Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wealth of Resources for Scripture Study...Noah and Ham

The St. Paul has a ton of good reading at their site http://www.salvationhistory.com/library/category/scripture

The material is scholarly yet very approachable for the lay person. Most importantly,  their work instructs from the heart of the Church, interpreting scripture in union with the Fathers and the Magisterium. I spent a few minutes early this morning on Bergsma and Hahn's paper on the account of Noah and Ham in Gen 9.

I've always thought of this passage as helpful in providing guidance in how we respond to the present day "nakedness" of our own fathers...specifically, the Bishops, (you know, the bad ones). I've read it as a caution against the temptation to essentially ignore the importance of the paternal role, (even in the midst of scandal), as a caution against adding further scandal by disdaining the office with careless griping about old men and their lazy and frivolous stupidities. Ham publicizes his father's error and disdains his father's role while his brother address and correct the matter privately, thus showing a better way. However, I think I may have been missing some of what is contained in a fuller reading.

Clearly, Ham's error is a familial-political power play and most scholars see this heightened with language and references that alludes heavily to there having been some sort of actual sexual contact rather than only  mere voyeuristic humiliation.  We can certainly recognize that biblical narratives employ typologies, parallels and literary nuances. The genius of scripture is that there is always so much more being said than a strictly materialist interpretation shows. The background scholarly references provided are very helpful in pointing out the he idiomatic meaning of the phrase “to see the father’s nakedness.” Clearly, scripture has a lot of accounts in which 'looking upon" involved a lot more than just looking. Particularly, the case that Lev 18: alludes back to the Ham and Noah incident seems pretty strong starting at verse 7:
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness.You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father

Also, Bergsma and Hahn make a clear case that scholars all see a creation and ordering process operating in these narratives. So the question then is, what sort of sexual contact occurred, homo, hetero, something other?The article makes the case that Noah drank and disrobed in an effort to procreate; Ham intervened and succeeded and Canaan was the fruit of this action.

I find this sort of reading quite intriguing. In all of history, there really is no other work as profoundly rich as the Bible. There are so many insights and so much penetrating wisdom that are both timeless and ahead of their time. So much of what we now call common sense,  (like don't sleep with your mother or your sister), wasn't so common until generations and civilizations learned the hard way. Yet the wisdom is there all along, being revealed as the Word of God in written tradition, as history unfolds, warning against errors and still guiding mankind through even he plunges headlong into those errors and suffers the consequences.

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