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Jarge's Jottings

This is the Word of the Lord

"Sexy poetry in the Bible, read in church?" well, yes. Two Sundays ago, we heard a short passage that sounded a bit "racy" from "The Song of Solomon" which was read because The Church insists that it is an allegory, describing the relationship between God and His Church.

Dismissing that as "twaddle", our Old Testament lecturer wondered aloud how a collection of sexy love poems had got into the accredited Biblical books. Likewise, the book of Esther whilst describing how the Jews escaped mass-executions (don't get me wrong, as a "story" it's quite enthralling) but it never mentions God once!

Start dipping into the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, where God apparently encourages the brutal killing of multitudes of gentile people of all ages, you are bound to ask the question, "Where is this God of love" of which the New Testament speaks so eloquently?"

Some passages we hear in church are far from the Gospel, and when, after hearing, the reader declare that "This is the Word of the Lord" you might well ask "Is it really?"

A prominent last-century atheist declared that "The Bible is the most dangerous book in the world" and reading some of the Historical (?) books of the Old Testament, one can sympathise with her judgement.

Yes, the Bible is "Dangerous" if you read it without a great deal of guidance, or you take it literally without fore­knowledge of the circumstances.

If we carried out some commands to the letter, for instance, some of this morning's congregation would be condemned for wearing trousers. Deuteronomy says it is wrong for women to wear "Men's garments" as it is equally improper for men to have skirts (unless they are "kilts"?).

When my wife was a 20 yr. old, her father remonstrated as she was wearing moygashel slacks! When his wife did likewise, it troubled him a great deal.

Some of the appointed readings at the Eucharist, without explanation are misleading unless you understand their context. That is why I welcome the inclusion of the readings in our weekly notices, which reading them at home, quietly, helped by the preceeding explanations can give us greater understanding and then they may indeed sound like "The Word of the Lord".

To suggest that "Every word in the Bible is true" is to make a mistake, but it tells of truths about God and ourselves..

For instance, If you study Genesis, Chapters 1 & 2, you find 2 entirely different accounts of Creation.

In Genesis 1, human beings are created last, and reading it you find an almost Darwinian sequence of events, but in chapter 2, Adam is created first.

The reason? Chapter 1 is a later revision, written by religious scholars, whilst Chapter 2 Including the picking of the forbidden fruit was probably an ancient explanation created in the days when knowledge was passed on by word of mouth and is of very primitive origin. Likewise the account of Cain murdering his brother Abel.

Similarly, the story of Jonah and the giant fish is an imaginative writing pointing to the need for the Jews to share with the Gentiles, their faith and relationship with God.

So, because some parts of the Bible are fabrications, does not affect the integrity of the whole, for underneath lies the essential story of God's unique relationship with the Jews, leading on to the New Testament where in Jesus there is a fulfilment of history and ancient prophecies.

The Bible presents us with truths; truth about God, His nature and His purpose for His Creation and that is why we need to listen carefully to the readings as part of our worship, and perhaps read our Bibles more at home.

GCR

5 August 2018

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