October 25, 2007

Revelation 12.1-6

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for her delivery.

And another portent appeared in heaven, behold: a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth.

She brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the earth with a rod of iron; but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

back in Revelation

This is still a problematic book.

Either it drove off the previous tenants of this blog, or I did. It's a scarey book, as Quakerbear said, and I've always had real mixed feelings about it.

Is it prediction? Or symbolic? What happened, or what will happen, or what always happens?

In this part that just ended, God has taken up his reign, and his supporters are glad he has; meanwhile scarey phenomena continue.

Is that a past event, or a future one, or an "all-moments" condition? I'd vote for all moments.

Why does "the devil" still seem so influential, at least in the "larger" events of this world? In the book itself, human beings continue to suffer Heaven-to-Earth violence. This taking up of God's authority seems to happen (at least the commentary I'm reading says so) between one "woe" and another.

So what's going on, with this?

October 17, 2007

Where we left off last year in Revelation

October 29, 2006
Seventh Trumpet Sounds/Revelation 11:15-19

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and voices could be heard shouting in heaven, calling, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.

The twenty-four elders, enthroned in the presence of God, prostrated themselves and touched the ground with their foreheads worshipping God with these words,

We give thanks to you, Almighty Lord God, He who is, He who was, for assuming your great power and beginning your reign. The nations were in uproar and now the time has come for your retribution, and for the dead to be judged, and for your servants the prophets, for the saints and for those who fear your name, small and great alike, to be rewarded. The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth.

Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake and violent hail.

Cecil B. DeMille eat your heart out

[posted by david @ 10/29/2006]

At 5:51 AM, david said...

Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it.

The ark represents the presence of HaShem's glory and acted as a standard for the armies of Israel as they marched into battle. El Shaddai -- the Lord of hosts is about to go to war against the armies of the earth. Everything to this point has been preamble.

At 1:29 PM, forrest said...

I'm really sorry that I let so much of this go by without comment, because we're in critical territory here.

If you want to look at what's going on in the gospels we all consider so familiar and nonproblematical... Jesus goes around proclaiming that the "Kingdom of God" is arriving.

This is IT! That "kingdom" meant God's Reign, not God's realm... And that is precisely what this passage is talking about, the time when that reign becomes apparent.

There's also that awkward matter: Who are "those who are destroying the earth"? Oh help, oh help, oh bother; I think I have an idea that I don't like! But that will be for another post.

October 12, 2007

Mark 15.40-16.8

A number of women were also present, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James the Younger and of Joseph, and Salome, who had all followed him and waited on him when he was in Galilee, and there were several others who had come up to Jerusalem with him.

By this time evening had come; and as it was the day before Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, a man who was eagerly awaiting the Kingdom of God, bravely went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Pilate was surprized to hear that he was dead; so he sent for the centurion and asked him whether it was long since he died. And when he heard the centurion's report, he gave Joseph leave to take the dead body.

So Joseph brought a linen sheet, took him down from the cross, and wrapped him in the sheet. Then he laid him in a tomb cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the entrance. And Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joseph were watching and saw where he was laid.

Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic oils intending to go and anoint him; and very early on the Sunday morning, just after sunrise, the came to the tomb.

They were wondering among themselves who would roll away the stone for them from the entrance to the tomb, when they looked up and saw that the stone, huge as it was, had been rolled back already. They went into the tomb, where they saw a youth sitting on the right-hand side, wearing a white robe, and they were dumbfounded.

But he said to them, "Fear nothing. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. Look, here is the place where they laid him.

"But go and give this message to his disciples and Peter: 'He will go on before you into Galilee and you will see him there, as he told you.' "

Then they went out and ran away from the tomb, beside themselves with terror. They said nothing to anybody, for they were afraid.

["At this point some of the most ancient witnesses bring the book to a close."
{New English Bible.)]

[New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1971: "The traditional close of the Gospel of Mark.

"Nothing is certainly known about how this Gospel originally ended or about the origin of verses 9-20, which cannot have been part of the original text of Mark....

"The most likely accounting for the origin of these verses as a unit is that, having been complied early in the 2nd Century as a didactic summary of grounds for belief in Jesus' resurrection, they were appended to the Gospel by the end of the 2nd Century..."]

October 05, 2007

History Prophesied or Prophecy Historicized?

We've just seen one story of Jesus' crucifixion, together with a psalm which seems to parallel it. Indeed, Jesus is evidently refering to that very psalm from the cross. (Quoting the first line of a familiar passage often means that the speaker recited the entire text.)

The other two synoptic gospels (Matthew, Luke) seem to have taken their story either directly from here or from the same source. And John, often differing wildly from the synoptics, is very close in this passage.

Was there in fact any of Jesus' followers at hand to witness the crucifixion? Showing a sympathetic interest in someone being executed as a rebel against Roman authority could be hazardous to one's immediate survival. The male disciples are supposed to be generally in hiding about now, even according to the gospels, and this is certainly no safe place for a woman. Possible, but not likely.

Would they be close enough to hear a man, exhausted and struggling for each breath, recite a psalm?

It seems very likely here that one of Jesus' followers remembered/found that psalm, saw things in the closing lines very close to the significance of Jesus' death as they understood it--and concluded that the psalm must be about Jesus. And therefore they took their account of the event from the psalm.

The dividing & casting lots for his clothes is the clearest example. For people to divide the wardrobe and cast lots for the garments of a warrior-chieftain like David on one of those bad days when he was on the run--that sounds very likely. To divide the one suit of clothes that a man had on his back while he was arrested, manhandled and beaten?

The other details are more plausible, if only Romans and Jews friendly to Rome were likely to be around. But the language is awfully close...

Did the gospel writers really work this way? Certainly, at least once. Where Zechariah has the King enter Jerusalem, "humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass."

"Matthew," apparently unaware that this is a poetic repetition, has Jesus enter Jerusalem riding two animals, sitting on a cloth draped between them. It sounds extremely awkward.

A fraudulent procedure? No, merely the result of a strong belief that whatever really happened must have matched scripture as they understood it.