May 10, 2015

Resuming Bible Study

For a very long time now I have not been able to see any very good reason to study the Bible. Yes, it's a collection of writings one needs to come to terms with, to account for, to find some meaning in -- but once you have, why read further?

After wrestling with this question for some time -- perhaps, "after lying there waiting for it to be done with me"? -- I've reached a perspective in which such study, particularly of the Gospels, could well help me with an urgent question.

The long explanation is at:

A shorter version: As we all know, Jesus starts his public career proclaiming that the 'Kingdom of God' is here, is arriving, is available... While for us, looking at the chaos of the secular world, it can be very difficult to find what those words could possibly be pointing to.

NT Wright describes the phrase's meaning to 1st Century Jews as: ~'Our exile from the Promised Land is over.'

But of course it wasn't just the land itself they yearned for; it was that land as it was supposed to be under the Covenant, with their people freed from oppressive rulers and enjoying the prosperity and security of a land ruled by God. Nothing of the sort existed there in Jesus' time or at any time since. The essential point, though -- is that God 'comes back' from Hsr presumed absence, 'remembers' this people again, as when he rescued them from slavery in Egypt.

God goes from letting people imagine Hmr as an Absentee Diety -- to manifesting as a present and active ruler, intervening wherever such intervention is welcomed, no longer completely masked by people's ignorance.

But to be able to live with an active God, to even find God's presence endurable -- People needed to change their outlook and their ways. [That, I would say, is the basic answer to a previous question: Why 'Elijah' was supposed to appear first, to reconcile parents and parents so that an outbreak of spiritual power would not have to manifest as 'a curse'.]

That, I would say, is the perspective in which Jesus' many parables and sayings need to be understood, in terms of the very truth he is announcing all along. He is explaining how to live within God's sphere of action rather than living in slavery to a world of disease, oppression, and death; he is explaining how things work within that sphere. I would not say that anybody is actually outside that sphere -- Jesus' own words imply that God continues to help everyone regardless of their condition -- but there are ways one needs to see and be, or that sphere will necessarily not be visible.

And so I'm returning to this blog, and hoping some suitable companions will see fit to accompany the venture: to continue on into Matthew from that perspective and see how it fits.


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