I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how my cultural glasses affect my reading of the Bible. I’ve only just now started wondering how Paul’s cultural glasses affected his writing of it.
Folks (like McLaren) insist that it is impossible to view the Bible apart from one’s culture. It’s not that I can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s that the trees are a very part of me. Ok, so did Paul have the same problem? Was he unduly influenced by his culture, or did he somehow manage to free himself from that which traps the rest of us?
If I say Paul was influenced by his culture, then that opens the Bible up to dramatic new interpretations. If I say he wasn’t influenced by culture, then I’m saying it is perhaps possible for ME not to be influenced either.
Or do we say that Paul was an exceptional case, that he was divinely inspired and thus able to see the kingdom of God without distortion — but we are unable to do so? I must say, this is not a conclusion I like. I would much rather have something to aim for, than settle for culture-colored glasses.