1. My WordPress stats jumped dramatically today, and I think I know why. The Sci Fi Channel had a Joan of Arcadia marathon today, and people (like me a year or two ago) have been left hanging with the last episode. Is Ryan Hunter good, bad, or neither? What role will Joan’s friends and mom play in Joan’s battle with Ryan? Since I posted links to fan-fiction, which you can access by clicking on “Joan of Arcadia Season 3” underneath this post, people are flocking to this site and leaving it to visit the stories of MShaffer, Charles the Bold, Neias, and others.
I just watched this episode for the second time. This time around, I wasn’t mad at there not being a Season 3 on television, as I was when I watched the episode the first time. I’ve seen various attempts to continue the story, and there are ways that I’d continue it, if I knew how to write fiction. It’s been a while since I read fan-fiction on Ryan Hunter, but there are some things I wished it addressed. For example, I don’t recall the charism of Joan’s mom (i.e., dreams, premonitions) being used that much. I also don’t remember the dead little boy popping up either, though Judith did. Also, I wish the fan-fiction presented Ryan making a deal with the devil, which would explain why a fierce wind blows in his aftermath. But maybe the fan-fiction addressed some of those things, and I don’t remember it. The fan-fiction did an excellent job showing why Ryan Hunter was mad at God, however. I also want to add that I haven’t read all of the fan-fiction. I read how MShaffer and Neias treated Ryan, but I haven’t yet read Charles the Bold, who has a lot of first-person character studies. I hope to get to that sometime.
Enjoy the fan-fiction! I enjoyed listening to the Lady in the Water soundtrack while I read it. It was a therapeutic experience!
2. In Ancient Israelite Religion, I read “Aspects of Aramean Religion,” by Jonas Greenfield. What stood out to me today was the importance of dreams in ancient Near Eastern religion. A god could appear to someone in a dream with a message of “Fear not.” One figure, Keret, induced a dream athrough incubation (whatever that is) and was commanded therein “to sacrifice to the gods, to muster his troops, and to go on a campaign to acquire a wife” (73). Even a god could see dreams. The high god El knew that Baal (the storm god) had been dead for seven years, but he declared that Baal was alive after seeing a dream of rain and prosperity. And the Mesha Stone says that King Mesha of Moab was told by the god Chemosh to attack Israel.
Did they actually see these dreams? Jeremiah 23:32 talks about dreams of deception. Yet, Judges 11:24 appears to regard Chemosh as an actual god who blesses his people, Moab. So would the biblical authors be open to the possibility that Chemosh could guide Mesha through a dream? But God in II Kings 3 promises that Israel would defeat Mesha. Both can’t be legitimate prophecies, can they? Perhaps they can—it depends on which god is stronger and able to effect his will! Yet, Israel failed to defeat Moab, either because Mesha’s sacrifice of his child appeased his god and led him to give the Moabites extra help, or because it disgusted the Israelites and made them withdraw.
Some of these dreams may reflect wishful thinking. A person wants comfort, and he gets it in a dream. Or he desires a wife, and a dream encourages him to go out and get one. It’s somewhat like the topic of Rachel Held Evans’ blog-post for today, Does God Speak To You? : Many Christians hear from God what they want to hear, which calls into question whether they’re hearing from God at all!
But I have heard stories about people dreaming of things they couldn’t have known on their own. Ex-cessationist Jack Deere has some in his book, Surprised by the Voice of God. These dreams enable God’s people to minister to others.
And dreams can also be a means for God to teach moral lessons, or to comfort and encourage. Yes, skeptics can say that people in those cases are doing some “wishful dreaming,” but, as a person of faith, I believe that God can comfort people through dreams, as he can through other means, such as the reading of the Scriptures, sermons, and other people.
I read in some essay that the ancients believed dreams and the real-world were both aspects of reality. Moderns would view dreams as fiction in our heads, or as real in the sense that they are windows into our sub-conscious. But the ancients may have believed that dreams were from the gods. We know they thought some were, at least.
I had a weird dream yesterday. It was 2000, and Al Gore was talking about the recount. I told a person next to me that Bush would win, and that crucial events would occur during his Presidency: a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and a financial crisis, which I blamed on the government pushing unwise home-sales and people speculating with bad mortgages. Surprisingly, the person believed me! What’s the meaning of that, in terms of my own sub-conscious or reality, if dreams have a significance beyond myself (which may not be the case for all of them).
Anyway, now that I’ve written myself into this hole, on to number 3!
3. I finished Matitiahu Tsevat’s The Meaning of the Book of Job and Other Biblical Studies. Tsevat states on pages 196-197:
Imagine now the reaction of scholars should there come to light an ancient duplicate of a biblical text with Baal appearing where now we have Yhwh. Our received text would by unanimous pronouncement be declared to be an Israelite adaptation of a Canaanite original. But we need not appeal to imagine when, in fact, a biblical text, Psalm 29, has been and is, with mounting frequency, being identified as such in the absence of that imaginary duplicate or any other textual evidence deserving this name.
I long assumed that Psalm 29 came from a Canaanite hymn to Baal, for whom the Israelites substituted YHWH so they could use it for their own religion. But Tsevat says there’s no evidence for this. After reading that, I realized that I should check out why scholars believe Psalm 29 is a re-used Baal Psalm.
I didn’t read all of the relevant articles, but I looked at what Mitchell Dahood had to say about Psalm 29. According to him, the discovery of Ugaritic Ras Shamra texts had unearthed parallels to Psalm 29 in Ugaritic literature. But, as far as I can tell, there’s no actual “Psalm 29 to Baal” text in Ugaritic. Here’s a Christian apologetic article, which has useful information: Apologetics Press – Pagan Mythology and the Bible. But I’m sure there’s more to the issue than I found in my google search and reading of Dahood!