27 November 2010

Nov 27

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading starts with a the interpreting of a new dream. This is conveyed to the read in the form of a letter Nebuchadnezzar sent to "the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world." This letter praises the God of Daniel and, perhaps more shockingly for a king, advertises Nebuchadnezzar's personal fright and terror and insanity. Such a setup rather defies belief, lending further support to the idea that this is fiction.

The retelling also hints that the author of this story may have thought the world was flat: Nebuchadnezzar's dream involved a very large tree growing in the middle of the earth which reached high to the heavens.

In any case, Daniel interprets the dream of the tree, which is cut down, as the cutting down of Nebuchadnezzar's glory and his subsequent suffering. Not much later, this comes true and, for reasons unspecified, Nebuchadnezzar is claimed to have been driven from human society for "seven periods of time."

After this, the king is restored to sanity, and he praises and worships the Most High (presumably the God of Daniel). Upon regaining his sanity, he wins back his kingdom. Really now? The king runs off in his insanity for a long enough period for her hair and nails to become long, and he just gets his kingdom back when he becomes sane again. My suspension of disbelief is strained, even for fiction.

In anycase, that ends today's reading.

New Testament

New book! We're just plowing through them now (not surprising given that we only have 35 more days to go). Let's see what Understanding The Bible has to say about 2 Peter:
Incorporating most of Jude into his second chapter, a second-century Christian writing in Peter's name attacks false teachers and urges a return to the apocalyptic hope of apostolic times. Explaining the delayed Parousia as God's means of allowing more people to repent, the author outlines the "three worlds" of apocalyptic history.
Well, that's not particularly clarifying. Let's see what else Harris has to say. On authorship and date of composition:
Only a few reputable New Testament scholars defend the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter, which is believed to have been written by an anonymous churchman in Rome about 140-150 CE. The book's late date is confirmed by (1) the fact that it incorporates most of Jude, itself a second-century work; (2) its references to Paul's letters as "Scripture", a status they did not attain until the mid-second century; and (3) its concern with the delayed Parousia, which would not have been a problem for believers until after the apostolic generation. In addition, many leaders of the early church doubted 2 Peter's authorship, resulting in the epistle's absence from most lists of "approved" books well into the fourth century. Not only was 2 Peter one of the last works to gain entrance into the New Testament, but scholars believe that it was the last (eventually canonized) book written.
With as much certainty as one can have with history, it sounds like this book was not written by the apostle Peter, despite the author's efforts to try to establish himself as the apostle.

Topically, once the author has opened the letter and established his credentials, the book will deal with the destruction of the universe and why the second coming has been delayed.

On to today's reading!

Today's reading encourages the believers to live moral, loving lives. This will bring them greater knowledge of Jesus and prove that they are among the chosen. The believers are then instructed to pay attention to the teachings thy have received. To emphasize the importance of his teachings, the author attempts to strengthen his credentials by claiming that he was there when God declared, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." The problem is, the very thing that makes this an example likely to be recognized by his readers (the fact that this incident, presumably, widely known) is exactly what makes it unconvincing as proof that the author was there.

In any case, the author then goes on to emphasize that the words of the prophets came to them when they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and should be given the authority appropriate to such holy origins.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.