the nature of the Bible. And I guess that’s sort of a concluding point we could come to, Jared, that um, this problem is not invented by The Bible for Normal People. We don’t sit around saying – “How can we screw people up real fast?” We’re more trying to articulate something that is there that I’m sure many, if not most, of our listeners have experienced on some level.

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: And it’s not going anywhere, and we don’t have to solve it in order to be Christian. That’s to me the big point and you can’t solve it. You can live with the tension. It’s part of, as a matter of fact, just channeling something Tripp Fuller said in a previous episode, dealing with the historical problem is part of doing theology.

39:56

Jared: It reminds me of the problem of evil.

Pete: It does? Explain please.

[Light laughter]

Jared: Yeah, sorry. My synapsis always making weird connections.

Pete: Like chicks in an oven?

[Laughter]

Jared: Exactly. That is the problem with evil. Pete, you are the problem of evil.

Pete: I’ve heard that before.

Jared: No, it’s a problem that we can’t solve. Why do good things happen to bad people and why do bad things happen to good people? If you had to solve that problem before you could be a Christian-

Pete: Right. Or believe in God or something, right.

Jared: Or believe in God, that would be a challenge. But the problem is still there, there’s still not a great answer to that question.

Pete: Right.

Jared: This is the same thing. I think we, again, because I grew up in a fundamentalist tradition that basically said to be a Christian is to not have doubt and not have tension and not have question. I grew up in a system that taught me anything that was ambiguous or hard to understand or a tension or anything had to be resolved if you’re really going to be a Christian. And so, then they, and of course, they would also have the answer. There were simplistic answers that you just sort of took at whole value and I think that’s a really, really important place to end on for us and it’s why I brought up the idea that, for me, I’ve wrestled with, well, I like the literary value of the Bible and it has a lot of theological import and I struggle with the history of it. If you felt that, you are well within a long tradition of several hundred years for the last five hundred years of Christians who have wrestled with it and Christianity didn’t just go away because we couldn’t solve the problem. I just think, I agree, I think it’s a really important point to make.

Pete: Yeah, and to think that the problem of history has to be solved so you can get on with the matter of faith is a highly, it’s an intellectualized version of Christianity, which is always, trust me, it’s always going to get you to some sort of deep water. So, if we remember, again something we’ve heard on this podcast before and I’m going back to things Richard Rohr said a couple of times that he’s been on, how our experience is really something that we need to value as being very authentic connection with God. If that is what drives us rather than clearing up all these deep intellectual issues which people, serious people, ponder for their whole lives, if solving those things is not the foundation of faith, but if our experience, our existential experience, with the Spirit of God is, then you can say, “yeah, thinking about history is part of what I do as a person of faith, it’s not the thing I have to solve in order to have faith.”

Jared: Well, it’s thinking of faith as a process and a series of conversations and debates and tensions and struggles and triumphs and, you know, sometimes we win those and sometimes we don’t and that’s part of the process of faith, rather than I said a prayer once and now the way to keep that locked away is to not have questions and every time I have a question that’s called into question, my faith is. My salvation is. Whatever you want to say. So, I think it’s this reevaluating how we even think of faith.

Pete: Right.

Jared: And so, thinking about the problem of history as an opportunity to maybe question some of these core assumptions about what faith is and how we do it might be a good next step for us.

Pete: Right.

Jared: So, it can be a teacher.

Pete: Yeah.

Jared: It can be a teacher in our faith journey.

Pete: The historical problem can be not just a problem.

Jared: Right. Good. Well, the last thing I want to say is maybe it’s worthwhile, Pete, for us to do –

Pete: Are we, are you going to give an altar call?

Jared: Yes. With every head bowed and every eye closed…

Pete: Do you renounce the tyranny of historicity?

Jared: [Laughter]

No, I think, we said many times throughout this episode, we said we didn’t want to be simplistic, but we did want to simplify it. And really, what that meant for me was a shortcut way of saying we don’t want to namedrop this three-hundred year history of things. So, I think maybe we might want to put an afterword up on Patreon for this episode. We only usually do that with guests, but I think it might be worthwhile to do another seven to ten minutes where we can just talk openly –

Pete: Okay.

Jared: Name drop, do what we’re going to do –

Pete: Okay.

Jared: Just dive in a little bit. So, if you’re interested in that, just go to https://www.patreon.com/thebiblefornormalpeople, you can check it out a little more because it can be a little nuanced and it can be complicated.

Pete: Right.

Jared: Alright. Well, thanks everyone. We hope this was a helpful episode and we hope you continue on the journey of faith even when you bump into these problems and challenges, it’s all part of the process.

Pete: See you folks.

[Music begins]

Megan: Alright everyone, that’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening and supporting our show, we hope you enjoyed this episode. A big shout out to our Producer’s Group who support us over on Patreon. They’re the reason we’re able to keep bringing podcasts and other content to you. If you would like to help support the podcast, head over to patreon.com/thebiblefornormalpeople, where for as little as $3 a month you can receive bonus material, be a part of an online community, get course discounts, and much more. We couldn’t do what we do without your support.

45:10

Dave: Thanks as always to our team: Producer, Stephanie Speight; Audio Engineer, Dave Gerhart; Creative Director, Tessa Stultz; Community Champion, Ashley Ward; and Web Developer, Nick Striegel. For Pete, Jared, and the entire Bible for Normal People Team, thanks for listening.

[Beep]

Pete: I’m trying to, channeling language here from Tripp Fuller, who we had on a while back. Uh, actually, let me pause here David. Is this coming after?

Jared: Yes.

Pete: Okay. Okay, weave this together somehow, will you, David?

Jared: Just start the whole Tripp section over.

Pete: Yeah.

[Beep]

Jared: So, if you’re interested in that, just go to thebiblefornormalpeople.com, fr-, sorry David, don’t say that. So, if you’re interested in that, just go to patreon.com…

[Beep]

Pete: What actually happened? Well, we really just have the Old Testament. So, it’s really on the level of the text that we sort of put all our cards, you know, put our chicks in the oven, whatever the expression is.

Jared: [In a tone that betrays his bewilderment]

Chicks in the oven?

Pete: I know. That was a deranged Freudian thing.

Jared: Man, you just got dark!

[Laughter from both]

Pete: What am I trying to say?

Jared: You got eggs in a basket!

Pete: Eggs in a basket!

Jared: And you got chicks in an oven.

[Laughter]

Pete: I knew it was related to chickens somehow!

Jared: [Continued laughter]

Pete: Anyway. I don’t know if we’ll cut that out, but I hope not because –

Jared: No, we got to keep that in.

Pete: We got to keep it in.

Jared: We got to keep it real here.

Pete: Because I’m an idiot, so yeah.

Jared: Because you like to put live baby chicks in ovens apparently.

[Laughter]

Pete: I know. Apparently. That happened. That did get dark real quick.

Jared: Of course, this is why we’re talking – so I, yeah –

Pete: You know what made me think of that? Probably because I stepped on ants the other day on purpose and I don’t like doing that.

Jared: Oooh.

Pete: Like little, tiny ants that were in my house, and I just got sick of them, and I just stepped on them and as soon as I did that I said, “that was just so bad.” And I mean that. I actually don’t like killing animals. Anyway, can we get back to the topic here?

Jared: Yeah.

Pete: Where were we?

[End of recorded material]

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The Bible and Intersex Believers with Megan DeFranza

Interview with Megan DeFranza: The Bible and Intersex Believers

September 11, 2017

On this episode of the Bible For Normal People, Pete and Jared talk with theologian Megan DeFranza (actually, Megan educates Pete and Jared) on a topic that affects deeply the lives of many, but that few Christians even know is a topic. And Megan might surprise you about what the Bible and church history have to say about it.

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00:00

Pete:  You’re listening to the Bible for Normal People, the only God-ordained podcast on the internet.  Serious talk about the sacred book.  I’m Pete Enns.

Jared:  And I’m Jared Byas. 

[Jaunty Intro Music]

Pete:  Hello everybody!  Welcome to the Bible for Normal People podcast.  Our topic today is the Bible and Intersex Believers and our guest is Megan DeFranza.  She is a theologian and she’s currently serving as a visiting researcher at Boston University School of Theology.  That’s pretty impressive, folks.  Don’t know if I have to tell you that, but it is.

She’s written a wonderful book to sex difference in Christian theology.  This topic, the Bible and Intersex Believers, what does that even mean?  Megan’s gonna help us understand that.  I know I can speak for myself and for Jared a little bit.  I’m 56 years old.  When I was in high school, this wasn’t even on the radar.

Last year, this wasn’t on my radar screen.  It wasn’t until Megan came to speak at Eastern University where I teach, where she’s talking and I was like, “Oh.  I didn’t know any of this.  It’s really interesting.  It affects people’s lives in ways that I can’t even imagine.”

Jared:  After she spoke at Eastern, Pete was telling me about it over dinner and I had to talk with her.  I got on the phone right after that and said, “What is this that you’re doing [laughter]?  I don’t understand.”  It is just very fascinating, so I was just really excited to have her on the podcast and just explain it, even for me to better understand.

Pete:  Right.  It’s one of these issues that is all around us in the sense that it can be somewhat unsettling and uncomfortable and even divisive among people because you have to engage the Bible at some point.  That’s exactly what Megan does.  All she does is engage the Bible and the history of the interpretation of the Bible and theology and all those—

Jared:  The ancient church.

Pete: —the ancient church and ancient readings of biblical text to show a rather surprising story that intersex is not a new issue.  People have been thinking about that and commenting on it for a long time. 

For us, today, people like me and Jared, for who it’s new, where we’ve been, we were never taught this in seminary.  I never really thought through it and never had to, because it wasn’t brought to my attention. 

This is an issue, like other issues (for example, gender equality or same-sex marriage), it’s so potentially volatile, it actually forces you to go back and re-examine your own thinking, your own theology and the biblical text.  You actually can’t get around that once you start listening to people who actually know the topic, how much there is in the Bible that can help us think through some of these kinds of issues that sometimes lay buried or sidelined, because it’s not where we are.

We come at the Bible with our questions already premade.  What these issues do is they force us to ask different kinds of questions we would never have thought up on our own.

Jared:  And unearths our assumptions.  I appreciate how when you look at the Bible through a particular lens, it helps you understand that you’ve been making assumptions all along that you didn’t even know.

Pete:  Right.  Right.

Jared:  Good.  Let’s have this conversation with Megan.

[Jaunty Music]

Megan:  We’ve done our theological reflection.  We’ve done our biblical study, only thinking about these idealized versions of male and female.  That’s not good enough.  We have to do our biblical study and our thinking theologically about what it means to be human and what it means to be a faithful Christian in a way that includes everyone in the community.

We haven’t done that yet.  Let’s start a new conversation.

Jared:  Welcome to the podcast, Megan.  It’s very nice to have you.

Megan:  Thanks so much for having me.

Jared:  The topic today is the Bible and the Intersex Believer.  This term, neither Pete nor I had ever really come into contact with that term before we met you, Megan, last year or a few years ago.

Bring us up to speed on what it is we’re talking about—

Pete:  If we don’t know what it is, nobody knows about this—

Jared:  Clearly.  Clearly—

Pete:  That’s the way I look at it.  Enlighten us all—

Megan:  That’s really common.  The reason it’s new is because it’s a fairly new term for a very old phenomenon.  Intersex is just a broad umbrella term that talk about bodies that don’t fit the medical definitions of male and female.  There’s a mix of male and female characteristics in the same body and that can happen in a lot of different ways.

Jared:  What would be some common things, just concrete examples of—

Megan:  Sure.

Jared:  —where this term might be appropriate for people?

05:00

Megan:  Yeah.  One of the most common kinds of intersex is something called androgen insensitivity.  You have a baby that’s born with XY chromosomes, which is your typical male pattern and they make the gonads, which are neutral in the first few weeks of gestation, go and become testes and starts secreting the typical level of male hormones.

But, at the cellular level, the cells can’t process those male hormones.  The body defaults to female.  On the inside, it looks like male anatomy and on the outside, it looks like female anatomy.  That’s a fairly common kind of intersex.

You can also have the opposite with XX chromosomes and ovaries, with extra production, or higher-than-typical production of androgens that can make a female body look more masculine or anywhere in-between.  Something called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.  All these fancy medical terms, which is why we use the generic “intersex” most of the time.

Pete:  Thank you.  [laughter] Yeah.

That’s very helpful to distinguish intersex from other terms that float around like—

Megan:  Yup.

Pete:  —the alphabet soup.  Right?

Megan:  Mm-hmm.

Pete:  This is something that is a new term that people are maybe beginning to see and maybe come to terms with, for the sake of a population that probably feels, I would imagine, rather isolated and misunderstood.

Megan:  An older term would be hermaphrodite or androgyne.  But those are mythological creatures that have full sets of male and female anatomy, which is humanly impossible, which is one of the reasons we’ve moved away from that language towards stuff that’s more precise, to the particular variations of individual people.

Pete:  You’ve written a wonderful and tremendously scholarly and well-researched book, Sex Difference in Christian Theology, and you have a website that is just very informative.  It’s a wonderful thing to visit if people—if you want to know anything, folks, that’s where you go.

To me, it raises a question of curiosity.  What is it in your life that is driving you to be passionate and supportive of the intersex community?

Megan:  I started this work because I grew up in a very conservative church, where being a woman with a mind was a problem.  I started studying gender and sex difference and biblical scholarship and history and all of that, to try and figure out how I could serve God and not sin, because I happened to have a female body.

That led me to research, to talk about, that there are not just male and female in the world, that there are all these intersex variations as well. 

It was hearing those stories, the stories of individuals, particularly recent medical history, where with our advanced technology, we here in the United States and Europe and elsewhere, have tried to fix intersex.  Doctors come in to a baby that is born with ambiguous genitalia.  They’ll say, “We can figure this out.”  They’ll do plastic surgery on the genitals of a child to make them look more typically male and female.

These surgeries have lasting harm, pain for life, for many many people.  Hearing their stories of physical pain, of feeling unsafe to share their stories in their own faith communities, pastors saying, “Thanks for telling me, but please don’t tell anybody else,” really drove me to realize that my questions about gender and my frustrations as a woman in the church were small in comparison with my intersex siblings in Christ, who had all of these added complications.

It was really hearing their stories that led me to say, “We’ve got to do something about this.”

Jared:  As we get into the topic, it’s just interesting to me the contrast that some of our listeners will have where you’re using lots of medical terms and you’re talking about the technology and the science of a lot of things here. 

How does that connect with the Bible for Normal People?  Say more about how your story coincides as you became aware of all of this within the church community.  When did you start thinking about how the Bible fits into all this?

09:49

Megan:  For me, the Bible was the place I started.  Reading scriptures about women’s place in the church led me to go back and look at history and realize that in Christian history, we’ve thought about gender differences very differently over the last 2,000 years, since the birth of Christ. 

Getting into that history, the history of biblical interpretation, really was the thing that moved me to say, “Wait a minute.  If we’ve thought about this differently in the past, that gives us opportunity to think differently and maybe in fresh ways in the present about differences that, actually, the ancient church was quite familiar with, but we’ve lost that language and knowledge, even though our science is more sophisticated.”

Pete:  Can you give an example or two?  I can imagine people listening, saying, “What are you talking about [laughter]—

Megan:  Sure.

Pete:  —we’re just having this conversation about gender and we thought what we think today is what people have always thought,” which is a typical response, “what I think is what the church has always thought.”

You’re saying it’s more diverse and very early on—

Megan:  St. Augustine, in the City of God, talks about hermaphrodites.  He says, “As for hermaphrodites, also called androgynes, they’re certain very rare, but every culture has people that they don’t know how to classify as male or female.  In our culture, we call them by the better sex.  We call them men.”

Pete:  Hmm.

Megan:  Here’s Augustine saying, “Oh yeah.  Everybody knows about hermaphrodites.  We assign them on the masculine side.”  In the ancient world in Rome and Greece, there were laws for men and laws for women and laws for hermaphrodites and laws for other categories of people that we’ll talk about as we continue here.

Pete:  With Augustine, for example, he lived around when?

Megan:  He lives in the third, fourth century in the Christian Era.

Pete:  That’s a long time ago, right—

Megan:  It is.

Pete:  Was there a tone of judgment in reading Augustine about what we call intersex or was he just matter-of-fact about it?

Megan:  In that passage, he’s very matter-of-fact, actually—

Pete:  Okay.

Megan:  —just stating a fact that everyone’s aware of.

Pete:  Not freaked about it.

Megan:  Not freaked out.  He’s much more concerned about castrated eunuchs and their place and pagan religious cults.  He speaks very harshly of them.  But he’s very matter-of-fact and fairly neutral when it comes to hermaphrodites—

Jared:  You say “neutral.”  It’s interesting to me—what I heard you say and maybe I misheard—“we have this category of people and we as a community assign them to the male side of things.”  Actually, it seems like there’s some social consequences to that.  It would be a more of a place of privilege at that point.

Megan:  Right. For hermaphrodites, Augustine is giving them the male privilege, whereas, it’s interesting—castrated men, men who had their testes or crushed or cut off or birth and who developed differently or who maybe did that later on in life, he says of them, that they are “no longer men,” even though they were born whole.

Pete:  That’s confusing.

Megan:  Yeah.  Sure is.  [laughter]

Pete:  Just to fill things out for the benefit of people listening, can you point to something else that might be instructive for us, another example or two from this ancient church period or from other cultures, perhaps?

Megan:  Certainly, in the Jewish culture, there was a recognition of more than male or female.  The ancient rabbis came up with four additional categories between male and female.

One was a naturally-born eunuch, which they classified more on the masculine side, but not all the way over to the male.

They have another term, called the ilonite (SP?), which was toward the feminine side, but not always to the edge.

They also used the term androgenos for someone whose right in the middle.  They didn’t know how to classify them one way or the other.

They had a fourth term, which was really something they said, “We’re not sure what we’re dealing with now, but we’re pretty sure their sex will become clear over time.”

They developed laws and rituals, religious laws to govern these various persons and would debate those throughout the centuries.

Jared:  Tying it to the Bible itself; we have the ancient church and we have this Jewish tradition, where Augustine and the rabbis recognized different categories, often the argument or the conversation when it comes to the Bible goes back to Genesis.

Megan:  Right.

14:59

Jared:  It is “God created them male and female.” 

Megan:  Right.

Jared:  How does that square with this conversation?

Megan:  That’s where we all start, right?  This is where it’s important to recognize that the Bible’s a big book and that Genesis is not the whole of the story. 

Certainly, we have the beginning.  God creates them male and female in God’s image and blesses them that way.  But does that mean that’s all God created or all God intended?

Now that we have this other language that I just mentioned from the ancient rabbis, we can look for other language in Scripture and that’s what I was so delighted to find in my research is actually none other than Jesus speaks about intersex people with one of these categories that the rabbis mention in Matthew Chapter 19, verse 12, where he’s being asked about whether or not, you can divorce your wife if she burns the toast. 

He’s being asked to weigh in on this ancient debate about how bad does the infraction have to be for you to divorce your wife.

Jesus quotes Genesis 1.  He says, “Don’t you remember God made them male and female.”  He quotes Genesis 2, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Then his disciples say, “Well, if we can’t get out of marriage, maybe we shouldn’t get into it, since our parents are typically choosing a spouse for us.”

Jesus says, “No.  No.  No.  You’re not understanding what I’m saying.  There are those who’ve been eunuchs from birth.  There are those who’ve been made eunuchs by others.  There are those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Let anyone accept this who can.”

I like to say, “Let anyone accept this who has any idea what Jesus is talking about.”  [laughter]

The church has debated, “What does this mean?  What did it mean to make oneself a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom?”

We know a lot about the second category.  That’s the castrated men that I just mentioned, very common slaves and very expensive slaves, luxury items, status symbols and sometimes even sex slaves in the ancient world.  Castrati were very very common.  We know a lot about that.

This first category, the eunuch from birth, Jesus’ is drawing on this ancient rabbinic of the eunuch, of the sun as it is in Hebrew, from the day the sun first shone upon the child, we knew this one is different.

Here’s Jesus, in the context of talking about divorce and certainly affirming Genesis, he throws in these other categories and he doesn’t do it with any criticism and he doesn’t say, “But God didn’t mean for it to be this way.”  He just lays it out there.

That pushed me to think, “How do we take Genesis and give it its place in the cannon at the beginning, but also recognize that we have to find a way to read Genesis in a way that fits with these words of Jesus?”  So how do we do that?

That’s what I was—

Pete:  This is beyond, then, that all parts of the Bible are equally ultimate and we read verses and they tell you what to think.  You’re actually describing a dynamism in the Bible that we have to take all this into account somehow and make, not to put words in your mouth, but to make theological decisions on the basis of this grand conversation that’s happening in the Bible.  Is that a fair way of putting it?

Megan:  The theological decisions are how to interpret the description that God made male and female.  It doesn’t say, “God made male and female and anything else is a result of the fall.”  Yet, that’s a very quick theological move that many Christians make.  “If there’s not male and female, then anything else must be a result of sin.” 

Jesus doesn’t do that in Matthew Chapter 19.  The text doesn’t tell us that.  That’s a theological reading we’re bringing to the passage.  Does it say that?

I asked, “Are there ways that we can read Genesis that make it fit with the words of Jesus and with the larger canon all together?”  I think that there are ways that we can.  We could read Adam and Eve as the parents at the beginning of the story, rather than the pattern for all people.

We could read them as the statistical majority.  Most people are clearly male or clearly female.  But just because they are the statistical majority doesn’t mean they are the exclusive model or the only way that God allows humans to be born.

20:13

When we look at other parts of Genesis 1, we recognize that there are all sorts of things that aren’t named in the creation account.  There are three different types of animals.  There are the “fish of the sea, the birds of the air and the creatures that crawl upon the earth.”

These are the three categories of animals that God creates.  But we all know that there are creatures that don’t fit into those categories.  Penguins are birds that don’t fly.  There are other things in the sea other than fish.  There are things that crawl, but they live in the water.  There are amphibians that are both water and land animals.

But I’ve never heard an Old Testament scholar like yourself, Pete, say, “Hey look.  Frogs.  They’re proof of the fall,”  [laughter] because they don’t fit into the three categories of creatures—

Pete:  Hey.  That’s my next blog post.  That’s my next blog post.  [unintelligible]—

Megan:  You’re welcome.

Pete:  What you’re saying is exactly right.  I think the response would be, “In the Old Testament, in the Pentateuch, when you have clean and unclean animals, some of these in-between things, “You don’t eat lobster.”  They’re sea animals, but they also have legs.  They don’t fit.  They’re unclean.  You don’t eat them.

This is something I can imagine people, as sort of a counterpoint to what you’re saying, to draw on that.  How might you navigate that particular issue?

Megan:  The canon gives us the way to do that too.  Even if we see them as outsiders.  Lobsters are outsiders.  Bees are outsiders.  Frogs are outsiders.  Maybe this other category of people who don’t fit into male and female.  Certainly, in the Old Testament, we have, laws for men and laws for women and it doesn’t leave a lot of place for anyone who doesn’t fit those categories.

But fast-forward up to the prophet Isaiah in Chapter 56, he talks about two categories of outsiders, one being the eunuch and the other being foreigners, Gentiles.  They’re complaining, “Hey God, it’s not all that easy to be a eunuch or a Gentile and live in ancient Israel.  The system isn’t set up for us.” 

God says, through the prophet Isaiah to them, in Isaiah 56, “Don’t let the eunuchs complain that I’m only a dry tree.  For to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath and obey me,” and there’s a long list of things, “I will give to them within my house a name, an everlasting name that’s better than sons and daughters, a name that will not be cutoff.” 

Then he speaks to the foreigners and says that they’re offerings will be accepted on his altar for “my house will be a house of prayer for all the peoples, “ (Isaiah 56:8), which we’re much more familiar with.  That’s in the context of God folding in outsiders, who didn’t fit in earlier chapters of the story.

But God is saying, “Don’t worry.  I’m going to give you a place.”  He doesn’t say to the eunuch, “I’m going to heal you and make you into the categories I intended, either male and female.”  He says, “I’m going to give you something better than sons and daughters.  I’m going to bless you in a way that a Jewish man or a Jewish woman could ever imagine being blessed.  I’m going to give you an everlasting name.”

Pete:  No talk about eunuchs being a product of the fall any more than foreigners would be—

Megan:  Right.

Pete:  —a product of the fall.  There’s nothing in Isaiah—I’m just curious now because I haven’t studied this as closely as you have—but there’s no indication there of how they came to be eunuchs.

Megan:  Nope.

Pete:  Okay.

Megan:  That’s the challenge is that intersex is this broad umbrella term for many different bodily variations. This term eunuch was an umbrella term for many different things.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.  Does this mean a castrated eunuch?  Does this mean a natural eunuch?  Is this a position in the court?  We have to do careful scholarship to see what they’re talking about.  It’s not particularly clear in Isaiah and yet, [MUSIC STARTS] there is this idea that however these people came to be eunuchs, God’s blessing them as they are, not requiring them to become something they’re not and healing them into some creational category that we find in Genesis Chapter One and Two.

Jared:  That’s a really good point.  One thing I’m thinking as you guys are talking about the categories and we keep coming back to the words and how that there’s different variations—I want to make sure that we’re being clear—how is intersex different than say transgender which is becoming more and more a conversation, politically and otherwise?  What’s the difference and where does that fit in this conversation?

Megan:  Sure.  Right now, the only difference between intersex and transgender people is that transgender people cannot point to a medical diagnosis.  I know trans people who have said, “I wish I were intersex, because then people wouldn’t think I’m crazy.”  They would be able to say, “Oh no.  Some of their cells are XY.  Some of their cells have just one X.  No wonder they’re body is developing differently or their gender identity is developing differently.”  They don’t have that luxury.

There are some intersex people whose experience is like that of a trans person.  I work with LeeAnn Simon, who’s a wonderful Christian woman and author and she has what I just described.  Some of her cells are XY.  Some have just one X.  Her gonads are part ovarian tissue, part testicular tissue.

At puberty, she didn’t develop one way or the other and chose to, though she was identified as a boy at birth, it wasn’t a fit for her, as an adult, chose to identify as female and to live, to transition.  Her experience is intersex, but it also could be understood as transgender.  That’s not the majority of intersex experiences. 

Sometimes, these terms overlap and sometimes, they don’t.  We have to be [unintelligible]—

Jared:  Where they don’t, what I hear you saying is there’s not a chromosomal or biological thing that you can pinpoint.

Megan:  At this point, where our science is.  It may be that as neuroscience advances, we will be able to pinpoint other things, but we can’t at this point.

Jared:  Good.  I think that’s an important piece of the conversation, that we don’t—

Megan:  Sure.

Jared:  [unintelligible] It’s kind of a Venn Diagram overlap.

Megan:  Yup.

Pete:  Megan, you’ve thought so much about this.  We’ve talked about Augustine a little bit and rabbis and Jesus’ own words.  And Genesis and how that all fits into this.  And Isaiah.   People still come back to Genesis.  Because it’s first, it’s therefore determinative of everything else.

Megan:  Sure.

Pete:  You don’t think that.  Help people walk through why it’s okay not to think that.  It’s at the beginning of the Bible.


Megan:  Sure.

Pete:  You get this wrong, you get everything else wrong.  Plus, it’s all good.

Megan:  Right.  Exactly.  It is important and it does set the stage for the beginning of God’s great redemptive story.  But it’s not the whole of the story.  I see its pride of place is as the opening chapters.  But, at the end of the story, we find a vision of heaven in the book of Revelation where people are included in the worshipping community who don’t fit in the garden.

Here I’m thinking of Revelation Chapter 7, where there’s a great multitude worshipping before the Lamb from every tribe, and nation and language, people group.  If we think about Genesis, we don’t have multiple tribes.  We don’t have racial difference in the Garden of Eden.  We don’t have different languages represented at the beginning.  There are many ways in which this story that starts with these two ends up in full, moving through Adam and Noah and Abraham and all the way through and then folding in the Gentiles and folding in others.

It’s a story that gets bigger and wider and God’s redemptive love goes out.  He blesses the Israelites so that they could be a blessing to all the nations.  It’s this narrow story through these few for the benefit of all, which is why I think we see many things in the book of Revelation that echo things in the Garden. 

There are trees in the beginning and at the end.  But they are not the same trees.  It’s important that we don’t think that we’re trying to get back to the Garden of Eden.  Yes.  It has pride of place at the beginning of God’s story.  But it seems like God’s story gets bigger and more complicated, but also more beautiful and more welcoming than what it is in the first chapters.

Pete:  It’s like the Garden reimagined at the end of the Bible—

Megan:  Yeah.  It is.

Pete:  You’re not actually returning to the Garden.  It’s metaphorical language anyway.

Megan:  Right.

30:04

Pete:  It’s something that is meant to evoke those memories, but then also to go beyond that to something that—

Megan:  It’s called new, right?  It’s called new creation—

Pete:   It’s new.  Right.  Right.

Megan:  It’s not paradise lost and regained, like we’re trying to get back.  It’s a new—God is doing something new at the end of this grand story that is going to have some continuity with what came before and some differences.

Jared:  I appreciate, Megan, what you said about the—you talk about Isaiah and as the story unfolds, it’s interesting that we may start with a garden, but this narrative of inclusivity, of folding more and more people in, really starts just a few chapters later with the start of Israel, with Abraham’s story.

Megan:  Right.

Jared:  Then, from there, we just start including more.  I just appreciated the point about how Israel was then adopted to be a blessing.  Through that, the blessing is this inclusivity.  It’s interesting, in this conversation, that early on in the prophetic literature of Isaiah, that the eunuchs are included pretty early in on that conversation before even—

Megan:  You know what’s even more radical than that?  If we look at Acts Chapter 8, at the first foreigner whose baptized?

Pete:  You took the words right out of my mouth.  Go ahead.  [laughter] Let’s talk about the Ethiopian eunuch—

Megan:  Yeah.  Exactly.  This is the Ethiopian who is a eunuch, who is the very fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah, that as the gospel is going out from Judea, through Samaria to the utter ends of the earth, as Jesus said to His disciples at the end of the book of Matthew, and we see these significant baptisms in the book of Acts.  The first foreigner whose baptized is an Ethiopian eunuch, whose made this many-hundred-mile trek to Jerusalem to worship.  Even though he’s an outsider on many levels, he knows there’s only so close he can get to God. 

There’s the Holy of Holies.  There’s the Court of Men.  Outside of that is the Court of Women.  Outside of that, is the Court of Gentiles.  There’s only so close you can get to God as a Gentile and as a eunuch.  He knows that, but he goes anyway.

As he’s reading the prophet, Isaiah, God sends Phillip to him to interpret the Scriptures, to open them and to share with them the good news of Jesus.  This Ethiopian eunuch says to Phillip, “Look, here’s water.  Is there anything preventing me from being baptized?”

I have read that passage my whole life, but until I studied the place of eunuchs in the ancient world, I never understood the significance of that question.

Pete:  Right.  Right.

Megan:  Here he’s asking, “What’s my place gonna be if I follow this rabbi Jesus?

Pete:  Right.

Megan:  Am I gonna be a second-class citizen like I am as a non-Jewish believer?

Pete:  Mm-hmm.

Megan:  Is there a place for me in this new community?  I’m just so frustrated that we don’t have the answer given to Acts.  [laughter] We don’t know what Phillip said.  But we know that one of them commanded the chariot to stop.  They both got out of the chariot and Phillip baptized him.

Pete:  I’ve always read that instinctively, “Is anything preventing me from getting baptized?” as “We’ve got some time on our hands.  Let’s just do this now.”  Not like they’re actually socio-cultural-religious—there’s a matrix there of this. 

Maybe the Bible’s surprisingly not uptight.  [laughter] Go figure.

Megan:  God does tend to surprise us at every turn.

Jared:  I’m wondering—I was just thinking about this connection, this phrase of “foreigners and eunuchs” and how that goes throughout the Bible.  In some ways, do you feel like “foreigners” is clearly throughout the Bible representative of the marginalized throughout, as we get to the Gentiles and others.  Is “eunuchs” also—I’m channeling my upbringing where I want to take that literally, “I’m willing to—you raise some good points, Megan—I’m gonna allow for eunuchs as part of this, but now, I’m going to still exclude others, because it doesn’t say it literally and specifically.

Is there a case to be made in terms of reading and how we read the Bible for taking foreigners and eunuchs as almost representative of this is a narrative of inclusion.  You can’t really accept the eunuchs and exclude transgender people.  You can’t really take this group and exclude that group, because it’s really representative of this radical inclusion. 

What would you say?

35:16

Megan:  First, I would say that in some ways, Gentle or foreigner is not category of the marginalized, if you think just statistically. 

Jared:  Right.  Right.

Megan:  Everyone who’s not a Jew is a foreigner.

Jared:  They’re usually the majority. 

Megan:  Right.  Throughout Israel’s history, they were oppressed by these majority—

Jared:  Yeah.

Megan: —communities, so they were the minority.  You could really read that two different ways.  But definitely, with the eunuchs, we’re talking about people who have been oppressed in many different ways and excluded in many different ways.

Even though the rabbis made space for naturally-born eunuchs, castrated eunuchs couldn’t go to worship in ancient Israel.  Naturally-born eunuchs could.  But they, in some ways, had a double religious duty, because the rabbis are pulling from the laws for men and the laws for women and wanting to make sure all of their bases are covered.

They are this minority group has more to do and it’s harder for them.  I do think that category is one that certainly stands for the outside and the marginalized and those have been excluded, whose voices haven’t been heard, who’ve been considered unclean and not welcome in the worshipping community.

Pete:  Let me ask you a question here, Megan.  I want to try to articulate this clearly.  Following on what Jared just said about eunuchs and the poor and the oppressed, marginalized peoples, you see in Isaiah and then in the New Testament in Matthew 19 and Acts 8, you see a hint, a trajectory of—

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  I want to ask you if you agree with this.  If yes, great.  If not, fine.  Tell me why.  It seems like the New Testament itself is not the end of the story.  It’s trajectories.  That’s an important thing to talk about for people who take the Bible seriously.

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  The Bible, even the New Testament, does not settle all these questions for us, but is itself part of a moment—

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  —that is also moving, right?  And so—

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  I gather you’re agreeing with that, so regalias on your opinion [laughter].

Megan:  It’s not—I was helped in this regard.  I remember in seminary reading N.T. Wright’s book, The New Testament and the People of God, where he likens the Bible to five acts in a Shakespearean play, where the fifth act is unfinished.  He sees creation as Act One; the fall as Act Two; Israel, Act Three; Jesus is Act Four; and the Act Five is the Church.

We have only the first few pages of the script in the New Testament, but we are not—we are called to finish the story.  We’re called to live our parts.  We’re not called to be First Century Christians in Rome or in Corinth or in Ephesus.  We’re called to be 21st Century Christians living where we live.

We’re not trying to get back to Ancient Israel.  He keeps saying, “If we’re going to put on this play,” back to the analogy with Shakespeare, “we’re not just going to repeat lines from an earlier part of the story.  We’re going to study the whole story.  We’re going to see the direction it’s going.  We’re going to pick up on those hints that you just mentioned.  If we’re going to put on this play, we’re going to have to improv.”  He uses this term, “faithful improvisation,” where we’re trying to see where the story is going and how do we live in—

Pete:  Right.

Megan:  —our part faithfully, yet without a script.

Pete:  I would add to that Fifth Act, analogously, is that you see that in the Bible anyway because people are winging it.  [laughter]

That’s not a bad way of putting it.  In the Old Testament, you have shifts and changes and new perspectives on things.  It seems inescapable.  To help people to say, “It’s okay to think responsibly and theologically and biblically today about an issue that maybe we have to address in different ways than previous generations.”

39:57

Megan:  We’re so afraid of doing something wrong that oftentimes, we do nothing.  We give the apostles permission to think creatively.  We give Calvin and Luther permission to think creatively, to do something different.  But we rarely give ourselves permission—

Pete:  Why is that?  What are we afraid of—

Megan:  —to do what they did.

Pete:  We should get a therapist [laughter].  What do you think?  You’ve experienced these things.  What—

Jared:  [unintelligible]

Pete:  —are people afraid of?

Jared:  In the congregations that you’re teaching and educating people—

Pete:  Yeah.

Jared:  —what are fears that you find?

Megan:  There’s so much censure in our communities, right?  If you put a toe out of line, there’s shame that’s brought on by the community.  There’s exclusion.  All of these things.  We don’t want that.  We don’t want to put on the outside.  We don’t want to be cast out like these outsiders.  We better keep in line.  We better follow the script.  We better recite the confession in whatever version it’s in and dare not think differently lest we become an outsider.  I think we’re afraid of becoming outsiders ourselves to our very community—

Pete:  Yeah.  Maybe you’re putting the nail on the head there.  The head on the nail rather.  [laughter] Who wants to be an outsider?

Megan:  It’s hard.

Pete:  Yeah—

Jared:  I was going to say—and not to be too theological, but it seems like that’s exactly what solidarity is about, right, is taking that step in saying, “I’m willing to risk becoming an outsider in order to be in community with the outsiders.”

Megan:  Yeah.  It’s hard.  You don’t get to have it both ways.  You don’t get to have solidarity with the marginalized and popularity with the powerful.  It doesn’t work like that.

Jared:  That’s a good phrase—

Pete:  Which brings me to the entire New Testament—

Megan:  [laughter] That’s a good place to go.

Pete:  —which has a thing or two to say and we could throw the prophets in there as well.  It strikes me, Megan, that this issue is one of several issues that the Church is either dealing with or going to have to deal with that really raises to the forefront—I don’t want to put it negatively, but the complexity even in the ambiguity sometimes of theological decisions.

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  It’s not easy—

Megan:  It’s not.

Pete:  Living life is hard enough.  [laughter] To think you have to have all the right answers all the time makes it that much harder, but the life of faith may be not as clear as we think and we’re doing the best that we can, and for some people, and you’re one of them, and I think Jared and I are the same, if we’re going to err, we’re going to err on the side of people and lives and their experiences and not a system that we think is immovable and unchanging, because oddly enough, the system, which comes from the Bible, is itself a changing, moving thing—

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  —which is a good model for us.  It’s not going to give us the answers to any particular question, but it is going to drive us to think about—you don’t get off the hook by quoting Bible passages.  Life ain’t like that—

Megan:  But you do have to study them and see where they’re pointing—

Pete:  Yup.  Right.  Exactly right—

Jared:  Which is that faithful improvisation, which is a nice connecting.  The faithful is that rootedness—

Megan:  Yeah.

Jared:  —within the text, which your articulation today—I appreciate this conversation of rooting it in these texts and then still saying—but there is still some creativity that has to happen, some improvisation.  That fifth act is up to us on how we’re going to be faithful to that.

Megan:  I don’t have it all figured out, but what I’m trying to do in my book and in my work is to say, “Okay.  We’ve done our theological reflection.  We’ve done our biblical study only thinking about these idealized versions of male and female.  That’s not good enough.  We have to do our biblical study and our thinking theologically about what it means to be human and what it means to be a faithful Christian in a way that includes everyone in the community.”  We haven’t done that yet.  Let’s start a new conversation where we let more voices come and be at the table and it means voices that have been at the table need to be quiet for a while and listen and see if there’s something new to be learned, new perspectives to be had.

Pete:  Right.  Being quiet.  That’s hard.

Megan:  It is hard. 

Pete:  [laughter] Megan, I appreciate the way you put that.  That’s very well put.  Unfortunately, we could talk for hours about all this.  [laughter] So much stuff.  We’re just handling the Bible.  That always comes up in these kinds of conversations.  We’re coming to the end of our time.

In closing, tell us where people can people find you on the worldwide interwebs.  What projects are you involved in, if you are writing another book?  Make sure you tell us about the book that you have written and make sure people know what that is.

45:21

Megan:  Thanks.  You can find me at www.megandefranza.com, pretty easy to find.  You can see the books that I’ve written there, chapters, and other books.  The main one we’ve been talking about today is Sex Difference in Christian Theology.  The subtitle is Male, Female and Intersex in the Image of God, where we spend lot more time talking about all these things. 

You can find me there.  One of the things I’m most passionate about is that I just started a non-profit with my colleague, Leann Simon, who I mentioned earlier and we have a website, www.intersexandfaith.org, where we’re working to educate faith communities about intersex, provide support for intersex people of faith and advocate for the inclusion of all God’s people.

One of the things we’re doing, what I’m really excited about, is we’re in the process of making a documentary film, which right now is entitled Stories of Intersex and Faith, where people of faith—right now, we have Christians and Jews sharing their stories about being intersex and being people of faith and the good parts of that, the helpful parts of that and the difficult parts of being intersex and in a faith community. 

We’re hoping to create that as a full-length documentary.  But I’d also like to use that footage to create a series for churches that will be an educational curriculum, that’s video interviews and others, so that we can have better conversations in our communities.  Because as you said, if we’re not already having these conversations in our churches, you will be next year, or the year after that.

Pete:  Or your kids will force them.

Megan:  Right.

Pete:  Right.

Megan:  I want to help provide some resources for churches having these conversations. 

Pete:  Some video clips are on your website, already, of—

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  —you hope to have the longer documentary eventually.

Megan:  Yeah.

Pete:  Okay.  That’s good.

Megan:  Thanks.

Pete:  Listen, Megan, thank you so much.  We had a great time talking to you.  Very informative.  Let’s do this again sometime.

Megan:  Thanks for doing what you do.  Appreciate you inviting me.

Jared:  Absolutely.  Bye.

Megan:  Take care.

[Jaunty Exit Music]

Jared:  You’ve spent another chunk of time with us here on the Bible for Normal People and we’re grateful for that.  Again, if this conversation with Megan DeFranza was meaningful for you, please Google her, look at her website, the subtitle for which is “theology, identity and faithfulness in a changing world.”  That’s at www.megandefranza.com

She’s doing work as a researcher with Boston University School of Theology.

Just look at all the things that she’s doing and support her in the work that she’s doing if this is a topic that connects with you.

We also want to thank everyone who has supported us on Patreon and highlight that there is a growing community there:  www.patreon.com/thebiblefornormalpeople where we have the ability to connect on Slack which is an app, really kind of a chatboard.

One of the subtopics connecting here with Megan is sexuality.  There’s also “talking to your kids about the Bible.”  There’s “science and faith.”  There are all kinds of people there talking about these topics.

We really want to create a safe place where you can explore your questions, your doubts, topics, get advice, get recommendations, share your stories.   You can check that out and more at www.patreon.com/thebiblefornormalpeople.

Thanks again for everyone who has supported us so far.