14 February 2010

Feb 14

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading is another recap episode. We get a detailed description of the building of the Ark of the Covenant, the table, the lamp stand, incense altar, washbasin, and courtyard curtains.

Useless but entertaining trivia: The Bible conveniently summarizes the materials used to craft all of this.
  • 2193 pounds of gold, donated by the people. At current prices of about 1000 per ounce, this is worth $35 million.
  • 7545 pounds of silver, received from the census tax. The census counted the population of Israel at 603,550 men over 20 (because those are the only people who count). At current prices of about $15 per ounce, this is worth $1.8 million.
  • 5310 pounds of bronze, at least some of which was from the bronze mirrors of the women. I couldn't find current prices, but the values I found mostly hovered around $1.50 per pound. At that rate, this is worth about $8000.

New Testament

We finally finish the Book of Matthew! Maybe in the next gospel we will get to see that overwhelmingly obvious love for all of us that is supposed to be scattered all over the Bible.

But before we get there, we have to finish today's reading. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (wouldn't you hate to be "the other Mary"?) visit Jesus' tomb only to find an angel had rolled away the rock protecting the entrance and Jesus missing. The angel tells the women that Jesus had risen from the dead. They went to tell the disciples what had happened. On the way, they met Jesus and worshiped him.

Apologists hold up the empty tomb as clear proof that the resurrection really happened. They often overlook the obvious possibilities that the whole incident was fabricated or that the body was stolen. The author of Matthew shows slightly more awareness of the second possibility:
some of the guards went into the city and told the leading priests what had happened. A meeting with the elders was called, and they decided to give the soldiers a large bribe. They told the soldiers, "You must say, 'Jesus' disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.' If the governor hears about it, we'll stand up for you so you won't get in trouble. So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.
Good attempt, but it fails to cast any real doubt on the suspicion that maybe Jesus' body was just stolen.

The Book of Matthew closes with Jesus meeting with the disciples and telling them,
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. An be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
This is another one of those passages that was used to justify a lot of trouble historically. Although, for example, the mass murder of Native Americans in the US was really about territory and power, this type of religious rhetoric was certainly used as justification.

Psalms and Proverbs

Aw shucks, I guess I will never obtain wisdom.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.