Book Description, Table of Contents, Book Reviews
The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism
Monsignor John W. Sweeley, Th.D.
442 pages including notes
Available both as a paper back and on Kindle
Hermeneutics, The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism is divided into three parts: Part I, The Word of God, Part II, Hermeneutics, Part III, Exegesis in Action.
Part I is comprised of 3 chapters that include the History of the Bible, the Apocrypha, and a Critique of Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles.
Part II is comprised of an overview of the Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism followed by 4 chapters on the Examination and Praxis of the Historical Critical Method.
Part III is comprised of 8 chapters of which each exegetes a passage from scripture or biblical concept such as Supernatural Impregnation and Birth of a God, Heuristic Philologia, the concepts of Lestes and Lestai as applied to Jesus, and the Parousia some call the Second Coming of Christ.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Apocrypha: The Secret and Hidden Books of the Bible
Bibles: The Word of God
Exegesis: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism
Exegesis: Examination of the Praxis of the Historical Critical Method; In the Beginning
Exegesis: Examination of the Praxis of the Historical Critical Method; Hermeneutical Questions
Exegesis: Examination of the Praxis of the Historical Critical Method; Characteristics of Catholic Exegesis
Exegesis: Examination of the Praxis of the Historical Critical Method; The Exegete
Exegesis: Amos 4:31-46 Cows of Bashan; How Amos changed the Meaning of "Cows" from Praise to Pejorative
From Isis to Mary: Supernatural Impregnation and the Birth of a God
Jesus as Mamzer: Heuriskein Philologia
The Mitzveh Aseh of Salvation: The Hermeneutics of Mitzveh Aseh and Mitzveh Taaseh
Hesed: Gateway to Salvation; Exegesis of Matthew 25:31-46 (The Parable of the Sheep and Goats)
Exegeses: The Use of the Terms Lestes and Lestai; Jesus as Jewish Criminal or Christian Eschaton
The Parousia: Catholic Rite Denominations Response to the Second Coming of Jesus
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Does the 6th Commandment Prohibit Abortion?
HERMENEUTICS: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism
Father Sweeley's book, Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism offers by example a window into the scholarly world of Hermeneutical exegesis and praxis. It examines texts of the Bible in a holistic way within the historical context of the origins of the texts.
Hermeneutics is immanently readable but with a great deal attention paid to the facts of the matters it covers. It is a valuable tool for the novice or scholar as well as any interested Christian hoping to advance his or her understanding of the Bible.
Most Rev. Patsy Grubbs, D.D.
Ascension Alliance Community of Ascensionists
Hermeneutics, or the theory of text interpretation, is a well-known discipline to seminarians and Biblical Scholars. However, it is hardly an everyday word in the lexicon of most Christians. Monsignor Sweeley's latest book, Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism, seeks to make the principles of hermeneutics more readily accessible to all Christians with a view toward empowering them to take a more active role in the interpretation of scripture.
Scholarly in content, yet written in language non-scholars can readily grasp, this work more than adequately prepares all Christians for that task. Non-polemical in nature, Hermeneutics nonetheless expands our understanding of the Christian mystery by providing insights into the cultural and historical dimensions of Scripture that are often overlooked or downplayed by most scholars while at the same time challenges traditional interpretations of current "hot button" issues.
Applying the principles outlined in this book, as well as the many insights gleaned from Monsignor Sweeley's interpretations, will result in a more knowledgeable and engaged laity and a richer, more personal, experience of the Christ in our lives.
Most Rev. Mark Elliott Newman, OC
Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch
Having read Father Jack Sweeley's manuscript, Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tool of Modern Biblical Criticism, my mind once again boggles at the depth of this man's knowledge. I can only wonder where he gets the time to research all this material. Yet, Blind Freddie can easily see thorough research is carried out to an outstanding degree.
With tongue in cheek, I thought for a while he might be schizophrenic and have two personalities working for him, because that would explain how he gets so much writing done in a short period of time.
That said, one does not have to delve into other sources to confirm the facts presented, for as is his normal style, Fr. Jack has proven himself time and again that his research is historically and flawlessly accurate; thus, one can rely on his facts.
Hermeneutics is easy to read without complicated language and is organized logically so one understands his meaning in the fullest sense. Of course, the subject of the manuscript is as usual “Sweelyfied”. In other words, Hermeneutics is both informative and comprehensive; but then again, it is a book by Jack Sweeley and I would expect nothing less of him.
Most Rev. Frank Bugge, D.D.
Australian Church of Antioch
Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism is a work that should not be missed. This time, the Rev. Dr. John W. Sweeley, a serious scholar and Catholic theologian in the Ascension Alliance Community of Ascensionists, presents his years of interdisciplinary and comparative exegetical research in the most informative way.
Dr. Sweeley's exegetical methodologies inspire readers to be responsible in their interpretation, develop critical thinking skills, and encourage serious readership with scriptural texts that will shape one's behavioral landscape.
Hermeneutics: The Historical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism is a welcome contribution to the scholarly work of the Independent Sacramental Movement and global academia.
Students, teachers, novices, and enthusiasts in hermeneutical studies will benefit from reading this book.
Thus, I highly recommend this book for any theological institution.
Most Rev. Carrey Oliver, D.Th.
Archdiocese of Southeast Asia (ACOA)
Hermeneutics, or the theory of text interpretation, is a well-known discipline to seminarians and Biblical Scholars. However, it is hardly an everyday word in the lexicon of most Christians. Monsignor Sweeley's latest book, Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism, seeks to make the principles of hermeneutics more readily accessible to all Christians with a view toward empowering them to take a more active role in the interpretation of Scripture.
Hermeneutics, or the theory of text interpretation, is a well-known discipline to seminarians and Biblical scholars. However, it is hardly an everyday word in the lexicon of most Christians. Monsignor Sweeley’s latest book, Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism, seeks to make the principles of hermeneutics more readily accessible to all Christians with a view toward empowering them to take a more active role in the interpretation of Scripture.
Scholarly in content, yet written in language that non-scholars can readily grasp, this work more than adequately prepares all Christians for that task. Non-polemical in nature, Hermeneutics nonetheless expands our understanding of the Christian mystery by providing insights into the cultural and historical dimensions of Scripture that are often overlooked or downplayed by most scholars while at the same time challenges traditional interpretations of current “hot button” issues.
Applying the principles outlined in this book and the insights gleaned from Monsignor Sweeley’s interpretations cannot but result in a more knowledgeable and engaged laity and a richer, more personal, experience of the Christ in our lives.
Most Rev. Mark Elliott Newman, OC Presiding Bishop Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch
With Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism Monsignor Sweeley has produced a work which is at once erudite, intellectually stimulating, and utterly fascinating. This is no small achievement. The Monsignor’s considerable learning is apparent throughout the study; but this fact never hampers the vigorous flow of his prose, the strength and vitality of his argument, or the freshness and depth of his approach. The author of Hermeneutics draws upon traditional and contemporary texts and teachings of the Church in developing his study, and upon related and foundational theses of proto-Christian and non-Christian origin. This is a fine work that expertly and concisely covers a vast area of biblical analysis and interpretation. It is much to be recommended.
Most Rev. Leon Roger Hunt, Th.D., D.D. Presiding Bishop Autocephalous Catholic Church of Antioch England
Dr. Sweeley has many books to his credit and this latest edition is exceedingly researched and well presented. Yes! You could say it is not a book for die-hard, dogmatic, denominational Christians, because it will challenge your Christian beliefs and doubts.
I found Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism exceedingly educational and informative and believe it should be a compulsory read for all seminarians.
Dr. Sweeley’s arguments are well founded and supported by his fellow peers as well as by documented fact. If you are hungry for the truth about the Bible, its characters and stories; this book is definitely for you.
You will find yourself asking the question, “Is the Bible a book of realistic facts and events; or, is it just another story book?”
If you are looking for answers, you will find them in this book!
Very Rev’d Giles Hall, Dip. Min., E.O.S.F. (Hermit)
Whatever forms hatred takes from homophobia, to racism, to bigotry, to anti-abortion, to suppression of women…it finds no basis in either the Hebrew Old Testament or the Christian New Testament. So, arm yourself with the truth of Monsignor Sweeley’s research in Hermeneutics: The Historical Critical Method and Tools of Modern Biblical Criticism and be freed.
Rev. Mother Leslie Aguillard, RN, M. Div. Ascension Alliance Community of Ascensionists
THOU SHALT NOT KILL: DOES THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT PROHIBIT ABORTION?
N.B.: These endorsements appear separately because "Thou Shalt Not Kill: Does the Sixth Commandment Prohibit Abortion?" was written as a monograph. However, before it was published I decided to write a book on hermeneutics and thus it is included in this book.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill: Does the Sixth Commandment Prohibit Abortion?" is a refreshing, dispassionate, scholarly, and analytical examination of a thorny issue: abortion. Monsignor Sweeley makes it clear there are none as blind as those who refuse to see. That is why it is not at all uncommon for believers and unbelievers, as well as Christian denominations, to read into a biblical text what they want to see. In other words, they make the biblical text conform to their belief; not forming their belief according to the biblical text as should be the case.
Coming from the discipline of journalism, I understand how important context is when attempting accurate reporting. A misunderstanding of context is responsible for many instances where Christian practice does not meet our Savior’s criteria. Strongly-held beliefs about abortion coupled with sloppy translation from the Hebrew and Greek text makes it easy for individuals and churches alike to find a biblical injunction against abortion whether or not one exists in the text written in their original Hebrew and Greek languages.
Even when the theological argument resembles one about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, they serve to remind us that in matters of faith, it is still the matter of conscience—not church dogma and doctrine--that is most significant in guiding our personal behavior. Even more significantly, not only concerning abortion but in all areas of human moral behavior, one’s conscience must be supreme and superior to the sense of entitlement any denomination has in attempting to guide the behavior of others.
Ann Wilmer, M.Ed. Journalist, Teacher, Activist
Monsignor Jack Sweeley’s provocative and thought provoking essay on the true meaning of the Sixth Commandment provides us a rare and invaluable look into the culture and religious beliefs of the writers of the Bible. It also gives us insight into their thoughts and understanding of God, which they sought to convey to us today.
Monsignor Sweeley is a master at splaying open the hidden secrets of language, so as to make the original meaning clearly transparent, by reducing the text to it most basic form and contextual significance. He is amazing in his ability to reduce the most analytical and academically complex materials into highly accurate and easy to follow works of profane knowledge that are nothing less than earth changing.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill" is an absolute, must have, primer in light of today’s highly charged emotional debate over abortion. After reading Monsignor Sweeley’s exegetical commentary to follow explanations of why the Sixth Commandment provides us with the irrefutable truth the Sixth Commandment does not prohibit abortion, anyone can frame a virtually unchangeable argument that abortion is not the killing of a fetus or child.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill": Get it, read it, and be set free by the truths it reveals.
Rt. Rev. Robert L. Straitt, Ph.D. Abbott, Abbey of the Most Holy Mother
What happens when an original work is mistranslated, and then the mistranslated version is considered the authentic text and is used to create additional translations that copy the mistranslation? Monsignor John W. Sweeley addresses this situation in his thorough investigation of the Hebrew version of the Sixth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Kill” into English.
Using extensive linguistic analysis as well as a review of history, culture, and religion, Monsignor Sweeney investigates the meaning and understanding of what the Western, English speaking world knows as the Sixth Commandment. He then compares that meaning and understanding to the original meaning and understanding of the Sixth Commandment written in Hebrew.
Using this methodology, he teaches the reader about the beliefs, language, and lifestyle of the ancient Hebrew people who continue to influence our contemporary world.
More importantly, Monsignor Sweeley clearly proves when beliefs are based on mistranslations and misunderstandings as is the Sixth Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, these misunderstandings and their resulting myopia are quickly ensconced as absolute truth although this “truth” is not the authentic truth conveyed in the original language. Consequently, any dogma or doctrine based on the false “truth” of the mistranslated is in error and thus irrelevant, immaterial, and not binding on the faithful.
This is the case when the mistranslated English version of the Sixth Commandment is used to prohibit legal abortion as Monsignor Sweeley so aptly documents.
Most Rev. Linda Rounds-Nichols, M.S.E., M.A., M. Div., D. Div., Ph.D.
Dean, Sophia Divinity School
In my twenties I was going back to my Jewish roots and studied with Reb Schlomo Carlebach and Reb Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, two Hasidic rabbis. I also attended study sessions in Berkeley at the Chabad House when their head rabbi was Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, whom many Hasids thought to be the Messiah. In the 1980s, I was a co-founder of the Children of Abraham Project. A profound scholar from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Rabbi Neal Gilman, was one of the rabbis working with us. Paul Van Buren was also one of our scholars. His trilogy, Judaism/Christianity, A Theology of Jewish-Christian Reality, remains an important work and it makes some of the same arguments Monsignor Sweeley makes on translation of Hebrew to English.
All this is by way of saying what Monsignor Sweeley argues in this exegetical commentary is classical Jewish Midrash/interpretation. It is not simply fine work; it is an impeccable piece of work. That argument combined with Sweeley’s use of intelligent Christian sources, and of course classical logic, allows him to completely demolish the so-called deontological position of the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelicalism, and other fundamentalist positions on abortion. That is because the so-called deontological position is nothing more than “Assertion by Reason of Authority” which is a debased form of argument that comes down to, “Because We Say So.”
How can that be true? It is true because when I studied moral theology, my professor was a Jesuit. It was central to his teaching that: “The deontological argument is the weakest form of moral argument. It eschews logic, reason, and relies purely on the authority of the Church.”
At this point, I must underline I have never heard anyone, including Rabbi Schneersohn, present a midrash on abortion different from Monsignor Sweeley’s position. Never!
However, this work is not simply another dry, dull, academic tome on the relationship between linguistics and theology. Monsignor Sweeley’s illustration of logical fallacies is hilarious when he discusses the absurdity of the classical tautological (circular) argument applied to dogma and religious belief. That is very nice work, very nice indeed.
I have no criticism to make of the argument put forth by Monsignor Sweeley in “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or of its scholarship. However, I do have one aesthetic comment: it is prolix, but it may have to be that way to make the argument.
That said, there is simply no room left by the conclusion of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” for one to decide anything except the position of the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelicalism, and other anti-abortion zealots is stupid, ignorant, and profoundly ugly in every sense of that word.
Rev. Canon James Willems, M.A., M.Div. Episcopal Church USA, Retired
Once again that master of literary talent, Rev. Father Jack Sweeley, has had the infinite cheek and supreme audacity to waken my mind from its slumber and get me entranced in his writings. As is his style, no dogma, no ramming of his opinion down your throat, but again just simple facts for the reader to exercise their minds on and come to their own conclusion.
His research, carefully noted in his usual fastidious nature to get the little nitty-gritty bits right, once again stands his readers in good stead.
I most heartily concur with the fact there is a difference in the Sixth Commandment between KILL and MURDER. Ordinary, common sense could work that out; but, when explained as clearly as does Monsignor Sweeley, it becomes not only clear but self-evident.
That said, I would like to add a comment on abortion from the perspective of esotericism that also speaks to the linguistic understandings of “kill” and “murder” as used in the Sixth Commandment.
Esoterically, it is known it is the intent of a person that determines how they are judged regarding their acts. For that reason, if a person understands the Spirit is in the fetus and still aborts simply because a baby would be inconvenient or as a matter of selfishness, they are guilty of murder and will be judged by the lords of karma pursuant to that intent.
Personally speaking, I regard abortion as murder unless there are extenuating circumstances. Some of these extenuating circumstances, where esoterically speaking abortion is not murder, include:
Abortion is necessary to ensure the long-term health of the pregnant woman when diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and gynecological problems exist that may reasonably be deemed to compromise the woman’s long-term health if an abortion is not performed. Abortion is necessary to ensure the life of the pregnant woman. Pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The pregnant woman is mentally ill wherein continuing medication will irreparable damage the fetus and removing medication is likely to lead to psychosis or suicide. The pregnant woman does not have the physical capacity, or the mental capacity, to care for a child.
Yet, most women do not understand the esoteric side of the equation and therefore cannot be judged as murderers for this lack of understanding alone. Moreover, abortion is so complex a subject no person has the right to judge others unless they know the full story within which the decision to abort was made.
The lone exception to the above is if a man forces a woman to have an abortion, he is a murderer unless he does so to protect her because she is mentally unable to understand what being pregnant means.
Inclusive of all stated above, the last word and ultimate decision regarding abortion MUST be decided only by the PREGNANT WOMAN HERSELF.
Most Rev. Frank Bugge, D.D.
Presiding Bishop Australian Church of Antioch
Monsignor Jack Sweeley takes the sweeping generalizations of the right-wing anti-abortion sound bites claiming the Sixth Commandment prohibits abortion and minces them with the exegesis of his clear academic mind, putting a proper perspective on the Sixth Commandment and it's non-relationship to Roe v Wade.
Rev. Mother Leslie Aguillard, B.A., M.Div.