Friday, December 11, 2009


ER could *so* become a Hebrew Bible scholar

I mean, you know, if I learned the language and everything. Getting to use a Hebrew font in my exegesis paper RAWKED, as brother Luke would say.

But, who knew this stuff was so dang interesting? :-)

(At right: Eastern Orthodox icon of Elijah.)

Good vibes, happy-happy thoughts and prayers, please. Intro to Hebrew Bible final in 2 1/2 hours! High noon to 4 p.m. (Oklahoma time).

BTW, Luke has posted one of his sermons here. It's great. Check it out.)


I remember well the way the Hebrew Scriptures opened up through the survey classes I took in Seminary. If I had to guess, I would say it is the way the scholarship rescues us from the idea that the two testaments concern different Gods, one full of judgment and vengeance, the other full of grace and love. The depth of meaning and grace so many discover in the Hebrew stories and prophetic literature (especially) open up all sorts of faithful ideas, I think.

That and the way we see the interplay and exchange among the various cultures in the ancient Levant - the stories become not just these oddities handed down from on high, but real human stories, something old and new, something borrowed and blue - a marriage, in other words, as all human cultural artifacts are. Doesn't take away their revelatory power, but makes them part and parcel of the incarnational reality that Christianity affirms.
Oh, I think the two testaments concern the same polyglot of a God of our collective and historic experience and imagination. But they portray more than a few idea of God. And it faskinatin'.
"Getting to use a Hebrew font in my exegesis paper RAWKED..."

Ah yes, I remember the thrill of my final examine in Hebrew; Rabbi Epstein handing me the test form with 30 essay questions in Hebrew on the old Testament that were to be answered in Hebrew; the thrill of knowing that I could not even understand question number one; the two hours of the exam looming before me; and last but not least the knowledge that flunking this course, which was happening even then, would bring my overall GPA down to 2.35 or below the the 2.5 required by Oklahoma to prevent you from being drafted. I remember praying at that moment for divine intervention. A nuclear attack, or a tornado, or an earthquake, or even,please, the second coming. But no, none were forthcoming. Yes, Hebrew was thrilling.
So Bro didja Ace it?
Maybe. My best guess is I made a 95 on the final. Not sure about my paper. I'm sending you my paper right now; you tell me! :-)
GKS:" I would say it is the way the scholarship rescues us from the idea that the two testaments concern different Gods,..."

Interesting, cause when I studied it I saw, just in Genesis One and two, two different "Gods" based in two different geographic narratives.

As for the revelatory nature of the OT (and even the NT) it seems that what is revealed is the revelation of man's vision of God not necessarily of God himself. If the Bible (or any other book) was enough to "reveal" God then the Holy Spirit/Sophia/Ghost of God's nature would not need to work so hard to teach us what He is.

Just sayin...
Well now, I'll give you an "A" on that. You might just make a capital T theologian.

Say, as to origins of some of the "laws" check out what happened before Moses got the "Laws" on the mountain.

Exodus 18:
1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.


13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"

15 Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."

17 Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

As you noted the laws seems to be brought forward from other cultures. Two observations, Moses was trained and raised under "Egyptian law", but also lived and abided by "Midan law" during his shepard years. So what was the "carry over" into Hebrew justice?
Thanks! :-)

The carryover to Hebrew justice was probably very substantial. If I, and you, and we all, "hear" God today through the lenses of our life experiences, how much more did Moses hear God through his? Which, among many other things, makes the parallels and similarities of the different peoples' laws, and traditions, with the biblical tales make major sense.
BTW, re: "As for the revelatory nature of the OT (and even the NT) it seems that what is revealed is the revelation of man's vision of God not necessarily of God himself."

Yes. And, revelation comes from the faithful, or at least seeking, hearing, or reading, of these stories, I think. At times in this class, it was like hearing popcorn pop to hear the lightbulbs going off over the heads of the peeps, including me.
Might even mean that "revelation" is tens of thousands of years deep.
thanks for the shout-out!

i LOVE the Hebrew Scriptures, they just seem so real and messy and smart! I was just talking to my HS prof last night, Julia O'Brien (in my links) about how much more real the HS have become since i've been in CPE. i use a lot of the imagry from there, with a dash of Jesus and James. great stuff dude! i'd be interested in reading your final if you wanna send it.
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