In a recent conversation in Reno Nevada, the question came up as to the best university to study. Many schools come across as saying, “St. Thomas Aquinas said it; I believe it; that settles it.” Their way of teaching Hebrew and Greek is the old Grammar Based Approach. We learn to switch the English word “Good,” with the Greek word, “Agathos,” or the Hebrew “Tov.” We learn that it is an adjective and that it goes with nouns. Aside from learning the new sign for the same concept, we learn nothing about the concept.
This is very similar to the protestant, “Scripture says it; I believe it; that settles it.” The problem is that when we really learn the sacred writings, we must first learn who wrote the text, to whom they wrote it, and why they wrote it. The first reference to the Torah as we know it comes in Nehemiah 8, where it says the Nehemiah and Ezra first read it to the community. The politics at that time was very interesting. The exiles were first returning from Babylonia, after the Babylonian Exile. The natives, some who never left, and some who were deported to Eretz Israel from other lands objected to these exiles and their rebuilding the city and temple walls. They felt the pride behind building these walls in the first place caused, first the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians, to trash the place in the first place.
This brings us to the two-audience theory for writing the sacred text, and answering, “To whom they wrote it.” We can only imagine that as the politics of the situation unfolded, some Persian satrap asked the leadership of the returning exiles to prove they were in fact a people. To answer that question, we must first imagine what would happen if the US government collapsed. Say, first Texas, and then the states of the South seceded from the union because of the politics we see today. After a few years, the great fear of the conservatives came true; the ultra orthodox Muslims came and imposed Sharia Law.
This in turn would cause chaos as Christian conservatives fought this. After another couple of decades, the Chinese came in with a more Buddhist understanding and decided to allow the Americans decide upon their own laws. Let us also allow that the liberals are correct in arguing that global warming is the case. After all this time expired, the main cities along the eastern seaboard are now under water. To correct the problem requires building walls around the cities and pumping out the water. After the radical Muslims leave the country, exiles returning from all over the world decided to build these walls and impose a strong central government.
Of course, this leaves us where we started. Conservatives would object to the strong central government to China, and China would ask the Americans to prove they are in fact a nation, a people. We are of course, not one people. We are westerners, New Englanders, Southerners, people of the Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic, among other places. We are African-American, Hispanic, German, Irish, Anglo-Saxon, and more. We are rich, poor, conservative, and liberal. As the leadership meeting in Washington writes the statement of who we are as a people, they must first convince all these disparate groups that we are one nation. The second audience, China, or its officials looking over the process, would see the approval by the people of the document, and agree that we are a nation, or the disapproval, and deny the request to rebuild the walls and historic places of the nation.