Unusual kindness (Mt 5:40-5:42)

“If anyone wants

To sue you,

If they want

To take your tunic coat,

Give your outer cloak as well!

If anyone forces you

To go one mile,

Go also the second mile!

Give to everyone

Who begs from you!

Do not refuse anyone

Who wants

To borrow

From you!”

 

καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι καὶ τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν, ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον·

καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο.

τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός, καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς

 

Once again, these sayings can be found in Luke, chapter 6:29-30, perhaps from the Q source.  Matthew indicates that the followers of Jesus should be kind people.  We might even call these activities unusual acts of kindness.  If someone wished to sue you (καὶ τῷ θέλοντί σοι κριθῆναι), not only should you give him your inner tunic coat (τὸν χιτῶνά σου λαβεῖν), but also your outer cloak as well (ἄφες αὐτῷ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον).  This seems like you would give all the clothes off your back, since most people did not own more than 2 coats.  If someone, probably a Roman soldier, forced you to go a mile with them (καὶ ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν), then go with them a second mile (ὕπαγε μετ’ αὐτοῦ δύο), since Roman soldiers could order people to carry their stuff for only a mile.  If anyone begs from you, give him something (τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός).  If someone wished to borrow money from you, you should not refuse them or turn away from them (καὶ τὸν θέλοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ δανίσασθαι μὴ ἀποστραφῇς).  These were tough difficult recommendations, but actually based on the Torah.  People were expected to give charity and at the same time offer interest free loans.

Justification by Faith

Faith is the response of the total self, the mind, will and affections.  Being justified is a personal phenomenon.  Service and love are more important than right beliefs and sound doctrine.  You do your own believing.  God transforms the heart and you experience God’s love.  Good works are a correlation to faith.  Protestants love the apostle Paul.  They have a tendency to over emphasis the written Bible with an emphasis on private religious experience.  Diversity is good, since most Protestant groups have broken off from another Protestant group or from the Roman Catholic Church.  In a certain sense heretical or diverse views are expected rather than one orthodox single view.

 

 

The development of the gospel biblical texts

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetime.  There was little motivation to write anything down for future generations.  However, as the various eyewitnesses began to die, there was more concern.  The missionary needs of the church grew, so that there was a demand for written versions of the founder’s life and teachings.  The stages of this process included this first oral tradition stage.  Then the stories and sayings of Jesus were passed on largely as separate self-contained units, but not in any order.  There were some written collections of miracle stories, parables, and sayings, with the oral tradition continuing alongside these.  Finally, there were the written proto-gospels that served as the sources for the canonical gospels.  The final gospels were formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition.  All four gospels use the Hebrew Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages.  They interpreted texts or alluded to various biblical themes.  Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint, since they did not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.

Jeremiah back in prison (Jer 38:27-38:28)

“All the officials did come

To Jeremiah.

They questioned him.

He answered them

In the very words

That the king had commanded.

So they stopped

Questioning him.

The conversation

Had not been overheard.

Jeremiah remained

In the court of the guard

Until the day

That Jerusalem was taken.”

Just as King Zedekiah had expected, these royal officials came to Jeremiah in his prison to question him. However, Jeremiah answered them as the king had requested him to do. He told them the conversation with the king was about what prison he should live in. With that, the officials stopped questioning him. They never asked him how he got out of the cistern well. Thus the conversation between the king and Jeremiah was safe, since no one had heard the conversation. Both sides of this discussion had agreed what to say about their secret chat. Nevertheless, Jeremiah remained in the royal prison until Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonians.

The lost peace (Jer 8:14-8:15)

“Why do we sit still?

Gather together!

Let us go into the fortified cities!

We will perish there!

Yahweh our God

Has doomed us to perish.

He has given us poisoned water to drink.

Because we have sinned against Yahweh.

We look for peace.

But we find no good.

We look for a time of healing,

But there is terror instead.”

Here Jeremiah presents the views of the people of Judah. They were sitting together, before they went to their fortified cities. There they expected to perish because Yahweh had doomed them to die. He gave them poisoned water to drink, which was the wrath of God. They finally admitted that they had sinned against Yahweh. They wanted peace, but there was none. They looked for healing, but there was only terror instead.

The rich and the poor (Jer 5:4-5:5)

“Then I said.

‘These are only the poor.

They have no sense.

They do not know

The way of Yahweh.

They do not know

The law of their God.

Let me go to the rich!

I will speak to them.

They know

The way of Yahweh.

They know

The law of their God.’

But they all alike

Had broken the yoke.

They had burst the bonds.”

Jeremiah went to both the rich and the poor people in Jerusalem. At first, he thought that the little poor people had no sense. They did not know Yahweh or the law of God. However, he found the same thing among the privileged rich people also. He had expected the rich to know Yahweh and the law. However, they both turned out the same. They had both broken the yoke of Yahweh and burst out of his bonds.

The failure of Judah (Jer 3:7-3:10)

“I thought.

‘After she has done all this

She will return to me.’

But she did not return.

Her false sister Judah saw it.

She saw

That for all the adulteries

Of that faithless one,

Israel.

I had sent her away

With a decree of divorce.

Yet her false sister Judah did not fear.

But she too went

To play the whore.

Because she took her whoredom so lightly,

She polluted the land.

She committed adultery

With a stone.

She committed adultery

With a tree.

Yet for all this

Her false sister Judah

Did not return to me

With her whole heart,

But only in pretense.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah, but this time it was about Judah, not the northern Israelite tribes. Yahweh had expected the northern tribes to return to him. However, the southern tribe of Judah saw what happened and did the same as her northern sisters. Judah had no fear, even though Yahweh had divorced northern Israel. Then Judah, the false sister, played the whore. She polluted the land as she turned to worshiping the stones and trees during the reigns of the preceding kings of Judah, King Manasseh (687-642 BCE) and King Amon (642-640 BCE) the father and grandfather of King Josiah. Thus they committed adultery with these false worship services. Judah only pretended to return to Yahweh. Thus Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah.

The discussion between Yahweh and his servant (Isa 49:3-49:4)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘You are my servant!

Israel!

I will be glorified in you.’

But I said.

‘I have labored in vain.

I have spent my strength

For nothing,

For vanity.

Yet surely my cause is with Yahweh.

My reward is with my God.’”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh call his servant Israel, not Isaiah. Yahweh was going to be glorified in his servant. However, the servant responded that he had labored in vain, spending all his strength on nothing but useless things. Nevertheless, this servant was willing to say that his cause was with Yahweh. He expected his reward from his God.

The accusation at trial (Isa 43:25-43:28)

“I!

I am he!

I blot out your transgressions

For my own sake.

I will not remember your sins.

Accuse me!

Let us go to trial!

Set forth your case!

Thus you may be proven right.

Your first ancestor sinned.

Your interpreters transgressed against me.

Therefore I profaned

The princes of the sanctuary.

I delivered Jacob to utter destruction.

I delivered Israel to reviling.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh continue with this first person singular diatribe against the Israelites. He wanted to put them on trial to see if they were innocent. He intended to blot out and forget their transgressions and sins. However, he expected them to present their case. Instead, he presented his case. Their first ancestor, perhaps Jacob in Genesis, chapter 27, sinned. Since then the interpreters or intermediaries have transgressed against God. Perhaps this is an allusion to the prophets or the kings. Then he talked about the sanctuary being profaned, which would be the Levitical priests in the Temple. As a result of this, he delivered Jacob and Israel to utter abusive destruction.

The value of the vineyard (Isa 5:3-5:4)

“Now!

Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

People of Judah!

Judge between me

And my vineyard!

What more was there

To do for my vineyard,

That I have not done in it?

When I expected it

To yield grapes,

Why did it yield wild grapes?”

This song is clearly directed at the people of Jerusalem and Judah, not the northern tribes of Israel with its capital in Samaria. The vineyard is no longer that of a beloved friend. It is now the vineyard of Isaiah himself, who wanted them to judge between him and his vineyard. Who was at fault? Was it him the gardener or the vines themselves? Could he have done more? While he expected good grapes, he only got wild grapes. Why did this happen?