26 October 2010

Oct 26

Reference links:
Old Testament

Jeremiah has more gloomy prophecies against various nations. The most noteworthy of these note are the prophecies that Jerusalem will be restored someday and Babylon will be destroyed. Jeremiah predicts that Babylon will become a desolate wasteland. It will be completely destroyed and no one will live their any more. This, not surprisingly, contradicts the actual history: the Persians, led by Cyrus, were, for a hostile takeover, relatively peaceful and benign. Certainly not the bringers of complete destruction predicted by Jeremiah.

New Testament

Today we start the last pastoral letter, Titus. As one of the pastorals, it is generally believed to have not been written by Paul. In addition to our background on the pastorals, Harris has this to add:
Although it is the shortest of the pastorals, Titus has the longest salutation, a fulsome recapitulation of Paul's credentials and the recipient's significance. This highly formal introduction would be inappropriate in a personal letter from Paul to his younger friend, but it is understandable as the pastor's way of officially transmitting Paul's authoritative instruction to a postapostolic successor.
... Like the "Timothy" of the other pastorals, however, "Titus" is a symbolic figure, representing a late postapostolic generation interested in preserving Pauline traditions. Hence, "Titus" functions as a mediator to a later age who can establish the requirements and some of the duties of church leaders who will adhere to Pauline orthodoxy. 
Harris also sums up the influence of the author of the pastoral letters:
... Although the pastor's style is generally weak and colorless compared to Paul's (except for some passages in 2 Timothy), he successfully promotes Paul's continuing authority in the church. His insistence that Paul's teaching (as he understood it) be followed and that church leaders actively employ apostolic ideas to refute false teachers helped ensure that the international Christian community would build its future on a (modified) Pauline foundation.
Although the pastor values continuity and tradition, he does not seem to show an equal regard for encouraging  the individual revelations and ecstatic experiences that characterized the Pauline churches. (Regarding the "laying on of hands" as the correct means of conferring authority, he would probably not welcome another like Paul who insisted that his private experience of Jesus -- not ordination by his predecessors -- validated his calling.) Using Scripture, inherited doctrines, and the institutional church as guarantors of orthodoxy, the pastor sees the Christian revelation as already complete, a static legacy from the past. He ignores Paul's injunction not to "stifle inspiration" or prophetic speech; his intense conservatism allows little room for future enlightenment. 
Today's reading includes the formal greeting mentioned above, a description of how how church elders should live their lives, and a rather rude ad hominem attack on the people of Crete.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs are all about lazy people.

I know that we have previously had spans of time where we had multiple verses from proverbs each day, but this time, given that we're getting reasonably close to done, it's easy to get the impression that the editors were like "Oh no! It's the end of October. We need to finish this!"