In 1844, a German Biblical scholar by the name of Constantin Von Tischendorf arrived at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, on Mount Sinai, in search of ancient Biblical manuscripts. At the end of a long day he was asked by a monk if he would like a fire to warm his room. To his astonishment, the monk then proceeded to start the fire with a pile of ancient manuscripts. These forty-four leaves were felt to be of little value to the monastery and had been carelessly discarded in the trash. Von Tischendorf, however, soon determined that this pile of “trash” was a virtually intact ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. This discovery ultimately led Von Tischendorf to uncover other Biblical manuscripts at this monastery that were hundreds of years older than what had been the best available to scholars at that time, ultimately improving the accuracy and reliability of our current day translations of the Bible.
Over the years, Christian theology has had the strong tendency to construct every belief of any real consequence around the central theme of personal salvation. “Am I saved? How can I know that I am saved? What was done to secure my salvation? How do I ‘accept’ what was done for me?” and so on. This focus on personal salvation, however, has led to the development of a rather large “blind spot” in our understanding of God and of the world around us. Perhaps, like Von Tishendorf, we need to walk over to the trash can and take another look at a perspective that has been largely neglected since the first centuries of the early Christian church.