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This Week's Lectionary

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2 Timothy 3:14-4:2English Standard Version (ESV)

 

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

 

Do you not find it ironic Burl that this was written before 'all' scripture actually existed? Half of what's in the NT came after this letter attributed to Paul. Also of course are the writings that didn't make it into the Canon (both old and new testaments writings) - should these have been scripture but for the fact that a religious council voted not to include them?

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"Scripture" in the NT always refers to the Tanach (Hebrew Bible).

Edited by Burl

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"Scripture" in the NT always refers to the Tanach (Hebrew Bible).

 

Burl,

 

Do we know if the Hebrew Bible of today is the same Hebrew Bible from Jesus' day, or in fact even earlier? This is not a loaded question, but I'm just wondering what evidence exists to allow us to date our oldest copies of the alleged Hebrew Bible.

 

Also, I know the Hebrew Bible is slightly different to the OT, but in the OT there are a large number of books and writings referred to, which don't appear anywhere. So I'm wondering if these other writings could have been regarded as "scripture" in their day or in Jesus' day, but for whatever reason going forward they didn't make the OT or Hebrew Bible, or maybe did in an earlier version before being dropped.

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Speaking only for myself, I wouldn't find Yahweh's command for the Israelites to commit genocide to be "God breathed."
Neither would I find Yahweh's command to take virgins as war booty to be "God breathed."
Neither would I find Yahweh's command to stone disobedient children to be "God breathed."

Other scriptures that I wouldn't consider to be "God breathed": The sun stopping in the sky. The command to kill homosexuals. The idea that Yahweh punished all humans for the sin of two. The notion that snakes or donkeys talk. The idea that an axe-head can float on water. The claim that God killed someone for spilling their ###### on the ground. The claim that Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt. The claim that all the animals of the earth fit into and were sustained in the ark. The notion that God would sanction a man's sacrifice of his daughter to God.

 

None of these so-called "God breathed" scriptures, IMO, line up with either science and/or morality. Neither do they line up with my progressive experience of that which I call God. I understand the desire for an infallible, inerrant "word of God", but I don't think it is available to us.

 

PS - Because there may be some here that appreciate the Weekly Lectionary, I won't discuss my views on the Bible further in this thread. If anyone wants to discuss/debate that issue further, I'd be open to another thread for doing so. Peace.

Edited by BillM

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2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

 

 

4:6 As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.

 

4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

4:8 From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

 

4:16 At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them!

 

4:17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.

 

4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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Should 2 Timothy be a pseudo-graphical text as is widely considered, would this alter your view of the text, Burl? If the author was lying about his identity (even if in good faith) would you consider the content diminished or just as valid?

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Should 2 Timothy be a pseudo-graphical text as is widely considered, would this alter your view of the text, Burl? If the author was lying about his identity (even if in good faith) would you consider the content diminished or just as valid?

I think 2 Timothy was written after Paul's death, most likely by students of Paul. It was considered proper form to publish student or group works under the name of the leader. This is a well known tradition in ancient literature, and it is not lying. It only matters when one is analyzing Paul's corpus.

 

It's a valuable passage because it is the only place the purpose of Scripture is mentioned. We have myth, history, folktales, songs, poetry, fables - a wide variety of literary genres in the bible. This 18th century Darbyist literalism where everything in Scripture is 'true' has no support.

 

2 Timothy says everything in Scripture is useful for instruction in righteousness. Useful does not mean exemplary, and there are many examples of unrighteous behavior which provide useful negative examples.

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I don't understand Burl - Aren't we analysing Paul's corpus here in this lectionary?

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2 Timothy says everything in Scripture is useful for instruction in righteousness. Useful does not mean exemplary, and there are many examples of unrighteous behavior which provide useful negative examples.

 

I would agree with this, Burl, except that the "negative examples" are often commanded by God himself i.e. killing homosexuals, stoning children, mutilating sexual organs, committing genocide, etc. So it is not like the scriptures list these things and say, "This is where people misunderstood God and what God wanted. It is useful to learn from these things." Rather, the scriptures far more often take a "thus saith the Lord" approach. This "unrighteous behavior" often came about because people sincerely believed that what they were doing were the very commands of Yahweh. They didn't dare question because the commands carried, for them, divine authority. Might makes right. You don't question if God tells you to kill women and children, you simply do it because God commanded it, and if God commanded it, it must be "righteous." As a PC, this paradigm now nauseates me.

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Pick a verse and we can discuss it. Let me know which commentaries you are using.

 

Sweeping generalizations lead to sloppy thinking.

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I don't understand Burl - Aren't we analysing Paul's corpus here in this lectionary?

Paul's corpus is everything he ever wrote. The Lectionary is a set collection of individual passages from all over the Bible.

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Burl, you are well-read and educated, no doubt more so than I am. So I probably don't need to cite a particular verse. But take the subject of circumcision. Let's say that God really is the all-powerful source of life and love that many (most?) Christians say that he is. If so, why would he command people to mutilate their sexual organs? Since when is self-mutilation a good thing, except in superstitious worldviews?

 

PS - To put this in a modern context, what if I claimed that God spoke to me and told me that all women who desired to be God's women and who wanted to be in covenant with him needed to have their nipples cut off. Should my claim be given any merit or given heed? Why or why not?

Edited by BillM

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Paul's corpus is everything he ever wrote. The Lectionary is a set collection of individual passages from all over the Bible.

I understand the corpus is ALL of the writings attributed to Paul, but if you are quoting Paul verses aren't we analysing those? We can quote any verse or group of verses we want any time of course, but how is it meaningful if we don't try to understand them - who wrote them, where did they come from, what was the context, etc. Otherwise we would seem to be attributing simply our own preferences for interpretingwhat they mean.

Edited by PaulS

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I understand the corpus is ALL of the writings attributed to Paul, but if you are quoting Paul verses aren't we analysing those? We can quote any verse or group of verses we want any time of course, but how is it meaningful if we don't try to understand them - who wrote them, where did they come from, what was the context, etc. Otherwise we would seem to be attributing simply our own preferences for interpretingwhat they mean.

Analyzing the Pauls corpus would involve taking a single theme and comparing all of Paul's work to bring together a comprehensive analysis of Paul's thought. One of the reasons 2 Tim is not usually considered to be written by Paul is an analysis of the vocabulary used is different from the undisputed works of Paul.

 

You are not wrong, but like any academic field things get detailed and terms become specific. We use the term exegesis when we try to explicate the full meaning of a section of text.

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Analyzing the Pauls corpus would involve taking a single theme and comparing all of Paul's work to bring together a comprehensive analysis of Paul's thought. One of the reasons 2 Tim is not usually considered to be written by Paul is an analysis of the vocabulary used is different from the undisputed works of Paul.

 

You are not wrong, but like any academic field things get detailed and terms become specific. We use the term exegesis when we try to explicate the full meaning of a section of text.

 

I guess what I am getting at Burl, is that if people don't understand the context of the writings (i.e. who actually authored it, why they wrote it, if they were they accurate to who they were purporting to represent, the cultural and societal context in which they wrote, etc) then surely any interpretation risks being wildly inaccurate to the original intent. It would seem that churches, pastors, and congregations that don’t put in the work to understand the true history of the text are at risk of interpreting these writings in a manner which suits them and not necessarily true to the fact.

 

This makes me question the objective/usefulness of lectionaries in isolation. I do wonder how simply stating a number of verses in a thread like this offers context and understanding to the reader. Without all of the work that goes into better understanding works attributed to Paul, then the reader is surely missing out on a whole lot of the bigger picture?

 

Your intro to this thread states that Pastors use the likes of these as inspiration for their sermons, but without providing all the facts I think those pastors risk misleading others.

 

Just as an aside, your intro to this thread also advises that “This way people are exposed to a well-rounded subsample from Scripture. Later in the thread you state that “Scripture" in the NT always refers to the Tanach (Hebrew Bible). Do I take that to mean that you do not regard the New Testament as ‘scripture’, as clearly any mention in the NT is only referring to the OT (i.e. the Tanach rather).

Edited by PaulS

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The idea behind the lectionary is it limits the pastor in geting hung up on pet interests, or in non-scriptural feel-good trivia. It cuts down on pastoral prejudices. Five selections to choose from every week and a three year cycle means a good lectionary pastor deliver fifteen years of well balanced scriptural instruction.

 

It's like a basic syllabus. People move or change churches frequently today, and it's a great way of keeping consistency. It's one of the best ideas the Anglican Church has come up with.

 

Most pastors have at least a Master's degree from an accredited college (the M.Div was the original Master's degree). Yeah, untrained or poorly trained pastors exist but you won't find one in a mainstream church. Denominations are generally very good about insuring pastors are qualified. Their reputation depends upon it.

 

Scripture in the NT means tanach because the NT had not really developed beyond a loose assortment of books and letters passed from church to church. Today the NT is considered Scripture because it has been codified and is used for public worship.

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Something I find of interest, Burl, is that my UMC pastor believes that creation in Genesis is a historical fact. This makes me wonder how well-trained my pastors has been by her theological college.

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Something I find of interest, Burl, is that my UMC pastor believes that creation in Genesis is a historical fact. This makes me wonder how well-trained my pastors has been by her theological college.

There is one blinky bulb in every string of lights.

 

Look at the bright side. You are in Ft. Worth, so you know heaven and if you want to experience hell it is just a short drive over to Dallas.

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The idea behind the lectionary is it limits the pastor in geting hung up on pet interests, or in non-scriptural feel-good trivia. It cuts down on pastoral prejudices. Five selections to choose from every week and a three year cycle means a good lectionary pastor deliver fifteen years of well balanced scriptural instruction.

 

It's like a basic syllabus. People move or change churches frequently today, and it's a great way of keeping consistency. It's one of the best ideas the Anglican Church has come up with.

 

Most pastors have at least a Master's degree from an accredited college (the M.Div was the original Master's degree). Yeah, untrained or poorly trained pastors exist but you won't find one in a mainstream church. Denominations are generally very good about insuring pastors are qualified. Their reputation depends upon it.

 

Scripture in the NT means tanach because the NT had not really developed beyond a loose assortment of books and letters passed from church to church. Today the NT is considered Scripture because it has been codified and is used for public worship.

 

I understand the thinking behind particular brands of Church wanting to present a unified and consistent message - otherwise it would be like going to a Kebab shop and being served a Big Mac! Not good for business.

 

But the devil is in the detail and I think it is pretty rare that Churches confront the uncomfortable facts about much of the bible, leaving their flock to generally interpret everything in the bible as God's word and a truth, rather than something that should be interpreted against contexts of time, society, culture, politics of the day, etc. Also I think there should be much more said about what isn't known about various writings and their authors - at the very least acknowledgement that sometimes we don't know anything about the author pretending to be somebody else so how can anyone be so certain about the writings.

 

More specifically in this thread, I was curious how simply posting a bunch of verses contributes. It may be useful if it sparks discussion I guess, but that didn't seem to be your intent.

 

And I'm sure you've picked up on it by now but I feel this term 'Scripture' is so misleading. Most people think of the Bible as scripture and don't even consider the various books, letters and other writings that have either been lost to time and/or left out of the final version of the cannon. It seems to me that what ancient Jews and early Christians may have considered scripture is a lot broader than simply the Hebrew Bible and New Testament as we have it today.

Edited by PaulS

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Isaiah 1:10-18. English Standard Version (ESV)

 

10 Hear the word of the Lord,

you rulers of Sodom!

Give ear to the teaching of our God,

you people of Gomorrah!

11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

says the Lord;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of well-fed beasts;

I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

or of lambs, or of goats.

12 “When you come to appear before me,

who has required of you

this trampling of my courts?

13 Bring no more vain offerings;

incense is an abomination to me.

New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—

I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts

my soul hates;

they have become a burden to me;

I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you;

even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen;

your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;

remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;

cease to do evil,

17 learn to do good;

seek justice,

correct oppression;

bring justice to the fatherless,

plead the widow's cause.

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

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Paul, reading from the lectionary is an established part of Progressive Christianity. Perhaps you should consider spending more time on the website articles.

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Paul, reading from the lectionary is an established part of Progressive Christianity. Perhaps you should consider spending more time on the website articles.

 

Most likely the lectionary is a hangover from previous versions of Christianity and has continued through in Progressive Christianity because some find value in doing so. Each to their own I say (unless they are causing harm to others).

 

There are a number of practices and beliefs that are expressed within PC that I don't necessarily agree with. Again, each to their own, with my disclaimer.

 

However, Progressive Christianity (including this website & forum) does not require one agree with or embrace everything that appears on this particular PC website.

 

Your advice isn't particularly helpful (did you genuinely intend it to be?). Often the most established of traditions is rendered obsolete or slowly phased out when a new mindset comes along. Who knows - maybe the broader PC movement will move away from lectionaries one day if people see less and less value in them like I do. Others may continue with them if they see them helpful. It's just that for me, posting a bunch of bible verses, does very little for me unless I want to spend my day imagining away.

Edited by PaulS

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In this forum I prefer not to inject my interpretations until others have had a chance to comment, but I find this passage from Isaiah speaks directly to the heart of Progressive Christianity. What is your opinion?

 

I agree that there is a notable disconnect between the website and its message board. Why do you think that happened?

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In this forum I prefer not to inject my interpretations until others have had a chance to comment, but I find this passage from Isaiah speaks directly to the heart of Progressive Christianity. What is your opinion?

 

I agree that there is a notable disconnect between the website and its message board. Why do you think that happened?

 

I don't see it as a disconnect Burl, but rather as two different types of media that both address various needs,concerns, inquiries etc relevant to Progressive Christianity. I see the webpage as serving a different purpose than the forum myself, but that's just me. Of course all forum users are free to utilize the webpage and reference it and/or introduce material from there to the forum. I don't know very much about the hierarchy and structure of this Forum and the greater PC website, so I'm probably not very well placed to comment. One thought I have is that both are moderated or managed by volunteers and so no single individual is aligning/driving the content constantly. Then again, I don't think they necessarily should be aligned like carbon copies. PC is more open that that and I like the diversity and expression it allows for which often is probably more prominent in a dynamic environment like a forum rather than a webpage.

 

 

As for the Isaiah reading, I think the author was probably of the the opinion that the general population of Sodom and Gomorrah were insincere in their religious practices in that they may have practiced the rituals of the day for worshiping their God but perhaps this didn't translate to them living a connection to God that the author thought they should be demonstrating.

 

At first glance the author seems to be talking directly to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, although I doubt they ever heard or saw the message and I suspect the actual intended audience was for people probably many generations after the time this letter was supposedly addressing.

 

I'm not going to pretend I have studied all the ins and outs of Isaiah but I do remember some online classes I took discussed Isaiah comprising of three distinct parts by three different authors, so for convenience I will let Wikipedia speak for me:

 

The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the first of the Major Prophets in English Bibles. The book is identified by a superscription as the works of the 8th-century BCE prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, but there is ample evidence that much of it was composed during the Babylonian captivity and later. Bernhard Duhm originated the view, held as a consensus through most of the 20th century, that the book comprises three separate collections of oracles: Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1–39), containing the words of Isaiah; Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), the work of an anonymous 6th-century BCE author writing during the Exile; and Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66), composed after the return from Exile. While virtually no one today attributes the entire book, or even most of it, to one person, the book's essential unity has become a focus in current research. Isaiah 1–33 promises judgment and restoration for Judah, Jerusalem and the nations, and chapters 34–66 presume that judgment has been pronounced and restoration follows soon. It can thus be read as an extended meditation on the destiny of Jerusalem into and after the Exile.

 

Personally, I wouldn't apply this to PC at all because I don't think that is the writer's intended audience and it is not a thought in the author's mind. I guess you could apply it to PC if you so choose, but that is a personal preference and would be an incorrect interpretation of the text, in my opinion. By that, I mean interpretation in the sense of getting to the bottom of what this person was writing about - they were not writing to PC's but rather to Jews and the history and path of Israel.

 

So my opinion is that this text gives us a window to some thinking of the time around when it was written. I can imagine it applying to PC if I so choose, but as I said, that would simply be a choice to do so and not what I think would be a proper understanding of the writing.

 

On saying that, I do understand we get inspiration and direction from all sorts of things we see, read and hear. We take messages from them that probably aren't specifically there for our purposes, but we use them or adopt them sometimes and maybe they help us along in life. So I can appreciate how you or others could take this text and superimpose it onto a modern day PC scene, but it doesn't speak to me that way.

Edited by PaulS

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