April 25, 2012
Sometimes you have an entire semester to get your class reading done. And sometimes your semester is suddenly almost over and you have to sign off on all that reading you seem to have forgotten to do. Sometimes this is when skimming becomes a good plan.
I would update you on all the fascinating happenings of my life except that I just literally live at Denver Seminary in their blazing hot student center. And Diana and I stress about all the things we have to do. And Andy tells us to calm down. And we throw things at him.
I feel like I post too many animal pictures on my bloggy lately, especially since I don’t even like animals in real life. So, I’m going to try to give it a rest. Right after I show you this tiny elephant who likes to perch on a log.
I’ve liked this song for so long now, but I just can’t get over it. You should have a listen.
We had to write a big exegetical paper on Joshua 23 for my Hebrew class this week. Joshua is nearing the end of his life, so he gathers the leaders of Israel together and gives them a final speech. He reminds them of all God has done, how he was the one who fought for them and brought them into the land, dispossessing the people around them. He tells them that they must stay close to Yahweh, and that theycannotstart worshiping other gods. If they do, they’ll have broken their covenant with God and he will kick them out of the land.
Joshua uses the Hebrew word “davak” twice in his speech. It is often translated “cling” in our English Bibles. Israel was to cling tightly to Yahweh, rejecting the gods of the Canaanite nations. The use of “davak” in Joshua 23:8 is significant because it invokes a sense of desperate dependence on God. It refers to soldering together (it is the basis for Modern Hebrew’s word for “glue”), and shows the extreme closeness that people were to have with their God.
The root “davak” always includes the idea of clinging, sticking or cleaving. It is often used to refer to relationships between people — the first use of the root is in Genesis 2:24, when a man leaves his family to “cleave to” his wife. It is also often used in Deuteronomy to express Israel’s relationship with Yahweh. It is therefore something Israel must choose to do. Because this clinging is a choice, Joshua reminds Israel that they must not cling (same Hebrew word) to other nations or intermarry with them (Joshua 23:12), because they will lead Israel astray. If Israel allies itself or “glues itself” to other nations, they will break their covenant and fail the Lord who has been faithful to them.
So, there. You’re welcome.
I best be going because it’s Wednesday, and as we all know, I cannot get enough of Wednesdays. We’ll chat tomorrow. Cling tightly to the Lord today.
March 21, 2012
I don’t have much to report on today because all I ever do is play Draw Something. Oh, and I also check books out from the library in hopes that they will help me with my thesis, but they do not. Then I throw those books at people in the student center. I am a treat.
I guess Denver has some new quarterback no one has ever heard of.
So we’ve been translating Joshua in Hebrew. Like I mentioned before, it’s kind of a tough book because Israel is on the warpath and they kill a lot of people. Joshua 10 and 11 talk about the Israelites systematically going through the southern part of the land and then the northern part of the land — attacking towns and killing everyone in them. Over and over again it says things like, “they left no one who breathed” and “they utterly destroyed everyone in it.” But what’s interesting is that they did not kill everyone. A couple chapters later in Joshua 14, Caleb is receiving his inheritance and he talks about how he’ll need to drive out the Anakim who are in his land. Well, in Joshua 11, it says that they killed all the Anakim in Caleb’s land — there were none left. In Joshua 17 and 18, we see that there are still Canaanites in the land that work for them — Canaanites that had supposedly all been killed a couple chapters ago.
This is where it is important for us to recognize that the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mindset was different than ours. They were not concerned with direct quotes or precise numbers like we are today. We’ve created a system of journalism and reporting history that is very precise. It is our standard, but it wasn’t theirs. It just wasn’t their thing — which doesn’t make it bad, just different. You can look all over ANE documents, and you see the kind of language that’s in the Bible. When Joshua says that the Israelites killed any and everyone, it means that they were now the ones in charge in the land. They took it over, they took down their kings, they defeated the strongholds of the towns around them. It’s hyperbolic language that is used to talk about how Israel was successful in taking over the land. In the Hebrew we see the repetition of words like “all” and “completely.” The author is making a point — they hadn’t killed everyone, but they were successful in taking over the Promised Land. It does not at all make the biblical text in Joshua untrue. It’s just their way of writing about it — it would’ve made complete sense to the ANE mindset.
A lot of times when we study the Bible, we impose our modern, Western sensibilities on it. But it was written by ancient people with an Eastern mindset. So we don’t read those passages and think that they are false or wrong or untrue. We read those passages and try to understand what the writers meant, how the readers would’ve understood the text, what the author was trying to communicate. Yes? Yes.
OK, I hafta get back to drawing stick figures on my iPhone. C-ya!
March 7, 2012
You guys, short and sweet today because unfortunately I have an Aramaic midterm this afternoon. Even more unfortunately, I do not know any Aramaic.
OK, I promised I wouldn’t subject you to pictures of the burn on my leg, but I thought you should see this.
This is what my curling iron says.
And this is what my leg says.
I’ve been branded.
Last night in my Hebrew class we talked about how complicated it is to figure out the theology of Joshua. There’s a lot of killing and many people have a hard time understanding God because of all the violence he commanded. We talked about how, as much as people want there to be, there’s probably not any easy answer — we have to consider the types of writing (law code is different than narrative), the worldview of the Ancient Near East, the redemptive model of Scripture, the way God hands out historical judgments to other nations and to Israel, the meaning of “the ban” in Joshua, and on and on and on. It doesn’t mean that there’s no solution, but I do think it means that we probably can’t give a quick, neat answer to questions about justice and judgment in the Scripture. We have to be thoughtful and we have to think well. We have to take the time to discuss and ponder. It may not be a quick answer, but we know the character of our God and his holiness and goodness.
So the holiday of Purim starts tonight at sundown! Purim was not one of the seven holidays commanded by God, but we see it begin in the Bible in the book of Esther. It is a joyful holiday that commemorates when God saved his people from destruction at the hands of the evil Haman. The Bible commands the Jewish people to celebrate it every year by giving gifts, and giving to the poor and having a great feast. I’m not actually celebrating it until Thursday evening with my small group, but I’ll tell you lots more about it then. If you do want to consider celebrating, you mostly just dress up and eat lots of good food. And on Thursday, you could give to the poor and bring treats to friends!
OK, seriously. I’ve got to study for this awful midterm. I’ll see ya soon!
March 5, 2012
Don’t you wish weekends were longer? And that you weren’t in grad school so that you didn’t have to do homework over the weekends? And that you got to sleep in more? Yeah, me too.
This was kind of a schoolish weekend. My dad is coming later this week, so I’m trying to get ahead, which means less partying (“partying” is defined as “watching TV with my friends and if we get crazy, maybe having a glass of wine”) and more studying. On Saturday my school formation group came over and we spent time making homemade pizzas, catching up and pondering the passion of Jesus. It was pretty great.
Yesterday I drove down to Colorado Springs to see my mountain. And also to attend Sarena’s baby shower. Sarena is a dear friend — we lived together for six years down in the Springs. We moved out there right after college, so in a lot of ways, we learned how to be adults together. She is having a baby boy in a couple of months, and it was so fun to get to celebrate with her.
In case you can’t tell, Sarena is the pregnant one. She’s just tiny and I apparently love wearing shirts that make me look pregnant.
I also got to catch up with so many friends — some of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was so fun and it reminded me that the Lord has always been so good to me and provided me with great community no matter where I’ve been. I’ve always had people to talk about The Bachelor with — I mean, what could be better?
Here is a thing I would like you to know — I am looking for cute new boots, especially now that most of them are on sale. I kind of want some like Jenn’s up there on the right. Where can I get some for $1? Let me know.
It is my Grandpa Dale’s birthday today. He is one of my very favorite people ever in the world. He is funny and smart and kind. He is a barber and always has been. My entryway is covered in vintage postcards that he has sent me with sweet notes that say things like, “Denise — I like you and you like me. We’ve got a good thing going.”
The other day my Aunt Faye posted a little poem that my grandpa and his friend wrote when they were young. This is why he is awesome: “The polar bear sleeps in his little bear skin. He sleeps very well I’m told. Last night I slept in my little bare skin, and I got a heck of a cold.” Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
We’re translating chunks of Joshua in my Hebrew class, and I was reading in Joshua 13 the other night. It’s kind of a dull chapter because it’s mostly just about all of the tribes of Israel and all the different parts of the land that they inherited once they entered into it. But what stood out to me was verse 33. It says, “But to the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an inheritance; Yahweh, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.” I love that. For the Levites — the priestly tribe — the Lord was their inheritance. Not land, not houses, not farms, but God Himself. It’s beautiful.
OK, I’m off to go stress about my thesis proposal. Have a great Monday!
January 31, 2012
The title is a quote from what totally awesome TV show?
You guys, Jaci is coming to visit tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (It deserves lots of exclamation points.)
She’s just coming to hang out so that we can both avoid all the school and work we should be doing. We’re going to eat and go to trivia and spend some time up in Vail pretending that we are rich. You never know what kind of crazy will go down, you guys. We may even watch Lost. And by “may” I mean “definitely will.”
Speaking of Jaci, she got me a book called The Wilder Life last time I went to Austin and I’m still reading it because school is so rude and prevents me from reading important books about modern-day people who travel around the country visiting the sites where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in the 1800s. Anyway, the book is really making me want to visit Walnut Grove again to see the Laura pageant that happens every summer. Also, I kind of want to spend a night in a dugout. Also, yes I realize that I am insane. Oh well. Where’s my bonnet?
Anyhoo, it is just a good friends week. Yesterday I got to have lunch with my friends Steve, Ginna and Matthew. Steve and Ginna used to live here in Colorado, but then they were mean and moved to Wisconsin. They were in town this weekend, though, so we got to hang out and I got to be friends with their sweet baby Gwyn.
I’m so behind on season 2 of Downton Abbey, you guys! I’ve only watched the season premiere. Who even knows what’s happening with the Crowleys and old Bates and horrible Thomas?!
So in this semester of Hebrew, we’re translating big chunks of the book of Joshua. We’re going to see how the Israelites entered the land and how God provided for them. We’ll probably see them succeed and fail and be rebellious and repent. Kind of like us. In the first chapter of Joshua, Moses has died and Joshua has taken over leadership of the Israelites. Throughout the chapter, Moses is referred to as the “servant of the Lord” and Joshua is referred to as Moses’ servant. My professor pointed out that it is not until the very end of his life (in chapter 24), that Joshua gets the title, “servant of the Lord.” What a great honor — to be someone who has lived their life in service of the one, true God in whatever role he has called us to.
OK, gots to go. I have about ninety million things to do today, and I am very lazy, so it’s going to be a tough one. Luckily the kindred will be here this evening to cheer me up!