Dan asked for a few examples from the text. Find them below the fold.

First, as we’ve been discussing it, Mr Myer’s claims that the “early monks” St. Benedict undertood three things (I put the “early monks” in quotes because monasticism was well established in the East centuries ealier notably with the Desert Fathers and brought to the West a century prior to St. Benedict by John Cassian (St. John in the Eastern Tradition). Anyhow, he claims:

The early monks understood three key things about the dominant culture of their time:

  1. It was built upon the concentration of wealth and exploitation. If their communities were to repent they must become as self-sufficient as possible.
  2. The root of wealth-concentration was private property. If they wanted to resist the “temptations of the world” they must renounce exclusive ownership.
  3. The exploitation fo human labor was the root of all alienation (Marx later rediscovered this). If their communities were to restore human dignity they must practice manual (that is, unalienated) labor.

This is, frankly speaking, utter nonsense. Read the rule of St. Benedict linked yesterday. Read Evagrius Ponticus. Read John Cassian (both have writings which can be found on the web). The ideas above are frankly not at all the motivations, thought, nor the ideas behind the monastic movements. And, if you read them an notice how frequently and how close they are to Scripture, there is no basis at all for the claim that their ideas are extra-Biblical. Mr Myer’s claims as noted above are just examples of bad history, of implanting and imputing 20th century (liberal economic) prejudices on them.

The monastics were seeking God. Apathy (apatheia in Greek) or a setting aside of passion was found to be essential in concentrating one’s heart and mind toward God. Things and attachments to the worldly things was a disctraction. That was why they eschewed worldly goods, and turned to poverty and often seculsion.  Jesus (or in Mr Trabue’s terms, “the Bible”) noted a number of times that “he who would be first, must be last”. St. Paul also stresses not being a burden to others. So, the communities needed, in part, to be self-sustaining. Not because of any pre-Marxist notions of unalienatied labor.

A second example, because apparently that is requested. In his second chapter, Mr Myers exegetes Luke’s rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. He makes the point that in Luke, two seperate words are used for “trespass” and “sin” which is based on one word in the Aramaic.  From this he ties Jubilee/economic forgivness notions of sin into to his exegesis of the Lords Prayer, i.e., that part of the Lord’s prayer an economic message (forgive me my sins and forgive the trespasses of others => replace “sins” and “traspasses” with “debts”). Doing this of course, one must assume that Mr Myer’s has a better notion of what Jesus meant here than St. Luke.

This is the sort of thing, which is repeated over and over. My point is, yes, if you twist and specifically read a specific economic message into virtually every passage of Scripture there is no surprise that message will become dominant.

This is not how good exegesis and the application of a hermenuetic is supposed to be done. Might it however, serve as a good bad example?

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