Jackie Robinson Story, Ancient Israelite Seals, Jezebel’s Make-Up, Embrace the Experience, Stoics on the Afterlife

I’m a little disappointed because my American Experience Reagan DVD isn’t playing on my DVD Player.  So I tried it on my computer, and it played, but it was bad in certain areas.  I then went to PBS’s web-site to watch the documentary there and tried to view it on Windows.  It was playing, then it stopped for some reason, plus I couldn’t fast-foward.  So I tried to watch it on Quicktime, and I could fast-forward it there, but there was no picture.  I really don’t want to mess with my DVD right now.  I think part of the problem is that the innermost circle may be damaged.  The problem’s not the rest of the DVD, because that has no scratches—or at least the scratches are too small to make any difference.

I’ll still comment on Reagan tomorrow for Reagan’s birthday, which my blog recognizes as a holiday.  I just won’t be celebrating it as I planned.

I’m going to be brief with this post.  I’m hungry.  I’m angry.  And this Emergen-C I’m drinking makes me have to go to the bathroom a lot.  But here I go!

1.  Today, for Black History Month, I saw The Jackie Robinson Story, a 1950 movie that starred Jackie Robinson as himself.    Jackie Robinson was the first African-American Major League baseball player.  Ruby Dee was also on it.  I said in my post a while back, America, Christianity’s Nutritional Value, that I never saw Ruby Dee play a young person.  In The Stand and Roots: the Next Generation and America, and even on an episode of Promised Land, she was old (but at least she had black hair on Promised Land).  Well, today’s a first, for she was young in the Jackie Robinson Story, and, boy, she looked good!

One of the interactions on the movie eerily reminded me of a childhood experience, but I’m not going to share that because people may misunderstand me.  What I will comment on is how the baseball team’s manager (or whoever he was) told Jackie not to fight back against those who verbally abuse him on account of his race, but to prove himself on the ball-field.  After Jackie did that, however, the manager told him that he can now fight back: he can go to Washington and make a difference, promoting justice and equality.  He had a platform.

That teaches me that there’s a time, a place, and a proper manner for fighting back.

2.  In Ancient Israelite Religion, I read N. Avigad’s “The Contribution of Israelite Seals to an Understanding of Israelite Religion and Society.”  People back then signed their names with seals.  And many of the names are Yahwistic—they have some form of YHWH in them.  Avigad says on pages 196-197, “The worship of foreign gods, of which the Israelite people are so often accused by the prophets, was apparently not so deeply rooted and widespread as to affect their personal names.” 

But Avigad states that such was the case during the divided kingdom, when there was a northern kingdom of Israel and a southern kingdom of Judah.  In the times of David, however, there are names with “Baal” in them.  I’m not sure if Avigad is basing this on seals, or on the biblical text, but he cites biblical names: Eshbaal, Jerubaal, Meribaal, etc.  According to Avigad, “Baal” in these cases referred to YHWH, since “Baal” can mean a lord, which YHWH was in his relationship with Israel.  Avigad also states that eighth century Samarian (Northern Israelite) ostraca have “Baal” names. 

I’m not sure what to make of this.  Was ancient Israel idolatrous or not?  That seems to be the debate among scholars.  There are female figurines that appear to represent goddesses or at least to function for a cultic purpose.  Yet, ostraca and seals are largely Yahwistic. 

3.  In Reading Between Texts, I read Francisco O. Garcea-Treto’s “The Fall of the House: A Carnivalesque Reading of 2 Kings 9 and 10.”  I’m just going to call this author “GT” for short.  On page 171, GT discusses the question of why Jezebel painted her face to go out and meet Jehu.  One explanation is that she was trying to seduce him—to capitalize on her sexual charms, presumably to save her own life.  Another is that regal women appearing in public wanted to look good.

4.  I didn’t get much read of Theodore Mullen’s Ethnic Myths and Pentateuchal Foundations, but I got to page 200!  Nothing sticks out to me, so I’ll open the book up to a random page and pick something.  On page 199, Mullen mentions Exodus 20:19, in which the Israelites request that Moses be God’s spokesmen out of fear that a direct encounter with God will lead to their deaths.  That idea somewhat puzzles me.  Yes, God says that no one can see him and live (Exodus 33:20), but there are times when people survive an encounter with God, even though they’re surprised that they’ve done so (Genesis 32:30; Judges 13:22).  It’s good that they’re humble, though!

On another note, the movie Moses, starring Ben Kingsley, has a good scene in which the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments directly from God.  A fierce wind blows over them, and young and old recite a commandment, which God is revealing to their spirit.  Moses encourages them to embrace God, but they’re uncomfortable with the experience, so they ask Moses to be God’s spokesman.

5.  In John Dillon’s The Middle Platonists, Dillon talks about beliefs on immortality.  On page 100, he discusses a dispute among Stoics:

Cleanthes believed that the souls of all men survived until the ecpyrosis [which, for Stoics, is the consumption of the cosmos], while Chrysippus held that only the souls of the wise did so.  Those of the ‘foolish’ (i.e. all others) lasted ‘for some certain time’, while the souls of irrational animals perished immediately…Zeno himself seems to have thought that the soul held together for some time after death, but finally dispersed…In contrast to this, the normal Platonic belief would be in a process of purgation which brought in even the worst—or perhaps all but the very worst, if we follow the Phaedo myth—ultimately to a place among the stars.

This reminds me of various things.  On Christy, a little boy asked the devout Miss Alice if his dead dog is in heaven.  The agnostic doctor whispered to her, “Tell him what he wants to hear!”, and she replied that she’ll tell him the truth.  She quoted Ecclesiastes 3:21, which says that the spirit of man goes upward, whereas the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth.  That seems to imply “no.”  Yet, she went on to quote I Corinthians 2:9, which says that eye has not seen nor ear heard the things that God’s prepared for those who love him.  From this, Miss Alice concluded that there’s a possibility that the dog’s in heaven.

Then there are debates on universalism: is hell a place of permanent punishment, or of temporary correction?  Plus, the statement that Plato envisions people finding a place among the stars reminds me of Daniel 12:3, which says that those who lead people to righteousness will be as the stars forever.  Could Daniel reflect Plato’s strand of Greek philosophy, although—unlike Plato—Daniel 12:3 says that people will be as stars, meaning they’re not literal stars (if that’s what “a place among the stars” means for Plato)?  If liberal scholars are correct, then Daniel 12 was written during the Hellenistic period, when Jews had some exposure to Greek philosophy.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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