DIS(my con)CORD(ance)!

Sheep

Dis(my con)Cord(ance)?

A concordance is helpful for finding how a word is used in the Bible.  One has to take care to check that the English is an accurate reflection of the original Hebrew or Greek and so a scholarly (i.e. fat) concordance will give you that ability.

Even so, there is some discord with my concordance.  What this kind of study is in the danger of missing is the literary context of each use of the word.  Verses do not float free from the Bible, but are each attached to a context.  The meaning of words is narrowed by it’s use in context and in literary form.

I am thinking about the “little ones” in Matthew 18.  In the chapter there are two words for child (“paidion” v. 2, 5 and “pais” v. 3). One is child the other is little child.  There is another word for offspring (“tekna”) and a word for little ones (“mikron”) are all used.  Then if we wonder how these relate to the “least” (“elaxistos” Matthew 25:40,45) we see a cluster or words around the idea of small, children or insignificant.

We notice that the child in Mt 18:2 is used by Jesus as a metaphor for a quality of faith – “unless you then and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He had said previously, “I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…” (Mt 12:25 “nepios”)

Now then does the child become a disciple after that?  Are the “little ones” in verse 6 to be understood as literal children or converts to Jesus?  Is the one lost sheep a “little one” in the sense of a child or in the sense of a disciple?

We wander now to the Olivet Discourse in the passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus states that when the disciples would do acts of charity to “the least (“elaxiston”) of these my brothers, you did it to me” (v. 40,45). Is that saying that we should do acts of random kindness to anyone? or is it saying that we should to acts of kindness to those humble and poor followers of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10)

We now have gathered four words for children and two words suggesting smallness and associated all of those with ideas such as poor in spirit, the meek and the persecuted.

What we must have is the idea that true following of Jesus is not about becoming rich and powerful, but admitting, if not becoming, poor, meek and small. And that following Jesus is not accomplished by serving the powerful and the popular but by serving those who are poor, meek and small in this world, but who are also members of the Kingdom.

What is more we should not cause stumbling for any weak and frail follower of Jesus, nor should we write off any wandering lost ones from the flock.  Rather the reliable 99 can be put into safe hands while we go searching for the lost and lonely 1.

Yes, that sounds like Jesus talking.

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Limits of Narrative Worksheet: the Case of Deborah

deborah-prophetess-12-16-12-

We need to gain our theology from teaching portions of the Bible, and then compare those to the Stories.  It is rarely a good idea to change what we think the bible teaches by comparing it to a story.

Deborah and Women in Leadership:

1.  Read Joshua 4 (bottom of page) together and look at what the Narrator highlights about Deborah as a woman.  Cite verse numbers and give a sentence or two of explanation.

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Are there other women in the story?

  • V. 17-22; 5:24-27
  • 5:28-31

 3.  Compare to Teaching passages in the New Testament:

  • I Timothy 2:8-15
  • I Corinthians 11:2-16
  • I Corinthians 14:33-27
  • Acts 18:1-3; 24-28

 Texts on Deborah in Judges 4,5

Judges 4:4-16 ESV

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

12 When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,13 Sisera called out all his chariots, 900 chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14 And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15 And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. And Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16 And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left.

Judges 5:1, 7, 12, 15,

9/29/2013

Commentary Soup

give it time

give it time

So it is a funny thing.

I like to find the academic commentaries  from the UW library, which slice, dice and analyze the biblical text.   I don’t agree with the frequent theorizing about editors, redactors, schools and emendations that they do suggest.   Also there is very little of pastoral value – that is, what can help the people keep the word.  But for analyzing the text itself, these kinds of books, typified by the Anchor Bible series are very helpful.  My motto: take what I can, leave the rest.  This is for me the soup stock.

In the case of John’s gospel, the Anchor volumes are very helpful for the ebb and flow of the book. Raymond Brown suggests that the first 12 chapters really have to do with Jesus interactions with the major festivals of the Jewish calendar.   I found that the book Reading John, by Charles Talbert does a nice job of literary analysis.  Neither of these books are that helpful on connection to life.

I like to peruse the classic evangelical commentaries, but until recently, most of these are weak in the area where the academic texts ares strong   For example, Young’s commentary on Isaiah (3 volumes) is a classic, but it is mostly a series of verse by verse comments with lots of word meanings.   I much prefer Motyer’s Isaiah commentary, thought shorter, it gives the shape and flow of the book, and there re little sermonic nuggets in the text.   In John, Leon Morris’ work is a lot like Young’s in Isaiah – words discussed by verse, but not a lot of literary structure.   F. F. Bruce is helpful at a less analytic level.  These books are the diced carrots and potatoes.

Sometimes a historic commentary such as Luther’s Works or the like adds a bit of flavor to the sermonic soup.   Consider this the herbs and spices for the soup.

I like to read someone who is or was a pastor and who gives the word a work over from a sermonic standpoint.  Lot’s of books by John Stott fit in this category, I still think his commentary on I John is the most helpful on that book.  I don’t have a good book in this category to name.  This is the meat for the soup.

Finally, what is needed is time for the soup to simmer lowly on the back of the stove.   Don’t start your reading on Saturday.  Start ahead and let it simmer and stew.

James 4:4 – A story too funny to be invented


Years ago, at a bible study in our home in New York, we were looking at the text of James 4.  I asked the question, “What does ‘adulterous’ mean?”  (James 4:4 “You adulterous people!  Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”)

A student from Japan heard the question and said, “Adulterous” means mature.”

An immigrant from Egypt heard that and said, “No, it means when you worship images made of stone or wood.”

So we had a good laugh (because English is an awful language to have to learn) and a spontaneous vocabulary lesson on the difference between adultery, idolatry and being an adult.