21 July 2010

Jul 21

Reference links:
Old Testament

More details on the fittings of the temple. This section of the reading makes a lot more sense once you realize that the books of Chronicles were written after the temple was destroyed. Writing this was one of the ways the exiled people of Judah tried to preserve their memories and this important cultural and religious site.

We also read about the bringing of the ark to the temple and Solomon's words on this occasion. This stresses that the main point of the king, from the point of view of the authors in exile, was to provide religious leadership (which is different from being a priest). Stressing the religious rather than the military and political importance of the king probably helped the exiles to reinterpret their religious world view, which had always rested on a basic of the political and military success of the Jewish people, in a world where it was obvious that the political and military might of Israel and Judah had ended.

New Testament

Paul argues that the followers of Jesus are not subject to the law, because the law is meant to apply to the living, not the dead, and the followers of Jesus died with him. Now, I know this is meant to be a metaphorical argument, not a formal one, but it still seems pretty obvious to me that we would rethink the relationship between the dead and the law if the dead were still active in the world like these Christians are. Just sayin'.

Paul then goes on to make a rather ridiculous argument that it is only because of the law that we know what is and is not sinful. If we did not have the law, then we would not be tempted to sin. Now, if by the law Paul means moral intuitions, then his point is almost coherent, but even in that case, it still seems that Paul is conflating cause and effect. Do we desire to sin because the law (or moral intuition) says it is wrong? Or do we just mark certain behaviors and desires as sinful because of the negative effects they have been perceived to have? The later does a much better job of explaining the cultural diversity of the concepts of right and wrong.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.