17 October 2010

Oct 17

Reference links:
Old Testament

We are back to prophetic verse, but at least it's moderately cheerful compared to normal.

Today's reading is framed by a couple interesting incidents. At the beginning of the reading, Jeremiah reports that God has asked him to write down the prophecies he received. This brings up the question of how accurate the writings are. Did Jeremiah have a super excellent memory? Start writing things down as he went along at some point? Reconstruct his memories? Have new visions? I believe we'll be getting more info on the actual origins of this book as a written work, but I don't know that these questions will be answered.

The bulk of today's reading is verse which conveys the idea that Israel will have to deal with being punished because they have been terrible and deserve it. However, someday they will be restored and things will be better than ever. Of note to those types who like to think about poetic imagery: this verse contains many images which are the opposite of the negative images given earlier. E.g., references to virgin Israel in contrast to earlier references to Israel as a prostitute.

The readings end with:
At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.
So now we know that at least some of Jeremiah's messages from God came as dreams in his sleep. Was this how most of them came? What about for other prophets? If dreams were the usual means of receiving messages from God, it explains why some of Isaiah's were so bizarre. It also makes them that much more unreliable.

New Testament

The recipient of the letter should pray for everyone. After that, there's a bit of exposition on the role of Jesus. As part of this discussion, the author uses what seems to me to be a rather odd phrase: "God our Savior". As far as I know, there's nothing technically wrong with this according to Christian belief. It's just that one would expect "Jesus our Savior".

Then some annoying bits about the role of women which, as usual, I'm glad I don't have to care about because I would be unlikely to stay civil.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's first proverb is straightforward: telling lies about someone is as bad as doing physical violence against them. I don't think that's quite literally true, but I agree with the gist of it, and it's a lesson we could all take more to heart (especially people in the world of politics).

The second is more ambiguous:
Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble
is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.
Obviously, none of these things are good, but I don't think the point of the proverb is to say "putting confidence in an unreliable person is bad". Both chewing with a broken tooth and walking on a lame foot are sometimes necessary. So perhaps the message of the proverbs is "putting confidence in an unreliable person is sometimes necessary, but it should be done as little as possible to avoid making things worse than they are."