Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’


Introduction

For at least 6,000 years the stories found within the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Old Testament in many Christian Circles, has been a piece or the texts shaping the faith of those who worship within an Abrahamic faith community. The basic texts found within the Protestant Old Testament that this introductory text lends to is 39. Elmer’s A Journey through the Old Testament is a basic text that opens up a student’s eyes and mind to beginning to understand these foundational texts.

Written 23 years ago, it shows a little dating but also reveals the bias of the author. These are topics that will be touched on as a summary is made, the text itself is interpreted within light of itself and in the conclusion he question is asked and hopefully answered with the affirmative why it is useful to explore this text as part of one’s educational enterprise.

Summary

When one first picks up an overview or introduction text to the Hebrew Bible, a reader normally braces themselves for an onslaught of dates, dead people, and possibly dry archaeological dig sites. What Elmer managed to accomplish within his text’s format is more of a DC Comics retro 1980’s “Who’s Who” feel. This was accomplished by framing the material around the key characters of the stories.

Within the character driven synopsis Elmer has structured a verse by verse commentary for the key characters he highlights. Hidden within these commentaries are simple yet effective gems with his:

  1. Synopsis:
  • Ie: cycle of Judges

(Elmer, p.143)

  1. Perspective sections (highlight what the author believes are the main thrust of the text):

Ie: Servant type of Holy Spirit

  • Both are sent
  • Both come bearing gifts
  • Both come teaching about the Son
  • Both come to woo and convince

(Elmer, p. 83)

  1.  Outlines
  • ie: Leviticus (p.123) that lays out a rhythm of :

Access- the way to God (1:1-7:38)

Association – walk with God (8:1-23:44)

Apostasy – the warning from God (24:1-27:34)

These are easy to access and understand for the reader regardless of their familiarity with the subject matter. The order or rhythm for the work is that of how they first appear within the context of the story of the Hebrew Bible.

The text itself has two main points:

  1. That for a student to fully understand the New Testament they must read the Old Testament through their Post-Christ lens. This is illustrated through his rendition of Lucifer as a story of rebellion.
  2. That the hardest lesson of faith to learn is waiting on God.

The work itself appears designed to aid a subject based study methodology that one would craft around a certain character to learn from. This learning is textual and character driven to be able to come to one’s own conclusions about the works that make up the Hebrew Bible.

Interpretation

            At first blush with the innovative way the stories were presented one may assume that Elmer is“wolf” in sheep’s clothing. That is he is letting innovation lead the reader into a false sense of security before hitting them over the head with a rather outdated contextual message, as was the flavour of theological writings in the televangelist driven 1980’s. That is not the case, what is found is a profound character study that can challenge the reader into seeing the sometimes familiar story through new eyes.

For instance he shows a correlation through history of the church, and a story from the Testament by quoting Matthew Henry “all God’s people are praying people” (Elmer, p. 40) as a lead into the Abraham story on the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This thought is clearly continued with Abraham’s conversation with God around the destruction of the two cities as prayer (Ibid, p.60). For prayer is the communication of our relationship with God, and as such can be open, flowing yet the great question is raised as Abraham debates God over how many righteous people are needed to assuage destruction why did he stop at 10? Did he think that if Lot’s family was counted that would be enough? Did he believe there was 10 people in the cities he was unrelated to that were after God’s heart? Or as the petitions drove on, and Abraham remembered the inhospitality of the cities did he have a Jonah/Ninevah moment and just no longer want to wrestle with God over their salvation?

Hard questions rose within the readers’ mind that may not traditionally come up within a Western Church where 90% of the time these texts are abused and used to show the “abomination” of homosexuality, which has nothing to do with the story. The inhospitality circled around security, gang rape, offering up of daughters, essentially drawing that the only care in life is for one’s own power not for the needs of the other.

Yet again, as we journey through the Torah, Elmer avoids the easy explanations and go to chapters within Leviticus to discuss the most atrocious of sins. Where most interpreters in the Western Christianity go to chapter 19’s sex laws, Elmer rests on a little know child sacrifice to Molech in 20:1-5 as the true apostasy before the Lord.

This has set a good rhythm within Genesis for the relationship of the people with God. Yet Elmer has a tendency of needing to tie these stories directly into teachings of the Christian Testament. Yes the early church grew out of Judaism, and was eventually kicked out of the synagogues and Temple yet does it always need to be read through the lens of the other. He stipulates this by correlating the Joseph story of Genesis with Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” (New International Version). Paul was writing to Roman believers with this line, as a classically trained Pharisee, from an upper class family background and a citizen of the Empire. Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery in Egypt and rose to prominence within Egypt through his spiritual gifts from God. So yes it is possible in certain instances to read the Christian Testament into the Hebrew Bible, but one should always ensure the teachings align and that they are not just trying to make a puzzle piece fit an empty hole.

The last statement within Genesis was used in the summary section around the comparison of the servant and The Holy Spirit. This comparison at first reads seems unique and practical, but it does not hold water when one thinks of what the Holy Spirit does within the life of a believer and community. Yes the servant accomplishes these four fold ministries, but these are also just the beginning of the work of the Spirit. This is an example of attempting to over read the Christian Testament into the Hebrew Bible.

Another is seen as Elmer stating that the Angel of the Lord in the Hebrew Bible is Jesus pre-incarnation (p. 143). This is not a strong statement, as it eliminates the Host of Heaven from work, but it also discredits the writing of John 1 about the Word becoming flesh, and the work in Genesis 1 being used to create, and the teaching of angels (messengers) being lower than Jesus in Hebrews. It appears with this that Elmer found a writing crux and kept going with it.

From this we enter into the world of the Judges which is another time of waiting. The people have entered what can only be described as a Tween cycle of existence, where they constantly rebel and fall back into the family through the work of some of the most dysfunctional individuals for their time: (a) Othniel (nepotism); (b) Ehud (left-handed); (c) Barak (coward); (d) Deborah (woman); (e) Gideon (coward); (f) Jephthah (son of a harlot); (g) Samson (adulterer) (Elmer, p.144).

From this emerges the monarchy out of the theocracy with Saul (Elmer, p. 180) that holds the United Kingdom under only two other monarchs: David and his son, Solomon before it is ripped asunder (Ibid, p.181). Unfortunately where Elmer had been challenging norms and could continue to challenge the student’s suppositions and indoctrinations around certain stories when he hits David he falls back into a church rut of vaguest details.

David and Bathsheba hits a wall where he relies on innuendo, abstract language to not really lay out what actually came to play between these two (p.204). Elmer is still leaning on a patriarchal and in some estimation, misogynistic view that Bathsheba was at least partly willing and that it was a fling or affair, while inappropriate nothing more. What is missed is that the power of the throne was abused, not only abused, but a man targeted a woman to exercise their power for sexual gratification. This is a textbook definition within Canadian Law of sexual assault (otherwise known as rape). Where Elmer could have stepped out in courage, he retreated.

Within the Wisdom Literature Elmer holds to a Solomonic authorship stance on Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Song of Solomon. He relates that is was a younger Solomon who wrote the song, but then in spite of order within the canon postulates Ecclesiastes as the prologue that spurred on the writing of Proverbs (p.217).

Which brings us into the division of the kingdom due to sibling rivalry (which could be a later literary effect to remind the believer of the journey of Cain and Abel) between Rehoboam and Jeroboam and it is through this division that the exiles happen where the Prophets speak to attempt to prevent. The unique highlights being that the Babylonians allowed Jeremiah to continue to live because they thought him an ally (Elmer, p. 261).

Post-exilic works such as Esther which was written to those still in Diaspora who had opted not to return to the Holy Land (Ibid, p. 278). For the work did not name God, yet God is the most prevalent character throughout with the actions of the characters and how Esther rose to prominence within the city for control of the king. It is also another reflective book from the Genesis stories when we think of how Joseph was given into slavery, what happened with Esther was no different, yet God was there working with her.

How does all this matter though to us today? Do we need to be able to see the Christian Testament illuminated within the works of the Hebrew Bible for it to bear relevance?

Conclusion

The answer for the writer of the two above noted questions is yes it does still matter and No we do not for it to still bear relevance. The challenge as was pointed out in the previous section Elmer has a well laid out text, where he pushes boundaries in some places, percolates thoughts in others. The unfortunate part is that where these gems happen, there is by far more times where he holds the party line that does not need to be held with just a bit of deeper digging, and more to the point should not be attempting to insert a Christian understanding upon a Judaic story.

The journey is still worth the price of admission for the questions it does read, but as with all textbooks (or media in general) this should be approached with one’s critical eye fully engaged to enter collegial dialogue with the work.

The last things that need to be remembered which can be seen as key for the believer within the Hebrew Bible. Within these stories that can seem barbaric, bloody, misogynistic, genocidal, hate filled… there is kernels of hope:

  1. We are a people of prayer, and it is within prayer that we can interact fully with God.
  2. God is alive in our lives and all things work towards our calling eventually.

Holding onto these things as one takes their life experience, faith, education and the Holy Spirit to experience the full revelations within for journey today and this text has added to the education peace for understanding.


Introduction

            The Christian Testament, colloquially known as The New Testament can become an enigma for some. There are many contemporary historians, academics, and theologians wrestle with the origins of the collection of 26 writings within this testament. There is a varied understanding of Gospel (from memoir to literal history to political statement to liberation movement to name but a few); epistle (letter, teaching, prophecy) and apocalyptic language. There is debate over whom and why wrote these texts, and why they ended up within the context of the canon when one reflects on the vast amount of texts the early church fathers had to choose from.

Whether one read’s Ehrman, Spong, Borg, Graham, Brueggerman, The Popes, McKnight, Stott, Brown, Crossan, Packer, or Bruce (or a litany of other academics) what becomes evident is needing a foundation to start from. It is this foundation that one finds within the rather proto-orthodox and/or basic fundamental underpinnings of the origins of the 26 writings within the Christian Testament. For the new student/believer, the New Testament of the Holy Bible (coupled with the Old Testament or more correctly the Hebrew Bible).

While one prepares for ministry, it is important to not only gain an understanding of these foundational texts, but also to stay current with the historical development of introduction as science. This short paper will touch on a summary of Louis Berkhof’s Introduction to the New Testament (1915); an interpretation of important pieces of the driving thesis’ of Berkhof’s work and speculation as to why it is framed as it is, finally there will be a conclusion where the writer will bring together the summary and interpretation into the Twenty-First century for how it holds up.

Summary

            Historically the early Twentieth Century in North America was when the Fundamentals movement commenced. It was not as one would view fundamentalists today rather it was many denominations coming together and deciding what the core foundation of faith needed to be to work together on building God’s kingdom here on earth (otherwise noted as the Social Gospel movement). It is out of these early days that one can see Berkhof’s Introduction to the New Testament emerging in 1915.

The writing bears the grandiosity within the faith of the time, it carries the assumption that even a first year student would have a passing understanding of Greek as these words are peppered throughout. There is also the idea of fundamental to it, because Berkhof stipulates that it is not a critical text (which could be divisive at the time), rather it was a chronology of the transmission of the works (p.2).

The text itself is expertly written, even with its higher academic underpinnings the work is readable and clearly puts forward the thesis by relying on what some may say is a lost science today in the world of expertise. Berkhof is taking a generalist viewpoint of the historicity and composition of the 26 texts of the Testament. This historical development is borrowed from the discipline of the early church fathers forward (Berkhof, p. 4) that is a discipline of introduction in which some say the goal is the validity of what truly is the word of God does a disservice to the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God (Ibid p. 4). Berkhof is clear in stating up front that this is not a quest for the historical Jesus or the understanding of debate over validity of the texts, both of these arguments are non-sequitor for Berkhof who is laying out the simplicity of the answers to questions of authorship, composition, history, purpose and how they came into the canon (Ibid, p.4).

While the text is definitely a product of its times, it still holds water when one cracks the proverbial spine and begins the journey of discovery through to fully understand why we still have, rely upon, study and question these 26 texts to build our faith (both individually and communally).

Interpretation

            It is difficult to separate the summary from the interpretation, as noted with it being a text almost 100 years old fresh eyes do need to read it through the lens of the time. As a writer of the time Berkhof relies on reading the Hebrew Bible into the Christian Testament (and one can speculate the reverse as well). But with an understanding of church history one knows the time period and the ideal of fundamentals bridging the divide between liberal and conservative Christianities however by bridging the gap Berkhof did take the less academic path in critical thought with his work.

What is appreciated for a student of theology and critical thought within the Christian Testament is that Berkhof clearly does not intend the reader to approach the Gospels as literal history or direct dictations from God (as a Muslim would approach the Qu’ran) rather he is clear that the Gospels are memoirs (p.20).  The writers are four memoirists of one story (p.14) and taken together one can get a fuller picture of whom the living Christ is and how he was then as well.

As Berkhof continues his text by text introductory journey through the Christian Testament he shows a partiality to the emerging Charismatic movement with his reliance upon the inspiration by and through the Holy Spirit working within the diversity of the writers and their experiences (p.25). Reflective on his usage of reading the Christian Testament into the Hebrew Bible by making the claim that the Holy Spirit was active outside of the church before Christ and within the church after Christ’s (p.26) ascension and the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost upon the believers. The challenge is does one think this is true? Or is it a clearer statement to illuminate that the Holy Spirit was the life breathed into humanity on the Sixth Day so it was more that the Spirit was named and let known at the point of Christ’s ascension? Again however the debate over the Spirit would have been a divisive issue that would not have been wise in the time period he was bringing this together.

Once the bedrock of inspiration was laid the work continues through the text by text review. Berkhof relies heavily on the early church fathers to verify his orthodoxy. Is this a reputable way to build a modern view of God? Partly yes, but it also lends oneself to not understand that God’s revelation is not static and that understanding changes over time. A reader just needs to look at Berkhof’s understanding of the Acts of the Apostles that is pointed out the text lays out the establishment of the early church and their primary organization (p.62). This organization as was revealed throughout the epistles was an organic change over time and not static. The Holy Spirit was at work shaping the believers and their understanding with their contexts. It was these earliest writings of the Christian Testament by Paul that shaped the use of the epistle as a form of conferring divine truth upon the early church (Berkhof, p. 68). Yet even with this statement Berkhof leans towards a static understanding of church life.

Within the reflective work of reading the testaments into each other, Berkhof postulates a mirroring of each area that is quite beneficial to understand the true Judaic roots of the early church and how the early church fathers shaped the Canon to mirror the familiar (Berkhof, p. 70):

Hebrew Bible Christian Testament
Pentateuch Gospels
History Acts
Wisdom Literature Epistles
Prophets (Major/Minor) Revelation

 

The first three are from Berkhof, but to complete the theory one needs to reflect on the purpose of the prophets from the Hebrew Bible. The purpose was to redirect the Children of God back onto God’s path, encourage, and warn of the storms to be weathered to come, but also what will happen out the other side. Which when one takes a read through Revelation through the socio-historic-cultural lens is the same reflection for the seven churches of Asia Minor.

Berkhof also illuminates early what Raymond Brown would confirm in the later 20th century, that the epistles of John show the organic transformation of the early church. First John and the Gospel of John are companion documents that one could actually see the epistle being a commentary. Yet to continue the illumination when one enters Second and Third John all of a sudden this community founded on egalitarianism, charity and equality now has a structure much like the rest of the apostolic church that Paul, James and Peter were functioning within.

The simplistic ideal for a new believer is that the early church was the homogenous utopia, yet as Berkhof expertly pointed out earlier into his work when discussing the writers, they were joined into community through the Holy Spirit yet they were diverse. It was this diversity that created a plethora of understandings and ways to live the faith out even within the earliest days of the movement.  The emergence of the unified church as one note the writings of the epistles becoming more uniform within their discussion of church organization lends itself to the idea of introduction to the development of the Testament.

It is unique though that Hebrews would be placed within the epistles, when it truly reflects itself more as a catechism. This may not have been the language that Berkhof used for it, but the work is an enigma that lays out a strong theological understanding for the faith. It is an enigmatic text because of not understanding who the author truly is. Some lend to Paul, others to perhaps one of the women of Jesus’ community, but all we know for sure is that the identity of this writer is lost to antiquity.

What this introduction has shown though is that one can easily get caught up in the non-essentials of the debate; authorship while knowing is nice it is not the thrust of the work. For it is within the text itself that the divine truth is communicated through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to bring unity in God through the diversity of creation.

It is within this diversity and almost 2000 year history of those that walk with the living Christ that brings us into this reading of an introduction to the Christian Testament. Almost 2000 years on the church is as diverse if not more diverse than it was back in the early days. So why enter into this study?

Conclusion

            Why should one invest the time to read never mind understand or process a work that is almost 100 years old? That is an important question in a world that is go-go-go. Yet we also live in a world where the Holy Bible has never been more widely available, translated into various languages, as well as different versions of those translations with the idea being that each believer should be able to find a text that resonates with them.

That is the theory, yet with the rise of social and mass media the ability for one to process the information coming into one’s sphere of orbit has left generations being probably the most biblically illiterate since pre-Reformation. Which then brings us back to the question that opened this section, why bother? Simply put to give one a foundation of understanding.  Whether or not a reader agrees with the theories postulated, or the reliance upon the early church fathers to prove efficacy what is important is like in the historical time the book was written, a simple fundamental understanding of the transmission of the 26 texts that created the Christian Testament.

This simplicity of understanding could lend itself to becoming a point of healing, as almost 100 years ago there was a divide between the liberal and conservative Christianities that over the 97 years since its publication this divide that was being bridged by the fundamentals has exploded into a full on gulf with lava.

This is shown most clearly within the Anglican Communion that is straining at the seams based around Northern-Southern Hemisphere (or 1/3 to 2/3) world divisions around theological underpinnings of the 66 texts in the Protestant Holy Bible.  Yet it is also a division created because within the midst of debate to the point of schism what is lost is the historical understanding of transmission.

The debate has moved from collegial to scholastic within this divide internationally and within local congregations because it is about proving one side right and one side wrong. There is no willingness to understand the work of the Holy Spirit within the diversity of the church that lived out the calling of The Christ.

That is the key point as to why one should spend time with this historic introduction book. In the midst of chaos, argument, schism and destruction of the Body of Christ (as communicated through the epistles) one is reminded that it is not about the minor facts we debate that tears us about or where we claim baptism. What is it truly about? Christ.

Throughout Berkhof’s Introduction to the New Testament this is what resonates to the reader about not only the texts, but more importantly the living Body of Christ in the world today: the church. We are diverse, we are different, we claim different theories and ideas about who, what, where, when, why and how these texts came to us and the institution of the Christianities came to be. Yet that is not what matters at the heart, the true thesis of the matter is that the Holy Spirit dwells within the church (Berkhof, p. 26).

The Holy Spirit is still the one transmitting the texts to us in spite of our individuality for, like the early church it is our understanding of God, our life experience, and the Holy Spirit itself that comes together with us individually or corporately when we read the text and inspires the divine truth of the Holy Mystery.

This is how the texts were originally transmitted to us; this was the purpose that Berkhof laid out for his introduction. Yes, as an author he wrote splendidly about the authorship, composition, history, etc of each of the texts, but the driving underlying thesis that Berkhof focused on was simple: inspired and transmitted throughout the ages to the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Why read a textbook introduction about almost 2000 year old texts that is almost 100 years old? Simple, it reminds us of the basic truth of the Christianities. We are the Body of Christ thanks to the Holy Spirit descending upon us and into us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference

Berkhof, Louis. Introduction to the New Testament. Christian Classics Library: Grand      Rapids, MI: 1915.

 

 


International Justice Mission

Image via Wikipedia

The day opens with breakfast on campus, as we get ready to gather for morning worship…then into some try out classes.  Some of the participants head into Old Testament Literature, while others go to hear Ryan Skruggs to speak on Modern Day Slavery, and then International Justice Mission to speak on the practical theological applications to end this blight…lunch was a burrito feast thanks to the alumni, and then into worship, and my talk on walking and serving God…there will be another post on the actual speaking notes, but let’s say it was amazing to speak in the chapel, and too watch a new generation engage, while others disengaged over language choice of reference to God (he/she) or that the transgendered among us are as loved by God.

Four students spoke from their hearts and took questions as to how ABC is forming them for life long ministry…and currently they are doing a food/clothing drive for The Mustard Seed, tonight will be a banquet feast, and then more worship and a talk from Lee Primeau.

The highlight of the day for me though was the speech contest participant, Ericka who knocked it out of the park speaking on the love of God in making a life.  Congratulations!


Introduction

                Many modern commentators will get hung up on the historic accuracy of 1 & 2 Samuel, speak of how they were written pre-exile to Babylon which is why they give such an unauthorized version of the royal family as opposed to Chronicles which is the sanitized or authorized version post-exile. But this phenomenon of literalism is a recent 100 year invention and misses the point of the beauty of the inspired nature of the Biblical Text.  For years they were told and retold, read, not as literal black and white truth, but for the deeper meaning, the mythology, that is the eternal truth discovered within that lends itself to revisiting the text again and again. This short reflection is going to look at David, shepherd King of Israel and reflect on what this collection of stories means for our own spiritual journeys. There are five in the cycle of David and:

Each of these speaks to an eternal truth that may or may not aid our journeys today, but one day.

Goliath

                It was war, funny how that happens in the Hebrew Bible that which Christians refer to as the Old Testament. These are stories that I will not hide, are filled with blood, misogyny and hate. Yet again, we must dig deeper.

                Let us set the stage, the stories of Samuel opens with Hannah, a woman who is barren which pretty much renders her as a non-entity in her culture. She prays to God promising to dedicate the baby to God. Voila, Samuel is born, and handed over the priest to be raised and Samuel becomes a prophet. During this time the people feel that direct communion and leadership with God and want to be like everyone else (possibly a metaphor of peer pressure for today?) and that they want a king. God relents as most good parents will; the adolescent must grow up, and be given just enough rope to sample the world without being destroyed by it. So God locates what a typical King should be, that is the all powerful Saul.

                And enter the ongoing war dynamic. Israel is at war with the Philistines, it is a constant cycle, but the leader of the Philistines is a man named, Goliath, who quite possibly could be one of the left over Nephilim from Genesis 9 with how he is described. The die is cast as a challenge is laid down, any of you can defeat me, and the invading army will turn back, but if we beat your champion you are ours. Contrary to popular opinion there was no brave souls among the armies of Israel, but one shepherd boy was hearing voices. Yup, those fun voices, and the call of God, picking up five smooth stones he went to the battlefield and told the king his plan. Saul was a bit sheepish, but let’s face it, send the boy to his death or go and die yourself.

                David was provided with armour, and told the “proper” ways to conduct the battle, but what is the point of this story? Simple, that the proper or traditional ways are not always what is needed, David shucked the armour and weapontry away, and entered the field with his crook, slingshot, and five stones. How did it end?

                The boy one, and became a favourite of the king, but it was illuminated that this David was to replace Saul as a more righteous king.

Saul

                The Saul-David dynamic is a yin-yang story while it unfolds before Saul dies. It is two sides of the same coin, Saul the one in rebellion, David the one on the path to God. Running from the Holy, communing with the Holy. Where Saul felt he needed to jump through the hoops of tradition and the rules, but impose his own control on God and place God in the familiar box, David realized that the rules were created for man, not man for the rules, and as such there was flexibility, understanding and love within them.

                From my reading, this story is more about the self transformation of an individual as the king transitions from the selfish Saul to one focused on the selfless love of God, but the journey is not always that simple, for there are things that we bring alongside that twists a person.

Jonathan

                Soul Friend, or as we would say in the 21st century, Soul Mate, this is how Jonathan, Saul’s son, relationship with David was described. You can culturfy all the kissing and hugging to death that you want, but what you have within this story is a love story. Two souls becoming one, and a culture that would not accept it, mostly because Jonathan’s father was attempting to save his job and whack David the man who was his succession plan which doesn’t lend itself too well for an in-laws relationship.

                When Jonathan dies, it falls apart for David. This falling apart leads into polygamy, but also a viewpoint within David that sees his female romantic partners as property that are there only to pleasure the king.

Bathsheba

THIS IS NOT A STORY OF ADULTERY. For adultery to happen it takes two consenting parties choosing to break their vows of monogamy with another and inter into a sexual or intimate relationship with one another. What this is, is a predatory relationship of David wanting to step outside the norm for gratification of a power-sexual dynamic.

                Bathsheba was bathing on the roof most likely because her menstruation cycle had just ended and under “Levitical” law she was deemed unclean. It was due to the fear of the power of the women’s blood that led to laws around uncleanliness with menstruation, because tribal cultures of the period say the power of life and death within menstruation. So she was ritually cleaning (baptizing) herself to be able to enter the women’s segregated side of the tent of worship after her 7 day cleanse.

                David knew he would see naked women who were to be kept separate when he stood up on his roof to pleasure himself. It was like the original porno. But masturbation (wasting the male seed, which was seen as the source of life as well) was not enough. David needed more, and his concubines were not doing it, he was never allowed to actually fruitfully live his life with Jonathan. All this coalesced into the rape dynamic. Soldiers were dispatched to seize Bathsheba and bring her to the King’s chamber.

                Think about what she was feeling, humiliation and shame at this time of ritual and worship being told that she was to come to see the king, barely clothed led through the city at night by soldiers to David. Scared, humiliated, cold, and confused she stands before this aroused warrior. Smelling the sex off of him towards her, she had not way out, in fact this power dynamic would play out in later feudal systems where the first night of claiming virginity became the right of the sovereign to ensure a couple could wed, which is where the term F-U-C-K came from (Fornication Under Consent of the King).

                David raped Bathsheba, impregnating her. When this was discovered, wanting to continue to control her (the psychosis of a rapist), he plotted the revenge murder of her husband. Once that was accomplished and the son was delivered, David’s madness knew no bounds.

                Kyle Baker did an amazing graphic novel on the story of David that I would recommend to anyone, the closing scene is of David lost in his psychosis committing infanticide, killing the child born out of the rape. Sending a culminating message to Bathsheba, I own you, you have no power.

                Not a story of love, but rather a story of the depths a person can take corruption to and the hatred of self and sickness that can exist within a person.

Nathan

                Nathan is the agent of original restorative justice (okay not really, that was back in the garden) for he gives David the wake up call. The call, you are on thin ice, and God is seeking a regime change. David was hit where he lived. His power, and self-awareness came through the mentoring relationship with Nathan. The healing journey for the offender, and the victim begins.

                It also speaks to redemption and healing with the birth of Solomon, the one who would build the Temple, because it was through Solomon that Bathsheba was actualized as a human being, for David became less, and Bathsheba’s son redeemed the nation of Israel.

                Nathan was the change catalyst, an ancient Phoenix Project for sex offenders, that if the times allowed for it, I could see David releasing Bathsheba, unfortunately due to the culture dynamic releasing Bathsheba would have caused harm, as she would have had to turn to temple prostitution or the sex trade living rough in the city and dying in the gutter. David’s heart changed and it went from a power dynamic to a healing dynamic.

Conclusion

                The point of the David narrative is not to show the historical truth of Israel as a nation, and not just a tribal society. It is not to sing the praises of Mandom, or how wonderful a person David was. It is showing that no one is beyond redemption, that life is a struggle, as the Buddhist call it, Dukkha, that ambivalence of choice we are constantly living in and that are choices have consequences. These consequences depending on the choice are positive or negative, but not just for us. We live in interdependent communities in which our choices affect others as well.