Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lousy exegesis and “Moses is Departing Egypt: A Facebook Haggadah” (and no relation between the two)

Greetings.

Date on the Jewish calendar: 6 Nisan 5769

Quasi-holidays: Bunsen Burner Day and National “She’s Funny That Way” Day

Worthy causes of the day: “Help Prevent Another Exxon Valdez Spill”, “Now Is The Time For National Single Payer Health Care”, “Stand With Dr. Dean”, and “End "Corrective" Rape of Lesbians in South Africa”. I cannot possibly make up that last one.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “Rep. John Shimkus: God decides when the "earth will end"” and its accompanying blog post, “Shimkus: Capping C02 Emissions Will "Take Away Plant Food”:

    This is really, really bad theologizing for a number of reasons. 1) Interpretations of Scripture are fallible. This goes double for translations. 2) He is interpreting esoteric material as if it were meant to be taken literally. 3) The passage in Genesis in question gives a promise that YHWH will not destroy the land with a flood again. It does not promise that other bad things will never happen. Neither does it promise that humans will never cause bad things to happen. This promise is also not a command for us to do or not do anything. It is also not permission or a prohibition for us to do or not do anything. The idea that we can do whatever we want without consequences is against the plain meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. 4) Neither the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament teach that YHWH gives out open miracles on demand. 5) There are many problems which Scripture does not give answers for. High carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is one of them.

    Theological rating: F
  2. Fortunately some Christians do get it: “Creationism's Damage to Christianity”:

  3. I have seen the most recent episode of Kings, “First Night”, and I did not like it.

    The writers continue to demonstrate no understanding of prophecy. Sha’ul lost his kingship because he screwed up over explicit commands of YHWH communicated through Shemu’el. Silas, on the other hand, does not get explicit instructions from God through Samuels; he is told what God is unhappy about, but not what to do about it. In Samuel, the answer about what Sha’ul can do to retain his kingship after he screws up with exterminating ‘Amaleq is essentially nothing; he screwed up one time too many on explicit instructions. In Kings, however, God leaves it fuzzy whether Silas can retain his kingship or not. Silas walks away from discussing the situation with Samuels convinced a “sacrifice” will be necessary—and he soon becomes convinced the “sacrifice” will be the life his illegitimate son. The writers clearly have no clue what a sacrifice is—it is not the destruction of “something beautiful”—especially the fact that human sacrifice is an abomination according to the Hebrew Bible. But this misinterpretation by people who would not even know what an honest-to-goodness altar was if they walked straight into it and impaled themselves on the horns does fit into a previously noted change/reimagining from the original text: Sha’ul’s concubine (a legitimate relationship for a king) has been reinterpreted as Silas’s mistress (an illegitimate relationship for anyone). Adding the “sacrifice”, the situation is suspiciously like the incident between Dawidh and Bathsheva‘: the relationship was at best improper and at worst adulterous at the outset, and as punishment their first child died. We will probably see next week whether my prediction is correct.

    The writers also continue their festival of bashing Yonathan/Jack. Yonathan was a close friend of Dawidh. Jack hates David and takes a convenient opportunity to pretend to be his friend and take him out for a wild night on the town boozing and womanizing, with the hope of producing a photograph of David in a situation which will reduce people’s esteem for him. Jack’s immoral nocturnal escapades, only previously briefly mentioned, are put on display for the audience. We also get to meet Jack’s gay ex-lover. Any resemblance to the original Yonathan is accidental and unintentional. David, who cannot bring himself to commit an act of fornication, comes off much better. Considering the aforementioned Dawidh/Bathsheva‘ affair, the writers seem to be taking the low road of smearing David’s rivals even in areas their prototypes behaved correctly.

    There is one bright side. Sha’ul’s wives and concubine (unlike his daughter Mikhal) are minor characters in Samuel. Queen Rose in Kings actually works to move the plot forward. In this episode she plots against any match between David and Michelle.
Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing, in honor of Pesaḥ (Passover) next week, is “Moses is Departing Egypt: A Facebook Haggadah”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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