Saturday, September 30, 2023

Never further than thy cross

146 Aletta. 7. 7. 7. 7.

1 Never further than Thy cross,
   Never higher than Thy feet;
   Here earth's precious things seem dross,
   Here earth's bitter things grow sweet.

2 Here, O Christ, our sins we see,
   Learn Thy love while gazing thus;
   Sin, which laid the cross on Thee,
   Love, which bore the cross for us.

3 Here we learn to serve and give,
   And, rejoicing, self deny;
   Here we gather love to live,
   Here we gather faith to die.

4 Pressing onward as we can,
   Still to this our hearts must tend;
   Where our earliest hopes began,
   There our last aspirings end;

5 Till amid the hosts of light,
   We in Thee redeemed, complete,
   Through Thy cross made pure and white,
   Cast our crowns before Thy feet.
                         Elizabeth R. Charles
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, September 29, 2023

More on order vs. chaos

Therefore, we should think of the conquest as bringing order out of nonorder, rather than bringing order out of disorder. Nonorder (the Canaanites) are being cleared away just as tohu wabohu is in Gen 1, so that order may be established. The Canaanites are not indicted as agents of disorder and are not punished or judged in that regard. But their presence would instigate disorder among the Israelites.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 166 n. 29

Beneath the cross of Jesus

144 St. Christopher. 7. 6. 8. 6. 8. 6. 8. 6.

1 Beneath the cross of Jesus
   I fain would take my stand,
   the shadow of a mighty Rock
   within a weary land;
   a home within the wilderness,
   a rest upon the way,
   from the burning of the noontide heat
   and the burden of the day.

2 Upon the cross of Jesus
   mine eye at times can see
   the very dying form of One
   who suffered there for me:
   and from my stricken heart with tears
   two wonders I confess,
   the wonders of redeeming love
   and my unworthiness.

3 I take, O cross, thy shadow
   for my abiding place:
   I ask no other sunshine than
   the sunshine of his face;
   content to let the world go by,
   to know no gain nor loss;
   my sinful self my only shame,
   my glory all the cross.
                         Elizabeth C. Clephane
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Do you ever click through to read the biographies of the authors? I find them fascinating; you learn all kinds of interesting things. Some very encouraging; others not so much. Today's author was a young woman who only lived to be 39; during the course of her short life, she penned a number of hymns, some of which have been translated into numerous languages. Click through the link to see which ones!
</idle musing>

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Reestablishing order from chaos (no, not our modern world!)

The Israelite nation is holy, co-identified with Yahweh and the cosmic order. The Canaanite nations are thematically related to cosmic chaos. The persistent emphasis of the conquest is to drive out the people of the land; thus the conquest thrusts chaos aside in order to make a space in which order will be established. When stated in this way, it becomes very apparent what the conquest is: a thematic recapitulation of the creation account in Genesis 1, where chaos was driven away to establish order.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 158

Alas! and did my Savior bleed

142 Martyrdom (Avon). C. M.

1 Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
   and did my Sovereign die!
   Would he devote that sacred head
   for sinners such as I?

2 Was it for crimes that I have done,
   he groaned upon the tree?
   Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
   And love beyond degree!

3 Well might the sun in darkness hide,
   and shut its glories in,
   when God, the mighty maker, died
   for his own creature's sin.

4 Thus might I hide my blushing face
   while his dear cross appears;
   dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
   and melt mine eyes to tears.

5 But drops of tears can ne'er repay
   the debt of love I owe.
   Here, Lord, I give myself away;
   'tis all that I can do.
                         Isaac Watts
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

But they are invincible!

All of this indicates that Leviticus 18 is describing the people of Canaan in terms of a well-known ancient Near Eastern trope about invincible barbarians destined to be destroyed by the gods. Despite the portrait of the barbarians, their status as living outside the ordered world, and their destiny of destruction, the trope is never used as an excuse to destroy them on behalf of the offended gods (what we would call holy war) because the gods reserve the right to deal with them themselves. It is also never used to justify attacking the barbarians and taking their resources (implied by the English word conquest), because attacking the barbarians militarily is suicide. Normally the trope is employed to rationalize losing battles (not winning them) and avoiding enemies (not assaulting them). This means that Israel would not have used the trope to justify going to war, and if Israel would not have used it, an interpreter of Israel’s actions cannot use it either. Likewise, the interpreter cannot use the reference to make any claims about actual behavior of actual Canaanites, because law treatises (and violations thereof) do not describe actions per se, and the trope of invincible barbarians does not necessarily reflect actual observations.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 144

O sacred head, now wounded

141 Passion Chorale. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 O sacred Head, now wounded,
   with grief and shame weighed down,
   now scornfully surrounded
   with thorns, Thine only crown.
   O sacred Head, what glory,
   what bliss till now was Thine!
   Yet, though despised and gory,
   I joy to call Thee mine.

2 What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered
   was all for sinners' gain;
   mine, mine was the transgression,
   but Thine the deadly pain.
   Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
   'Tis I deserve Thy place;
   look on me with Thy favor,
   vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

3 What language shall I borrow
   to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
   for this, Thy dying sorrow,
   Thy pity without end?
   O make me Thine forever!
   And should I fainting be,
   Lord, let me never, never
   outlive my love for Thee.
                         Authorship uncertain
                         Tr. by Paul Gerhardt
                         Tr. by James W. Alexander
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I've always liked this hymn, especially the third verse, the final lines:

   And should I fainting be,
   Lord, let me never, never
   outlive my love for Thee.

Far from being a depressing thought, I find it an encouragement, because I know that the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit is so strong that I can't help but fall deeper in love with him. adds a fourth verse, which I don't recall seeing before:

4 Be near when I am dying,
   O show Thy cross to me!
   And, for my succor flying,
   come, Lord, to set me free:
   these eyes, new faith receiving,
   from Thee shall never move;
   for he who dies believing
   dies safely in Thy love.
They also note that some attribute the hymn to Bernard of Clairvaux and others to Arnulf, Abbot of Villers-la-Ville, about whom they have no information.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Where's the magic pill?

We can't buy good health; we must earn it. We are given only one body in this lifetime, so I encourage you to take proper care of it. Over time, your health and happiness are inescapably linked. You don't get a new body when you destroy your health with disease-causing foods.—Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live, 314

Hermeneutics (Tozer for Tuesday)

Here is a good working rule to help you rightly understand Scripture: If you do not have more than one verse to support what you read, do not teach it. Because, if it is not found in more than one verse in the Bible, chances are it is not found there either, and what you think is a passage teaching a certain thing does not teach it at all.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 169

What's the point of righteousness?

The Pharisees can serve as an illustration of this. The problem was not that they were immoral or burdensome, because they were neither of these things; their righteousness is commended in Matthew 5:20. The problem was that they had failed to understand why they were supposed to be righteous; thus, instead of their righteousness representing God as wise and just, their righteousness represented him as petty, arbitrary, and susceptible to manipulation. The point was never the righteousness; the point was always the representation, which is why the Pharisees are repeatedly equated with their idolatrous ancestors. Misrepresentation by righteousness is no different than misrepresentation by unrighteousness.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 124

<idle musing>
Ouch! How many of us fall into that category? Lord, have mercy!
</idle musing>

There is a fountain

140 Cleansing Fountain. C. M. D.

1 There is a fountain filled with blood
   Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains:
   Lose all their guilty stains,
   Lose all their guilty stains;
   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains.

2 The dying thief rejoiced to see
   That fountain in his day;
   And there may I, though vile as he,
   Wash all my sins away:
   Wash all my sins away,
   Wash all my sins away;
   And there may I, though vile as he,
   Wash all my sins away.

3 Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
   Shall never lose its pow'r,
   Till all the ransomed Church of God
   Be saved, to sin no more:
   Be saved, to sin no more,
   Be saved, to sin no more;
   Till all the ransomed Church of God
   Be saved to sin no more.

4 E'er since by faith I saw the stream
   Thy flowing wounds supply,
   Redeeming love has been my theme,
   And shall be till I die:
   And shall be till I die,
   And shall be till I die;
   Redeeming love has been my theme,
   And shall be till I die.

5 When this poor lisping, stamm'ring tongue
   Lies silent in the grave,
   Then in a nobler, sweeter song
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save:
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save,
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save;
   Then in a nobler, sweeter song
   I'll sing Thy pow'r to save.
                         Willaim Cowper
The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Monday, September 25, 2023

You are NOT rational

Addictions affect our ability to think rationally; they prejudice our judgment in favor of maintaining the addiction. That is why it is so difficult even to decide to change, much less actually change. Those addicted to rich, heart attack-causing foods are more than happy to believe the lie that a low cholesterol level is not desirable and readily parrot high-protein enthusiasts who spread the myth that low cholesterol is dangerous. Many people addicted to animal foods would embrace the belief that the earth is flat if they could use it to justify their consumption of fatty meats, butter, and cheese.—Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live, 167

<idle musing>
</idle musing>

Why are the gods condemned in Psalm 82?

This is the difference between Yahweh and the gods who stand accused in Psalm 82. These gods fail to uphold justice (Ps 82:2–4), not because they are evil and want to encourage injustice—ancient Near Eastern kings testify that their gods demanded justice—but because they are codependent; if they punish their people as they should, they will no longer receive sacrifices to meet their needs (compare the sentiment expressed in Jer 7:9–10). In contrast, Yahweh’s relationship with his people is not defined by codependence but justice.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 123–24

It is finished!

139 Christi Mutter. 8. 8. 7.

“It is finished!” Man of sorrows!
   From thy cross our frailty borrows
   Strength to bear and conquer thus.

2. While extended there we view thee,
   Mighty Sufferer! draw us to thee;
   Sufferer victorious!

3. Not in vain for us uplifted,
   Man of sorrows, wonder-gifted!
   May that sacred emblem be;

4. Lifted high amid the ages,
   Guide of heroes, saints, and sages,
   May it guide us still to thee!

5. Still to thee! whose love unbounded
   Sorrow’s depths for us has sounded,
   Perfected by conflicts sore.

6. Honored be thy cross forever;
   Star, that points our high endeavor
   Whither thou hast gone before!
                         Frederick H. Hedge
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Interestingly, the author is a Unitarian, which would explain the lack of any reference to Jesus as divine! Nevertheless, a good hymn, even if he leaves Jesus as simply a "Guide of heroes, saints, and sages," rather than an enabling presence.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 24, 2023

O Love divine, what hast thou done?

137 Selena. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8.

1. O Love divine, what hast thou done!
   The immortal God hath died for me!
   The Father's coeternal Son
   bore all my sins upon the tree.
   The immortal God hath died for me!
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

2. Is crucified for me and you,
   to bring us rebels back to God.
   Believe, believe the record true,
   ye all are bought with Jesus' blood.
   Pardon for all flows from his side:
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

3. Behold him, all ye that pass by,
   the bleeding Prince of life and peace!
   Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
   and say, "Was ever grief like his?"
   Come, feel with me his blood applied:
   My Lord, my Love, is crucified!
                         Charles Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn, to my loss. And in the past, whenever I would read a hymn or two devotionally, I would always just read ones I knew. This is the first time I've gone through this hymnal from front to back. It's been fun! And educational, too. adds a fourth verse:

4 Then let us sit beneath his Cross,
   And gladly catch the healing stream;
   All Things for him account but Loss,
   And give up all our Hearts to him:
   Of nothing speak, or think beside,
   But Jesus and him crucify'd.
Not sure why they would omit it; it's loaded with good theology!
</idle musing>

Saturday, September 23, 2023

O come and mourn with me a while

134 St. Cross. L. M.

1 O come and mourn with me awhile;
   O come ye to the Savior's side;
   O come, together let us mourn:
   Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

2 Have we no tears to shed for Him,
   While soldiers scoff and foes deride?
   Ah! Look how patiently He hangs:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

3 Seven times He spake seven words of love;
   And all three hours His silence cried
   For mercy on the souls of men:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!

4 O love of God! O sin of man!
   In this dread act your strength is tried;
   And victory remains with love:
   Jesus, our Lord, is crucified!
                         Frederick W. Faber
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
We go from the exultation of Palm Sunday in yesterday's hymn to the agony of the passion in this one. I do like the fact that the hymn, despite being all about the agony of the garden and the cross, ends on a high note of "victory remains with love."
</idle musing>

Friday, September 22, 2023

Just? Not so much

Ancient Near Eastern gods were not just; although they valued justice (because order in the human world allowed humans to serve their function of providing for the needs of the gods), they themselves were petty, vindictive, and arbitrary in bestowing favor or disfavor. In contrast, because Yahweh’s identity is vested in justice, if Israel behaves according to its culture’s understanding of justice (circumscribed by the holiness code), it will be a recipient of blessing.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 122–23

<idle musing>
If ever there was an understatement, they just made it! Not just ANE gods, but ancient Greek and Roman gods fit that description. Remember, the Greek philosophers bemoaned the moral state of the gods! They were anything but just themselves, although they didn't like injustice among the people and were thought to be quick to judge it.

And this snippet brings up another thing that John Walton has continually pushed in his books: The gods created humanity to serve them so they could party/do their thing. So, basically people aren't valued as people, but as slaves. That's a radically different viewpoint from the biblical one, where humanity ('adam) is created in the image and likeness of God (בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ). Not as serving a needy god, but as stewards of his creation. There's a lot to unpack there, but we'll leave it alone today.
</idle musing>

Behold the savior of mankind

136 Dundee (Windsor). C. M.

1 Behold the Savior of mankind
   Nailed to the shameful tree!
   How vast the love that Him inclined
   To bleed and die for thee!

2 Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
   And earth's strong pillars bend!
   The temple's veil in sunder breaks;
   The solid marbles rend.

3 'Tis done! the precious ransom's paid!
   "Receive my soul!" He cries;
   See where He bows His sacred head!
   He bows His head and dies!

4 But soon He'll break death's envious chain,
   And in full glory shine;
   O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
   Was ever love, like Thine?
                         Samuel Wesley
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
No, not that Wesley! His father Samuel, who also wrote some good hymns. And note that he ends on a high note, looking forward to the resurrection.

I know some people claim we don't dwell enough on the cruxificion and rush through it to Easter, but we are a resurrection people! Yes, Calvary had to happen, but if that were the end of the story, there wouldn't be a story. The resurrection affirmed what happened on Calvary. And the ascension (the part that really tends to get overlooked!) sealed it and proved that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, who then sent the Holy Spirit to his followers that we might live in the victory he won. (I won't get into the weeds as to whether the Spirit comes from the Father through the son or from the Father and the son, the so-called filioque clause in the creeds!)
</idle musing>

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Law-giver or scribe?

Most comparisons of the Bible’s legal literature with ancient Near Eastern law codes, specifically the Code of Hammurabi, typically cast Moses as the lawgiver (Hammurabi) and Yahweh as the transcendent divine sponsor (Shamash). However, in the epilogue of the Code the following appears: “Laws of justice which Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous law and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi, the protecting king am I.” In the biblical text, no such statement is ever attributed to Moses; the law is established by Yahweh, the decrees are Yahweh’s, and the refrain throughout is “I am Yahweh.” Yahweh is the lawgiver; Moses is merely the scribe.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 120–21 n. 3

Lift high the triumph song!

131 Suomi. L. M. D.

Lift high the triumph song today!
   From Olivet to Calvary;
   We tread again that ancient way
   Our Saviour rode in majesty.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour King,
   Goes bravely forth, to reign and die.

We climb again the wooded slopes
   Of Olivet and Calvary;
   We share with Him those radiant hopes,
   Which led at last to victory.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour King,
   Goes gladly forth to live-and die.

We join the throng to welcome Him:
   From Olivet to Calvary-
   Descend the heights to shadows dim,
   Thro’ death with Him to liberty.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour, King,
   Goes bravely forth, to serve-and die.

We open wide the gates of love!
   By Olivet to Calvary,
   Acclaim Him Christ, from God above,
   Our King thro’ all eternity.
   Let now the loud hosannas ring!
   The Prince of Peace is passing by;
   The Lord of Life, our Saviour, King,
   Goes nobly forth, no more to die.
                         Ernest F. McGregor
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
It wasn't easy finding out information about this author. Even the link that I do give doesn't tell very much about him. Seems he only wrote three hymns, none of which really caught on. This one only occurs in five hymnals.

I don't recall ever singing this hymn, but here's a link to a piano rendition of the tune.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

There is a development of the idea, though

It is worth noting, however, that these definitions do not carry over into the New Testament. The Greek hagios translates qdš in the Septuagint (and also several other words, most notably “clean,” ṭahôr, in Lev 10:14, and “nazirite” in Judg 13; these interpretive choices indicate that Greek hagios has a broader range of meaning than the more technical Hebrew qdš), but by the Second Temple period the definition of divinity and metaphysics in general has been reconceived in terms of essential categories. Since the purpose of the categorical system was to fix rigid boundaries between what a thing is and what it is not, some of the fluidity of the ancient, pre-Aristotelian classification system, used in the ancient Near East and the Old Testament, is lost (see Selz, “Prototypes,” 16, and especially Hundley, “Here a God,” 70–72). Accordingly, qdš/hagios does not describe the essential nature of divinity and divine identity (the theological ousion) in New Testament metaphysics. If there is any parallel to the ancient divine fluidity (described by qdš) inherent in the term hagios as used in classical and postclassical theology, it would be along the lines of theosis (participation in divine energeia, e.g., “God became man so that man might become God” (Athanasius, On the Incarnation 8.54), not Trinity.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 117 n. 41

<idle musing>
They must have been reading my mind from yesterday's post! They do believe there is a development of the idea through time. I still think the idea of yesterday that holiness is a status conferred by God is a good one to hang onto. After all, the Corinthians are called holy ones (saints), despite their obvious flaws. So, holiness is deeper than behavior, even while it calls for a change in behavior—remember that the priests had a set of rules that was stricter than the general population on how they were to live, "lest they die."
</idle musing>

Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!

130 Percival-Smith. C. M. D.

1 O Thou Eternal Christ of God,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   Establish Thou for evermore
   The triumph now begun.
   A mighty host, by Thee redeemed,
   Is marching in Thy train,
   Thine is the Kingdom and the power,
   And Thou in love shalt reign.

2 O holy Saviour of mankind,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   We bear with Thee the scourge and cross
   If so Thy will is done.
   And be the road uphill or down,
   Unbroken or well trod,
   We go with Thee to claim and build
   A city unto God.

3 O Thou whose dreams enthrall the heart,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
   Ride on till tyranny and greed
   Are evermore undone.
   In mart and court and parliament
   The common good increase,
   Till men at last shall ring the bells
   Of brotherhood and peace.

4 O Thou who art the Life and Light,
   Exalted Lord and King,
   We hail Thine august majesty
   And loud hosanna sing,
   Until in every land and clime
   Thine ends of love are won:
   O Christ, Redeemer, Brother, Friend,
   Ride on! Ride on! Ride on!
                         Calvin W. Laufer
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Laufer's biography is interesting. This, from the preface to Hymn Lore, is very good: "To live with hymns and to make them one's own is the only sure way of appreciating their literary beauty and spiritual power."

Indeed! That's what I'm trying to do by blogging my way through this hymnal!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


First, God does not, indeed cannot, desire holiness from anyone; holiness is a status, not a set of behaviors. Second, it is not a moral status; most holy things have no moral agency. The altar and lampstand are not living in accord with the desires of God. Third, holy status is conferred, not earned.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 116

<idle musing>
OK, I come from a Wesleyan/holiness tradition, with a strong emphasis on holy living and holiness. But I see this as a healthy corrective to the common checklist mentality about holiness. And if you read Wesley, he always is stressing that it is God living through you that does the living. It is a gift.

Even so, though, I'm wondering if they aren't creating too strong a binary here. Or perhaps not allowing for a development of the idea throughout the course of scripture?
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

Here is my thesis. No one, no thing, no circumstance can harm a good man; and if you will believe that, you can relax. If you believe that, you can stop worrying that somebody will do you dirt. Nobody can block you, hinder your manifest destiny, reduce the size of the mansion of your soul, make you any less valuable to God or less dear to the Father. Nobody can block your ministry or stop your forward progress. Nobody can do it, nothing can do it, only you can do it. Keep sin out of your heart, walk under the blood of Christ, keep in contact with Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You can be as free as an angel that walks the streets of God, for nothing can harm a good man.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 167

A Palm Sunday hymn

129 Tours. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 When his salvation bringing,
   to Zion Jesus came,
   the children all stood singing
   hosannas to his name:
   nor did their zeal offend him,
   but as he rode along,
   he let them still attend him,
   and smiled to hear their song.

2 And since the Lord retaineth
   his love for children still,
   though now as King he reigneth
   on Zion's heav'nly hill,
   we'll flock around his banner
   who sits upon his throne,
   and cry aloud, "Hosanna
   to David's royal Son!"

3 For should we fail proclaiming
   our great Redeemer's praise,
   the stones, our silence shaming,
   would their hosannas raise.
   But shall we only render
   the tribute of our words?
   No, while our hearts are tender,
   they too shall be the Lord's.
                         John King
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
For those of you who might not click through to the bio, this author is extremely obscure. All they know for sure is that he was an Englishman and that he apparently wrote five hymns. He might be the same as Joshua King, about whom we know nothing.
</idle musing>

Monday, September 18, 2023

Priests as holy

As with the [Mesopotamian] kings, the holifying of the Israelite priests indicated that the priestly office had a divine origin; it was instituted by Yahweh rather than by the people (Ex 28:1, notably in contrast to Israelite kingship, which is instituted by the people in 1 Sam 8; some Mesopotamian kings are DINGIRS, but Israelite kings are never holy). It also indicates that the priests were part of the divine realm, enabling them (among other things) to enter the sanctuary without defiling it (or dying). Thus it appears that Hebrew usage of qdš indicates that it means the same thing as DINGIR/ilu; it signifies that the element so designated was part of the divine constellation of a particular deity or a participant in a divine office.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 116

<idle musing>
I think they might be overstating things a bit here. What about you? But, we'll see where this is going, if anywhere.
</idle musing>

Gloria, laus et honor (All glory, laud, and honor)

127 St. Theodulph. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 All glory, laud, and honor
   To Thee, Redeemer, King,
   To whom the lips of children
   Made sweet hosannas ring!
   Thou art the King of Israel,
   Thou David's royal Son,
   Who in the Lord's name comest,
   The King and blessed One!

2 The company of angels
   Are praising Thee on high,
   And mortal men and all thing
   Created make reply
   The people of the Hebrews
   With palms before Thee went;
   Our praise and prayer and anthems
   Before Thee we present.

3. To Thee, before Thy Passion,
   They sang their hymns of praise;
   To Thee, now high exalted,
   Our melody we raise.
   Thou didst accept their praises;
   Accept the praise we bring,
   Who in all good delightest,
   Thou good and gracious King!
                         Theodulph of Orleans
                        Tr. by John M. Neale
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
An old Latin hymn from the ninth century; seems he was placed in his bishopric by Charlemagne. But, I must say that the variations on this one are amazing. I didn't find a single one on that agreed with the version here. You can find the original Latin here. Seems what the Methodist hymnal did is eliminate the chorus and make the six verses into three. The other editions picked and chose which verses and in what order, making adjustment here and there to the translation for language or theological reasons. I'll stick with this version.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Lift up your heads!

126 Truro. L. M.

1 Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
   behold, the King of glory waits;
   the King of kings is drawing near;
   the Savior of the world is here!

2 Fling wide the portals of your heart;
   make it a temple, set apart
   from earthly use for heaven's employ,
   adorned with prayer and love and joy.

3 Redeemer, come, with us abide;
   our hearts to thee we open wide;
   let us thy inner presence feel;
   thy grace and love in us reveal.

4 Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
   until our glorious goal is won;
   eternal praise, eternal fame
   be offered, Savior, to thy name!
                        Georg Weissel
                        Tr. by Catherine Winkworth
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Ride on! Ride on in majesty!

125 St. Drostaine. L. M.

1 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
   Hear all the tribes hosanna cry;
   O Savior meek, pursue Thy road
   with palms and scattered garments strowed.

2 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
   In lowly pomp ride on to die.
   O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
   o’er captive death and conquered sin.

3 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
   The winged squadrons of the sky
   look down with sad and wond'ring eyes
   to see th'approaching Sacrifice.

4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
   In lowly pomp ride on to die,
   bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
   then take, O Christ, Thy pow'r and reign.
                        Henry H. Milman
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> inserts a fourth verse:

4 Ride on, ride on in majesty!
   Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh.
   The Father on His sapphire throne
   awaits His own anointed Son.
</idle musing>

Friday, September 15, 2023

Sacrificing to the ark?

There is a similar episode [to the Neo-Assryian offering to a bed as a divine being] that allows us a glimpse of Israelite thinking in 2 Samuel 6. David tries to transport the ark of the covenant (God’s throne or footstool, a holy object/lesser DINGIR); the object is mishandled, and one of the attendants is struck dead. The narrator, who represents the voice of theological orthodoxy, takes care to note that it was God, not the ark, who struck Uzzah (2 Sam 6:6), but David himself might not have nuanced his understanding in this way, and his reaction gives insight into his conception of the event. When he tries to move the ark again, he offers sacrifices every six steps as it moves along (2 Sam 6:13). When God gives instructions for the transport of the ark in Numbers 4:4—20, no mention is made of sacrifices; this indicates that whatever David is doing, his inspiration for doing so comes from his cognitive environment, not Israelite orthopraxy. To any observer, David’s ritual actions would very closely resemble those of the Assyrian officials described above, who make “regular sheep offerings” to the divine bed as they transport it. The form of David’s sacrifices does not match any of the prescribed offerings to Yahweh: so it is quite possible that David is offering sacrifices to the ark (in the same way the Assyrians offered sacrifices to the divine bed in order to appease it on its journey) so that no one else is struck.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 112–13

<idle musing>
When I read that, a light bulb went off in my head. I had always wondered about that incident, but had never looked at it that way. Of course! Just as the average Christian (at least in the US) has no clue about some of the finer points of theology—as much as I wish they did—so also David probably didn't either. And just as the average Christian is more heavily influenced by culture than by scripture, so too David probably would be more influenced by the surrounding culture than by the teaching of torah (in whatever form it had at that time). (Don't divinize him just because he's a "man after God's own heart"—that doesn't mean his theology was always correct, let alone his behavior!)
</idle musing>

There's a light upon the mountains

123 Mt. Holyoke. 8. 7. 8. 7. D.

1 There’s a light upon the mountains,
   And the day is at the spring,
   When our eyes shall see the beauty
   And the glory of the King:
   Weary was our heart with waiting,
   And the night-watch seemed so long,
   But His triumph day is breaking,
   And we hail it with a song.

2 In the fading of the starlight
   We may see the coming morn;
   And the lights of men are paling
   In the splendors of the dawn;
   For the eastern skies are glowing
   As with light of hidden fire,
   And the hearts of men are stirring
   With the throbs of deep desire.

3 There’s a hush of expectation
   And a quiet in the air,
   And the breath of God is moving
   In the fervent breath of prayer;
   For the suffering, dying Jesus
   Is the Christ upon the throne,
   And the travail of our spirit
   Is the travail of His own.

4 He is breaking down the barriers,
   He is casting up the way;
   He is calling for His angels
   To build up the gates of day:
   But His angels here are human,
   Not the shining hosts above;
   For the drum beats of His army
   Are the heartbeats of our love.

5 Hark! we hear a distant music,
   And it comes with fuller swell;
   ’Tis the triumph-song of Jesus,
   Of our King, Immanuel!
   Go ye forth with joy to meet Him!
   And, my soul, be swift to bring
   All thy sweetest and thy dearest
   For the triumph of our King!
                        Henry Burton
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, September 14, 2023

A look back

I was looking back at some of the first posts I ever made, trying to see how long I've been blogging (almost 18 years) and ran across an interesting early post. I'll save you the trouble of clicking through by reposting the relevant part here:
As a matter of fact, the purest worship—like the purest gift—has little or nothing to do with the satisfaction fo the worshiper or the giver, but with the satisfaction fo the recipient. We seem to have a good deal of misunderstanding at this point. So frequently we judge worship by the pleasure or fulfillment it gives us. There could hardly be a more dramatic perversion. Worship is not about me; it's about God. When I become absorbed with how much worship benefits my person, I make myself the object of worship rather than the God I profess to adore. If in my worship of God I happen also to be blessed it is a happy coincidence, and I can indeed see it is a blessing, because it isn't the point of worship and I am fortunate therefore to receive it. But God is the issue of worship, not I or my pleasure.—J. Ellsworth Kalas, Grace in a Tree Stump: Old Testament Stories of God's Love, 17
Good words that need to be heard even more today than when they were penned eighteen years ago!

No condemnation?

A reason for this [that David's sacrificing as he moved the ark wasn't condemned] may be that the ark is part of Yahweh’s constellation and therefore technically not a different deity from Yahweh, as opposed to something like Baal or Chemos, who have their own distinct constellations. Incidentally, the calf altars at Dan and Bethel (and also the golden calf at Sinai) are probably also intended to be aspects of Yahweh. The difference in these cases is that Yahweh, and therefore orthodox Israel, does not recognize the legitimacy of these; that is, Yahweh does not declare them holy, as he does with the ark. Similarly, the command to make no graven image (of Yahweh; Ex 20:24) is given because images fragment the divine identity into separate aspects, which, while still representing the same deity, are distinct enough that they can even fight each other. If Arbela goes to war against Nineveh, then Istar will be fighting against Istar. Israelite orthodoxy will not allow Yahweh’s identity to be fragmented in this way; there can be no “Yahweh of Jerusalem” and “Yahweh of Samaria.” This is why there is only one sanctioned temple (in Jerusalem) and one sanctioned image (the ark), and no other image or cult center can be tolerated (see Deut 12).— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 113 n. 28

<idle musing>
I've heard the idea about the golden calves being intended as representations of YHWH before (I think it's in John Bright's History of Israel). It's also claimed that the golden calf in Exodus was intended as a manifestation of YHWH. I'm not sure I buy it. But, I must admit it's an attractive idea—almost too attractive, which is probably why I am not convinced.
</idle musing>

Bringing Christ down?

120 Serenity. C. M.

1 We may not climb the heavenly steeps
   To bring the Lord Christ down;
   In vain we search the lowest deeps,
   For Him no depths can drown.

2 But warm, sweet, tender, even yet
   A present help is He;
   And faith has still its Olivet,
   And love its Galilee.

3 The healing of His seamless dress
   Is by our beds of pain;
   We touch Him in life’s throng and press,
   And we are whole again.

4 O Lord and Master of us all:
   Whate’er our name or sign,
   We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
   We test our lives by Thine!
                         John G. Whittier
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Offerings to a bed

Some Mesopotamian lesser DINGIRS (e. g., cult objects co-identified with the greater deity whose cult they serve in) were occasionally treated as gods in their own right; that is, they were the object of rituals and presented with offerings. Literature documents the presentation of offerings to objects as diverse as chariots, instruments, weapons, and beds. In one Assyrian letter, an official documents the transport of a bed (presumably intended as a gift to a great god) and indicates that offerings were made to it directly: There is no suggestion that it was the divine owner of the bed whose wrath the king and his officials actually feared; it is the bed itself that is solicitously escorted and placated with its own offerings. Its presumed divine owner is never mentioned.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 111–12

<idle musing>
Hang onto that thought until tomorrow. They are going somewhere with this…
</idle musing>

O son of God incarnate

117 Incarnation. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 O Son of God incarnate,
   O Son of man divine!
   In whom God’s glory dwelleth,
   In whom man’s virtues shine;
   God’s light to earth Thou bringest
   To drive sin’s night away,
   And through Thy life so radiant,
   Earth’s darkness turns to day.

2 O Mind of God incarnate,
   O Thought in flesh enshrined!
   In human form Thou speakest
   To men the Father’s mind:
   God’s thought to earth Thou bringest
   That men in Thee may see
   What God is like, and seeing,
   Think God’s tho'ts after Thee.

3 O Heart of God incarnate,
   Love-bearer to mankind!
   From Thee we learn what love is,
   In Thee love’s ways we find:
   God’s love to earth Thou bringest
   In living deeds that prove
   How sweet to serve all others,
   When we all others love.

4 O Will of God incarnate,
   So human, so divine!
   Free wills to us Thou givest,
   That we may make them Thine:
   Gods’ will to earth Thou bringest
   That all who would obey,
   May learn from Thee their duty,
   The truth, the life, the way.
                        Wilbur Fisk Tillett
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
The biography is interesting. Seems he was a professor of theology at Vanderbilt, eventually even dean there.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Consecration vs. holiness

Readers of the Hebrew text will note that the verbal form of the root qdš does often take a human subject (commonly translated “consecrate”). However, the verb qdš does not describe the process by which a thing acquires the status represented by the adjective qādôš. For example, priests are consecrated and priests are also holy, but a person can be consecrated without either becoming holy or becoming a priest (e.g., 1 Sam 16:5). The act of consecrating ritual objects for use in the temple (e.g., Ex 30:29) actually describes a two-stage process, consecrate it (and) it will be holy; the NIV mistranslates the connecting particle as “so that,” collapsing two processes into one. We see a similar two-stage process in Jonah 1:12, “throw me into the sea” and “[the sea] will become calm.” The two events are related, but the one does not mechanically cause the other; humans do the first, and God does the second. This is similar to the way construction of sacred objects worked throughout the ancient Near East. The final image is the product of both humans and gods; the humans built the statue and “consecrated” it (Sumerian KU3, an adjective with a similar range of objects to the Hebrew verb qdš; see discussion in E. Ian Wilson, “Holiness” and “Parity" in Mesopotamia, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 237 [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Verlag Butzon & Bercker Kevelaer, 1994], 13–35), but the process by which it becomes holy (Sumerian DINGIR), described by the metaphor of birth, is a different process, performed by the gods; see Christopher Walker and Michael B. Dick, “The Mesopotamian mis pi Ritual,” in Born in Heaven, Made on Earth, ed. Michael B. Dick (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999), 55–122, esp. 114–17.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 106 n. 7

<idle musing>
The book, Born in Heaven, Made on Earth is an excellent book if you are interested in these kinds of things. For that matter, you might find The Image of God in the Garden of Eden interesting also. (No, I don't work for Eisenbrauns anymore, but I do recommend books that I think you might find useful—wherever they are!)
</idle musing>

Tozer for Tuesday

I would not underestimate nor would I in any way try to rise poetically above death or show that death is not something to shock us and startle us and frighten us. I would be a liar if I tried it. But I believe that death is the devil’s last indignity. It is the last ferocious, obscene attack he makes upon the tabernacle of the Holy Ghost. But he can only reach the tabernacle. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). That is only the tabernacle, and the devil is not only bad, but he is dirty; and not only dirty, but obscene, hating the people of God with a hatred as old as the centuries and as black as the pit where he will go. Therefore, the devil wants to kill the people of God. He will heap all the indignities he can upon them and he will twist them, break them and make their bodies look terrible.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 165

How beauteous were the marks divine

116 Canonbury. L. M.

1 How beauteous were the marks divine
   That in thy meekness used to shine,
   That lit thy lonely pathway, trod
   In wondrous love, O Son of God!

2 Oh who like thee, so calm, so bright,
   So pure, so made to live in light?
   Oh who like thee did ever go
   So patient through a world of woe?

3 Oh who like thee so humbly bore
   The scorn, the scoffs of men before?
   So meek, forgiving, godlike, high,
   So glorious in humility.

4 Oh in thy light be mine to go,
   Illuming all this way of woe;
   And give me ever on the road
   To trace thy footsteps, Son of God!
                        A. Cleveland Coxe
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Fascinating little tidbit about his hymns that has: "Some of Bishop Coxe's hymns are found in the collections of every religious body in America, except the official collections of his own. This is accounted for by his too scrupulous modesty. As a member of the Hymnal Committee, in 1869–71, he refused to permit the insertion of his own lyrics."

That makes sense when you read the opening and closing lyrics above: "How beauteous were the marks divine / That in thy meekness used to shine," and "And give me ever on the road / To trace thy footsteps, Son of God!" We could all use a bit more of that in our self-absorbed, self-obsessed, selfie-taking world!
</idle musing>

Monday, September 11, 2023

Heirloom furniture? Forget about it!

The WaPo asks why furniture falls apart in about three years.

Well, no, you can’t blame social media, as they cite some as claiming. It was happening long before that. I recall when a relative bought a new dining set in the early 1980s. They bought it from the factory in North Carolina, went there specifically to pick it out. They gave us, a poor college couple, their old one, made of oak. The table and chairs they gave us had already survived their four kids rough-housing, it has since survived our two kids and their friends using it for—well things tables and chairs aren’t supposed to be used for—and is now owned by another family member who is in the process of raising two children. Oh, it also survived all of our fifteen or so moves with it, plus another one or two when we gave it to Debbie's parents after we were done with it. It’s still going strong. The other one? Well, about three years after they bought it, the chairs started to come apart. Mind you, this was in the early 1980s. : (

We might be wrong!

I had marked this passage earlier, but forgot to post it. So, mentally rewind about 100 pages!
Many people today who misread the Bible do so as a result of failing to properly translate its ideas. As a result, some people view the Bible’s text as containing a record of God’s absolute ideals, which were dictated to ancient Israel in an effort to alter their thinking to become like modern people, or at least more like modern people than they already were. This is because we see modern ideas as being better than ancient ideas. While it is reasonable for us to prefer modern ideas (if for no other reason than simply because they are ours), it is not reasonable to project our ideas onto God and ascribe them to him simply because we prefer them. This is why, if we wish to treat the text as a source of authority, it is so important to make sure that we are careful and consistent in describing what it actually says, instead of intuitively describing what we think it should say. We must never appropriate divine authority for ourselves, and we must never assume that our ideals and perspectives correlate with God’s.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 23–24
<idle musing>
Indeed! And a very difficult ideal to maintain. We all bring our own presuppositions and experiences to the text. It's impossible not to! The nineteenth century's neutral interpreter of the facts doesn't exist and never has or will. Joe Friday's, "Just the facts, ma'am," is an illusion.

Of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try! It just means we should humbly acknowledge that we might be wrong. What a thought! But a little (better yet, a lot) of humility goes a long way. Hubris/pride always leads to a downfall.

Just an
<idle musing>

What grace and beauty shone

115 This Endrys Nyght. C. M.

1 What grace, O Lord, and beauty shone
   around Your steps below!
   What patient love was seen in all
   Your life and death of woe!

2 For ever on Your burdened heart
   a weight of sorrow hung,
   yet no ungentle, murmuring word
   escaped Your silent tongue.

3 Your foes might hate, despise, revile,
   Your friends unfaithful prove;
   unwearied in forgiveness still,
   Your heart could only love.

4 O give us hearts to love like You,
   like You, O Lord, to grieve
   far more for others’ sins than all
   the wrongs that we receive.

5 One with Yourself, may every eye
   in all of humankind
   behold that grace and gentleness
   which, Lord, in You we find.
                         Edward Denny
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
The fourth verse really spoke to me: "O give us hearts to love like You, / like You, O Lord, to grieve / far more for others’ sins than all / the wrongs that we receive."
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Light of the world, we hail thee

114 Salve Domine. 7. 6. 7. 6. D.

1 Light of the world, we hail Thee,
   Flushing the eastern skies;
   Never shall darkness veil Thee
   Again from human eyes;
   Too long, alas, withholden,
   Now spread from shore to shore;
   Thy light, so glad and golden,
   Shall set on earth no more.

2 Light of the world, Thy beauty
   Steals into every heart,
   And glorifies with duty
   Life's poorest, humblest part;
   Thou robest in Thy splendor
   The simple ways of men,
   And helpest them to render
   Light back to Thee again.

3 Light of the world, illumine
   This darkened land of Thine,
   Till everything that's human
   Be filled with what's divine;
   Till every tongue and nation,
   From sin's dominion free,
   Rise in the new creation
   Which springs from Love and Thee.
                         John S. B. Monsell
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall ever singing this hymn, but, as says, "Dr. Monsell’s hymns are as a whole bright, joyous, and musical." However, they go on to say, "but they lack massiveness, concentration of thought, and strong emotion. A few only are of enduring excellence." Maybe that's why I don't recall it?
</idle musing>

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Don't you just love the passive voice?

Ran across this quotation in a book I'm editing:
In [Rev 13] vv 5–7, the singular aorist passive verb ἐδόθη, ‘was given,’ occurs five times in the identical phrase καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ, ‘and it was given’; in each instance the passive voice of the verb can be construed as a passive of divine activity, i.e., as a circumlocution for the direct mention of God as subject of the action of the verb. This makes it clear that John does not see the conflict between God and Satan (historically manifested in the conflict between Christians and the state) in terms of a cosmic dualism; rather he emphasizes the ultimate sovereignty and control of God over events that occur in the world.—David Aune, Revelation 6–16, WBC 52B (Dallas: Word, 1998) 743
Gotta love that!

Good Christian men, rejoice!

110 in Dulci Jubilo. 6. 6. 7. 7. 7. 8. 5. 5.

1 Good Christian men, rejoice
   With heart, and soul, and voice;
   Give ye heed to what we say:
   News! news! Jesus Christ is born today:
   Ox and ass before Him bow,
   And He is in the manger now.
   Christ is born today!
   Christ is born today!

2 Good Christian men, rejoice
   With heart, and soul, and voice;
   Now ye hear of endless bliss;
   Joy! joy! Jesus Christ was born for this!
   He has oped the heavenly door,
   And man is blessed evermore.
   Christ was born for this!
   Christ was born for this!

3 Good Christian men, rejoice
   With heart, and soul, and voice;
   Now ye need not fear the grave:
   Peace! peace! Jesus Christ was born to save!
   Calls you one and calls you all,
   To gain His everlasting hall.
   Christ was born to save!
   Christ was born to save!
                         From the Latin
                         Tr. by John M. Neale
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Friday, September 08, 2023

Now that's a radical claim!

Humans can make themselves clean or unclean, but holiness is a status that is conferred by God. It cannot be earned or acquired (or lost) through behavior.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 107

Whoa! That's a radical claim. But they don't stop there:

The actual wording of Leviticus 19:2 bears this out. Most English translations render the statement as an imperative (“make yourselves holy because I am holy”) or at least an admonition (“you ought to, be holy because I am holy”). If holiness is a conferred status, however, these translations are misleading. Fortunately, the Hebrew simply says “you will be holy because I am holy.” The grammatical construction can carry an imperative mood (e.g., 2 Kings 11:8, “ [you will be with] the king,” NIV “stay close to”) but does not necessarily do so. In Deuteronomy 7:14 the same construction is used to say “you will be blessed,” which clearly does not mean “make yourself blessed.”— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 107

<idle musing>
OK. That makes sense. And I find that very freeing, actually. It certainly lines up with the positional statements in Paul's writings: You are seated with Christ; you are saints, etc. Something to bear in mind when you read the rebukes in Galatians and Colossians about those rules and regulations, too.
</idle musing>

What child is this?

109 Greensleeves 8. 7. 8. 7. with Refrain.

1 What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
   On Mary's lap is sleeping?
   Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
   While shepherds watch are keeping?

   This, this is Christ, the King,
   Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
   Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
   The Babe, the Son of Mary!

2 Why lies He in such mean estate,
   Where ox and ass are feeding?
   Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
   The silent Word is pleading.[Chorus]

3 So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
   Come, peasant, king to own Him.
   The King of kings salvation brings;
   Let loving hearts enthrone Him.[Chorus]
                        William C. Dix
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

Thursday, September 07, 2023

But, there is a caveat

Nonetheless, we should not make the mistake of thinking that the underlying principles are any more prescriptive than the laws themselves. Walter Kaiser, for example, proposes what he calls a principalizing model of hermeneutics, wherein a particular command is analyzed for its underlying (moral) principle, which is then extrapolated into a timeless moral truth, which can then be applied specifically to any given circumstance. The methodology of this approach is flawed.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 93

<idle musing>
They then go on for four or so pages explaining why. I'm not going to summarize those here. If you are really interested, I suggest either buying the book (the link above goes directly to the publisher and I don't get a commission) or checking it out of your local library (if they don't have it, you can use interlibrary loan).

I'm not sure how convinced I am by their arguments. Maybe that's why I'm not going to summarize them?
</idle musing>

Silent Night

106 Stille Nacht. Irregular.

1. Silent night, holy night,
   all is calm, all is bright
   round yon virgin mother and child.
   Holy infant, so tender and mild,
   sleep in heavenly peace,
   sleep in heavenly peace.

2. Silent night, holy night,
   darkness flies, all is light
   Shepherds hear the angels sing,
   Alleluia! hail the king!"
   Christ the Savior is born,
   Christ the Savior is born!

3. Silent night, holy night,
   Son of God, love's pure light;
   radiant beams from thy holy face
   with the dawn of redeeming grace,
   Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
   Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

4. Silent night, holy night,
   wondrous star, lend thy light;
   with the angels let us sing,
   Alleluia to our King;
   Christ the Savior is born,
   Christ the Savior is born!
                         Joseph Mohr
                         Tr. compiled from various sources
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I don't recall singing the second verse the way it is in this hymnal—and in fact the 1917 and 1964 versions of the Methodist hymnal both have the more traditional translation:

2. Silent night, holy night,
   shepherds quake at the sight;
   glories stream from heaven afar,
   heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
   Christ the Savior is born,
   Christ the Savior is born!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Command? or principle?

In Leviticus 19:19 the underlying principle being communicated involves the ancient Near Eastern idea that mixed things belong to the divine realm. Divine creatures are composites of various kinds of animals, and cloth woven from two kinds of thread is used in the tabernacle and the vestment of the priests. The underlying principle in this case is that divine things should not be put to ordinary, mundane use. Although the underlying principles vary by context, all of the instructions in Leviticus should be read in this way. They are hypothetical examples designed to communicate abstract principles, not commands to be obeyed.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 92–93

<idle musing>
They could be opening a real can of worms here...
</idle musing>

In the bleak midwinter

103 Cranham. Irregular.

In the bleak midwinter
   frosty wind made moan,
   earth stood hard as iron,
   water like a stone:
   snow had fallen,
   snow on snow, snow on snow,
   in the bleak midwinter,
   long ago.

2 Our God, heaven cannot hold him,
   nor earth sustain;
   heaven and earth shall flee away
   when he comes to reign:
   in the bleak midwinter
   a stable place sufficed
   the Lord God Almighty,
   Jesus Christ.

3 Angels and archangels
   may have gathered there,
   cherubim and seraphim
   thronged the air,
   but only his mother,
   in her maiden bliss,
   worshiped the Beloved
   with a kiss.

4 What can I give him,
   poor as I am?
   If I were a shepherd,
   I would bring a lamb,
   if I were a wise man
   I would do my part,
   yet what I can I give him,
   give my heart.
                        Christina G. Rossetti
                        The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
Yes, I know, "bleak midwinter" definitely doesn't describe Israel in the spring (when Jesus was probably born, although that's debated). But, again, look beyond the literal and grab the theology of the hymn. It's written with a simple faith that approaches God, knowing that they have nothing to offer except themselves. And what is greater than that?

Someone else commented on the author's works: "Miss Rossetti's verses are profoundly suggestive and lyrical, and deserve a larger place than they occupy in the hymnody of the church. Her sonnets are amongst the finest in the English language." [Rev. W. Garrett Horder] inserts a verse after verse 2:

3 Enough for him whom cherubim
   worship night and day,
   a breastful of milk
   and a mangerful of hay:
   enough for him
   whom angels fall down before,
   the ox and ass and camel
   which adore.
I can see why the Methodist hymnal excised it. It doesn't flow as well as the other verses.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Reading things into the text

We have proposed that the so-called missiological focus of the Old Testament is typically not found in the text itself but imposed on it by a larger canonical perspective (reading the conceptual categories of the New Testament back into the Old Testament) or a presumed metanarrative (our modern concept of history as progress). In connection with that we have shown that the Old Testament neither indicts nor condemns the nations for their idolatry. The idols are powerless, and it is a covenant violation for Israel to serve them, but the nations are not under the covenant and therefore cannot violate it. Israel’s role as a light to the nations does not give them the task of going out to the nations to convert them but indicates that if they serve well as God’s covenant people, the nations will come to them. Consequently, we can conclude that Israel’s conquest of the Canaanites cannot be interpreted as wiping them out for either their idolatry or for their refusal to join the covenant people.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 83–84

Tozer for Tuesday

If you are [verbally] abused, think of that fellow abusing you as one of Adam’s ravens: a fallen raven sitting on a dead limb, croaking his displeasure against the spiritual. You can afford to take it. The day will come when God will avenge all of His people, but in the meantime, the raven does not hurt you, it only gets your ear, and your ear is not you. Cursing does not get past your ear unless you let it get past your ear. Suppose the man that curses you gets you to hate him; then you have injured yourself. Suppose the man that persecutes you tempts you to malice; then you have injured yourself. Suppose you carry a sullen spirit in your breast; then you are harmed, but the devil did not do it, you did it. Keep the persecutor out of your bosom, keep hate out of your heart, keep malice out of your spirit and you are as sound as gold and nothing can harm you or get to you.—A.W. Tozer, Living as a Christian, 164

We three kings

102 Kings of Orient. 8. 8. 8. 6. with Refrain.

1 We three kings of Orient are;
   bearing gifts we traverse afar,
   field and fountain, moor and mountain,
   following yonder star.

Refrain: O star of wonder, star of light,
   star with royal beauty bright,
   westward leading, still proceeding,
   guide us to thy perfect light.

2 Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,
   gold I bring to crown him again,
   King forever, ceasing never,
   over us all to reign. [Refrain]

3 Frankincense to offer have I;
   incense owns a Deity nigh;
   prayer and praising, voices raising,
   worshiping God on high. [Refrain]

4 Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
   breathes a life of gathering gloom;
   sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
   sealed in the stone-cold tomb. [Refrain]

5 Glorious now behold him arise;
   King and God and sacrifice:
   Alleluia, Alleluia,
   sounds through the earth and skies. [Refrain]
                         John H. Hopkins
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This hymn is loaded with good theology, despite the fact that there weren't three kings. That's a Christian tradition based on the three gifts. On more than one occasion, I've mentioned what a great hymn this is, only to have the person get all bent out of shape because it says "three kings." When I point out that the important thing is the theology of the hymn, they just can't get past those three kings.

Sorry, but that is majoring on the minors and missing the point. But, it seems to sum up too many people's (especially evangelicals') approach to all things biblical and theological. I've often said that we need fewer people approaching the scripture (and theology) as engineers and more approaching it with a literary and mystical vision. Scripture isn't a sourcebook for systematic theology as much as it is a rich narrative of God's overarching purpose in history. Yes, Virginia, there is a metanarrative!

By the way, be sure to check out the biography of the author. He was definitely a man of many talents; He even delivered the eulogy at U. S. Grant's funeral!
</idle musing>

Monday, September 04, 2023

Israel's purpose, part 2

Israel’s purpose, its participation in the covenant, and its holy status have nothing to do with appeasing the wrath of God against humanity or purging the world of things God hates. They will be a light to the nations by being the medium through which God reveals himself.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 82–83

O little town of Bethlehem

100 St. Louis. 8. 6. 8. 6. 7. 6. 8. 6.

1 O little town of Bethlehem,
   how still we see thee lie!
   Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
   the silent stars go by.
   Yet in thy dark streets shineth
   the everlasting light;
   the hopes and fears of all the years
   are met in thee tonight.

2 For Christ is born of Mary;
   and, gathered all above,
   while mortals sleep, the angels keep
   their watch of wond'ring love.
   O morning stars, together
   proclaim the holy birth,
   and praises sing to God the King,
   and peace to men on earth.

3 How silently, how silently,
   the wondrous gift is giv'n!
   So God imparts to human hearts
   the blessings of His heav'n.
   No ear may hear His coming,
   but in this world of sin,
   where meek souls will receive Him still,
   the dear Christ enters in.

4 O holy Child of Bethlehem,
   descend to us, we pray;
   cast out our sin and enter in;
   be born in us today.
   We hear the Christmas angels,
   the great glad tidings tell;
   O come to us, abide with us,
   our Lord Emmanuel!
                         Philip Brooks
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
I've always liked this carol. It seems to speak to the way that God so often works, quietly and mostly unobserved. The angelic host knows what's going on, but humans just blindly bluster along—well most humans. But a few "meek souls will receive Him still," and he will will "cast out our sin and enter in."

Interestingly, this carol was written by Brooks for a Sunday School class based on his visit to Bethlehem two years earlier.
</idle musing>

Sunday, September 03, 2023

There's a song in the air

98 Christmas Song. 6. 6. 6. 6. 12. 12.

1 There's a song in the air!
   There's a star in the sky!
   There's a mother's deep prayer
   and a baby's low cry!
   And the star rains its fire
   while the beautiful sing,
   for the manger of Bethlehem
   cradles a King!

2 There's a tumult of joy
   o'er the wonderful birth,
   for the virgin's sweet boy
   is the Lord of the earth.
   Ay! the star rains its fire
   while the beautiful sing,
   for the manger of Bethlehem
   cradles a King!

3 In the light of that star
   lie the ages impearled;
   and that song from afar
   has swept over the world.
   Every hearth is aflame,
   and the beautiful sing
   in the homes of the nations
   that Jesus is King!

4 We rejoice in the light,
   and we echo the song
   that comes down through the night
   from the heavenly throng.
   Ay! we shout to the lovely
   evangel they bring,
   and we greet in his cradle
   our Savior and King!
                         Josiah G. Holland
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
My first memory of this song is in about 4th grade. It was the Christmas pageant and the youth choir (4th–6th grades) was to sing a bunch of Christmas carols. This one stands out in my mind because the older sister (a sixth grader) of one of my friends, whom I thought was very pretty, was to sing the first verse as a solo. For years, I thought that "the beautiful" was girls like her. It wasn't until high school that I realized that the beautiful was a way of referring to the angelic host!

Looking at the author's biography, I find it interesting that they specifically mention that this hymn is included in the Methodist hymnal—and it does appear to be mainly used in the Methodist tradition when you look at the list of hymnals that cites.
</idle musing>

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The first Noel

97 The First Noel. Irregular with Refrain

1 The first Noel the angel did say
   was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay,
   in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
   on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

   Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
   born is the King of Israel.

2 They looked up and saw a star
   shining in the east beyond them far;
   and to the earth it gave great light,
   and so it continued both day and night. [Refrain]

3 And by the light of that same star
   three wise men came from country far;
   to seek for a king was their intent,
   and to follow the star wherever it went. [Refrain]

4 This star drew nigh to the northwest;
   o’er Bethlehem it took its rest,
   and there it did both stop and stay,
   right over the place where Jesus lay. [Refrain]

5 Then entered in those wise men three,
   full reverently upon their knee,
   and offered there in his presence
   their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense. [Refrain]
                         Old English Carol
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing> adds a sixth verse, which I don't know why the Methodist Hymnal excised. I remember singing it as a child, but maybe that's because we had multiple Christmas LPs and sheet music for many Christmas carols (my mom used to play the piano quite a bit when I was growing up):

6 Then let us all with one accord
   sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
   that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
   and with his blood our life hath bought. [Refrain]
</idle musing>

Friday, September 01, 2023

ANE vassal treaties and Israel

Orthodox Israel conceives of itself as a vassal of Yahweh (in the same way that other nations are a vassal of a human emperor), and as a vassal they receive custody of the land conditionally on their loyalty to the terms of their treaty, which is represented by the covenant. Part of their vassal status means that the right of ownership of the land belongs to the emperor (Yahweh), not the vassal. Thus it is important that Israel has no grounds on which to claim rights to the land for itself. This ideology is the motivation for the ḥerem of defeated cities, by which Israel surrenders ownership rights of the land it conquers.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 65

<idle musing>
This is an important point that frequently gets overlooked in discussions about the land promises in the Hebrew Bible. The land belongs to YHWH as the sovereign. The vassals in ANE treaties are given the land as a concession, holding it conditionally, depending on their faithfulness to the vassal treaty. In the case of some ANE treaties, the conditions are pretty harsh and so the vassals rebel—with predictable results under the Neo-Assyrians (hint: being skinned alive isn't my idea of a fun time!).

When looked at that way, the conditions on the Israelites are pretty lenient. Not that I would have done any better at living under it than they did. That is, if I tried to do it without the power of the Holy Spirit!
</idle musing>

What is the purpose of (ancient) Israel?

Israel's purpose is not to create converts; it is to create something that people might potentially be able to convert to, namely, a people and a nation that God is with.— The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest, 83

O come, all ye faithful

96 Adeste Fidelis (Portuguese Hymn). Irregular, with refrain.

1 O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
   O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
   Come, and behold Him, born the King of angels!

   O come, let us adore Him;
   O come, let us adore Him;
   O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!

2 Sing, choirs of angels; sing in exultation;
   sing, all ye citizens of heav'n above!
   Glory to God, all glory in the highest! [Refrain]

3 Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
   Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv'n!
   Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing! [Refrain]
                         Anonymous. Latin 18th century
                         Tr. by Frederick Oakeley and others
                         The Methodist Hymnal 1939 edition

<idle musing>
This is definitely one of the standard Christmas carols. It seems that even if people only know two Christmas carols, this is one of them. I was surprised to discover that says that the author was John Francis Wade, whom I had never heard of—interesting biography, though. They also insert a verse I had never heard as the second verse:

2 God of God, Light of Light,
   lo, He abhors not the virgin's womb;
   very God, begotten not created; [Refrain]
As many of you probably know, the chorus was taken over by the Charismatic Movement in the 1970s and various versions of it were added. I don't hang out in those circles, if they even exist, anymore, so I don't know if it is still prevalent or not. But I do recall that it was a very moving experience to hear thousands of voices singing it in worship.

I must say, this adventure of blogging through the hymnal I grew up singing from has been interesting and carried me into areas where my ignorance is huge. I hope you are enjoying it as well.
</idle musing>