Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Story Status

Beloved, I have organized the tables with all the words I am writing so you can find your way around the scriptorium without too much direction from me.

Section TitleMarkLukeMatthewJohn StoryTable


Excursus - Gospel


Excursus - Jerusalem

6Genealogia Jesu

We had placed a bookmark here, for we were not able to return at first. All this happened a long time ago. First we had to pursue the order that Uncle Mark himself chose. And he omitted the Exordium entirely. But time passed. A year later, we returned to look at the texts from another point of view. A year later. For a whole year, these parts of books occupied a dozen tables in the scriptorium. Continual dusting and care, but no progress in this beginning section.

I learned much in that year. It is a dangerous thing to learn from these books. God has much to teach - not all without pain.

It is not that the introduction was of no interest. It shows the depth of tradition in the faith - and as I think on my own growth, it shows suffering, reproach, slavery, the exploitation of one by another, reaching back to Isaiah and Samuel. It contains great psalms that speak of deliverance and that will be sung for ever. It establishes a history linking the Messiah to the Exodus from Egypt. But all these things were out of scope for John Mark in his desire to move immediately into the ministry of Jesus. And all these were not needed for John who writes of the new creation in a strophic imitation of the first six days and a new understanding of the seventh.

But now we have read the Exordium, which we divided into 11 sections on the first table (though I have omitted one which I will return to later). One section, the genealogy, is repeated from the Prefatio. The other 10 present the announcements, the birth and the early years of Jesus.

Section TitleMarkLukeMatthewJohn StoryTable

2Annuntiatio nativitatis Ioannis

3Annuntiatio nativitatis Christi

4Visitatio Mariae

5Nativitas Ioannis


Proleptic - Glory

7Christi nativitas
8Natus Adoratur
9Circumcisio et praesentatio


Excursus - A Rite

10Fuga in Aegyptium et reditus

11Puer Jesus in Nazareth
12Puer Jesus in Templo


Section TitleMarkLukeMatthewJohn StoryTable

13Ioannes Baptista praecursor Domini (Autumn 27)>>1
14Ioannes paenitentiam praedicat
15Ioannes interrogantibus respondet

16Ioannes Christum evangelizat1.>>1
18Baptismus Jesu (March 28)>>1
20Proleptic - Tentatio1.124.14.1

Section TitleMarkLukeMatthewJohn StoryTable

21Primi discipuli


So we begin the fourth of 18 sections. Here are counts of the number of cuttings we made for each of our authors.
Section TitleMarkLukeMatthewJohn

You can see that Mark and John both omit the Exordium as I noted earlier. Also that John has mostly unique material even though I have placed some of his sections in parallel with the others. Matthew and Luke both 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. So Luke has 64 sections in a row that are his. You can see them on tables 7 and 8. Some few of these are unique to Luke, but many have parallels with Matthew and some with Mark. Luke has also the Sermo Domini (table 4) similar to Matthew's Sermo in Monte (table 3), but Matthew's is much longer. All four share the passion, the crucifixion, and the resurrection (tables 10, 11, 12).





There are too many in my totals, but remember that the sections are counted twice when they are shared. I have worked out more counts also - for Matthew, Luke and John together share only one section! (Do you know which one?) Matthew, Mark, and Luke in contrast, share 36 of my cuttings. But perhaps I will share more of these at a later time in the story.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Author's Note (2005)

It's fun to browse around in your old notes sometimes. Here is what I found. My "author's note" from the last completed draft of my 49 part mythical musings on first century characters.

Beloved, we have reached the end of our chronicle. When I began to write, not in the fourteenth year of Trajan (111 CE), but in 1994, I thought it might be instructive to flesh out the lives of some minor characters of the first century. Perhaps we know only a name, a city and an action. For example, Phoebe of Cenchrae carried Paul’s letter from Corinth to Rome. How did she come to have such a responsibility? Someone called Rufus has a connection to Rome and to Paul. Is this the son of Simon mentioned by Mark? In the letter to Rome, we meet Tertius, Paul’s amanuensis, and Gaius, Paul’s patron. How did Tertius get his prosaic name? How did the patron Gaius relate to Paul, who was careful to avoid patronage? Is this the Gaius whom Paul baptised? Is it the same Gaius addressed in John’s third letter?

In the course of re-imaging the lives of what E. M. Forester called flat characters, I also imagined some lives in Galilee, Ayala (hart), Mayim (water) and Tsame (longing). David and Claudius remind us of the cure of the centurion’s boy. Samuel is a tender counterfoil to the perceived intensity of a young Saul.

It was a long time before I allowed a major character like John the Evangelist, John the Theologian of Patmos, John called Mark, Saul called Paul, John the Baptist, or Jesus into the book. I thought explicitly of seeing first with peripheral vision. And what could I do with James and Jude, the brothers of Jesus? Were they associated with Qumran? And does Mark who uniquely records the love in the story of the rich young man use this touch as an author’s signature? Is he also the young man in the garden who ran away naked?

Most scholars accept that Paul wrote the bulk of his letters during the time of the emperors Claudius and Nero. Some scholars accept Ephesians and Colossians as from his hand. Most ascribe Hebrews and the Pastorals to later authors. I have allocated these letters to various authors as it suited my agenda. Luther was the first to suggest Prisca for Hebrews. The family conventions in Ephesians and Colossians suggested to me a Greek author familiar with Aristotle, so I chose Phoebe. I left the Pastorals as personal letters from Paul to give him a beloved son named Timothy as Gaius had in Titus Vetti, also called Timothy.

With respect to the gospels, the story suggests neither the two-source theory nor the priority of Mark. Following the work of Alan Millard (Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus), I have assumed that adequate technology was available for a written record earlier than many scholars infer. With respect to the issues related to the calendar, I have taken my dating of the years 28-30 from Robinson’s The Priority of John.

I am convinced that the writers and collectors of the canonical texts wished to communicate to each other and to us something of profound importance and joy for them and for us. So my desire was to find the metaphors they used and point them to the obvious focus – the death of Jesus and their experience of the Spirit of God both before and in the aftermath.

I would not have imagined what I have learned from their words as pointers to things worthy of good report. It has also become clearer and clearer to me that the experience of God’s love as documented in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings is identical to what the Gentiles discovered from the mission of Paul and the fourfold Gospel. We do not know what each of us finds in this mystery. Poetry, music, art and story have a better chance than definition or policy of pointing us to our necessary engagement.
For the full story - long, sometimes tortuous and in need of an editor see here. Then click on the synopsis where you will find each of the seven parts with their seven sections outlined. Read in any order desired. Of course it is a concentric structure.

First Disciples

Depending on your blogging software, I suppose, a draft will be published as of the day you started it, or as of the day you published it. I started the latest segment of my ongoing story - which will take me 35 years to complete at this rate, 20 days ago. So it is out of sequential order on this blog - maybe I should write offline. Anyway - if interested, you will find it here.

Writing like this in a blog has its disadvantages - mostly incoherence. But writing like this has its advantages - mostly a challenge to coinherence - that coinage is from Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove.

Room with a View meme

Lingamish has tagged me with the request for pictures. I took these of my office this morning. We just finished repainting it a few months ago. It is nice to have it back. On the right is the view from the window! Below is the office. The office is fuzzy this morning - image taken at 0700 . The pictures on the right are of a market in Turgutreis, in south-west Turkey, below that, the Church of All Saints at Earls Barton, and to the right, a miniature of St John the Evangelist. The pictures on the left, on either side of the mirror above the sofa, are two student monoprints by a favorite niece - probably done in the 70s. The vase with the dried flowers below St John is a work done my my youngest son about 15 years ago. The credenza has been recently converted by my eldest son into a work surface to match the height of the desk. It is usually overflowing with books. The back cover that is showing is of Mary Coloe's new book on the Gospel of John, Dwelling in the Household of God. She told me about it at SBL and it was small enough to buy on the spot. I like her approach in this and her previous book God dwells with us. You can see her influence on Secundus. Also on the work surface is a box full of wine and spirits in preparation for my daughter-in-law's appearance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as the lead in Sleeping Beauty - next week. A new single-malt has been purchased for the occasion. Her husband, my middle son, will be here for a short holiday.

Friday, February 22, 2008


In response to a post by Chris Brady, at Targuman, I am bringing forward this letter I wrote over a year ago which was just published in the February edition of our local Diocesan Post. I expect many will disagree with what they perceive me to be saying. Please note that I have not seen any conservatives argue from the point of view of the tenderness of our God. I have seen arguments only from a legal point of view. I have responded because of the use of the word 'other'. Certainly it is difficult to respond to what is different in ourselves.

To the Editor, Diocesan Post, in response to a dialogue: that same-sex sexual relations are in God’s will for some people; or its opposite: that same-sex sexual relations are always not God’s will.

The word complement is spelt with an ‘e’, since the implication of the word is completeness. Completion is so germane to understanding what our Lord does for us. Can a person complete another person? Can the two become one in each other?

Bible readers will know that the fullness of completion goes beyond but includes the issue of sexual relations. Human sexual intimacy is a sign of completeness. Such knowledge is evident in the Old Testament and is celebrated in the tradition of the feast of Pentecost by the Jews. Pentecost celebrates the giving of Torah to which the faithful person is married. During this feast, the faithful are encouraged to read the Song of Solomon as a dialogue between self as bride and God as bridegroom.

For us who have believed in Christ, the fullness of our completion is in the death of Jesus. Here is our true bridegroom of blood, our new Moses, fulfilling the covenant of circumcision for the Gentiles. Every faithful one is now married to him who was raised from the dead, and by his death is freed from marriage to Torah. It is complete; as Jesus himself said. Or as Paul puts it, if we by the Spirit do put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.

It is not our task, therefore, to say what thing, heterosexual or homosexual or any other thing is right and complete in itself. It is our task, as members of Christ, of whatever orientation we think we are, to crucify our deeds, attitudes, and prejudices, so that we might live. Even our good must be put to death, so that the glory is from God and not an image of what a human thinks is right.

Will the Spirit raise only the heterosexual? Will God transform the so-called wrong into the so-thought right? God will transform but not as we anticipate. God transforms into a fullness that we cannot know in advance. Therefore whether heterosexual or homosexual, if we are patterned into the death of Jesus, then the result is God’s not ours.

Put it another way, will the same-sex person not be sanctified or redeemed if they call upon the Lord? They will and their resurrection will be ‘other’ to those who think them ‘other’, but will be one with those who think them one. If you consider that God is ‘other’ and woman is ‘other’ to man or man to woman, so also same sex is ‘other’ to the heterosexual. One who knows an ‘other’ will be pleased to accept ‘the same’ as not being ‘like’ but allowed to be, in glory, different.

In plain words, we may allow such commitments to be blessed, and we must not judge in advance how God will work in such commitments. It is for them to work them out in fear and trembling before God.

My conclusion does not leave us without issues to consider, not the least of which is the pattern in Colossians and Ephesians that quotes the household code of Aristotle: slaves in obedience to masters, children to parents, and wives to husbands. We no longer allow the negative interpretations along the lines of human ownership or male dominance to govern us in our reading of these passages, and we no longer allow the hierarchy of church governance to be confined to males. The simple conclusion is that the recognition of consecrated relationships of same gendered people is implicit in the abolition of slavery and the presence of women teachers and preachers in the church – as it was in the beginning, but was too radical a freedom to continue.

See also here which carries these thoughts into a liturgy.
See also here a review of a Jewish book on the subject. Here is a rereading of the text that deserves consideration.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blogging and Mortality

Doug, Lingamish, Christopher Heard, and others have written of the demise of Jim West's blog. The deletion of a blog could have happened by accident, by a security hole in blog world, by malice, or through a technical error. We can ask - what sort of backup do we have? Or even if we have backup, could it be restored? Or even if it were restored, would it make any difference to anyone? (By the way - Firefox and Scrapbook give a very easy way to backup your archives).

And we can also ask - how much of our self-image or our images of others is contained in our writing? How important are these open diaries? How important our ongoing conversations, book reviews, large or small projects, and twitter updates?

I have said before on this blog that Jim is a community builder. I have not said much about why I disagree with him on some issues - though I record the disagreement. I did delete his blog from my blog rolls some time after my commendation of him but I still have it on one of my aggregators (why do I need two aggregators? I don't know - it was experimental). So the good Dr. is still there. (By the way, my initials are D.R. but I am neither a doctor nor am I ordained - but I love study - and the Immortal One knows I love him too even when I am forgetful.) I am still on the BS elist too - but I seldom log in any more. There's only so much time.

Why did I delete his blog (from my list - not the blog itself!). Because I did not want to read anything further about total depravity and his view of the hopelessness of some cases of abuse. Let's just say I believe in the resurrection.

How little time is needed for resurrection? Ever since I heard of Jim's hurt, I have prayed for the resurrection of his blog and spirit - in the flesh - and perhaps in his new life, he will have even more impact than in his first life.

Where will our blogs be when we shuffle off this mortal coil? Or for that matter when some other bug attacks our continuity? Beloved - of this be sure - we teach each other the love of God whether we are accurate or incompetent, whether we are bold or timid, whether we are open or closed - we teach each other by our reaching out - even when we fear touch.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aural writing

Will I write to you or you to me as I learn?
Will I hear your voice and you mine in this repeated form?

More than this
What will the believer and the unbeliever hear?
Only one thing for both - that you are near and not without a real effect on all who call.

Every psalm praises your desirableness
Why are we hearing only silence?
Even surprise turns of phrase are ignored as if meaning what we already know.
How can this be when we know nothing?

Monday, February 11, 2008

The book meme

Thanks for the tag, Kathy. My response to the book meme is here on Bob's Log.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Turn of the Screw

Just returned from a two actor performance of Turn of the Screw - Henry James ghost story from 1898 - not exactly gospel, but perhaps an interesting introduction to the 20th century.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Primi Discipuli

You can substitute viewing for hearing. In seeing, you will believe.

Did you notice, Beloved, how much seeing, perceiving, viewing, and gazing there is in John's writing? It was so important for me in the days of my disability that I could see and in seeing feel, even if I could not hear.

When our father, Tertius, performed this part of the Gospel, as with other parts, he moved from one place to another showing our eyes the ones who were acting. There is one who did not form part of the action but he was there though not named. You can see him from his silence.

Messengers ascending and descending; this is the gift of God to Jacob, the house of God, the gateway of heaven. He makes his home in us - such will be John's message - us his dwelling. We see where he stays - he stays in us, his Beloved.

Deception is part of our self-defense. How can we live if everything we are is visible under the fig tree? Nathanael is like Uncle Mark. You remember his own story?

And Jesus looking upon him loved him

– Give everything away,

I was in the garden when the soldiers came. And Judas kissed him. And I will tell you that I knew Joshua’s kiss already. It was that day when he said to me

– Give everything away.

Immediately he was so present. And something held me and not my own strength.


Explanation cannot hold love. During the war, as I recounted elsewhere, Tertius took us out of Jerusalem to Cyrenica, then six years later to Cyprus, my mother Ruth's home, and then to Corinth. In Greece, I cannot avoid explanation. To explain is not to see. I live too close to the centre of philosophy, but I do not translate to explain and I do not write my history to explain. I write for you, Beloved. I translate for love and I write for the same - as you will know. What has Jerusalem to do with Athens? I was born in one and live near the other. Athens divides, decides, reduces. Jerusalem is where love was revealed. Love lives to allow explanation but it will not yield to it. The one who holds on will receive the blessing. Clearly Jacob is better at wrestling, however jealous Athens is of Jacob's crown.

So I see and believe.

The truth, little brother, is that I see right through you. Like the gift of God, you have no guile.