Daily Archives: 12 Sep 2019
Articles like this: Translating Job as Befits a Great Ancient Work.
No biblical text challenges the interpreter more than the Book of Job. It abounds in otherwise unknown words and expressions; its discourse and poetry are often dense; it draws on vocabulary, phrases, and grammatical phenomena from foreign languages; its text is frequently problematic; and the ancient translations, such as the fragmentary Aramaic targum from Qumran and the Old Greek, tend toward paraphrase and simplification—leading sometimes to bizarre interpretations. No wonder scholars medieval and modern have suggested that the book itself is of foreign provenance and is written in a language other than Hebrew.
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This report, with its many tweeted reactions, is scorching. And Falwell deserves it and more.
“In the last resort I do not trust any theological teacher—except perhaps a professional in exegesis or history—who has not spent a long time as a pastor, visited the old and sick, buried children and young people and had to preach to the congregation every Sunday.” – Dietrich Ritschl
Indeed, because such ‘theologians’ are Monday morning quarterbacks at best.
I’ve been thinking about the events in American history that we are constantly told we should remember. ‘Remember the Alamo.’ ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’. ‘Remember 9/11’. And I’ve been wondering exactly why it is that we should do so.
The answer, generally, is ‘so that it never happens again’. So what never happens again? An attack? How, pray tell, will our remembering inhibit or stop an attack? ‘We can be prepared’. Really? We were prepared for the Alamo and it didn’t do us much good. We had some hints of Pearl Harbor but of course that didn’t matter. We even had intimations of 9/11 when terrorists attempted to blow up the world trade center a decade earlier. But none of that prepared us for any of those events, did it.
No, I think the reason America wants to remember events like those is so that we can hold on to our mistrust or even hatred of Mexicans, or Japanese, or Muslims. And, by the way, why don’t we want to remember the slaughter of Native Americans? The trail of tears? The internment of Japanese Americans during world war 2? Why don’t we want to remember those? Because we weren’t victims. Others were. We want to remember our victimhood and our prejudice.
The funny thing is that the Bible only asks us to remember two things: The Passover, and the Last Supper. The only time Jesus ever says ‘remember’ is when he says ‘remember me as often as you eat it…’. When it comes to remembering terrible things it explicitly says that God ‘remembers our sins no more’.
So why do we want to remember terrible things? We can’t prevent other terrible things by doing so. I think, again, that we do it so that we can justify our prejudices. Against Mexicans, Japanese, Muslims, or whoever wrongs us. Never mind the wrong we do…
We’re a people in contradiction. We are Menschen im Widerspruch. And we will always be such, until we ‘remember their sins no more.’
“Our fine, erect, muscular athletes … hardly make a shadow of a footmark in their swift passage, whose words are in their fists and their reasoning in their heels, who either know nothing of apostolic poverty and the hardness of the cross or despise it [should at least learn about discipleship from Gentile philosophers] “— St Jerome
At Luther’s table
… there was talk about the writings of the church fathers on the Bible and how these left the reader in uncertainty. He [Martin Luther] responded, “I’m not allowed to make judgments about them because they’re writers of recognized authority and I’m compelled to be an apostate.
But let him who wishes read them, and Chrysostom in particular. He was the supreme orator, but how he digressed from the thing at hand to other matters! While I was lecturing on the letter to the Hebrews and consulted Chrysostom, [I found that] he wrote nothing about the contents of the letter.
I believe that as the greatest orator Chrysostom had plenty of hearers but that he taught without fruit. For it ought to be the primary and principal function of a preacher to reflect upon the substance, contents, and sum total of the matter and instruct his hearer accordingly. Once this is done the preacher can use rhetoric and exhort.”
In other words, stick to the text when you’re preaching it! And that, regrettably, the Father’s didn’t do. The Father’s are useful only for the windows they open on the history of the Church. Their exegesis is, frankly, rubbish. And their theology is, for the most part, frankly, ridiculous.