22 November 2010

Nov 22

Reference links:
Old Testament

First off, we get a little more info about the temple:

  • it's east gate must never be used because that is where God's glory entered
  • no foreigners will be allowed in it unless they have been circumcised and have surrendered themselves to the Lord
  • it will be set on a piece of larger land dedicated to the Lord; at the end of today's reading, we get a detailed description of that land.
We also read that most of the Levites are no longer allowed to be priests because they led Israel to worship idols. Only the descendants of Zadok may have that honor. They must wear special linen clothing that can only be worn in the inner courtyard. So that
they do not endanger anyone by transmitting holiness to them through this clothing.

I had not realized that holiness was a dangerous thing to transmit.

These priests will act as judges over the people, must avoid the dead unless one of their close family members have died, and will not own any property. Instead, the priests are to be provided for by the people. (If I commented on current events, I might here express surprise that Glenn Beck and the Tea Party types have not seized upon this as proof that the Bible is socialistic. Oh wait, no I wouldn't; we all know they selectively interpret the world around them.)

After this, we read about the allocation of the holy parcel of land that I mentioned above. One interesting aspect of this is that land is given to the rulers so that they do not have to oppress the people. These princes are, furthermore, told to treat the people fairly.

Not a super interesting day, but definitely better than what we have been getting.

New Testament

New book! We start 1 Peter today. Let's see what Harris has to say about it.
Often compared to a baptismal sermon, 1 Peter reminds Christians of their unique privileges and ethical responsibilities.
... The majority of scholars agree that 1 Peter, like James and the pastoral epistles, is pseudonymous, the work of a later Christian writing in Peter's name. The consensus is based on several factors, ranging from the elegant Greek style in which the epistle is composed to the particular social circumstances it describes. As an Aramaic-speaking Galilean fisherman who had little formal education, the historical Peter seems unlikely to have produced the work's exceptionally fine Greek. Critics defending Peter's authorship note that the epistle was written "through Silvanus", perhaps the same Silvanus who accompanied Paul on some of his missionary travels and who was presumably skilled in preaching to Hellenistic audiences. According to the minority, Silvanus acts as Peter's secretary, transforming his Aramaic dictation into sophisticated Greek.
Regarding the argument that Peter used a highly literate secretary as unverifiable, most scholars conclude that too many other factors combine to cast doubt on Peter's authorship. If Peter -- a member of Jesus' inner circle -- was the author, why does he not reveal personal knowledge of Jesus' teachings, as an apostle would do? ...
A date after 70 CE is indicated because the author writes "from her who dwells in Babylon". "Babylon" became the Christian code name for Rome after Titus destroyed Jerusalem, thus duplicating the Babylonians demolition of the holy city.  
I am guessing a reminder of the unique privileges and ethical responsibilities of Christians will not be that interesting to a non-believer. Let's move on to today's reading and see!

So far, nothing super interesting. After a greeting, the author, who claims to be Peter (presumably, the apostle), praises God . The author assures the believers that they will someday be rewarded for the ordeals and trials they must now suffer. The believers will be rewarded for trusting Jesus even though they could not see him. Finally, today's reading ends with a reference to the prophets of the past.

Psalms and Proverbs

This proverb confuses me:
Income from charging high interest rates
will end up in the pocket of someone who is kind to the poor.
Is it saying that those who charge high interest rates will lose their money to those who are kind to the poor? Is it saying that people who charge high interests do (or should?) be kind to the poor? Is it saying something else entirely? I have no idea.

Alternate translations imply that the person who will end up with the money is not the same as the person who gathers it, but it is still unclear by what means the money will transfer hands. The paraphrase from The Message seems to make the most sense, but that translation is highly interpretive, so I don't know that I can trust it to convey original intent.
Get as rich as you want through cheating and extortion, But eventually some friend of the poor is going to give it all back to them.
Our second proverb is another that Paul might have had a problem with:
God detests the prayers
of a person who ignores the law.
And the third proverbs is a simple, pleasant, and, in this life at least, untrue one about those who do good and evil:
Those who lead good people along an evil path
will fall into their own trap,
but the honest will inherit good things.