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Monday, September 06, 2010

Day Six

Today's Genesis reading, 32:13 - 38, covers several shenanigans involving Jacob and his kids--particularly the non-Joseph offspring. What I find curious about these stories is that Judah, from whom Jesus Christ descends, is not a particularly good guy. In fact, the passage from today's reading closes with him deciding not to have the widow of two of his sons burned to death because it turns out that the guy she was servicing in the capacity of prostitute was Judah himself. Nice.

Today's reading from Matthew covers 11:7 through 12:44. Here, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven frequently. As I am reading this, I am trying to fairly evaluate whether the kingdom of heaven refers to something that will come after death, or whether it refers to a transformation of our world. It is a difficult exercise because (1) we are so raised to believe the kingdom of heaven is an afterlife things and (2) today, I so strongly believe it is not an afterlife thing. The apocalyptic feel can easily apply to either interpretation, especially when it is addressed to current powers that be in the church.

4 comments:

shadowfax said...

I didn't know that Judah story, but it's consistent with the rest of the old testament. So much of the pentateuch is filled with that sort of thing that it's amazing. It's so clear that this is a book/record of a very primitive, tribal society that it never fails to astonish me that people want to apply its rules to modern society, especially when many of the rules/behaviors/stories are so abhorrent to modern values.

It's funny how in most churches these anecdotes are uncomfortably ignored or explained with incredibly labored justifications about symbolism and "deeper meanings."

JimII said...

Some of the stories are clearly fables or myths told to transmit cultural values. E.g., Garden of Eden, the Flood, Tower of Babel. Some of the stories are clearly histories, in the same way the Greeks told histories. Not accurate enough for our standards, but I think shooting for the goal of describing what happened.

I don't know what to make of these middle stories of the patriarchs. They are so deeply rooted in the culture. But they are so negative with regard to people like the ancestor of David, that it makes you wonder.

I don't think these are metaphorical in the way the story of Noah is. I think the value comes from discussing how does faith or tradition play a role in these stories. In the case of this story of Judah, it suggests to me that some traditions are not that great.

Matt Dick said...

I'd like to revisit this topic when we (you) get to the large number of genocides, the "kill every living thing within the wall" commands from God.

What are the lessons there? Is it just an establishment of the Hebrew god as supreme?

senizess

JimII said...

My hope is that this project will give me an opportunity to have more context as I read the stories.

There is a palbable shift in literary style from Tower of Babel to the story of the Patriarchs. I am looking for such a shift in the Moses stories, and will certainly look for a change in the histories starting with 1 Samuel.

It is possible that the message in the massacres is that massacres happened and this is how people view it. Maybe it becomes a cautionary tale for me as compared to a tale about how awesome YHWH the war god is for the writers.