Stuff They Didn’t Teach You In Sunday School – How To Revive A Dying Old Man

David Abishag

David and Abishag, Português: Davi e Abisag Pedro Américo de Figueiredo e Melo, 1879.

Kings 1:1  David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. 2So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant; let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’ 3So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4The girl was very beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her sexually. (1 Kings 1:1-4)

I’m guessing the king did not know Abishag sexually, not because of lack of desire, but because of lack of ability.  King David was impotent.

It’s an interesting way to keep an old man warm.  Why not just throw on an extra quilt?

I can guarantee you that if I get old and cold my wife will not permit a beautiful virgin to snuggle up to me.

Note the treatment of women.  Note the treatment of young women.  Note the treatment of young, foreign women.

Calling the Bible the Word of God hides and denies a lot of bad stuff.  Can we be real about what we have in the Bible?

Stuff They Didn’t Teach You In Sunday School

The  early church read a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.  The early church opted for this version rather than a Hebrew version of the Old Testament which was based on what was called the Masoretic Text.  Masoretes (7th – 10 century CE) were a group who standardized the Hebrew text.  The problem with standardization is that it gives one the impression that manuscript and textual considerations have never been made.  Standardization produces a so-called authoritative text, erasing diversity.  Textual history is essential to remember.

Interestingly, there are some notable differences between the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the Masoretic version of the Old Testament.

“Whereas the Hebrew Bible has preserved just one version of the Book of Ezra, the Septuagint contains two versions, each one with its own literary shape.“ (The Earliest Test of the Hebrew Bible:  The Relationship between the Masoretic Text and the Hebrew Base of the Septuagint Reconsidered, ed. Adrian Schenker, p 36)

The Greek translation of Ezekiel is notably shorter than the Masoretic Text. ( p 84)

Jeremiah in the Septuagint is 15% shorter than the Masoretic Text in its number of words, verses, and periscopes, and is sometimes arranged differently. (p. 126)

The Septuagint of Ezekiel is 4 – 5 percent shorter than the Mastoretic Text and in one case (7:3-9) the arrangement of the two editions differed much, involving new ideas.

The Septuagint of 1 Samuel 16-18 is significantly shorter than the Masoretic Text by some 45% and apparently represents one version of the story of David and Goliath, to which a second one, with different tendencies, was juxtaposed in the edition of the Masoretic Text. (p. 126)

The list of inhabitants of Jerusalem in the Septuagint of Nehemiah 11 is considerably shorter than in the Masoretic Text. (p. 127)

The edition of Joshua in the Septuagint differs in several ways from the Masoretic Text.  In some segments, the Septuagint is shorter and in other segments it is longer, and in yet other periscopes different details are found.  (p. 127)

1 – 2 Kings displays extensive chronological differences between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint with regard to synchronisms and the counting of the years of the divided monarchy. (p. 127)

The Septuagint text of Chronicles is sometimes shorter, while in one case it adds elements. (p. 128)

The Septuagint Esther presents large additions as well as many smaller, but still sizeable omissions, inversion, and changes. (p. 130)

The Septuagint Psalms differs with the inclusion of Psalm 151 and the combining of some Psalms differently from the Masoretic Text. (p. 131)

The illusion that we were provided with one Bible is a grand illusion.  Really it is a big lie.

Very Bad News For Liberal Christians – Stuff They Didn’t Teach You In Sunday School

John 8

1While Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’

I have some very bad news for liberal Christians.  One of our favorite texts is not up to snuff.  Or put another way, our better manuscripts do not include the wonderful story of Jesus telling the accusers of the adultery “He who has not sinned toss the first stone.”

The earliest Greek manuscripts, the earliest translations and the earliest church fathers all lack reference to this story. Furthermore, some manuscripts place it at other points within John (after 7:36, 7:44 or 21:25), others include it in the Gospel of Luke (placing it after Luke 21:38), and many manuscripts have marks that indicate the scribes “were aware that it lacked satisfactory credentials” (Metzger 1994:189).

The good news is this is a good example of how we can never have an original copy of the Bible, if that ever existed in the first place.  And for the record, Christians to this day still disagree about what should and should not be in the Bible.

I hope and pray the story is true to Jesus.  If so, it was one of his better moments.  God knows we need a story like this.  Human beings, especially women, are being stoned in our modern world.

The Madonna/Whore Complex In The Bible

His first words to me were “I have a Madonna/Whore complex.”

He was someone who had just visited the church and we were having a get to know each other lunch.  It was the last kind of church member I would have wanted.  (For the record, both my wife and I love this church member.)

People with Madonna Whore/complexes scare me.  There are no Madonnas.  There are no perfect people.  While there may be a few rotten to the core bad people, we should avoid separating people into sheep and goats.  Most of us are good enough, and that’s good enough.

Be careful of people who put you on a pedestal. They will knock you off of it.

Be careful of people who think you are worthless.  They will never think otherwise.

Interestingly, some of the Madonna Whore/complex plays out in some of the Bible.  For example, 1 and 2 Chronicles is an idealized history of Israel, a Madonna history, a utopian history.  This is in contrast to the narrative representation in the Deuteronomist History, which includes 1 and 2 Kings.  In the Deuteronomist History you get the impression some people have the devil in their DNA.

Chronicles has a much more positive portroyal of both Israelite people and their kings.  The Chronicler cleans things up so much he/she does even mention David’s tango with Bathsheba.  How could a historian leave out David’s affair with Bathsheeba?  And yet the Chronicler does exactly that.

The Chronicler also cleans up the Solomon narrative.  “In contrast to the problems Solomon faced in the early chapters of Kings, 1  Chronicles 29:24 indicates that ‘all the leaders and the mighty warriors, and also all the sons of David, pledge their allegiances to King Solomon’.  Absalom, Adonijah, Abiathrt the priest and Joab the commander, to to mention all the sons of David that celebrated with Adonijah (1 Kings 1:9) – all seem to have been forgotten, or at least their efforts to have Adonijah put on the throne after Absalom’s abortive revolt have been banished from the story:  ‘A view of Solomon’s rise more divergent from that of Kings can hardly be imagined’ (Braun 1986:xxxiv).

Personally, I’m not for cleaning up history. On the other hand, messy history doesn’t mean we are all whores.