1837- DID THE HILLS CLAP HANDS?
I usually end the week with a ‘week in review [news]’ type thing- but being I posted 2 political things yesterday- let’s do something spiritual.
The other week I mentioned I just went thru a course [again] on early Christianity.
The teacher- a famous scholar of the day- came from a liberal background in scholarship.
I do like the man- though I come from a different view- I believe the bible is inspired by God- and is ‘the word of God’.
Now- that statement can be expanded on- and at times I have done that.
There are Fundamentalist positions on biblical inspiration that at times leave much to be desired.
The bible has various forms of literature within it.
Poetry- Apocalyptic [Revelation, Daniel] - Symbolic- etc.
So inspiration- or reading the bible ‘literally’ simply means when you read those portions- literally- you read them as you would any other form of literature in the same class.
In Psalms [poetry type category] you read that ‘all the hills clapped their hands and sang’.
Okay- did the writer ‘literally’ mean this?
No- he was using poetry to describe the majesty of God.
But some people do think these verses should be read ‘literally’ and that in some way nature ‘clapped hands’.
The same with the book of Revelation- when we read about the Dragon- or the number of the beast- we realize these are symbols- or riddles- that we need not take ‘literally’.
Will there be an actual number- or code- that some future govt. will stamp on people’s heads or hands?
Have there been teachers/preachers who have taught this kind of thing- who have said ‘we live in a day like never before- where you can actually mark someone in the head/hand thru computer chips’.
So you have people who refuse to get social security cards- or avoid using the computer marker at the grocery store.
But these ways of looking at the bible are too simplistic- and don’t fit the actual style of the writer.
Is this the only time in history when we have the ability to mark people on their bodies?
Of course not- we read in the bible itself that in the Old Testament they actually ‘branded’ slaves- had ways to bore a hole in a person’s ear to show he belonged to an owner.
But we never think of this- we simply accept what we hear and that’s that.
The other day I was talking to a very knowledgeable man in the bible- he has read it [like me] hundreds of times over the years.
One time I mentioned to him the debate [among scholars] over the days of creation we read about in Genesis chapter 1[and 2].
I gave him various ways people interpret the text.
I said ‘you know- Genesis one says God created the Sun on day 4- but he made light on day 1’.
Now- I mentioned this as someone who does take the bible ‘literally’ but who also leaves room that the earth is much older than 6 thousand years.
To my surprise- my friend never thought of this ‘problem’.
He asked ‘what day was the sun made?’
Now- I know he has read the text a lot- but it never dawned on him that the Genesis account has this ‘problem’.
How do we solve it?
Some say ‘God made another source of light for the first 3 days’.
Okay- I don’t go for that.
But I do ‘go for’ the possibility that God is not giving us a scientific account of the creation of the world- be he is giving us a way we can grasp it- being everyone who reads the text is not a scientist.
One interesting view is God was using the 6 day  ‘form’ to categorize the order of things.
Day 1- light. Day 3- luminaries [things that give light]
Day 2- sky, water. Day 4- fish- fowl [things that fill the sky- water]
Day 3- land- vegetation. Day 5- animals, humans [things that eat the stuff]
So it seems like the first ‘3 days’ correspond to the things created on the last ‘3days’.
Okay- is this the only way to see it?
But it shows you that sometimes there is more to the story than meets the eye.
You say ‘John- I will just take it like it says- the bible says it- that settles it’.
Actually I’m fine with that- but the ‘super’ literal way does force the reader to come up with another source of light for the first 3 days- so that interpretation has its problems as well.
Just because we have symbol- poetry- prophecy- and various forms/styles of literature in the bible- this does not mean the bible is wrong- or ‘full of holes’.
No- it means when we come across these various styles we leave enough room to interpret them in the style they were written.
Okay- there’s obviously much that can be said on this subject- maybe I’ll do more over the next week or so.
Like how we got our bible- the development of the Canon [how we know which books are in- and which are not ‘in’].
There were other writings that the early church debated over.
Some of these other writings were considered out and out lies.
But not all- some of the other books were considered okay- but for various reasons they did not make it into the bible.
And a few that made it in were disputed- for various reasons.
The church did not have a ‘complete’ canon until the 4th century.
It is true that the early Christians had a basic unanimity on what was in and what was out.
But not until the 4th century was it decided for sure.
So maybe I’ll do a few posts on that.
I do come from the ‘conservative’ view on this- I do believe the bible is ‘the word of God’.
But that does not always mean you take every verse ‘literally’ in the sense that the ‘hills clapped their hands’- Got it?
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