Walking Blind

and Other Essays on Biblical Texts

Robert L. Canfield, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, examines passages of the Bible that have informed his understanding of himself and his life and career. Its narratives, proclamations, examples, enjoinders, claims and promises have shaped his priorities, thoughts, and concerns and so affected his approach to the deep questions that on a subliminal level vex all of us. In these Biblical passages he finds grounds for reflection into the nature of the human condition, the origins of the Christian movement, the practice of authentic faith, the social implications of belief in Christ, the threats to the earth’s ecosystem, and the wonder of the cosmos. Some of the passages examined here are little remarked in Christian circles. The chapters examine various texts in order to comment on such subjects as: what Christianity is, how slavery is rejected in two letters of Paul, how envy and cowardice converge in public situations, why the resurrection of Christ can be regarded as a fact of history, what the Christian view of suicide is, how religious zeal is abused in politics, how the Bible enjoins us to live “non-religiously,” how a comment by Peter formulates God’s provision for those who have “never heard”, how the prophetic social critique has been critical in God’s relation to man, how the agreement of “twelve Jewish men” was foundational to the advance of the Christian movement, how the cosmos elicits awe and wonder, and, finally, how a strange prediction of Christ seems to relate to the effects of a warming earth.