Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 223

The scriptures read are Isaiah 22-24, Psalm 33 and 1 Timothy 2.

Isaiah 22. The Assyrians are coming and everybody's having a big party. Here you find the famous saying "Eat and drink for tomorrow we die." Isaiah can't stand to see, even in a vision, folks about to die.

Hezekiah's water tunnel is mentioned. Also the royal steward, whom God wants sacked and replaced (according to 2 Kings 18, this was done.) They have discovered a fancy 8th century tomb for someone with that title.

Isaiah 23. The thriving seaport of Tarshish will experience judgment. Tyre and Sidon, too.

Isaiah 24. The earth will be devastated. There will be no escape.

Psalm 33. This song is based on the last part of the psalm but soars. And this is, I presume, a liturgical setting of the psalm for the Greek Orthodox church.  

1 Timothy 2. Paul emphasizes the importance of praying for everyone, including for the government. He follows this with the statement that God wants everyone to be saved. Jesus is the one mediator between humanity and God, by virtue of his giving of his life for all.

Verses 11 and 12 sound surprising coming from the guy who says elsewhere "there is no male and female for you are one in Christ." All I can offer is the very different translation made by respected conservative scholar N. T. Wright who renders these verses thus: "They [women] must be allowed to study undisturbed, in full submission to God. I'm not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather that they should be left undisturbed." He says he has good scholarship behind this translation. He reminds us that Ephesus has a cult of Artemis with an all female priesthood. Paul is trying to avoid having the church look like that but is asserting the right of women to study the scriptures, something radical for a sect coming out of Judaism. So, while avoiding the appearance that women are taking over the church, they should nevertheless be allowed to study and to do so undisturbed.

And the bit about childbirth? Wright says Paul is trying to dispel the idea of it as a curse but that God will protect the women as they go through the process. And N. T. Wright is an immeasurably better Bible scholar than I ever will be.

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