Culture

The Bible as Literature: Jesus’ Death—Two Perspectives

In comparing Matthew and John’s account of Jesus announcing his approaching death it is interesting to see the stark differences in their perspectives. John’s account is of a loving shepherd with his sheep easing them into the thought of what is to come and the reasoning for why these things must come to pass. He is painted as “Jesus the way, the truth and the light”. In contrast, the Jesus of Matthew’s account is much more a martyr. Let’s look a little closer at Matthew’s account so we can analyze the additional meaning written into John. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Daniel—Stories and Visions

Chapters one through six of Daniel’s book are written about Daniel in the third person- Daniel did this, Daniel did that. Then we take an abrupt turn from chapters seven through twelve into the apocalyptic visions. Now Daniel is the speaker who refers to himself in the first person.

In the first six chapters the stories told are of Daniel and his friends and their experiences while in exile. They are prepared for State service and choose vegetables rather than the delicacy’s of the king tables. Nebuchadnezzar has a bad dream about an image of a beast. The boys are thrown into a fiery furnace, but survive by the hand of an angel. Nebuchadnezzar once again has a dream this time of ‘seven times’, a tree (his kingdom) and his going insane. Then there is Belshazzar’s feast, with the mysterious handwriting on the wall that appears. Finally there is infamous Daniel in the lion’s pit. Continue reading

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Culture

The Bible as Literature: Job—Afflicted and Relationship Challenged

Job was an upstanding man in his community, a good guy who didn’t seem to do wrong or harm anyone. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) People came to him for advice and he was well liked by all, from children to the leaders of the community. He had it all. “This man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” (Job 1:3) You might say he lived a charmed life, or at least this is what Satan thought as he gazed upon the earth. Like Greek gods sitting above the expanse of the earth playing chess with humans as pawns, Satan challenged Yahweh saying that if Job didn’t have it so good he wouldn’t continue to serve him loyally. In effect, that Job was only loyal because he had it easy and was spoiled by God. Yahweh agreed to remove his favor from his servant so his loyalty could be tested. Satan pulls out all the stops, taking away his riches, and even his sons and daughters in an effort to get him to curse God or turn away from him. Continue reading

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