Friday, December 12, 2008

The Dark Side of Christ

Surely darkness is a poor metaphor for the Light of the World. And yet most of Jesus' forward looking parables are arrayed in sinister linings. Like chiaroscuro, his ominous shades of horror add a third dimension to our Savior. The One who would bruise no reed and smolder no wick invited hearers to peer into ghastly scenes of One who will account for every offense in bitter weeping and anguished gnashing.

These parables of tenants, wedding feasts, and minas tell a different story than the soft gospel of a God who punishes begrudgingly, caught in the awkward position of conjuring up wrath to prove his justice. No, he comes as an insulted father, a deceived debt reliever, a pained vineyard owner, and a king whose rule has been jeapardized. He comes enraged to "put those wretches to a miserable death", to "destroy those murderers and burn their city", to "bring them here and slaughter them before me". And all the beseeching, begging, pleading falls on deaf ears. He is merciless.

If Jesus is able to grant "joy inexpressible" to his beloved, who can put words to the grisliness that awaits his enemies? If he is the Creator of our bodies and the intricacies of our nervous system, he is able to inflict pain beyond our wildest nightmares. And if he sustains vast complex galaxies by his word, he is able to uphold this place of torment forever and ever.

We do no favors when we fumble the doctrine of hell - when we feign the complications of Gehenna, bemoan more loudly the present plight of the oppressed, take torture out of the gospel, and make Jesus appear squeamish around blood.

But if we come to grips with such terror, we will find in it something worthy of the brutality of the cross.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Religion as a Bull Market?

Okay, so maybe it's tacky to post a link to another blog. Forgive me this once. I thought this was interesting, if not because Richard John Neuhaus is using a clever typology to create a cleverer typology then because it seems relevant. Here's a key excerpt:
If the subject of the future of Christianity is reformulated as the future of religion in this society and the world, there is, from a historical and sociological perspective, nothing to worry about. For as far as one can see into the future, religion is a bull market. In America, where more than 90 percent of the people say they believe in God and well over 80 percent claim to be Christians of one sort or another, Christianity is a bull market. We can debate until the wee hours of the morning whether this is “authentic” or “biblical” or “orthodox” Christianity, but the fact is that this is the form—composed of myriad forms—of the Christian movement in our time and place. (
I am continually vexed by these sorts of questions… and discussions on Shane Claiborn.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hebrew and Greek Fonts

I have been trying to get Greek, and Hebrew fonts for the blog, and just found out that you have to copy and paste the specific texts from a website that has the texts in unicode.  For Hebrew you can use
For Greek you can use
There you go if anyone wants to do it.  

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
Βίβλος γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Alex Luc and Gen. 3:22

Dr. Alex Luc in my Hebrew class this evening brought up an interesting point about the Hebrew text of Gen. 3:22 that I had never heard before.  

Our English Bible's generally translate that text, "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil..'"  This, according to Luc is a dubious translation.  There is another, and possibly more appropriate way this text could be read.  The Rabbis in some of the Targums translated it, "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold the man has become as a loner [or has become alienated], from it (the tree) knowing good and evil...'"  This is not to say that Adam has been alienated from the tree, but has made himself alone, alienated from God on account of him gaining the knowledge of good and evil from the tree.  Dr. Luc puts a break between two of the words in the Hebrew that are joined in our Bibles.  The two Hebrew words generally translated "like one of us" are k'hd, this word translates, "as/like one", and mmnu, which can be translated as "from" and then the first person plural ("from us"), or "from" and then the third person singular("from it/him").  Our English Bible's, and the LXX opt for the former, "from us", while Dr. Luc goes with the latter "from it".  The main syntactical reason to take this word as "from it", is that the other six times this construction is used in the early chapters of Genesis it is used to refer to the tree that was in the midst of the garden, not used to denote the first person plural.

This has an interesting theological application.  If Dr. Luc's reading is correct, it removes any idea from this text that Adam and Eve's sin elevated them to some higher god-like status.  God created man in his own image, and it is confusing to say that the fall perfects, or expands that in any way.  It seems more sensible that Adam's sin alienated him from God, on account of his innocence being lost in knowing the difference between good and evil.