Sprüche (Proverbia) 1-15

Bernd U. Schipper reads the book of Proverbs within the context of ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature and at the same time as an integral part of the Old Testament. As a work of literature from the Second Temple period, the book of Proverbs takes part in the theological debates of its time over issues such as the significance of the Torah (and particularly the Deuteronomic law) or whether humans are capable of living in accordance with the divine will.

The analysis of ancient Near Eastern parallels gives special attention to textual material that has previously not been applied to the exegesis of the book of Proverbs: the sapiential texts from the Egyptian Late Period (6th–2nd c. B.C.E.).

On the whole, the final form of the book of Proverbs emerges as a text from the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods that can be ascribed to a circle of “scribes” who were well-versed in the scriptures of ancient Israel.

Looks glorious doesn’t it?  You’re welcome.

The Anniversary of the First Performance of Handel’s “Messiah”

[In 1742 a] group of Dublin charities approached Handel to compose a work for a benefit performance. The money raised would help free men from debtor’s prison, and Handel would receive a generous commission. Now with a text and a motivation, Handel began composing Messiah on August 22, 1741. Within six days, Part One was finished. In nine more, Part Two. Six more and Part Three was done. It took him only an additional two days to finish the orchestration. Handel composed like a man obsessed. He rarely left his room and rarely touched his meals.

But in 24 days he had composed 260 pages—an immense physical feat. When he finished writing what would become known as the Hallelujah Chorus, he said, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.”

Though the performance of the piece again caused controversy (Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels and then the dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, was outraged and initially refused to allow his musicians to participate), the premiere on April 13, 1742, at the Fishamble Street Musick Hall was a sensation. An overcapacity crowd of 700 people attended, raising 400 pounds to release 142 men from prison. (The demand for tickets was so great that men were asked not to wear their swords and women asked not to wear hoops in their skirts, allowing 100 extra people into the audience. Such hoops immediately fell out of fashion for concerts.)*

Interesting, isn’t it, that Handel’s most famous work stems from his willingness to help a prison charity.

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*In 131 Christians everyone should know (pp. 113–114).

I’ll Say ‘The Underlying Hebrew Text Here Suggests…’ As Often As I Must…

Every now and then some pompous windbag decries the use of Greek and Hebrew in sermons. You know the sort- ‘One should never use biblical languages in sermons’… Shut up.

Sometimes it is completely appropriate to mention the Grundtext in order to clarify and explain a text’s meaning. English translations frequently ignore the nuance of the biblical text and such nuance is essential to understanding the passage.

Ignoring the Grundtext is stupid in the first place. It’s akin to going to the doctor and him telling you ‘you have an owie’ but saying nothing more. Who could be satisfied by that?

If you know the biblical languages don’t be afraid to use them when you need them to explain a text more fully. If you don’t know the biblical languages- well you should just quit preaching anyway. And if some imbecile tells you not to say ‘the underlying Greek text of this phrase in this context implies…’ then you tell them to shove off because you’re not going to leave your hearers ignorant of the text.

‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’, the Movie, is Rubbish

Here’s Matthew Anderson on it-

The poster for Paul, Apostle of Christ shows a steely-eyed Paul (James Faulkner) gazing straight at the viewer. Luke, played by Jim Caviezel, (Jesus in The Passion of the Christ), stands resolutely beside him. Two handsome, sun-beaten white actors with strong noses and strong chins play heroes of the Christian faith. What could possibly be wrong?

In terms of historical accuracy, there’s much wrong. And much at stake. Paul, Apostle of Christ is one of an upsurge in Bible-themed movies that romanticize and distort the past and risk present-day harm. Such films are like soda pop: Sweet, easy to swallow, but harmful as a steady diet.

Etc.  Like all Bible movies, this one is worth missing.

The Difference Between the Church Member’s Vacation and the Pastor’s

The Christian’s vacation: leave Friday, stay gone till the next Saturday. Stay home Sunday. Go back to work Monday. Miss half a month in worship.

The Pastor’s vacation: leave Monday. Have 30 messages by the time you arrive at your vacation. Get calls all week. Return Saturday. Get back to work Sunday. Hear ‘where have you been all week’ from the people who missed half a month. Pound your head in a wall until you die.