Table 1 section 13 - The Precursor
The precursor appears in the Autumn of the 15th year of Tiberius.
– Who are you?
– I am not the Christ.
– What then? Are you Elijah?
– I am not.
– Are you the prophet?
– Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?
– I am vox clamantis in deserto, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'
My tables, Beloved, are laid out in this room over here. Please take a moment and look around at them - you can see the whole and you can see the multi-hued pieces of each. Note how different the unique portions are. Azure thread in a passage from KATA MARKON means unique to Mark, but Mark's hue in a passage from KATA MATTHEON means that the words are shared with Mark. So it is with the other hues. And the paired passages should reverse their hue in the paired records. That is, what is pink in Mark will be azure in Matthew. What is green in Mark will be azure in KATA LOUKAN and what is pink in Luke will be green in Matthew. These three were in Jerusalem in the tumult before the war.
If there is the yellow thread in one, it should be yellow in all three - but it may be yellow because of a passage in a separate segment. All four records agree that there is a voice crying in the wilderness. For most of my life, I could not hear such a voice.
Mark begins with what Luke and Matthew write later. He refers to the prophets (Malachi and Isaiah) and I have added Isaiah the prophet in the margin.
– Don't write in my books!
Luke wrote of Simeon's longing for the consolation of Israel. This voice crying in the wilderness is at the beginning of the Book of Consolation of the prophet Isaiah.
– Comfort, comfort my people.
John and his cousin knew this book– much better than I know it and better than Mark who was not assiduous. My father taught me this book above many others of the Law and the Prophets. We learned it in Greek. Mark uses that work also for he learned from Paul while they were together in Asia where Greek is the common language.
Matthew's record has skipped forward about 35 years. He begins this section with 'the Baptist', without introduction. Luke adds the family name of Zechariah, John's father, to Matthew's reference. Mark writes of his action of baptizing and takes from Luke the preaching of a baptism of repentance. As I take my cues from all four, Mark takes his cues from Luke and Matthew, leaves much out, and reorders the text. What for? Always for focus. Mark sees clearly - not as trees walking - and brushes away what is not necessary.
– you must have a singleness of vision. That will lead you to the knowledge of mercy. Without it you are not alive.
– not alive?
– not alive.
He cuts down on the text to avoid distracting the reader, though he is not without detail. Note his description of John's clothing and food (and sometimes he will add from his own memory).
– In mercy, love arises to greet its Lord, astonished at the depth of the gift. There is no pattern of gentleness quite so sweet or so severe.
And the people of the land responded. They went to be baptized, confessing their sins.
– It is not enough for you to imagine you are in him.
– What will I do then? What is enough?
– Watch and wait - be awake - he will show you every step in his way.
Finally, Beloved, we are over the beginning and have started our perusal of the records of these times. I will write a little of what I see of the four records as we have laid them out, one day at a time. I will write a little of what I remember and of what was written for me in the time of my disability.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Table 1 section 13 - The Precursor
Prima and I studied these four books carefully. Not as carefully as some, perhaps, but we have noted with hued thread what is unique to each. We placed the books side by side dividing each into its parts. It took more than one copy and many months to complete this procedure. All the parts lie on twelve long tables in the scriptorium here in Corinth at the estate. We could not have done this in our youth, for we were not disposed to cut parchment into pieces. With paper it is feasible. And we instructed the leaving of spaces between words. It reminded us that word order, declensions, or conjugations and tenses are different for each writer. Spaces increased the use of paper, but I insisted the copyists be wasteful for this project. At first, we decided not to reproduce the duplications that arise because of changes in sequence. But this plan would not stand as we divided the text. I found it necessary to extend our work until I had one part for every day of the year!
Now, having laid out the text in its Greek form, I begin to translate. The words in Latin show approximately the differences in vocabulary and construction. The uniqueness of a phrase may be of concept, of language, and of style. If a long section is essentially the same but the language is different, then it is clear from the markings we made. Mark, though awkward in Greek, did not have to let Matthew and Luke do his thinking for him, so frequently his text shows an original construction around the same words and phrases.
I have been tempted at times to correct Uncle Mark and add in the margins the words he left out. Sometimes I can. I see their speech and I want to add to the performance. Sometimes it is very difficult to show what is different in the Greek when writing in your language since it translates different tenses to the same. So for example legei and eipen are different in the Greek though the same root, but I may have had to translate them both as ait, 'he said'.
I look down at the tables as I write. I can see that Mark and John both omit Praefatio as I noted earlier. Also that John has unique material even though we did place some of his sections in parallel with the others. The next section is all gray before me.
The different hued threads of Matthew and Luke show that they each have their own special material sometimes in long sections. These may be unique to them or show influence the one on the other or the two on Mark. On table 6, there is hardly any of Luke’s hue, for he has omitted a great section. And he has 64 sections in a row that are mostly his on table 7. Some few of these are unique, but many have bits and pieces showing words common with Matthew and with Mark. Luke has also the Sermo Domini similar to Matthew's Sermo in Monte, but Matthew's is much longer. All four share Passio and Resurrectio beginning on table 10. Here the hues are greatly varied.
Many in Israel have long texts from memory, for they study Torah and the Prophets and Psalms in Hebrew with the diligence of love. Even though we were born there, we were strangers in that land. Still we loved the ancient texts and we used a translation into Greek which had been prepared in Alexandria many years earlier. Prima, always wanting to teach me everything, showed me both the Greek and the Hebrew letters from before I could walk. There are some who say that every letter is a fire descending from heaven. And so it was for me that I knew both Hebrew and Greek as letters of fire. I saw and felt them with power. I must take care that the power is of the letters and not of a spirit of domination. For love does not work that way.
Mark begins with the prophets (Malachi and Isaiah) and I have added Isaiah the prophet in the margin (as Luke notes). This visible voice crying in the wilderness is at the beginning of the Book of Consolation of the prophet Isaiah. Console my people, says the Lord. Luke writes of Simeon looking for the consolation of Israel. Later we will see that John writes of the Comforter who comes along side us and lives in us. This, Beloved, is consolation, an earnest of our inheritance, not to be ignored.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Don't let anyone put down wikipedia - I just listened to the history of something I am making today for my wife's return from England. Go to Wiki here and hear this lovely piece of history from Peter Zovski on tourtière. And tell me what spices and meat you would use. Now how will I make that pie crust? The last crust I made I turned into cookies.
Friday, December 21, 2007
One day, a boy came into the temple and asked, as you are asking, about its place in our understanding.
– Do the fires of Israel burn as the fires of a son should? Do the gentiles see and rejoice?
My own teacher, Hillel, kept silent to see what we would say. What could we have said? The conflict in our own ranks was as plain to us then as now. Even among ourselves, we questioned each other’s doctrine. If we were raised in Judah, we did not accept peers from the Diaspora. Babylon rejects Hellas. Judean hears a Galilean dialect with disdain. And though we sacrificed daily for the emperor, we knew Rome considered us strange, troublesome, and even pernicious. We were silent.
So after a few minutes, the boy answered his own question by reminding us of our calling.
– Does not the Scripture say, I called my son out of Egypt, and this not for the son’s sake but for the Egyptians? What will I do with you, O Jacob, if your fires serve only yourselves?
We loved his answer, proud of such a son in Israel as we are proud of you. And then we asked him, as if he were our shepherd (and we saw that he was pleased), ‘What is the teaching about the Vine?’ And he answered,
– The Vine will bear its fruit through the winepress of affliction. So it is written of the servant. (How will we console him?)
This last he said almost to himself. And we continued our questions: ‘Are the Romans our affliction?’ And he paused and looked at us, and said,
– The Romans are the inheritors of Egypt. We will be a light to them also. The song of the vineyard prepares the servant to know his security in any empire. They think to teach us the humanity they learned from Hellas, but they will drink a greater wine than that. The servant will create new wine.
Just a twelve year old boy, and not even from Jerusalem. He stayed with us for three days.
– What do we learn from this, master?
We learn all that I have taught you, son. Please tell us your answer.
– The adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises. We learn these in our history from our ancestors. All these things are ours through the Scriptures that were written for our learning.
– The boy will complete the bridal chamber with his questions. He has named the purpose of the fires of Israel as a sign to the nations. He is also right to question whether it is enough for there to be a perpetual fire only in the temple. The fire must be kindled in each one of us. In the mercy that burns without consuming, we will find our consumation. Such tenderness invites our faithfulness. This we must seek for the fires to be effective, for the mercy to be known. So I think the boy’s hope for a new wine is not necessary. The old is sufficient.
What a contrast between Matthew and Luke! Luke writes of the consolation of Israel and the ingathering of the nations. Matthew includes the death of a few children in an obscure village and the mother in Israel weeping. Consolation has arrived for Luke, but not for Matthew.
The brutality of Gaius’ father was redeemed by the tenderness of the son; his grasping by the slave-child’s inheritance. This is not retribution but redemption and that over four generations. The fear of the assembly today is a reaction to the libertine nature of New Corinth. They would be better to fear their own forgetfulness. Fear as covering is temporary. As far removed from spirit as the human can be, so also the anointing goes to extremes to bring the children home.
– You cannot make two into one.
– I don't have to. It's already done. One is that has made us one in him.
– Can we then make two where there was one?
– No we cannot. We may see many and not see one, but that is not the reality of the one that made nor of the one that was made.
– What a riddle!
Luke alone writes of the consolation of Israel. When you have consolation, you can die in peace. Beloved, there is a story in that word.
Since Prima has died, I have cried silently to heaven for my ears which are no more. Then today - can I name today? In the twentieth year of the emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, 14 days following the winter solstice, in the night, on my bed, in the hours before light, one came to me in my silence. A light moved to my chin and the stubble of my beard burned but I was not hurt. And the light shook words to me in a foreign tongue. It was like how Prima used to touch my body and pulse the sound so I could imitate - so I learned to see her words. I did not want the light to stop. I feel my heart. I say to myself - slow heart, and know - no - be known by this light that burns without hurt. My chin quivers. My teeth and my palate glow within my mouth. I keep so still. I hear the Master's words to the man whose part I know by heart.
He spits. He touches my lips. He sighs. I hear thunder.
I was alone. A memory of a dream? But the top of my head still aflame, I awoke.
There was a bird outside. I opened my mouth and I felt again the fire on my stubble. Awake, I spoke aloud - not daring to believe. There was a new sensation in me. I spoke again. The same sensation. The bird - I had not looked for it. Always I get up and walk to the window to see the gulls swarming - this time I had heard them.
Woe is me - now I must obey and I must write. Beloved, his sigh is consolation. He has changed his mind about me - he has breathed me into hearing. Now I too am ready to die. I expect also like many I have known, that I will see the blood of the sword as well.
Monday, December 17, 2007
This is a continuation of examination of the draft text of an Anglican Covenant. There are no psalms in the piling on of texts at the top of section 2 - so I will ignore them and examine instead where that term covenant is used in the psalms. I am having trouble seeing the whole idea of 'covenant' in the context of 'the Anglican' as anything else than a political confession. I wonder if the psalms will support such an interpretation.
Psalm -25 his covenant בריתו (verse 12) and his covenant ובריתו (verse 14). These appear to surround the centre of the psalm - curious that Magonet (A Rabbi Reads the Psalms - lovely book) did not point out the recurrence here. The poem is an acrostic - so even in the midst of such a constraint, the poet appears to surround the most intimate centre (his secret counsel, his foundation - v 14) with selected recurrences. What is this! For one fearing the LORD, he will teach him in a way he will choose.
If it is the LORD who teaches - how will we be anything but positive? How can there be a subtext of the negative?
Psalm -44 with your covenant בבריתך - part of a lament - calling on God - we were not false to your covenant. Let those who seek such a position take care that they do not insist on their own righteousness.
Psalm -50 my covenant בריתי The psalm is God's rebuke. Again covenant is an enclosing keyword. The first occurrence is the gathering of the chicks under the wing. The second a warning to the wicked who take my covenant בריתי in their mouths.
Psalm -55 his pledge בריתו Here the word precedes the famous description of the unfaithful: his words were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart.
Psalm -74 the covenant לברית Consider the covenant, pleads the psalmist. It follows the tenderest diminutive in the psalms: O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude
Psalm -78 the word is used twice (verses 10 and 37) but is not structurally significant - simply a statement that the people of the covenant are stubborn and do not keep the covenant.
Psalm -83 Here it is enemies who cut a covenant against God.
Psalm -89 covenant is used 4 times - must be a keyword. God promises 3 times that the covenant is sure, but the psalmist as part of a long string of accusations against God says: Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant. Psalm 89 is the last psalm of Book 3. It's tough being chosen.
Psalm 103 The loving kindness of the LORD is from age to age to all who fear him and his righteousness to children's children, to those keeping his covenant בריתו , and those remembering his precepts to do them.
And what shall I say of psalm 105, the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which is for ever. Or 106 where God repents - the fullness of his consolation. Or psalm 111, a single concentric stanza: perpetuity - to those fearing him - his covenant for ever. Or psalm 132 - the promise to David: If your children will keep my covenant בריתי - is the covenant conditional?
Covenant, Beloved, is not political confession.
Addendum: the verses at the top of the covenant draft text. (Deuteronomy 6.4-7 [Shema+], Leviticus 19.9-10[not harvesting the edge of the field], Amos 5.14-15, 24 [justice]; Matthew 25 [sheep and goats], 28.16-20[great commission], 1 Corinthians 15.3-11 [resurrection], Philippians 2.1-11 [kenosis], 1 Timothy 3:15-16 [song of vindication], Hebrews 13.1-17 [the altar])
Saturday, December 15, 2007
There has been a lot of talk on inerrancy today - one of the funniest is from Chris Tilling. He has the knack of being both serious and funny at the same time. I think that is rare. There is also a lot of talk - some of it far from love - among the disgusted and disgusting Anglicans - I hate adjectives you know. Those aren't mine. Gentle Wisdom is reporting things that are far from gentle.
I was thinking how I could bring Secundus into the 21st century - but there is no place for him nor for his father's master, Gaius. What! Didn't you know that Gaius ..? No not of Derbe - of Corinth.
Anyway, back to real time. I asked why it is that the Bible is so obvious - and why people have such trouble with it. If people knew that prayer is fun and more than mental, they would know why they might die for the love that God shows them and how they might die at the hands of those who claim to know what God should be like (in case God needs to be told how to behave).
When the poet prays that his enemies might be ashamed, isn't that good? If you really love your enemies, pray for them - that they might be ashamed and shown how wrong they are - so that they too can know the astonishing love of the God of Jacob!
Sounds good if you are real. Pray for your enemies - of course, pray for their defeat. Pray for their death. Pray for their shame - because you are right! and they are wrong! and God knows you are right! And if they really want to become right they have to know how wrong they are.
I love Anglicans, you know. And some of them really are righteous. I don't want to name them or link to their famous blogs in case they think I am being sarcastic - but they know who I mean. They are not my enemies. So I don't pray for them. What - you don't pray for your friends?
Is that really required - when I pray for those I love it is so I can own them completely like praying for a particular Christmas present. Just kidding! I pray for them just as if they were my enemies - otherwise they would miss out on the good things of God. (Because they don't know they are right, so they might not be happy about it.)
Friday, December 14, 2007
Our Christmas letter is online. Good news since it was written - our homeless one (aged 30) has found shelter at the Forensic Psychiatric unit on the mainland. This mental health program has really helped him in the short term in the past. Of course to get in you have to throw a bottle at a dust blower and then miss your scheduled court date or something else against the law. Believe me when I say in my helplessness that I am relieved he has shelter at least for a period.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
(Psalm 127.1-2, Ezekiel 37.1-14, Mark 1.1, John 10.10; Romans 5.1-5, Ephesians 4:1-16, Revelation 2-3)
These are the verses for the preamble to the text of An Anglican Covenant. I am not sure I want to start this process because I have a covenant and it's not with the Anglican Church but with the Most High. At least so I think - and so is confirmed in my thinking as I ponder my way through the psalms and observe how the experience of someone 2500-3000 years ago parallels mine as a child of humus exactly. The psalmist may not have known what I know of mathematics, or science, or history, or even the Son of God, but s/he knew what I know with respect to internal and external enemies and the perplexity of promise, mercy, loving kindness, testimony, instruction, blessing, judgment, word, and presence of God - not to mention the cost of grace and growing in the same.
If you are interested you can read the draft text as I blog on each section. The first section is so short I will quote it - but not so for the others.
We, the Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these articles, in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the Grace of God revealed in the Gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and to grow up together as a worldwide Communion to the full stature of Christ.
- what I will blog is the way I perceive the cited verses of Scripture in relationship to the walk in faith that I know. We begin with a psalm - 127 (assuming traditional numbering for Anglicans).
The psalm is suitable - a meditation on emptiness without the Lord doing the building. The word is Shv) like the shewa vowel of the Hebrew annotations - not exactly nothing, but a grunt between letters, a nothing vowel. We are reminded also of the Dickensian character Mr. Quiverful - but we will also remember the blessing of the barren woman who has more children than the wedded wife (Isaiah 54:1, Galatians 4:27) so as not to confuse fertility with alternative blessings. So whatever Anglicanism is, we invoke a warning of emptiness first.
Ezekiel 37 - if it ain't those dry bones! Here from the Prophets we have the intimation of the Spirit. We invoke the whole crescendo of the Spirit from the TNK-NT.
Mark 1:1 - It surprises me that some references are to one verse (in this case the beginning) and others are to whole chapters!
John 10:10 - nice - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full. I guess we will have to surmise why this is part of a preamble and who, pray tell, is the thief?
Romans 5:1-5 - a hope that is not deceptive, continuing the thread of Spirit.
Ephesians 4:1-16: Unity of the Spirit (as noted in the preamble paragraph above), citing Psalm 68 on gifts, and the body building itself up in love. Altogether a suitable passage for a preamble.
Revelation 2-3: the seven letters to the churches. The Spirit is in evidence here too. Can we hear what the Spirit is saying?
The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. If I add this 2 Corinthians 3:17, I summarize the 7 references in one. Do I imagine that this writing is starting on a positive note? I would be happier if it did not include the word covenant. A human or inter-church covenant must not get in the way of the necessary engagement with the Most High.
Whose writing is this preamble?
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Mr Bob is concentrating on psalms with two recent posts on psalms 58 and 78 - but he did attend a study tonight examining the document known as 'An Anglican Covenant - A Draft for Discussion.'
In my search for 'the church', the analysis of this modern document with its not so invisible hidden agenda seems to be a call. But, I cry, there is so much history. Well, he says, treat such with the respect it deserves.
Doug - thanks for your education on the 39 articles. Peter, for the counterfoil to my reading of Scripture (I still don't agree with you of course). Suzanne, for a sense of direction. John and all the other scholars and students, for letting me know how little I know.
Pointers to the discussion of this document are welcome, I guess. I will add this to the in-basket.