Through the Bible in a Year – May 24th

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Sa 17-18; Jas 4-5; Psalm 33

The story of David, as we were thinking yesterday, looms large over the Old Testament narrative. Indeed we know more of David than of any other figure in Scripture, Christ included if we deal merely in biographical details.

This distinction though is a significant one. For the life of David is a thing of myth – and the myth is set up in this most famous of stories concerning David, his confrontation with Goliath. Here the plucky young lad, armed with only five stones and faith in God, slays the giant. All sorts of powerful themes captivate our imagination herein. He is being set up as the Hero. Of course we read the narrative knowing the end from the beginning. Here is a Great and Powerful beginning, but the end of the David story finds him reduced to small minded politics upon his death bed. What is the narrator trying to get us to see here? Are we merely dealing with the archetype of the flawed hero – or indeed is the myth of the Heroic, the Strong, The Powerful, the Faithful Man being dealt a fatal blow in this story.

Is the story of David and Goliath and what ensues in the first part of his story not an exemplary story, but rather a setup, carefully written to disabuse us of such simplistic but powerful suggestions?

Certainly, when we consider Christ, it is hard to read him as the Son of David . . .

Through the Bible in a Year – January 3

Genesis 5-7; John 3; Psalm 5-6

Our readings in Genesis continue in the mythical world of the first 11 chapters. In it deep and mysterious foundations are laid. Ancient Archtypes set forth – male and female – evil and good – pastoral life vs that of the city and more.  In these ‘times’ human life is long – always in Scripture a sign of blessing – and the lives described are large in every sense – from Nimrod, to Noah, from Methuselah to the Nephilim, there is a sense of the serious grandeur of human existence.

Such serious grandeur and deep themes we choose to largely live unconscious of, indeed modern life often seems designed to obliterate these deep characteristics of the human story – along with any story about a God whose ways are not ours in one form or another. This is not a game solely for atheists or indifferent agnostics – Christians are all too fond of taming ‘God’ and living out of synch with such Reality. A God who refuses to live by a simple code, or at least one known to us, and who expresses regret that he ever conceived of humans . . . yet one catches his eye, through whom he considers a new beginning might be made

As we come to John, we find Nicodemus out of his depth – in a Genesis 6 darkness. The teacher of Israel is blind – and faced with One who demands the impossible of him – that he is born a second time. ‘I had no say in my birth – how can one be born a second time?’ Jesus calls Nicodemus to the full seriousness of Life – something Other, Older yet ever new.

As of old God wiped the slate clean, to start afresh, now also in Christ a New beginning is heralded, but with a twist – not that the world might be condemned, but Astonishingly, that the world might be saved through him. And like Noah was mocked, so too ‘He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony’

The world of Genesis 1-11, might be strange, but surely no stranger than our own. Take time to dwell upon Archetype – Myth – the Seriousness and Grandeur of Life, and one who says we ‘must be born again’