Monday, June 09, 2008

So they can't say, "A woman killed him!"

I'm currently reading a one year NIV bible, as I've never actually gone through the thing in order from start to finish. As it is the best selling book in the history of the world (and probably the single most important literary compilation in Western civilization), it seems overdue.

The gauntlet throwers of the OT weren't sissies! 'Twas a time when men were men in the Levant, you see, as Abimelech demonstrates (Judges 9: 52-54):
Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.

Hurriedly, he called to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can't say, 'A woman killed him.'" So his servant ran him through and he died.
That time has passed.

Silliness aside, I'm struck by the sense of distance reading from the Old Testament brings. It feels as foreign as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Koran. The New Testament, by contrast, feels worlds closer. Its influences, much like Plato's writings on Socrates, are easily palpable in the contemporary West. In my annotations, I literally have dozens of references to the teachings of Jesus that are foundational beliefs of today's political liberalism.

4 comments:

ziel said...

The Gospels do feel more like they're an organic part of our heritage.

In the beginning was the Word...
When in the course of human events...
We the People, in order to form a more perfect union...
Four score and seven years ago...

It all seems to flow together like the work of the same speech writer.

Brent Lane said...

I've adopted the theological posistion of my father, who says that the four Gospels and Proverbs are the only books of the Bible one should use as a guide to life.

The OT has always seemed to me as a book of Jewish history and legends, cobbled together over the centuries, with each contributor tied to his own political prejudices and agendas.

Audacious Epigone said...

Ziel,

The Gospels also have an internal flow that sets them apart and brings them closer to the contemporary in the way they are written.

Brent,

The OT has always seemed to me as a book of Jewish history and legends, cobbled together over the centuries, with each contributor tied to his own political prejudices and agendas.

Well put. It sure seems that way when you read about Abimelech or Saul.

Michael T said...

When I was in the fifth grade, some twenty years ago, a friend of mine was downed when a girl kicked him in the nads. Notwithstanding that we'd have all gone down had we been on the receiving end, we all heaped it on him for being a loser that got beat up by a girl.

Brent Lane, it's Reality vs the Ideal. Your "objections" are actually precisely why I prefer leaning on the OT for my wisdom; it's far more reality based. (I notice you're happy to appropriate Proverbs.)