I admit it: I’m stuck on Genesis 24. It’s such a beautiful, complex chapter. In sixty-seven verses, it say so much and has so may allusions to other stories that I struggle to capture it all. This is the story of Abraham’s servant’s search for a wife for Isaac, a job that both seems incredibly important (his family will inherit Israel) and also unimportant. After all, neither Abraham nor Isaac could be bothered to do the mate-searching for themselves. Between that and fact-checking my Torah family tree, I’m just behind!
As I finish writing some actual content, here’s a blog that has some: Pondering Scripture by Justin Honse. The author is slowly working his way through the bible, but is still in Genesis after several years of writing. That sounds very familiar…
I’ll state the obvious: the blog is back on a regular posting schedule! My hiatus was unintended, but as I also work, teach, and take classes sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. And, when that happens, my independent study (and from there, my blogging) suffers. Thank you for sticking around.
My goal is two posts per week until September, but I am also back at work on my poster-sized genealogy of all named (and some unnamed) figures in the Torah. I haven’t decided the best way to present that yet. The material is, except for the shock and awe value, pretty boring. Of the hundreds of figures named in the Torah, only a handful have stories associated with them. What I am most drawn to is the creative process of assembling it and dealing with the ambiguities and, well, errors that are in there.
If I had more time, there are two things I’d like to do: update this blog more regularly, and spend more time with my friend Jeremy. But since I can’t do the former, at least let me tell you about the latter because he’s just announced his new blog and I’d like to share it with you. (Judging from his posts, he may have been updating and not telling people for quite a while…)
Jeremy is one of life’s more interesting souls, a man of stubborn contradictions and surprises. He also happens to be brilliant and there are few things I enjoy more than inviting him over to ponder biblical imponderables. He’s also studying to be a rabbi, although in a non-traditional way, under the tutelage of Rabbi Natan Margalit. Along the way, he’s been blogging and I’d like to share two of his posts with you:
All Beginnings Are Difficult – A personal essay about Jeremy’s struggles with his experience of love, and how this experience of love has affected his ability to become a rabbi. It’s a reflection on Genesis 1 and the creation story.
Indeed, we learn in Talmud that God’s main creative act after Creation has everything to do with love: the creation of a new family through the ceremony of marriage. Marriage is nothing if not an intentional limitation of options. Commitment means eating this ice cream cone, and not throwing it away when a more appealing flavor comes along, or when the store next door charges a nickel less.
The beauty of Jer. 17:7 is its reciprocity. The trust that exists between the righteous person and God is very much a two-way street. It isn’t so much trust that anything in particular will happen; it is more a matter of trust in God, or faith in God, and God having trust or faith in the individual.
I hope you enjoy his blog. I have three posts in the draft folder. Certainly I’ll get time to finish one soon!
The commenters on that post pointed out one major element missing from my examination of that story: how the biblical law of inheritance may have influenced Onan. So, do you think Onan may have been in it for the money?
One side note: I’ve discovered a veritable treasure trove of bible-related blogs off of of the Biblioblog site. I must have been hiding under a rock for the last year to not know about that site.
In short, Daniel reports that Philo believed that the six-day creation cycle described in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 referred not to six physical days, but rather logical days. God, of course, did it all instantaneously. Philo also looks at the separate stories for the creation of women in Genesis 1:27 and 2:18. It’s well worth a read.
While I don’t need a reminder that philosophers and theologians have been practicing biblical textual criticism for thousands of years, it’s fascinating to read sort of a Jewish-Hellenistic approach to the challenges of the text. I’ve been spending too much time with the Dead Sea Scrolls! Now, I need to buy myself one of these:
I’m procrastinating again, but I found an absolutely wonderful (and geeky) link that I just had to share. It does have another unnecessary Doctor Who reference, and I absolutely promise to not do two of those in a row again.
I’ve just discovered “Five Minute Bible”, an absolutely brilliant set of brief podcasts by “tim”. Topics range from the serious to the silly and I feel I could be spending quite a bit of time with “tim” in five-minute increments over the next couple of weeks. Check him out:
God the Dalek – Tim looks at God’s genocidal tendencies in the Hebrew Bible, specifically a passage in Deuteronomy 7. Spoilers: He finds that when God is using particularly inflammatory language, he’s just exaggerating for effect. (And shows clues in the text to point at this determination.)
Humor in the Bible – Genesis – Tim looks at places where the bible uses wordplay or other techniques be humorous, though we may read it as being dry today. There’s a whole series of these going through most of the books and well worth a listen.
As I’ve built this blog, I’ve had difficulty finding other bloggers I can turn to for inspiration. There are tons of religion blogs which I would call devotional, that is they take religion from the heart. I can appreciate that, but it is not what I would like to build and not what I hope to learn. I’m studying from the head, rather than the heart. There is nothing I enjoy more than chasing down some obscure reference (as I did with Azazel) across a few Christian or Jewish early sources. I love the Talmud and the writings of Rashi. I love the Confessions of St. Augustine. The Dead Sea Scrolls give me goosebumps.
I’m a geek. I say so in the title.
As a geek, I also share a love of Doctor Who. The first first post made to this blog was a video of the Sixth Doctor to the tune of “Joseph’s Coat” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. So, given my biases, I’m going to repost a link to Judy’s Research Blog. She’s doing a blog about her PhD work on the Gospel of Thomas. The specific post is about human memory and the challenge of how well you can remember the dialog in a typical episode of Doctor Who. She’s relating this to the challenge of early gospel writers being able to accurately relate the words of the speakers, particularly Jesus. (I think to be more accurate, you’d have to watch Doctor Who in Spanish and have to relate the dialog in English, assuming you knew both languages. But the idea applies.)
On the whole though, I agree. I’d be a much better person if I could just remember a bit more of the Doctor’s dialog…