Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lectionary Notes

6 JUNE, AD 2010

The Collect and the other propers prayers understand the raising of the dead in today’s readings as delivery from the death of sin.
1 KINGS 17:8-16, (17-24)
Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath
After the reign of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided between the southern realm of Judah under the house of David, and the northern realm of Israel, under various lines of kings. Ahab, king of Israel (874-853 BC), was married to Jezebel, daughter of the King of Sidon in Phoenicia (16.31) and served her god Baal, even building a temple to him. At this time Elijah the Tishbite [17.2] announced to Ahab that the LORD God of Israel would withhold rain from the land. Baal (which means Lord) was worshipped as the god of storms and fertility; by proclaiming a drought Elijah was challenging his worshippers. This challenge reaches its climax in the contezt with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel [18.21-40] It seems that for some reason this important passage is not in the Sunday readings of the Revised Common Lectionary.
It would be useful to take some time for the whole story of Elijah [1 Kings 17.1-19.21] in one’s personal bible-reading. Other stories of Elijah are found in 1 Kings 18; 19; 21; 2 Kings 1-2. As always I recommend getting a good commentary or at least a well-annotated study Bible.
When he proclaimed the drought, Elijah himself was brought away from the threat of Ahab’s power to the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan, where God has him fed by ravens [17.2-7]. (See By his immediate obedience to the word of the LORD, Elijah shows that he is Lord’s servant. While he is at the brook Cherith, the word of the Lord comes to Elijah again, opening our passage for this Sunday.
2. Zarephath or Sarepta, a town in Phoenicia; it is now called Sarafend.. Mentioned in Luke 4.26 when Jesus referes to this story. See Because it belonged to Sidon, this was recognized as Baal’s country, not the LORD’s. Nonetheless, even there the LORD’s power causes drought and protects those he favours.
18. What have you against me, O man of God? Literally, What is there between me and you, man of God? This idiom is found several times in the Gospels, where it is usually translated more literally: see Mc 1.24, 5.7; Mt 8.29; Lk 4.34, 8.28; Jn 2.4 . The New Jerome Biblical Commentary notes: ‘Verse 18 is obscure but probably means that, having realized that Elijah is a ‘man of God,’ the woman feels her own unworthiness in his presence and understands her son’s death as punishment.’
20-22. According to the NJBC, Elijah’s powerful intercession is ‘a new aspect of the prophet’ and takes the statement that The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah [22] as ‘very like obedience’. It refers to Josh 10.14: incident which also seems to be a case of the Lord obeying a human being. This seems to be an odd way of saying that the Lord answered a prayer, something (I hope) we believe happens from time to time without making God a servant.
21: See Acts 20:9-10.
24. The widow’s final words bring both themes to a new stage: a woman who is presumably a worshipper of Baal confesses the LORD’s decisive power, and acknowledges Elijah’s authority: truly the LORD’s word is in your mouth”.
Lauda, anima mea
This is one of the five Hallelujah Psalms which conclude the Psalter. The word ‘Hallelujah’ means ‘Praise the Lord!’
Note: the verse divisions in the BAS Psalter differ from those in the BCP, and both differ from other versions of the Bible
I Veres 1-2: The psalmist’s personal praise of the Lord; compare 145.1-3.
II Verses 3-6: Human inadequacy is contrasted with the might of God the creator. See also Psalm 90.2-3.
a. Verses 3-4: The inadequacy of human beings.
Prince is a general term for a ruler, not (as it has commonly come to be) the designation of a royal son It is from the Latin princeps, ‘first in order’, ‘foremost’; ‘chief’, ‘leader’.
b. Verses 5-9: The Lord gives help to all who need it.
Who made heaven and earth … who keeps faith forever [6]. The same creative power of God upholds the physical universe and the moral order. Contrast Psalm 82.2-5: because justice is absent, the very foundations of the earth are shaken.
The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow [9]. This verse ties the psalm closely to the first reading, since the widow at Zarephath as also a foreigner, a stranger. For the obligation of all people not to abuse the defenceless, see also Exodus 22:21-22 and Deuteronomy 10:18. For royal responsibility to protect the alien, the fatherless and the widow, see Jeremiah 22:1-4. [NJBC]
III. Verse 10: The Psalm concludes as it began, with a shout of praise.
In the third century BC, some of the people known as Gauls invaded Macedonia and moved into north central Anatolia (Asia Minor) where they settled. Galatia was a province of the Roman empire in Anatolia (central Turkey nowadays) established by Caesar Augustus which included the original territory of the Galatians as well as other nearby regions east of Phrygia, west of Cappadocia, and south of Bithynia). Paul visited several cities in this area in his first missionary journey (see Acts 16) and later (Acts 18.23). Shortly after his second visit to the Galatian churches, he learned that some agitators were impugning Paul’s authority and claiming that he was not a ture apostle because he did not insist that all the Law of Moses be observed, but ‘watered down’ the requirements of the gospel for the sake of attracting the Gentiles. He wrote this very strong letter to warn the churches in Galatia against this ‘different Gospel’ (Gal 1.6-7).
In his response Paul insists that we become right with God —are justified—by grace through faith in Christ apart from deeds prescribed by the law. This is his earliest exposition of this teaching. The letter to the Galatians has been called ‘the Magna Charta of Christian liberty’ {NOAB].
The letter to the Galattians was perhaps written around AD 54 during Paul’s thord missionary journey, not long after he harrived at Ephesus
We do not read the whole of this letter on Sundays of Year C. Gal 1.1-12 is read on Proper 9 in Year C and 1.12 -24 this Sunday. the other elections are: Gal 2.15-21 on Proper 11; Gal 3.25-29 on Proper 12; Gal 5..1,13-25 on Proper 13; Gal 6 (1-6), 7-16 on Proper 14. An outline of the Letter will be of help in seeing how the passages we read in Church fit into the whole. This outline of the Letter is largely based on the outline in the NJBC. Passages underlined are included (at least in part) in the Sunday readings.
I. Introduction: 1-11
A. Salutation. 1.1-5
B. The Galatian Apostasy . 1.6-11
1. Paul’s Astonishment 6-7
2. Curse 1.8-9
3. Transition 1.10-11
II. Paul’s Vindication of his Apostolate 1.12-2.14
A. Paul’s Gospel not of human origin 1.12-24
B. Paul’s Apostleship recognized in Jersualem 2.1-10
C. Paul’s Gospel Challenged Peter’s Inconsistency at Antioch 2.11-14
III. Paul’s Gospel Set Forth: The Difference between Law and Gospel. 2.15-21
IV. Proof from Scripture and Experience that Salvation is by Faith , not by Law 3.1-4.31

A. First Proof: The Galatians’ Own Experience 3.1-5
B. Second Proof: God’s Promises to Abraham 3.6-26
C. Third Proof: Experience of Christians in Baptism 3.27-29
D. Fourth Proof: Experience of Christians as Children of God 4.1-11
E. Fifth Proof: Experience of the Galatians in their Relations to Paul 4.12-20
F. Sixth Proof: The Allegory of Sarah and Hagar [see Genesis 16} 4.21-31
V. Exhortation 5.1-6.10
A. The nature of Christian Liberty 5.1-26
1. Counsel: Preserve the Freedom that You have in Christ 5.1-12
2. Warning: Walk not according to the Flesh but according to the Spirit 5.13-26
3. Advice: The Right Way to use Christian Freedom 6.1-10
VI. Ending 6.11-18

In the passage read this Sunday, St Paul answers those who claim he is not a real apostle.] by setting out the historic grounds of his call.
12. Through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul refers to Christ’s appearance to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9.1-9). See also verses 1 and 15-17.
13. See Philippians 3:4-6. For Paul as persecutor, see 1 Corinthians 15:9; Acts 9:1-2; 22:4-5, 9-11. The NOAB notes that the word Church may signify 1. the total number of believers in the world, 2.the believers in a particular region (see v. 2), or 3. to those in one locality, whether gathered for worship and instruction, engaged in mission, or scattered by persecution.
15. before I was born , literally, from my mother’s womb. We find this description of the prophet’s call in the Old Testament: see Jeremiah 1:5 and Isaiah 49:1.
17-24: the details here seem to disagree with the account given by Luke in the Book of Acts (Acts 9.19-end). Here we need to seek out several commentaries and studies of St Paul’s life.

The Widow’s Son of Nain raised from the dead.
or: God’s Prophet: Jesus has compassion on a widow [NJBC]
This story is only in Luke. It prepares for 7:20-22 and proclaims that the God Jesus preaches liberates those who are in death’s prison [NJBC].
11. Nain: is identified with Na’in or Nein, a village of Galilee, 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of Nazareth, 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of Capernaum. The name means ‘Charming’ in Hebrew. Crusaders built a church there to commemorate the site of the miracle, which was rebuilt by the Fransciscans. For pictures of Nain, see The incident in this reading occurs ‘soon after’ the healing of the centurion’s slave at Capernaum (7.1-10).
12. As Jesus and his disciples come near the gates of Nain, with a large crowd which has either followed him from Capernaum or gathered to him as he traveled, they meet a funeral procession coming out of the town. It is a young man, only son of a widow. In those days the fate of a widow who lost her only son wa grim, for she would have had no legal inheritance and would be dependent on charity. See Deut 26.12, 27.19.
13. Jesus’ compassion for the widow is here depicted as a deep visceral response. The verb ἐσπλαγχνίσθη (esplanchnisthē) is from from σπλαγχνον (splanchnon), which means the entrails, more or less; it used to be translated “bowels” (the root meaning might in fact be “spleen”). It was used in much the same way we use the word heart: the ancients tended to think of the abdomen as the seat of the emotions. This isn’t strange: we know what it is to feel something “in the pit of 0ne’s stomach” So when we read this passage and picture Jesus looking on the afflicted widow, we should imagine the scene quite literally hitting him in the guts. And this is a completely human feeling. We might be happier to say “he was gripped in his heart concerning them.” Such a feeling is a declaration oif the Incarnation, of Christ’s true humanity.
14. His compassion was so deep that it overrode the demands of the Law. According to Numbers 19.11, anyone ‘who touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days’ (see also 19.16, Leviticus 21.1-15).
15. The description here is very reminiscent of the account of the Widow’s son of Zarephath, even to the use of the same words, ‘gave him to his mother.’
16. ‘The audience recalls the mighty deeds of Elijah and declares that Jesus is a great prophet. The NJBC distinguishes three types of passage in which the theme is Jesus as prophet. (Not all the passages cited there are noted here.)
i. Jesus acts like a prophet but is not actually called a prophet. See 9.22-23, 43b-45.
ii. Jesus used the title ‘prophet’ for himself. See 4.24; 13.33.
iii The title is used to describe Jesus’ power. See 7.16, 39; 9.8-9, 19.

That Luke alone records the raising of the widow’s son at Nain, while John alone records the raising of Lazarus (Chapter 11), but Mark, followed by Matthew, record neither event raises questions. As William Temple said of the raising of Lazarus, the question for the critics is not ‘Could it have happened?’ but ‘If it happened, how did it come about that Mark omitted it?’
This is greater than we can treat in these notes. perhaps it will be enough to quote a point from the commentator G. B Caird: ‘The resuscitation of the dead is as well attested as any of the other miracles of Jesus. Luke drew this story from his private source L, the story of Jairus’ daughter from Mark, and from Q a saying of Jesus which includes the raising of the dead among the achievements of the ministry (7.22). There is, of course, mp way of proving to the satisfaction of a sceptic that the people concerned were in fact dead, and not just in a cataleptic trance which Jesus was able to recognize; but there can be no doubt about the conviction of the early Church that Jesus had reclaimed to life those whom others had declared dead.’ [Pelican Commentary on St Luke].

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