In Heaven; English; Historical Fiction?; Bathroom Devotions; Textbooks?; Cross with Weinfeld?; Isaiah Responds to Jeremiah

1. William P. Young, The Shack.

In The Shack today, Mack heals from his bitterness against God on account of God allowing a psychopath to kill his daughter.  This occurs when Mack sees that his daughter is happy in heaven, playing with Jesus and other children.  Mack’s daughter was comforted by the Holy Spirit immediately after her murder, as the Spirit took her to heaven.  And she prayed for her daddy, that he might be happy.

If something like that happened to somebody I loved, I’m not sure if or when I’d give myself permission to feel good and say, “Well, he (or she) is in heaven.”  Yes, I’m sure my departed loved ones would want me to move on at some point, but doesn’t it cheapen their lives (or even the act of murder) to dismiss my grief that way?  I don’t know.

2. Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, pages 264-265:

“…You will understand, then, how difficult I found English…English is the largest of the human tongues, with several times the vocabulary of the second largest language—this alone made it inevitable that English would eventually become, as it did, the lingua franca of the planet, for it is thereby the richest and the most flexible—despite its barbaric accretions…or, I should say, because of its barbaric accretions.  English swallows up anything that comes its way, makes English out of it.  Nobody tried to stop this process, the way some languages are policed and have official limits…English was in truth a bastard tongue and nobody cared how it grew…and it did!—enormously.  Until no one could hope to be an educated man unless he did his best to embrace this monster.”

 3.  Terence Collins, The Mantel of Elijah.

Collins argues that the Elijah-Elisha stories in I-II Kings are not historical, for they have literary elements, pattern the character of Elijah after Moses, and have pretty fantastic stuff, such as bears goring children.  But can history ever be expressed in a literary fashion?  Can a historical figure be patterned after somebody important in the course of a historical narrative?  Can fantastic things happen?

4. Alberdina Houtmann, Mishnah and Tosefta.

I read today of rabbinic attempts to distance prayer from bathroom activities.  You can’t pray near feces, nor can you pray when you have to go to the bathroom.  This differs from the practice of some Protestants—such as Martin Luther and Garner Ted Armstrong—who say that we as Christians have such an access to God that we can pray to God in our bathrooms.  Not all Protestants approve, however, for I recall one Christian colleague who told us that he rebuked a roommate who did his quiet time in the bathroom.  Some like to highlight our intimacy with God.  Some say that God deserves more respect. 

5. Philip Davies, “Pen of Iron, Point of Diamond (Jer 17:1)”, in Writings and Speech in Israelites and Ancient Near Eastern Prophecy.

I’m unclear so far about why Davies believes Israel had scrolls of prophets.  He dismisses the proposal that the prophetic words were written down to edify others.  But he says that the scrolls may have functioned in scribal schools, presumably as textbooks.

6.  Frank Moore Cross, “The Themes of the Book of Kings and the Structure of the Deuteronomistic History”, in Reconsidering Israel and Judah.

Cross seems to go with the usual scholarly view that the Deuteronomistic History was written in the time of Josiah, and updated during the exile.  But he also says that the theme in the History that God punishes sin is not necessarily exilic, for it could have been written way before that.  Treaties in pre-exilic times had punishment for infringement, and there was a continual threat of Assyrian invasion, which could keep certain pre-exilic Israelites on their toes.  I wonder if Cross buys into Moshe Weinfeld’s thesis that the Deuteronomistic School came into Judah from Northern Israel after its destruction by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E., bringing the belief that God punishes national sin—as God just did with regard to Northern Israel.

7.  Tod Linafelt’s Review of Benjamin Sommer’s A Prophet Reads Scripture

Eikhah Kabbah (the primary collection of rabbinic commentary on Lamentations) states that “all the severe prophecies that Jeremiah prophesied against Israel were anticipated and healed by Isaiah.”

This is cool.  I’ve heard attempts to treat Israel (or, more accurately, Second Isaiah) as a response to Jeremiah in another incident: at the first and only SBL meeting that I attended, a lady was arguing that Isaiah 53 was written as an apology to Jeremiah, who suffered for the sake of Israel.

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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