05 September 2010

Sep 5

Reference links:
Old Testament

We finish Ecclesiastes today. That was quick!

The bulk of today's reading consists of a listing of various pieces advice. As a fan of diversifying your investments, my favorite is this:
Send your grain across the seas,
and in time, profits will flow back to you.
But divide your investments among many places,
for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
Ruminations on youth and old age follow the words of advice. The old receive the advice to enjoy each remaining day, even while remembering that all is meaningless. Youths receive the advice to enjoy their youth, avoid worry, and keep their body healthy, but again, also remember that the life before them is meaningless. The teacher then advises youths not to forget their creator, especially as their bodies crumble with age.

After that section, we have some postscripts added by one or more later editors. These are reflections on the words of the teacher. The very last statement seems aimed at trying to advise people not to get the "wrong" idea from this book:
That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
I cannot help but see this as using a finger to stop up a leaking dam.

Overall, I very much enjoyed Ecclesiastes. It contained something of a almost randomly varied assortment of ideas and forms, but it was interesting. And that is certainly a lot more than most of the Bible can say for itself.

New Testament

Paul tries to persuade the Corinthian church to give money to the church in Jerusalem. He is using several standard fundraising techniques.

  • Mention that their peers are giving: Paul points out that the church in Macedonia gave beyond their means
  • Praise their virtues: Paul points out all of the great things about the members of the Corinthian church and implies that giving more would make them even more virtuous
  • Threaten them: Paul claims that he will be comparing their performance to other churches and considers this a test of their love
  • Give an example of someone they admire: Paul points out that their generosity makes them more like Jesus
  • Appeal to responsibility: They already started this process of giving. Therefore, they should finish it.

Paul knew what he was doing when it came to fund raising.

Psalms and Proverbs

The proverbs contain more introductory material. Apparently, we will be reading sayings filled with advice and knowledge.