17 August 2010

Aug 17

Reference links:
Old Testament

We finish Nehemiah today. We get to see another case of applying commands explicitly meant for the Israelites as they were taking over the land of Canaan to the Israelites returned from exile (or, alternately, we see another case that adds to the suspicion that the details of the traditional stories were doctored to apply more closely to the situation of the returned exiles). We also have a couple more passages that make it seem like the point of Nehemiah is to show what a great and obedient person Nehemiah was.

Overall, I was rather bored with Nehemiah. Our next book, Ester, should be much more interesting.

New Testament

In today's reading, Paul tries and fails to make a case that his cultural norms are somehow absolute.
Judge for yourselves. Is it right for a woman to pray to God in public without covering her head? Isn’t it obvious that it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair? And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering.  But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches. [emphasis added]
Essentially, Paul is arguing that women should have long hair because... women have long hair. Nice tautological reasoning there.

This is part of an argument that women should wear head coverings in prayer and men should not. I don't buy the argument. Not only, as is not unusual, do I no buy the premises. I also think that the reasoning makes no sense. Paul seems to be working under the assumption that if he strings enough statements together, eventually he will be convincing. There is no actual underlying argument here. Even Harris says, in Understanding the Bible, Eight Edition,
Paul's argument for relegating women to a subordinate position in church strikes many readers as labored and illogical.
That's the problem here. This whole passage feels labored. It seems like Paul is trying to make a logical argument, but his statements follow none of the rules for a logical argument.

Paul should, perhaps, stick to passionate persuasion and leave logic to someone else.

It's also worth noting that Genesis most distinctly has two creation stories. One where man and woman are created at the same time and one where woman is created from man. Paul very selectively chooses the later. A case nearly opposite to his easily could be (and has been) made with the other.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing new.