January 26th, 2008

Woozy

Major Prophets and Mysterious Caverns

As is obvious from Slate's Blogging the Bible series, the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament have their books in different orders. Back when I went to a Presbyterian Sunday school, we sang a song with the books in the typical Protestant order, and it's stuck in my head ever since. (There was also one for the New Testament, but we didn't sing it as often, so I don't have it committed to memory.) I believe the Catholics use basically the same order, but with a few additional books. While I haven't actually researched this, I would guess that some of the changes made by the Christians were for the purposes of putting the books roughly in chronological order, at least up through the poetic ones. But I think it's also significant how the two versions end. The Tanakh ends with 2 Chronicles, and its recap of the restoration of the Jewish nation after the Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, as onib mentioned in the comments for my last Bible-related post, the Prophets provide most of the messianic concepts and predictions that were said to have been fulfilled by Jesus, so it makes sense that the Christians would end with them, as kind a lead-in to the New Testament. Christians also place Daniel among the Prophets instead of the Writings, perhaps giving more credence to the prophecies contained therein. Lamentations shows up after Jeremiah, presumably because they're his lamentations, but having a book with that title lumped in with a lot of prophets' names kind of makes it sound like it should be the work of a prophet NAMED "Lamentations." Considering that Ruth has characters named Mahlon ("sick") and Chilion ("pining"), maybe this isn't as ridiculous as it might sound.

Anyway, the Major Prophets were a couple of guys who were constantly predicting disaster for this place or that, sometimes illustrating their points by burying and digging up loincloths, lying on their sides for upwards of a year, and comparing Israel and Judah to prostitutes. Ezekiel 23:21 mentions "the Egyptians "fondl[ing] your bosom and caress[ing] your young breasts." I guess even Biblical prophets realized that sex sells. {g} Isaiah 34:14 contains the only actual Biblical reference to Lilith, the demon who would later become known as Adam's first wife.

An interesting passage that I think I can recall hearing quoted several times is Ezekiel 18:20: "The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own." That seems only fair, right? But wait, I thought Yahweh was "a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments." And I've seen people insist that we're all born sinful because of what Adam and Eve did. Could the Ezekiel passage God be saying that, after He's restored the nation of Israel from their collective punishment at the hands of the Assyrians and Chaldeans, He'll only punish them on an individual basis? But wouldn't that be God changing His mind, which many people insist He doesn't do? Moses certainly seemed to be able to convince the Almighty to change His mind, though. And since he didn't need a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and a three-fourths majority of state legislatures to do this, maybe it really IS easier to change the will of the living God than it is the Constitution. Take THAT, Huckabee! :P

Moving on to a non-Biblical subject, here's a review of an Oz book. I'm sure you're all thrilled. {g} I can recall seeing The Mysterious Caverns of Oz mentioned on publication lists by Buckethead Enterprises of Oz, and I seem to recall it saying something about its dealing with drug abuse, unless that was another book. If it was indeed Mysterious Caverns that had that description, I avoided it largely for that reason, because I don't really look to Oz books for heavy-handed "winners don't use drugs" morality. (I can get that from the arcades. {g}) The newly revised and expanded version doesn't seem to have anything to do with drug abuse. There are a few brief mentions of things that sound kind of like cocaine and hallucinogenic mushrooms, but they're never really explained, and don't appear to have much bearing on the plot. The story has some interesting ideas, and a premise sort of similar to that of March Laumer's Charmed Gardens in Oz, but with its own twist. Even though it's apparently been greatly expanded from its initial pamphlet form, though, it's still kind of slight. Even the characters themselves are somewhat disappointed by how quickly and easily it's all wrapped up, and how many questions still remain at the end. I did appreciate the use of the royal family of Noland, and the magic supplied by Queen Zixi.

Well, that's all for now. In future posts, I'll probably be addressing the Minor Prophets, the Oscar nominations, and a Simpsons episode that I hope will be better than it sounds from the description.
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