15 September 2010

Sep 15

Reference links:
Old Testament

Isaiah predicts more doom and gloom. Today mostly about Egypt and Ethiopia and Babylon, plus some ambiguous messages about other places.

The most exciting part of today's reading is the bit where Isaiah wanders around naked to make a point:
In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.
Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia. For the king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt.
New Testament

Paul's version of his relationship with the folks in Jerusalem is distinctly different from that of Acts. In particular, Paul describes himself as only having briefly interacted with the leadership in Jerusalem until after he has been preaching for 14 years. Acts, on the other hand, made a big deal of how Paul, right after his conversion, met the apostles and then went around with them.

Acts also makes it sound like Barnabas already had an established reputation with the Jerusalem church while Paul implies that Barnabas was accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem later. While some of these discrepancies could be explained by different perspectives, it is hard to accept these two accounts as consistent.

Paul emphasizes his vision of Christianity's independence from Jewish law. Not only was following Jewish law unnecessary for those who had come to believe in Christ it was, in some circumstances, hypocritical. To me, Paul's discussion of the Jewish law in today's reading just serves to emphasize the diversity of early Christianity. In particular,
But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Paul paints this incident as an example of clear hypocrisy and giving in to fear on Peter's, but the fact that so many prominent people followed this alternate view point makes me think the case was not as cut and dry as Paul wants his readers to think. When modern folks talk about getting back to the true roots of Christianity, they should realize that even the early Christians had a diverse set of beliefs.

Psalms and Proverbs

A proverb praising discipline of children, particularly of the physical sort.