Monday, August 20, 2007

Christian Scripture References

There are many spiritual and scriptural elements in The Kentucky Cycle that this post begins to explore cycle by cycle. I plan to update it with more references in the text, but if you have a line referring to scripture and cannot wait, a tool that I have found handy for researching biblical text in its various translations is

Masters of the Trade
& God's Great Supper

Michael Rowen refers to Psalm 121 in Master of the Trade. The Psalm follows (i.e. the King James translation).

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Earl Tod immediately counters with his belief in "an eye for an eye" and Michael Rowan responds "Ahh, an Old Testament man, are ya?" and "The New Testament, it's, a little watery now isn't it?" Subtext and foreshadowing is overflowing here.

Surely Michael Rowan would have a problem with the New Testament where the Gospel of Matthew states:

Matthew Chapter 5, verses 38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Hence the expression: turn the other cheek.)

But perhaps looking at the context of the "eye for an eye" quote could shed light on the Old Testament cultural climate in which it arose. Interesting how it makes mention of a man hitting a pregnant woman, neighbors mistreating neighbors, general abuses that seem to cycle through generations and through our cycles in Kentucky...

Note: Image from The Houston Chronicle's editorial cartoonist and demonstrates the possibility for extremist radicalism regardless of faith or culture.

Exodus Chapter 21 verses 22-25 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise." Leviticus 24: 18-20 "Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured." Deuteronomy 19: 16-21 "If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

But like any bible scholar will advise, it is crucial to consider the social and political context and also view the text in its greater context within the Old and New Testaments. Because looking at the New Testament, we see a lot of what Michael Rowan might consider "watery" but what evolved as the central message of the gospel of peace embodied by Jesus:
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies..." Luke 6: 38-39 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Titus 3: 1-5 "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy."

Ties That Bind
The story of the Samaritan in referred to in this cycle. The parable follows from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 10:
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Yes, certain Rowans seem to be a little weak in their New Testament doctrine.

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