Dru Johnson

Dru Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at The King's College (NYC) and a Visiting Professor at Covenant Theological Seminary. He studied theology at Covenant Theological Seminary and analytic philosophy at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. His doctoral research (University of St. Andrews, Scotland) explored epistemology in the Pentateuch and Mark's gospel. His latest book is titled Biblical Knowing: A Scriptural Epistemology of Error (Cascade Books, 2013) and just completed research on ritual epistemology in the Tanakh as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies—Shalem Center.

                             

      

Paper:
Revisiting Human Action and the Hebrew-Greek Mind Problem in Analytic Theology

Abstract:
This paper will seek to show that human action plays a key role in human knowing
and reasoning as portrayed in the Tanakh and in contemporary scientific epistemology.
However, there will be a reluctance to view action as constitutive of knowing due to the
lingering effects of the Hebrew-Greek mind debate of the last century—a debate that ended
by James Barr's sharp critique of the dichotomous view of the Hebrew-Greek mind position.

Briefly, Hebrew Scripture is often associated with dynamic and directly perceived modes of
knowing (the Hebrew mind) while the Hellenized Scripture of the New Testament—also
written by Jewish authors—is associated with stative modes of abstract thought (the Greek
mind).

This paper will address the following five matters:

1) The mistaken view that Christian Scripture reflects the Greek mind,
2) the aspects of Hebrew thinking that written in dynamic language of direct
perception (e.g., seeing means knowing) actually approximates concept acquisition as
it is understood today,
3) predicate logic is usurped in the Tanakh by analogical reasoning in ways that are
similar to contemporary scientific epistemology,
4) human action then becomes the basis for concepts and reasoning, which reflects
what we see in the Tanakh, and
5) post-critical evaluations of scientific epistemology also require human action as a
necessary component of knowing.

If these suppositions fit together as intended, then the Jewish Analytic Theology
project in particular would be well-served to think of these "less Greek" modes of
epistemological reasoning, because they incorporate human action into their model, as
friends against the lingering intellectual Marcionism of the Hebrew-Greek mentality
presumption.