Woe to Those Who Call Evil Things Good

Woe to those who drag guilt along by the reins of duplicity, drag along sin as though with a cart rope; to those who say, ‘Why doesn’t he do his work quickly so that we can see it; why doesn’t the Holy One of Israel’s design hurry up and come true so that we can experience it?’ 

Woe to those who call what is bad, good, and what is good, bad, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. 

Woe to those who think themselves wise and believe themselves enlightened. Woe to those whose might lies in wine bibbing, their heroism in mixing strong drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deny justice to the upright. 

Yes, as the flame devours the stubble, as the straw flares up and disappears, their root will be like decay and their shoot be carried off like dust, for having rejected the law of Yahweh Sabaoth, for having despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  (Isa. 5:18-24)

Let The Reader Understand…

The legacy for cowards, for those who break their word, or worship obscenities, for murderers and the sexually immoral, and for sorcerers, worshippers of false gods or any other sort of liars, is the second death in the burning lake of sulphur.‘ (Rev. 21:8)

Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? Zwölf Fragen zum Gottesbild des Alten Testaments

This looks fascinating.  The issue of Theodicy has been an interest of mine for a very long time.

Das Buch ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen – Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und einem Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Es plädiert für ein umfassendes Reden von Gott jenseits der falschen Alternative »Lieber Gott« – »Böser Gott«. Ein Gott, der straft und tötet – und in dessen Namen Menschen strafen und töten? Ist das Alte Testament, das von einem solchen Gott spricht, nicht überholt und deswegen auch verzichtbar?

Während sich die einen ein Christentum ohne Altes Testament nicht vorstellen können, möchten die anderen es am liebsten aus der christlichen Bibel verbannen – vielleicht bis auf den Psalter, der zusammen mit dem Neuen Testament in vielen Hotelzimmern als Nachttischlektüre bereitliegt, um seinen Lesern innere Einkehr zu ermöglichen. Gerade die Psalmen sind aber ein Sammelbecken für schwierige Gottesbilder. Dieses Buch versucht anhand von zwölf besonders brisanten Fragen Antworten darauf zu geben, ob das Alte Testament für die Artikulation des christlichen Glaubens unentbehrlich oder nicht eher verzichtbar ist.

Es ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen

– Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Im Blick auf die Frage des Eingangskapitels

– Ein anderer, »böser« Gott? – geht der Autor von einem klaren Nein aus: Der Gott des Alten Testaments ist kein anderer als der des Neuen Testaments! Und schon gar nicht spricht das Neue Testament vom »lieben« und das Alte Testament vom »bösen Gott«. Deshalb plädiert das Schlusskapitel

– Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? – für ein umfassenderes Reden von Gott, das jenseits des schlichten Duals »Lieber Gott« versus »Böser Gott« liegt. Jedoch scheint solche Einsicht gerade auch unter TheologInnen nicht mehr selbstverständlich zu sein. Diese Unselbstverständlichkeit ist der Anlass für das vorliegende Buch.

Politicians

In her the leaders are wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood and killing people to steal their possessions. (Ezek. 22:27)

It’s Still The Task At Hand

“Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.” (Ps. 82:3-4)

Don’t believe the ‘Evangelicals’ who act as though such things were part of the ‘liberal’ agenda.  These things are still the task at hand for the people of God.

Social Media is a Swamp of Dilettantism

Good heavens, twitter and facebook are just littered with biblical and theological dilettantism. It’s both disheartening and annoying.

Dear people, put the bible down, and back away from it. You shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it.  And, honestly, if you can’t read it in Hebrew and Greek, you really should say nothing at all about what it ‘means’.

And, if you refuse my helpful advice, here’s your Dilly in advance.  You’ll soon deserve it.

Still Important Guidance

Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ, ταῦτα φεῦγε· δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην εὐσέβειαν πίστιν, ἀγάπην ὑπομονὴν πραϋπαθίαν. ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. παραγγέλλω [σοι] ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῳογονοῦντος τὰ πάντα καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μαρτυρήσαντος ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν, τηρῆσαί σε τὴν ἐντολὴν ἄσπιλον ἀνεπίλημπτον μέχρι τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει ὁ μακάριος καὶ μόνος δυνάστης, ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων, ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν, φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον, ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ ἰδεῖν δύναται· ᾧ τιμὴ καὶ κράτος αἰώνιον, ἀμήν. Τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι παράγγελλε μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν μηδὲ ἠλπικέναι ἐπὶ πλούτου ἀδηλότητι ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ θεῷ τῷ παρέχοντι ἡμῖν πάντα πλουσίως εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν, ἀγαθοεργεῖν, πλουτεῖν ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς, εὐμεταδότους εἶναι, κοινωνικούς, ἀποθησαυρίζοντας ἑαυτοῖς θεμέλιον καλὸν εἰς τὸ μέλλον, ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς. — (1 Tim. 6:11-19)

Truth

The LORD sent all his servants the prophets to you time and time again, but you have not obeyed or even paid attention.  He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors long ago and forever.  Do not follow other gods to serve them and to bow in worship to them, and do not anger me by the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm. ” ‘But you have not obeyed me’– this is the LORD ‘s declaration– ‘with the result that you have angered me by the work of your hands and brought disaster on yourselves.’ (Jer. 25:4-7)

To The Attorney General of Kentucky

Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood,
    who drag sin along as with cart ropes,
19 who say, “Let him make haste,
    let him speed his work
    that we may see it;
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel hasten to fulfillment,
    that we may know it!”
20 Ah, you who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
21 Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes,
    and shrewd in your own sight!
22 Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine
    and valiant at mixing drink,
23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Isaiah 5:18-23

The Earliest Israel: Territorial History in the Highlands of Canaan

Can the Shechem–Shiloh polity of the Iron I be identified as the earliest Israel? In other words: When was the territorial-name Shechem, designating a city-state, replaced by the name Israel for a polity in approximately the same territory?

Chapter from: Azzoni, Annalisa, Alexandra Kleinerman, Douglas A. Knight, David I. Owen, and Jack M. Sasson. 2020. From Mari to Jerusalem and back: Assyriological and Biblical studies in honor of Jack Murad Sasson. University Park, Pennsylvania: Eisenbrauns, 2020. (Discount code NR20 for 30% off).

Etc.  In Bible and Interpretation.

It’s True

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.” (1 Cor. 15:33-34)

Get Yourself a Commentary on the Entire Bible

Which one?  Well I’m glad you asked.  You can get the PDF edition of the entire series for a shockingly low  $75.  The books are all available by clicking my PayPal Link.  When you send your payment include your email address please and the books will be sent along quite quickly.  It’s a very good series if I do say so.  Aimed at layfolk and general readers, it is the only modern commentary on the entire Bible by a single author.

***

Endorsement

These highly readable, but commendably erudite, commentaries are more than worth the full price.  — Heather Anne Thiessen, M.Div., Ph.D.

Famine in the Land

I shall turn your festivals into mourning and all your singing into lamentation; I shall make you all wear sacking round your waists and have all your heads shaved. I shall make it like the mourning for an only child, and it will end like the bitterest of days. ‘The days are coming- declares the Lord Yahweh- when I shall send a famine on the country, not hunger for food, not thirst for water, but famine for hearing Yahweh’s word. People will stagger from sea to sea, will wander from the north to the east, searching for Yahweh’s word, but will not find it. ‘That Day, fine girls and stalwart youths will faint from thirst. The people who swear by the Sin of Samaria, who say, “Long live your god, Dan!” and “Hurrah for the pilgrimage to Beersheba!” will all fall, never to rise again.’ (Amos 8:10-14)

Indeed…

O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.  Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds. (Hab. 1:2-4)

Further…

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? And you, can you do right, being so accustomed to wrong? ‘I shall scatter you like chaff on the desert wind. This is your share, the part allotted you, from me, Yahweh declares, because you have forgotten me and put your trust in Delusion. — (Jer. 13:23-25)

Book of Psalms Seminar: The Ancient Near Eastern Background to the Psalms

All the details here.

The book of Psalms is the longest and most complex book in the Bible. It is a varied collection of poetry and song masterfully woven together to explore aspects everything from the darkest fears of death and abandonment to the most exuberant worship of Yahweh. The power and profundity of the Psalter stems in large part from its deployment of literary imagery, much of which is lost on modern readers due to the chasm of time and culture between us and the ancients.

This practical and richly illustrated seminar will enable participants to explore and understand the imagery of the Psalms through the lens of Ancient Israel and the broader Ancient Near Eastern world (especially Mesopotamian, Caananite and Egyptian backgrounds). This will help us make better sense of both the book of Psalms as a whole, and key passages with the work which frame the larger poetic sequence.

A voluminous digital handout including high-resolution images, charts and notes will be made available to participants.

Here’s the link to the zoom info.  And FYI- 7 PM in Melbourne is 5 AM Eastern time in the US.

God Is Sick of Your ‘Praise Songs’, He Wants You to Act Justly!

I hate, I scorn your festivals, I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies. When you bring me burnt offerings . . . your oblations, I do not accept them and I do not look at your communion sacrifices of fat cattle. Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres, but let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:21-24)

Good Advice

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. (1 Jn. 5:16)