Friday, July 23, 2010

gone "fish"ing

This summer may be the fullest one yet for us.  Between schoolwork (lots!), summer day camp, swimming lessons (x2), and a major project under the house, there just hasn't been much time to write new posts.  You may have wondered if I was gone fishing ... and in a sense, I was! 

Emma graduated from swimming lessons today and went from being pretty nervous in the water to swimming like a fish!  Yeah, Emma!

This week was vacation Bible school at church.  The theme was 'Backstage with the Bible' and worship was led by the 'Go Fish! Guys'.  The girls loved the music and had a lot of fun.

Another summer project has been getting ready for my grandma's 90th birthday.  We made her a photo book on Snapfish that turned out great.  There's something really cool about retelling the family story.  God has been so faithful through the years!

For school, I just finished a major read, Michael Fishbane's Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel.  The kids cheered me on through all 543 pages of it. :)  It's about the ways biblical authors quote each other.  While intertextuality (the fancy name for it) is one of my all-time favorite topics, this will not make it into my top 10 book list (though I suspect I'll be consulting it for years to come).  I did learn a whole lot, but Fishbane and I do not exactly see eye to eye!  He finds evidence here, there, and everywhere for occasions where a later author supposedly changed the text, and he sees lots of contradictions in the Bible.  Identifying those 'changes' is a rather subjective enterprise, though.  Here's one example:  Prophecy, according to Fishbane, is by definition vague and open-ended.  Therefore, any time there is something specific in a prophecy (such as a name of a person or place), it can be attributed to somebody else, years later, who added it in.  Laws, on the other hand, usually start very specific.  So if you come across a law that is based on a general principle, then it must have been added later.  In one case specificity is evidence of originality, in the other case it proves editorial activity.  Hmmm.... does this sound fishy?

I don't argue with his idea that the Bible was 'edited' or 'compiled' by later authors, but he takes it all much farther than I'm willing to go.  Thankfully, I don't have to fully agree with him to benefit from all his hard work.  I'm ready to head back to the Bible and read more carefully than ever before.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

text and canon for 4-year-olds

I've spent nearly a year teaching the young four-year-old Sunday School class at our church.  They are a precious group of kids.  It's such a privilege to help lay a biblical foundation in these little ones.  I love to tell Bible stories in such a way that they are alive and interesting to the kids.  One idea has gone over particularly well.  It wasn't premeditated, I just realized when I saw blank looks that they needed more info!

Whenever I tell the story I have a Bible in front of me, even though I'm telling the story without reading it.  I like to tell them where in the Bible the story comes from.  Here's an example of the kind of thing I've been telling them throughout the year:

"Today I'm going to tell you a true story from the Bible.  It's found in the book of the Bible called John.  Why do you think it's called John? (this is a rhetorical question, by the way, and I don't wait for an answer!)  Because a man named John wrote it!  John was one of Jesus' disciples.  He followed Jesus around and watched what he did.  John listened to what Jesus said.  And it was really amazing stuff!  After Jesus died and rose again and went to heaven John thought to himself, 'People really need to hear about Jesus!'  So God helped him remember all those things that he heard Jesus say and saw Jesus do so that we could read about it and know Jesus, too!"

The kids seem to really get it.  And I hope it's sinking in for the long haul.  Because even more than the specific lesson I have to teach in a given week, I want them to know that the Bible is living and true, and the only reliable way to find out who God is!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

when I run...

It's been years since I've seen the movie Chariots of Fire. But one scene sticks with me. Eric Liddell is explaining why he wants to keep running. "God made me fast," he said. "And when I run I feel God's pleasure."

Why study when I could have a less intense hobby? It's simple. When I study, I feel God's pleasure.

What has God made you to do? What do you do that makes him smile?

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Well, we made it through tree pollen season, had a short respite, and now its time for grass pollen.  I don't think it's affected me at all, but poor little Emma (age 4-3/4) is sneezing her head off.  Here's what she said to me the other day:

"Mom, I am not feeling well today.  My consequence is going to be to have no sugar for a whole week!"

Gotta love this girl!

And later she came to ask me, "Mom, am I unique?"

Yes, I would say so!

Monday, July 5, 2010

do we live in a Christian nation?

On this most patriotic of holidays, it's worth asking the question, "What should the relationship between church and state look like?"  Consider this quote from German scholar, Theo Sorg,

"The New Testament knows nothing of a Christian state, but it knows of Christians who profess their Lord in public life and in their political responsibility, and who make every effort to realize symbolically something of his good rule.  It is not they themselves who create the coming reign of peace; God alone will bring it about.  But they have this goal before them and can therefore seek to bring about peace wherever and however that is possible, in every weakness and fallibility, but nevertheless with the breath of Christian patience."

From Theo Sorg, "Die Bibel zum Thema Frieden," Theologische Beitrage (1982): 264-265. Quoted by Helmut W. Ziefle in Modern Theological German: A Reader and Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997), 243.  My translation.