A particular form of American Evangelicalism developed in the 1920s to combat the secular culture after World War I, during the Roaring Twenties with its jazz age Gatsby morality. From 1890-1920 over 20,000,000 people, mostly Roman Catholic Europeans, immigrated into the major American cities. These new immigrants brought an end to the Victorian morals with their gambling and their bootlegging alcohol drinking during the Prohibition era. The League of Nations and the growth of international communism were other factors. Most fundamentalists were against the scriptural criticism of Protestant liberalism and the various other modernism trends. They feared losing their world, because others were aggressively posing a threat to their traditions. This was an apocalyptic view of history, where the past was great, the present cloudy and the future assured.
The Protestant principle testifies to God’s sovereignty against human endeavors. Continually Protestants remind us not to absolute the relative. God is beyond nature and history. For many Protestants, the Bible is the ultimate source of truth, the living word of God. On the other hand, dogma, sacraments, and church are at the heart of Catholic belief. Protestants do not grant papal infallibility, preferring to rely on the corrections of the Holy Spirit. You need to continually protest against something.
Dispensationalists interpret all history in terms of the Bible with 7 different 1,000-year eras. The final era will be the “rapture,” which has been variously interpreted by a number of fundamentalists. This apocalyptic view thinks in terms of the final victory of Christ and the conversion of Jews. They are millennium people. There will be 1,000 years until the last Judgment. Their favorite books of the Bible are Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation.
All the four historical canonical gospel stories have passion narratives with different perspectives within the four accounts. These gospel stories are a mix of history, facts, and interpretations that represents the true experience of the early Christian followers of Jesus, the primitive Christian community. The gospels contain history remembered, but this history includes an interpretation. In a certain sense, this is prophecy historicized. For the followers of Christ, the Jesus story is a true story that represents something that happened in our world.
In what sense are these biblical books literal interpretations of what was happening? History means different things to differ people. History is always an interpretation. In fact, our concept of what is history is always changing. The result is that a literal interpretation means that you have to understand what they were trying to say about God, not the incidentals surrounding the events. The idea of footnoting has become a general practice that was not known over a thousand years ago. History sometimes refers to a good story. Even in our own lifetime we can still argue about the events surrounding the death of President John Kennedy or the victims at the OJ Simpson house. Thus, it does not seem out of place to question events that supposedly took place either pre-historically or thousands of years ago. They did not have to happen exactly as detailed by men writing about them years after the described events.
“On that day,
Yahweh will extend his hand
Yet a second time.
He wanted to recover
The remnant that is left
Of his people,
And from the coastlands of the sea.”
In this ideal time, all the scattered Israelites would return from their Exile. Yahweh was going to extend his hand for a second time. The first time was the Exodus from Egypt. This time it is a call to recover the remnant from all over the place. Some of these places are easy to figure out. Assyria (present day Iraq), Egypt, and Ethiopia are easy to understand. Pathros was in upper Egypt. Elam is where current day Iran is. Shinar was in Babylon. Hamath was in Syria. The coastlands may have been the Aegean islands around present day Greece. Obviously, this was during the Exile or after it. It is interesting to note how many different places the Israelites were in Diaspora, so early in their history.
When the nations in wicked agreement
Had been put to confusion,
Recognized the righteous man.
She preserved him
Blameless before God.
She kept him strong
In the face of his compassion
For his child.”
Here there seems to be a link with the Tower of Babel and Abraham. Once again in this abridgment of Genesis, there is a leap from chapter 11 about the Tower of Babel and Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac in chapter 22. Obviously, we then have this abbreviated history of mankind that jumps from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, to Noah and the flood, without explicitly mentioning their names. Now the jump is from the Tower of Babel to Abraham. Here it is wisdom and not God who caused the confusion as the men were building the high tower. She also recognized and preserved Abraham as the strong righteous man who was blameless before God (ἄμεμπτον Θεῷ). Just as the idea of God dominates over wisdom, she, wisdom, is the one who had compassion for the child (τέκνου) of Abraham, Isaac.
The first-formed father of the world.
He alone had been created.
She delivered him
From his transgression.
She gave him strength
To rule all things.”
Now this author traces the role of God and wisdom in the history of mankind. Interesting enough, this section starts with wisdom, she and not God. She protected the one (μόνον) first father of the world (πρωτόπλαστον πατέρα κόσμου), who is not explicitly given a name. However, this is clearly based on the first chapter of Genesis. She delivered this first formed man from his transgression. It seems that he was already forgiven. In fact, wisdom gave him dominion over all things.
A Maskil of Asaph
“O my people!
Give ear to my teaching!
Incline your ears
To the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable.
I will utter dark sayings from of old.
These are the things
That we have heard and known.
Our ancestors have told us these things.
We will not hide them from their children.
We will tell them to the coming generation.
These are the glorious deeds of Yahweh,
These show his might.
These are the wonders that he has done.”
Psalm 78 is one of these long didactic psalms that relate the whole history of the Israelite people, like Psalms 105 and 106 as well as Psalms 135 and 136. This psalm is also a maskil of Asaph as the others in this series. We will learn the lessons of Israelite history, with a special emphasis on particular favorite heroes. There is an initial call to listen with care to the teaching of this psalmist, Asaph. He was going to speak in parables like the wisdom writers. These are the stories that were passed on to him by his ancestors. Now he was not going to hide it from the current children and the generations yet to come. All this shows the glorious deeds of Yahweh and his strength in the wonders that he has done for Israel.