11 July 2010

Jul 11

Reference links:
Old Testament

We are done with genealogies for now, but we apparently are not done with lists.

Today we get a brief narrative interlude describing how the people of Israel anoint David king. David and his troops then go on to capture Jerusalem. The rest of the post is a listing of David's warriors (the Three and the Thirty), interspersed with some tales of their valor.

I am guessing that the legends about David's warriors came about because the ancient Israelites, like most ancient cultures, had lots of myths about warrior heroes. In many cultures, the subjects of those myths attained an almost godlike statute. This was not appropriate for the monotheistic Israelites. To maintain their traditional legends without compromising their religious beliefs, these men became heroes in the time of legend, the time of David.

New Testament

Paul and the other voyagers spend the winter on the island of Malta. The locals receive them well, especially after Paul fails to die after being bitten by a snake and healing the sick. I find it interesting that Paul does not seem to preach to these folks despite their kind reception. Maybe he figures it is not a good idea to potentially upset the people is is trapped with for the winter.

When Paul arrives in Rome he starts preaching again. He meets with the local Jewish leaders and tries to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah.
[Paul] explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. And after they had argued back and forth among themselves, they left with this final word from Paul: "The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaiah the prophet, 
‘Go and say to this people:
When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’
As usual, the author of Acts does not bother telling of what Paul's arguments actually are. Also as usual, Paul seems to have an inability to comprehend that people might just honestly disagree with him. Instead, he ends their conversation with a cheap shot implying that the only reason they do not believe them is because their hearts have been hardened.

I find it interesting that this same passage from Isaiah is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew which was written about the same time as Acts. Were they written from two different traditions, one of which attributed using this to Paul and another which attributed their use to Jesus? Or was the duplication intentional?

Psalms and Proverbs

This proverb seems awkward:
Better to be poor and honest
than to be dishonest and a fool.
It's like it's setting up an opposing pair, but then the second half does not follow through. We get the expected honest/dishonest pairing, but without the expected poor/rich pairing.