Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oops. Jesus made a mistake.

In reviewing the Gospel for the Feast of St. Stephen the other day, it occurred to me (well, it had occurred to me many times over the past many years, but usually I just didn't pay much attention) that Jesus made a mistake. He referred to "all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar." Of course he was referring to the first murder in the canonical Hebrew Bible (Genesis 4) and the last (2 Chronicles 24; 2 Chron. is the last book in the Hebrew arrangement). But it isn't Zechariah ben Barachiah, who is the prophet who presumably wrote the Book of Zechariah, it's Zechariah ben Jehoiada (his father Jehoiada was high priest at the time of King Joash of Judah), who was stoned in the temple courtyard at Joash's orders.

Well, maybe Jesus didn't make the mistake. Maybe Matthew made the mistake. The mistake doesn't occur in Luke's version, so either Matthew added the mistake or Luke corrected it from the earlier Jesus tradition. In either case, Matthew 23:35 contains a mistake.

Is this a trivial mistake? Absolutely! (The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes the error, explains it, but does not make a big fat hairy deal of it, as well it shouldn't.)

And my point is...?

The text of the Bible contains errors. Some of them are utterly inconsequential, and not worth a lot of discussion. Some of them may be more significant, and worth some careful reflection.

In any case, folks who claim to believe in a literally inerrant Bible need to get honest, or get smart, or both.

As God says to such folks, "You really just don't get it, do you?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don Hanway's book

I'm often a little annoyed at myself when I tardily discover a book I wish I had noticed a year earlier. Such a one is Donald G. Hanway's A Theology of Gay and Lesbian Inclusion: Love Letters to the Church (Haworth Pastoral Press, 2006 -- also available through the usual online booksellers). It's a solidly scriptural work (more solidly scriptural in my estimation than the frantic anti-gay arguments of the self-proclaimed "orthodox"), and it really isn't about "sexuality" but about Jesus, and the Gospel, and people. A fine book both for clergy and laity, and for parish study groups. The "blurbs" on the back include brief pre-reviews by Bishop Steven Charleston and by Tobias Heller (well known in this corner of the blogosphere!).

Don and I were neighbors, colleagues and friends in southwestern Nebraska back in The Olden Days. I went off in my various directions, and Don ended up spending the bulk of his ministry (before his recent retirement) at St. Mark's On The Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. Aside from annual Christmas cards we haven't been much in touch in recent years, which I regret, and am grateful to have finally discovered this book. It comes out of many years of pastoral ministry, including many gay and lesbian persons, students and others, both inside the Church and outside. I commend it enthusiastically.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Prayers at Lessons & Carols

I am reminded that at the Advent or Christmas Lessons and Carols, in which many of us have participated already or will be participating between now and Christmas Eve, we are bidden to pray for "all who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love."

Yes, that may include "us" as well as "them"....

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Several thoughts occurred to me this weekend, particularly as we follow the news of the departure of members of the Diocese of San Joaquin to join the Sons of I Will Arise, and the word from Canterbury continues to be "B'rer Rowan, he don' say nuffin'."

A few days ago we had a jolly chat over at MadPriest's place about opera, which MadPriest hates. I had commented that watching DVD productions of a couple of the dramas from the Ring of the Nibelung (instead of just listening while trying to follow in the libretto) had given me a greater appreciation of Wagner (though I'm still not quite a fan!). I also have been re-reading (after a lapse of many many years) Stewart Robb's English translation of Wagner's text.

I was reading through Act Two of The Valkyrie, in which Wotan and Fricka are having a great spat, because Wotan has seen to it that his son Siegmund has found the charmed sword Nothung, which he will use to kill Hunding, with whose wife Sieglinda Siegmund is running away. (Sieglinda is also Siegmund's twin sister. Don't ask. Or rather, ask Anna Russell. A lot of that kind of thing was going on in those days.) But Fricka, whose goddess portfolio includes marriage, is all ticked off about this, and she finally browbeats Wotan into agreeing to give up Siegmund and, as it were, to throw him under the bus. In the midst of all this Wotan laments the fact that he ever got messed up with Alberich and the ring Alberich had forged out of the Rheingold (after forswearing love, in order to become master of the universe; see the previous opera), and recognized that in fact he and the rest of the gods and Valhalla itself were all ultimately doomed (although that takes two more operas).

And I got to thinking: Gee. This reminds me a little of a certain Archbishop of Canterbury I could think of. Hmm.....