Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Matthew 25:14-30

Since it was in the lectionary last week and has always caused me some trouble we might as well discuss it.

Here’s a QuickTime audio file of a very good sermon by my illustrious Pastor Russell Rathbun regarding the Parable of the Talents.

Paul Nuechterlein, at Girardian Lectionary, has also been struggling with it.

I think the Rev. Rathbun’s take on the whole thing is quite a bit more illuminating, though. The Rabbinic literature, which is kind of hard to locate, sounds like it would be very useful in interpreting the parables of Jesus. The other parable that has Rabbinic parallels and immediately comes to mind, is the one regarding the mustard seed.

I’ve been reading a lot of Margaret Barker lately so I’m really getting into finding informative parallels between the Gospels and the Old Testament, the Mishnah/Rabbinic Literature and other ancient Jewish writings. I think Rev. Rathbun’s sermon is a good example of how profitable it will be to really return to the historical and religious context of the Gospels. Fortunately for us in the last 50-75 years we’ve been blessed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the texts at Qumran. (I really don’t know if those are the same things). I’m still trying to get my hands on Jacob Neusner’s translation of the Mishnah. This whole Biblical interpretation thing is a lot of fun, well at least for me. I’ll have to try to acquaint all of you with the research of Margaret Barker. Really good stuff, information overload, but really good stuff.

Achan Redux

I think I’m going to hold off on anymore discussion regarding Achan because I would be heading off into territory entirely too broad for me to handle intelligently right now. I’m learning a lot about the context of the Deuteronomistic History and King Josiah. The New Interpreter’s Bible/Commentary, the section on Joshua, does a good job of explaining some of the theories regarding the composition of the Book of Joshua and the rest of the Deuteronomistic History.

A couple of notes though, in case some of you aren’t aware of these things.
  1. In Hebrew the names Joshua and Jesus are the same.

  2. The sacred lots, the Urim and the Thummim were kept in the breastplate of the high priest. Were these oracles used by the High Priest/Joshua to determine the guilty party?

Old Testament study, really Biblical study in general, is very interesting right now. There is so much to learn about the formation of Biblical literature. The more we learn about the formation and composition of Biblical and ancient Jewish literature, the more we’ll learn about the meaning of stories such as Achan’s.