Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't say His Name, Harry

One of many joys of this electronic age and the internet is the seemingly infinite availability of free resources, things that have been written over the years and down through the ages of history. Walking on my treadmill, which I detest, I have read several Shakespeare plays (I’m not his fan but he beats staring at the clock) and novels of Charles Dickens: typically, one chapter is a decent workout for me. I’m not especially a Dickens fan either, though the romanticism of several is touching. And Mr. Pickwick’s exciting adventures all while dealing with the unwanted affections and eventual lawsuit of his landlady, who thought he was proposing that they marry and live and love together when all he was asking was permission to have a manservant in his apartments; and Pickwick lost in court and, as well as finding other rooms, was found guilty and had to pay the lady a substantial fine for leading her on. Well, Little Dorrit is pretty sappy with the time in debtors prison, and Dickens goes on and on and on and on chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter because he was earning his living by writing serials for newspaper publication. 

But anyone who ever loved and lost in their youth might like Great Expectations and its final scene when the long lost beloved Estella unexpectedly shows back up in Pip’s life in his later years and they walk off into the moonlight. “I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

Anyone harboring a teenage daydream in their waning years has got to love Pip and Estella. Go for it, Mr. Pip, and all free online.

Today it wouldn't be necessary to buy all these pricey textbooks, practically anything I ever had to read in theological seminary is now available on the web. And one no longer must own a costly encyclopedia, or if it comes down to it even a dictionary or thesaurus, because thoughts and words and names can be looked up instantly online quicker than turning pages and running one’s finger down the letter by letter descending alphabet of word lists. There was a time when I had to plan special trips to the library to do research for sermons, or, when I was in business, dig out information for my Australian and Canadian clients. No more.

And it is enormous fun discovering things to share with my Sunday School class and folks in my Tuesday morning Bible Seminar. Yale University has a wide range of online courses that include the course lectures by their professors, which one can either read the transcript or watch the professor lecture, virtually being there in the classroom even while students ask and the professor answers questions. I have done both the Old Testament course, taught by a Jewish scholar, and the New Testament course, interestingly enough taught by a professor who grew up in a literalist fundamentalist church, and admits to now being an Episcopalian.

Bother, where was I going? Oh yes, Bible Gateway is the most wonderful online resource imaginable, with translations in every language including a couple dozen English, several Hebrew Bibles and four Greek New Testaments; including at least one TR where one can compare, for example, the text of the KJV with later translations from better and more ancient sources, enlightening, for example, questions about the so-called Johannine Comma. And Peter Kirby’s Early Jewish Writings and especially his Early Christian Writings with it’s  scholarly essay on each book of the Bible and many excellent links, may be my second most useful online resource. EssWord, rambling again, TomBo.      

At BibleGateway, the Orthodox Jewish Bible, completed by Phillip Goble in 2002, is an English language version that applies Yiddish and Hasidic cultural expressions to the Messianic Bible, with some fascinating yields. Tomorrow’s story, for example, of the background, conception, birth and rearing of Moses, reads quaintly in the OJB as though Harry Golden's mother were reading it to him at bedtime. And our liturgical response to that opening story in Exodus, Psalm 124. Read the psalm below. 

Hashem, BTW, is the Jewish name for God (whose name YHWH is too sacred to speak) that one speaks when one is not in a worship environment (where one would say Adonai instead of YHWH) and one needs to make very damnable sure that one does not accidentally slip up and commit the stoneable sacrilege of saying The Name aloud. The OJB is very neat:

Tehillim 124 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
124 (Shir HaMa’alot, [Song of Ascents] of Dovid). If it had not been Hashem Who was lanu (for us, on our side), now may Yisroel say;
If it had not been Hashem Who was lanu, when adam (man) rose up against us;
Then they had swallowed us up chayyim (alive); when their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the mayim would have overwhelmed us, the torrent would have swept over nafsheinu (our nefesh); (Shir HaMa’alot, [Song of
Then the mayim hazedonim (treacherous waters) would have swept over nafsheinu (our nefesh).
Baruch Hashem, Who hath not given us up as a prey to their shinayim (teeth).
Nafsheinu (our nefesh) is escaped as a tzippor (bird) out of the pach (snare of the fowlers); the pach is broken, and we are escaped.
Ezreinu (our help) B’Shem Hashem Oseh Shomayim vaAretz.

I might add, Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.


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