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Sunday, February 17th 2013


Update and Back to Luke!

  • STATE OF EXISTENCE: Tired . . .

Just a quick update. I think. I know there have been times I've said that and then wound up writing several pages. You wouldn't necessarily have known since I might have removed the initial phrase before publishing. 

Several of my fingers (on the right hand) have blisters today, thanks to another close to two hours of playing bass for Cowboy Church last night, one of the genuine treats of my life these days.

Win and June returned from their lair inside the hollow mountain on Friday, as planned, and immediately shifted back into whatever counts as their regular gear at home. My project on the front burner is the index to In the Beginning God, which I may be able to finish tomorrow, the due date "or so," as the instructions said. I also need to send out some copies of the manuscript as e-mail attachments to some folks for endorsements. I have some definite people in mind, but if you are dying for an advance peek at the book, and you are prepared to praise it to the highest heavens (no editing), and lots of people will buy the book because you praised it, I'll be happy to put you on the list. But, just so we're clear on this, I have no budget line for endorsements.

Someone, and I don't even remember where to look to verify who it may have been, asked me if there would be a "part 2" to the discussion on the papacy. There are so many places where people write reactions, the least likely being the "comments" area at the bottom of the post. First of all, thank you for the interest. Second, I'd be happy to expand on some of the topics I touched on, but I'm not sure in what direction to go for a "part 2" of that particular entry. Did you want to know more about Benedict, the papacy, Vatican II, the history of the Church, or something else? Let me know, and I'll see what I can do. That invitation goes to anyone else as well.

Just as an aside, Medicare has decided not to contribute to one of my regular medications any more, one which, as of today, costs $490/month. That's a lot of money for me, and I'll have to do without it if things stay that way. That's also a lot of money for Medicare, I know. But what are they doing with the money they're taking out of your paycheck? How much of it goes towards paying people without medical degrees who decree who gets what medicine (the board that decides when an exception to the "formulary" is appropriate)?

Luke Bible Study      

Bible Reading: Luke 6:17-19

v. 17: After coming down with them, He stood on a level place with a large crowd of His disciples and a great number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon.

What follows is Luke's version of Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount" (Mt. 5-7). Luke gives us a "Sermon on the Plain." 'Aha, an inconsistency!' someone cries out. Huh? This passage is among those that are supposed to be based on the hypothetical document Q, and, thus, we could imagine that there may have been two versions of Q, the one that belonged to the earlier Aramaic-speaking community in Galilee, and the one that was read by the later Greek-speaking community around Jerusalem. Oh, the hypotheses that have been built on hypotheses! But really now! Assuming even some minimal historicity, isn't it plausible that Jesus did not preach something brand new each time he spoke? In that case, doesn't it make sense that he might just have given similar sermons in different locations, say, one on a mountain, and one on a plain?

For that matter, even though there are striking similarities in the content of the two sermons, there are also differences. Those variations should need not lead us to stipulate two different versions of a document Q either. It could just be that, if Jesus did preach a similar sermon twice, that he used different words and emphasized different parts. There certainly is no warrant for any logical categories, such as inconsistency, let alone contradiction, whatsoever. As I have pointed out before, I am not opposed to stipulating a basic pot, as it were, of sayings of Jesus in either oral or written form, which are found in Luke and Matthew, but not in Mark. But anything beyond that is speculation.

Mount of Beatitudes

By the way, the phrase "level place," as applied to any location in Israel needs to be understood in relative terms. Having biked around and through the country four times, each time accruing upwards of 500 miles, I remember a lot of up-hill stretches and a disproportionately low number of down-hill roads (if you're a biker, you understand), but not too many level areas come to mind. The fact of the matter is that, if you should ever have the opportunity to visit the so-called Mount of Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee, you will encounter the hill and then a fairly sizable, relatively flat area from there to the shore. So, in this case, the reality of things is such that we wouldn't even necessarily need to stipulate two different areas because the "mount" is adjoined by the "plain."

Thus, I conclude with two points. 1) When studying the Bible, don't create problems when there aren't any. 2) Don't force the selectivity of one gospel writer on another one. As we look at more specific details of this sermon in Luke, let's try to read his account with the integrity it deserves.

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