20 October 2010

Oct 20

Reference links:
Old Testament

I just noticed that Jeremiah never seems to do any miracles. He does little performances, makes predictions, and gives speeches, but he does not perform miracles. Did Isaiah perform miracles? It seems thus far that Old Testament prophets who seem likely to have had their words set down by contemporaries or near contemporaries are not thought to have performed miracles. This, in turn, reinforces the idea that the miracles reported in the Bible are not historical. Rather, they some combination of legends, tradition, and fabrication.

On to today's actual content. We have gone back in time to the reign of Jehoiakim. Jeremiah uses the Recabites to teach yet another lesson. The Recabites appear to be a nomadic people driven to Jerusalem by the Babylonians. They live the life they do, abstaining in alcohol and living in tents, because an ancestor of theirs commanded it. Similarly, God has given Judah commands, but they have not obeyed. Thus, they will fall into disaster and the Recabites will always serve God.

After that, we read about a time when Jeremiah dictated all of the messages he had received thus far to Baruch. Baruch read the message in the Temple, and the priests took him rather seriously. The surprise which the priests showed upon hearing the message surprised me. Jeremiah has been preaching for years and is currently under arrest, presumably for his prophecies, but the priests act as if they have never heard the message before. Was Jeremiah not sharing everything with them in the past? If so, he should have because it seems like it was pretty convincing. Was he making stuff up for Baruch? Did they just forget?

I lean toward the "Jeremiah was making it up theory." The original scroll was read to Jehoiakim, and he burned it. After that Jeremiah dictated a new scroll with even more content. But the first scroll was written under this command:
Get a scroll, and write down all my messages against Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Begin with the first message back in the days of Josiah, and write down every message, right up to the present time.
So the first scroll contained "every message, right up to the present time", but for the second scroll,
He wrote everything that had been on the scroll King Jehoiakim had burned in the fire. Only this time he added much more!
How could everything have been on the first scroll if there was "much more" to add to the second? Seems to me like Jeremiah was making it up as he went along rather than just recording messages he had received in the past.

New Testament

After some instructions about respect, we get a rather long passage on the proper treatment of widows and what a widow must do to qualify to be on some list (presumably the list that is used to determine who gets aid from the church). We have heard nothing of these qualifications before. This, to me, speaks of a church that has been supporting widows for a long time and has decided that it's rather expensive. Rather than continuing to support the less fortunate church members, the author of 1 Timothy is looking for ways to add bureaucracy to decrease the number of people they are obliged to help.

In contrast to those widows who should not get money if it can be helped, the elders of the church should be paid well. I will resist the urge to talk about how much these statements well paid pastors and a neglect of the poor resembles certain contemporary megachurches.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.