Are Revelation and Reason Co-extensive?

Since the Middle Ages, Jewish and Christian theologians have tended to see reason and revelation as opposites in need of reconciliation. Yoram Hazony argues that this view creates a false dichotomy and, moreover, distorts the biblical understanding of revelation:

We are all familiar with the invocation of the Muse, or another god, by Homer and Socrates, Parmenides and Empedocles, as they set out to engage in poetry or philosophy. . . . The reason for this request for assistance appears to be that these individuals and the cultures from which they sprang were keenly aware of the lack of control that individuals ultimately exercise over difficult creative endeavors. We should be able to appreciate their sensibilities on this point: we all feel that the movements of our limbs are under our own control, as is the manner in which we perform routine mental operations such as solving simple problems in arithmetic. And we also know that our control over the creation of a new book or song or institution is nothing like our control over carrying out multiplication problems or driving to work in the morning. . . .

The Greeks appealed to their gods because they felt that if they were to achieve [great] things, it would be thanks to assistance external to their own minds. The same is true in Hebrew Scripture, where the accomplishment of great things in terms of wisdom, politics, and art is portrayed as the result of “a wind from God” that guides the work to its extraordinary and successful conclusion. . . .

This does not mean that every genuine experience of human insight must be considered the revelation of God’s word. On the contrary, it is possible for the experience of revelation to be perfectly genuine, and yet for the contents of this revelation to be mistaken.

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Read more at Jerusalem Letters

More about: Ancient Greece, Bible, Prophecy, Reason, Revelation, Theology

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy