Sister Rose Pacatte and religious scholar Reza Aslan discussed Biblical literalism and other topics in an interview published by the Ignatian News Network on Thursday.
Aslan and his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth have received massive amounts of attention thanks to a recent Fox News interview that went viral. During the interview, Fox News host Lauren Green insinuated that Muslims could not write books about Jesus.
In her interview, Pacatte covered similar ground, but in a notably less accusatory and more sympathetic fashion. She began the interview by noting that many mainstream Catholics believed “everything in the Bible is true and some of it really happened.”
“Part of the foundation of evangelical Christianity is the conception that scripture is God-breathed, it’s inerrant, it’s literal, every word of it is actual fact and truth,” Aslan replied. “Well, from an academic perspective what’s fascinating about that is that’s a very new idea. I think a lot of the people who believe that think that’s what Christians have always thought for 2,000 years. That notion of inerrancy is only about 100, 120 years old.”
“It’s true,” Pacatte remarked. “It’s more recent, from the Plymouth Brethren time.”
Aslan said it was key to understand the difference between religious truth and historical fact.
“The ancient mind did not think of history the way that we think of history,” he explained. “We think of history as a collection of observable and verifiable dates and events. That conception, that definition of history would have made no sense to the Gospel writers for whom history was not about revealing facts, it was about uncovering truths.”
Pacatte also questioned Aslan about his personal faith. A point of contention during his Fox News interview.
Aslan explained that he believed all scriptures were divinely inspired and that all religions contained some truths. He said he considers himself a Muslim because the metaphors and symbols of Islam resonate with him personally. Citing the Buddha, he said he’d rather dig one six-foot well than six one-foot wells.
“But I also recognized that the water I am drawing from is the water that everybody else is drawing from,” Aslan said. “I’m perfectly comfortable with everybody else’s well, even though there particular sets of symbols and metaphors are ones that are less familiar to me.”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: