04 August 2010

Aug 4

Reference links:
Old Testament

We finish off the books of Chronicles today. We read at length about Josiah's Passover celebration. Despite having hyped up Hezekiah's Passover celebration, the author of Chronicles sees no reason to say why Josiah's was better. Perhaps Josiah's Passover won more acclaim because more people attended and more animals were sacrificed. But whatever the reason, the author of Chronicles did a terrible job of setting this scene up.

We do, however, have an indication that the chronicler may have been aware of the literary shortcomings:
Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. [emphasis added]
The author specifically compare this to the Passovers held by the kings of Israel, not the kings of Judah. Now, perhaps the author here meant "Israel and Judah", but usually the author of the books of Chronicles seems pretty careful about differentiating the two.

Next week read about Josiah's death. I noticed that Josiah's death was very similar to that of evil king Ahab of Israel. In both cases,
  • the king goes into a battle the Lord has advised him not to go into
  • the king disguises himself
  • despite the disguise, the king is hit by an enemy archer
  • the king flees and dies
I find that interesting given that Josiah is one of the best kings in the history of split kingdoms and Ahab one of the worst.

After that the end sure comes quickly, at least in the narrative. We go with blinding speed through the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah to the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon to the Persian conquest of Babylon and the return of the exiles. The end.

New Testament

We start 1 Corinthians today. Let's see what our references have to say about it. According to Understanding the Bible (Seventh Edition) by Stephen Harris,
Paul's letters to Corinth urge the recipients to overcome their serious divisions, abandon competitive behavior, and strive for unity of belief and purpose. The most important topics include differences between human and divinely revealed wisdom, Christian ethics and responsibilities, proper conduct at Communion, appreciation for gifts of the Spirit, and resurrection of the dead.
It was probably composed in the mid-50's AD and is amongst the earliest of Paul's letters. Based on scholarly analysis, only 1 Thessalonians is believed to have been composed earlier. Like most of the authentic Pauline letters, this letter to the Corinthians was meant to address specific problems being experienced by that church.

Also, I was disappointed to learn from Harris's book that Paul's letters in the New Testament are ordered, roughly, from longest to shortest. Lame! Chronological would be better. (Why? Because I say so.)

Paul starts by greeting the members of the church at Corinth. He thanks God for the spiritual gifts that have been given to the Corinthians for their beliefs. This passage is one of many that implies that Paul believed Jesus' return would happen soon:
Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
Paul then goes on to admonish those who would form factions in the Corinthian church. My favorite part of this passage is this, which shows Paul was composing this letter on the fly:
I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.)
This makes me giggle.

In any case, 1 Corinthians is off to a much less annoying start than Romans.

Psalms and Proverbs
Our first proverb is quite amusing if taken literally:
If you insult your father or mother,
your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.
And this one seems empirically true. In fact, now that we have starlets, I would update it to "A fortune obtained too early in life".
An inheritance obtained too early in life
is not a blessing in the end.