30 November 2010

Nov 30

Reference links:
Old Testament

Now the Book of Daniel is starting to read more like an apocalypse. We step back in time slightly to a vision Daniel has during the reign of King Belshazzar (the "writing on the wall" guy). In this vision, Daniel  sees four strange beast. The fourth was most terrible of all. This fourth beast had 10 horns; another horn later replaced three of those ten. The new horn had eyes and a mouth and boasted. I will agree with Daniel in declaring that to be one freaky horn. In any case, the beasts eventually have their authority taken away and the horned beast is destroyed. A son of man is then given sovereignty over all nations.

Fortunately for us, Daniel asks a random person what the dream means and that person is able to explain it. The beasts represent different kingdoms. The fourth beast represents a particularly oppressive and destructive kingdom. The horns represent the rulers of that empire. Eventually, this kingdom will be judged and destroyed, and the sovereignty and power of the world's kingdoms will be given to God's holy people (presumably the Israelites in the view of the original author and Christian believers in the view of modern Christians). This kingdom will last forever.

That was weird but, at least, rather amusing.

New Testament

New book! What does Harris have to say?
An important tract directed against secessionists from the Johannine community, 1 John establishes a set of criteria by which to distinguish true belief from error.
Criteria for determining truth is good. It would be nice if these ended up being decent criteria, but I am not going to hold my breath. The discussion of the authorship of this epistle gives insight both into these letters and into the gospel attributed to the apostle John:
Most scholars believe that the same person wrote all three [epistles of John] but that he is not to be identified with either the apostle John or the author of the Gospel. Although some critics link him with the editor who added Chapter 21 to the Gospel, most commentators view the letter writer as a separate party, albeit an influential member of the Johannine "brotherhood". The majority of scholars date the letters to about 100-110 CE, a decade or two after the Gospel's composition.
We also learn that apparently the author of this book was another who believed that the activities he observed indicated the nearness of the end of time.

The book opens with a proclamation that the author and his fellow believers saw and touched Jesus who existed with God before he was revealed to the believers. After that the author claims that God is light, believers should live in the light, Jesus' blood cleanses sin, and everyone has sin which must be confessed.

Psalms and Proverbs

Honest criticism is declared to be be better than flattery, in the end. That last bit is important since people generally seem to resent honest criticism at the time. Also, stealing from your parents makes you no better than a murderer; I am not sure I would go that far, but it certainly makes you a very very bad person.