2017 Goals Week 5

2017 Goals Week 5

Follow my progress this year toward meeting 10 goals!

Week 5 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

If you want to get warm, you have to linger by the fire. The failure to linger is the reason why many fail to remember or find their hearts warmed by the fire of God’s Word. ~Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p 49

The spiritual discipline for February is also Bible intake; but where January was reading and hearing God’s Word daily, February is memorizing, meditating, and applying Scripture. I will continue reading a chapter a day, and I will add a meditation technique Whitney recommends. For instance, rewriting a portion of the text in my own words or think about an illustration for the text. What picture would describe it? I am in Ecclesiastes, so it makes for great meditation. I also spent time in Ps 119.

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Yep. Working away. If you’re curious – which I suspect most of you aren’t- here’s the way Greek sounds by an amateur. I have to read 3 verses aloud each week as part of the grade.

8)   Connect with one person a week.

I met with a church minister this week to discuss a possible teaching gig. I felt connected, but the meeting wasn’t really about that.

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

Painful.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

Nothing. I knew this would be the hardest one.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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I am working on a pregnant Hagar and a sheep,but they aren’t completed yet.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

 

Sigh. It started snowing again, so its hard to get motivated when everything is freezing or drippy. We have a few furniture re-doing projects started, but its too cold to sand and definitely too cold to spray paint.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I did, except for Thursday. Thursdays fill up quick.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

Waiting for a call from the ortho.

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Not this week.

2017 Goals Week 4

2017 Goals Week 4

Follow my progress this year toward meeting 10 goals!

 

Week 4 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

“Jesus believed in God rather than a book about God.” Frank Schaeffer

Reading the Bible is not for the fainthearted. It is ancient, hard to understand, and more complicated than the creeds want to admit. For instance, this verse tripped me up this week: “… the Lord was not willing to forgive.” 2 Kings 24:4 Wait, what? Yeah, I’ve been pondering it all week. I’ve also been pondering the quote by Schaeffer above, and not for the first time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bible, yet it is easy for me to confuse love of the Bible for love of God.

Continuing to read 2 1/2 chapters a day as I practice the spiritual discipline of Bible intake.

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Galatians is steadily being translated and diagrammed. I don’t have extra projects due, so the load for this first class is light so far. Kay’s translation of Galatians 1:13-15:

For, you have heard of my conduct when I was in Judaism, that I was persecuting the church of God to an extraordinary degree and I tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism over and beyond many of those my age, being a super zealot for my forefather’s traditions.

8)   Connect with one person a week.

I got a chance to visit with a new friend, and spent time with my extended and immediate family this week.

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I spent maybe two hours on this? This week, I’m going to try printing off everything I have done so far, and working on it spread out before me. I am hoping it will start to cohere if I can look at it in actual piles instead of Word .docs.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

I needed to put about ten hours into a graphic design project this week, so writing on circumcision didn’t happen.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

The clothes for my Abraham & Sarah figures finally came together. I couldn’t decide if I needed to cover Sarah’s head, and decided not to. I liked the locks too much to hide them!

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Eyes are giving me trouble. They tend to get buggy and spaced too far apart. I was very pleased with Abraham’s face, but Sarah’s eyes are wide spread. I’m also wondering if I need to felt the faces firmer. Its all trial and error! 5 of 25 complete.

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4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

My father-in-law was in the hospital all week, so we didn’t work on any projects.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

No skipped days this week!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

Waiting, waiting…

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

I had a buddy on my hike to Twin Falls this week. It was slippery and slidey and drizzly wet. I love the Pacific Northwest forest in the misty rain. 1 of 12 complete!

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2017 Goals Week 2

2017 Goals Week 2

Follow my progress this year toward meeting 10 goals!

Week 2 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

Check! Each day, I read a chapter of 2 Kings, Proverbs and 1/2 chapter of Hebrews.

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

wp-1484339988943.jpgClasses start tomorrow. Books ordered and syllabus read. Before classes start, they always look overwhelming. I am starting Greek Exegesis tomorrow, and it appears to be the hardest class yet. The professor expects that I can actually read Greek. Which I guess I can, but not at the level I think I need to be. Gulp.

8)   Connect with one person a week.

Check! I got to spend time saying goodbye to  friends moving to California. So sad to see them go. And I skyped with my lovely friend in Paris. That was great.

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

The starting of this is hard. I am really having trouble nailing down a direction. I have four different beginnings started. This week, I wrote something that I think gets to the heart of what I’m trying to say. To be candid, I love to research and learn. Because of that, I second-guess myself and want to double check information and sources, and then I end up getting nothing done. So, I’m writing a lot of nonsense just to put words to paper. This week, there was a little less nonsense.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

The circumcision article got 500 words pounded into it on Tuesday.  I don’t know if anyone else finds that topic as fascinating as I do! heh.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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This little guy started out as a mouse, but evolved into an otter. I didn’t follow a tutorial, I just started stabbing and learning what worked as I went. I learned how NOT to wind fingers and toes. I think I learn more trying to salvage something that isn’t working. 23 more to go

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

We discussed how we are going to design the built in linen closet downstairs. It has been a hole in the drywall since we moved in.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

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My daughter and I went skiing this week. Other days, I practiced yoga and took a walk when the temperature rose above freezing.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

The process for invisalign begins with measuring and scanning your teeth. They used to make plaster casts to do this process, which I had made when I wore braces the first time around as a kid. But now they cram a huge scanner wand into all the nooks and crannies of your mouth. I have two cold sores on my lip, so this was a bit unpleasant. The wand has a little fan on it that dries your mouth out and blows cold air on your teeth. This was not painful exactly, but uncomfortable.

Once my mouth was measured, the computer made a simulation model of what my teeth will look like straight. It was a pretty sight! Now, I wait 3 weeks for the first set of trays to come in. Over the next 18 months, I will switch out trays to move my teeth gradually into the correct position.

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

wp-1484523198170.jpg I did a hike, but it wasn’t to a new place. I was distracted with activities on Friday and Saturday and missed moving, so I made up for it on Sunday with an hour walk to the falls and down the hill. Its still frozen on the sides!

2017 Goals Week 1

2017 Goals Week 1

Follow my progress this year toward meeting 10 goals!

Week 1 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

I’m reading a chapter of 2 Kings, Proverbs, and 1/2 chapter of Hebrews each day. This is a recommendation by Don Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Reading a chapter from each section of the Bible brings variety that “makes it easier to keep up the momentum.” (p. 30)

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Classes start next week.

8)   Connect with one person a week.

I stuck around church on Sunday to talk with a few people instead of rushing out the door. I also spent time with each of my Awana leaders on Wednesday. If you are a natural extrovert, you don’t realize that this is a discipline for those of us who are task-oriented introverts. We also had the in-laws for weekly dinner and conversation, and my very-friendly-neighbor had a bonfire where I got to chat with a new family down the street.

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I tweaked my content outline, set a schedule to get the chapters written by the end of June, and wrote 500 words this week.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

I spent some time researching various publications, and wrote 800 words on an article detailing why God did not include a sign in the Abrahamic covenant for women.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

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I’ve completed my first “sculpture.” Woof. I’ve got a lot to learn! This one was from the kit I received for Christmas. The kit was to make a cat. Yes, I know. It doesn’t look like a cat. That’s because it was feeling like it needed to become a dog. I’m currently working on a mouse that thinks its an otter. I’m claiming the old sculpture’s trick that says the rock knows what it wants to be… well the wool knows what it wants to be too! 24 more to go.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

Does it count that we went to a Remodeling and Garden Show?

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

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It was below freezing all week outside, so I stayed inside and practiced yoga. Friday, the kids and I went swimming for $1 Public swim at the local (indoor) pool.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

Going in on Friday for the initial scans and measuring.

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

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I’ve been hiking from hot coffee, to hot tea, to hot showers, to hot soup and back to hot coffee all week! Not going outside unless I have to. Too cold! Brr!

Women in the Text: Sarah’s Shame

Women in the Text: Sarah’s Shame

Mother Sarah had many sons. And I am one of them. And so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord! 

Sarah birthed a baby at the age of 90 after being barren her entire life. It was no accident, but the miraculous plan of God, who brings honor to the shamed.

If you have ever struggled with infertility or walked alongside of someone who has, I’m sure you understand the enormity of Sarah’s decades of struggle as a barren woman. In an ancient setting, she not only dealt with her personal desire for children, but also with the community’s judgement on her as a barren wife. The ancient world blamed the woman for marriages with no children. Also, the woman herself carried the guilt of impotence.  I wonder if Sarah felt the reproach and shame intensify with each new promise of God to her husband? We know her story in entirety, but she made her decisions with limited information, and as each of God’s promises were revealed, she must have felt the stress of her shame increase.

Father Abraham

Imagine her humiliation as Abraham told her about God’s initial promise to him to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). A great nation requires a child. She was unable to bear a child. I wonder if she felt she had no part in God’s plan? Did she feel in the way? Useless?

Perhaps she and Abraham speculated together the role Eliezer, Abraham’s right hand man, would play as heir to Abraham’s legacy. Abraham could adopt him! He could be a surrogate son! No. God clarified the first promise. Abraham’s own son would inherit (Genesis 15:4). Sarah must have felt confused again as she contemplated her exclusion from the plan. What was in this for her? Was God mocking her humiliation by exaggerating the hope of her husband? Count the stars, indeed. She had counted. Cycle after monthly cycle until her flows stopped. Her dishonor increased with every fertile promise God made to Abraham.

A Surrogate

The scenario of using a surrogate mother must have been in Sarah’s mind for years, but it wasn’t until God promised a son (Genesis 15:4) to Abraham that she felt the pressure to act. Many Bible expositors like to speculate she suggested Hagar, her personal servant, because she was impatient or because she doubted God, but I firmly believe she did it out of shame. I think Sarah thought that she was the problem. Her old and dried up body was a handicap to God’s great promises. Sarah’s suggestion of Hagar was not a second-rate plan. It was not a work-around to help God out. It was a heart-breaking act of desperation by a woman who was mortified. It was Sarah’s attempt to regain some honor by getting her broken body out of the way.

It was also legal.

In today’s world of liberation and social justice, we call what Sarah did to Hagar-sex trafficking. But in ancient terms, it was an acceptable legal transaction. The Code of Hammurabi gives us some insight into the everyday ethics that determined family life in the era of the Patriarchs. An infertile woman in that ancient time was vulnerable to divorce and a  refund (Law # 138). The husband could also choose to take a second wife, with the first wife claiming rank (Law #145). But, if the infertile wife did not wish to live with a harem of wives, she could offer her handmaid to her husband. If a child was born as a result, it was against the law (or custom) for the husband to remarry. Read for yourself:

144. If a man take a wife and this woman give her husband a maid-servant, and she bear him children, but this man wishes to take another wife, this shall not be permitted to him; he shall not take a second wife.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham06.htm

Acting in accordance with the customs of her time, Sarah to Abraham: “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her. (Genesis 16:2) ” Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham, not as wife or concubine but as a womb. If Hagar conceived and bore a child, Sarah’s position as the sole wife of Abraham was secure, and she would have a child to raise as her own. Sarah’s disgrace would be lifted.

But it didn’t work out that way, did it?

More dishonor

Hagar, belly growing with Abraham’s child, violates the social customs of the day by flouting a status that did not belong to her. She condemned Sarah, her master. Genesis 16:4 says, “her mistress was dishonorable in her eyes.” It is hard to understand the vulgarity of Hagar’s behavior in today’s society of social equality and respect earned through merit. Hagar was assaulting the positional honor of Sarah, “a grave cultural faux pas on Hagar’s part” writes Marvin Newell, author of   Crossing Cultures in Scriptures: Biblical Principles For Mission Practice. “Sarah was rightfully offended, even dishonored, by her servant Hagar. Hagar’s attacks were a direct assault on her worth, value and personhood in the eyes of the community. Her position and her reputation were at stake. If she permitted Hagar to persist in her actions, her own worth of belonging would be compromised—even to the extent of a possible disconnect with her husband, Abraham. Hagar put Sarah in quite a vulnerable position.” (http://honorshame.com/sarah-hagar-a-struggle-for-honor/)

Not only did Hagar transgress the cultural values of honor and shame, her actions required a legal response. Consider Hammurabi once more:

146. If a man take a wife and she give this man a maid-servant as wife and she bear him children, and then this maid assume equality with the wife: because she has borne him children her master shall not sell her for money, but he may keep her as a slave, reckoning her among the maid-servants.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham06.htm

Sarah had a case not only against Hagar, but against Abraham who was allowing Hagar to dishonor his wife. “May the wrong done to me be on you!” Sarah declares (Genesis 16:5). She calls on the Lord as witness that she had been wronged. Abraham agrees. “She is your servant. Do whatever you wish with her,” he says. 

Sarah punishes Hagar harshly to regain the honor she lost through Hagar’s abuse. In this ancient setting, Sarah’s reprisal was just punishment intended to re-establish the household hierarchy. Sarah was “chief.” Hagar, though carrying an heir, was still a slave.

Abraham had his son. But what about Sarah?

Sarah is honored-finally.

Thirteen years later, God reveals that the promise of family, home and royal lineage was not just for Abraham, but for Sarah as well. What a wait?! Sarah was not in the way of God’s plan. She was not incidental. The shame she bore in the eyes of the community for almost a century was about to become her greatest honor. She was chosen -old, infertile and cynical- to birth the promised son.

In the cardinal chapter of Judaism (Genesis 17), God ultimately completes the Great Promise and seals it with an ancient male ritual signifying fertility: circumcision. It is easy to stop at this significant detail cut into the male flesh of Abraham’s family and overlook the distinction given to Sarah – and to the women of her house. (Paul, God bless him, saw it! Galatians 4)

  • God adds a vowel to both names, changing husband and wife into the people of God. (Read more.)
  • God promises to bless her.
  • She will bear a son.
  • She will birth a royal nation.
  • Her offspring is the miracle son of promise.

Who mothers is equally as important as who fathers.

The ancient stories of the Hebrew Scriptures are male-dominated. I believe this androcentrism is a result of the way the world works, not the way God works. Woman has always been a pivotal part of God’s plan. Sarah’s faith in submissive action continued the war against the age-old enemy that her mother Eve began in the garden. Eve’s, and now Sarah’s descendants will defeat the serpent with whom she is at war. The promised one is the seed of Woman.

 

 

Teshuqa Turnings – Times Three

Teshuqa Turnings – Times Three

The translation of the noun teshuqa in Hebrew from “turning” in the Greek Septuagint (and other early non-Hebrew translations) to “desire” in today’s English translations is a bit of an enigma. (Read the history of this change.) In the Old Testament, teshuqa is rarely used. In fact,  it is used only three times.

Genesis 3:16: [to Eve] … your teshuqa to your man…

Genesis 4:7 [to Cain]…sin’s (or Abel’s) teshuqa toward you…

Song of Songs 7:10 [about lover]…his teshuqa at me…

I list the three occurrences not to show you the similarities or differences, but simply to illustrate how narrow the use of teshuqa is. It is tempting to  start at one verse and argue backward to a definition in another verse, but that is generally considered poor exegesis. Each verse carries its own context, and even though the meaning of the word may be consistent, it’s place within the sentence often lends a nuance leading to differing translation. So, my BIG caution is to be wary of interpretations that rely fundamentally (and that word is key) on how another verse uses the word in question.

But, the fact is, the interpretations of these other two verses HAVE influenced the translation of the word teshuqa in Genesis 3:16. The context of Genesis 4:7 is anger that leads to jealous murder. Naturally, we see overtones of dominance and control. Song of Songs 7:10 is smack in the middle of euphemistic poetry describing intimacy, so of course we feel the undercurrent of sensual desire. But can either of those connotations be accurately overlaid on teshuqa in Genesis 3:16?

Dominance?

In the new ESV-unchangeable-so-shall-it-forever-be-version (I just can’t help myself), we witness the culmination of decades of scholarship interpreting Genesis 3:16 from a starting point in Genesis 4:7. In 4:7, it is sin’s teshuqa to Cain that certain scholars believe parallels the woman’s teshuqa to man in 3:16. The context of 4:7 is set in the midst of conflict as God warns Cain that if he does not follow the right way, sin would be at his door and it’s teshuqa toward him. Cain is instructed to resist sin by controlling or ruling over it. There is an apparent enmity, and rightly so, between sin and Cain.

(It is a newer trend, for the last hundred years or so, to interpret Genesis 4:7 as referring to sin. Older theologians believed it was referencing Abel. If it is Abel’s teshuqa, then the heightened sense of domination disappears.It could also be interpreted as referring to Cain’s sin offering. The Hebrew does not have a clear meaning, which should caution basing a foundation theological point on it.)

As a result, many on the ESV Oversight Committee read enmity between the principle players in the context of 3:16. See what John Piper wrote about Genesis 3:16.

But what is really being said here? …

The key comes from recognizing the connection between the last words of this verse (3:16b) and the last words of Genesis 4:7

…When 4:7 says that sin is crouching at the door of Cain’s heart (like a lion, Genesis 49:9) and that it’s desire is for him, it means that sin wants to overpower him. It wants to defeat him and subdue him and make him the slave of sin…

…Now when we go back to 3:16 we should probably see the same meaning in the sinful desire of woman. When it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband,” it means that when sin has the upper hand in woman she will desire to overpower or subdue or exploit man.

Eve wants to control Adam, but Adam will rule over her. The play for power in Genesis 4:7 is overlaid onto 3:16, and as a result, we begin to hear popular speakers and preachers discussing the “curse” on Eve as wives desiring to manipulate and have dominance over their husbands, just like sin did to Cain. The ESV inserts this desire for dominance into 3:16 with the words, “your teshuqa (desire in ESV) shall be contrary to your husband.” Enmity achieved.

As stated previously, I believe relying solely on a word as it is used in another context is poor exegetical practice. And in this case, it results in a number of problems.

  1. There is a major linguistic complication in 4:7 that is not present in 3:16. The presence of a conditional phrase as introduction. God warns with the word “if,” and introduces two possible outcomes. This conditional element is not found in 3:16 and it complicates a straight parallel comparison with presumptions.
  2. Where do we draw the line at a straight parallel between the two verses? Woman has a teshuqa and sin has a teshuqa. Are they the same thing? Sin and women are both “ruled.” I hope we all get uncomfortable with the direction this could go in likening women to sin…and tragically you and I both know that religious scholars have delved deeply in these comparisons over the years resulting in millennia of subjugation and rotten theology.
  3. The parallel breaks down even further when we proceed to the second phrase found in both 3:16 and 4:7: “he/you will rule over you/it.” Cain did not succeed in ruling sin. Indeed no man anywhere (except Jesus) has subjugated sin. Too bad we couldn’t apply Cain’s same halfhearted effort to man’s rule over women! The contextual parallels of the two phrases just don’t match up without back flips and stretches.
  4. This mismatch of logical fallacies  should warn us against translating teshuqa in 3:16 on the basis of the context in 4:7.

 Desire?

The most widely used English translation for teshuqa today is “desire.” How did this definition make its way to our English page? Katharine Bushnell initiated the search for the roots of “desire” from teshuqa in the early 1900s, but continued study has not gained much momentum in the last hundred years outside egalitarian circles. Why was the meaning of teshuqa changed to desire? I like Bushnell’s explanation.

It must, then, impress reasoning minds that the interpretation of Genesis 3:16 has had a history something like this: Men of old found a phrase here that seemed to have to do with woman’s relation to her husband, but it was beyond their comprehension. Unconsciously these men of olden time have consulted their own ideas of what a wife should be, in relation to her husband, and inserted those ideas into their interpretation. The interpretation has been accepted by other men, without challenge, because it conformed to their unsanctified wishes, and handed on from generation to generation, until it became weighty through “tradition.” No effort, scarcely has been put forth to reconcile such teaching with the spirit of Jesus Christ. (para. 112)

Bushnell suspects the definition was changed because the of male bias in the translation process. This charge deserves a post of its own along with the origin of lust/desire to Genesis 3:16.

But, what about the influence of Song of Songs (Songs) 7:10 on Genesis 3:16? Interestingly, all early English versions (15th-16th centuries) retain “turning” as the meaning of teshuqa in Songs 7:10, but translate teshuqa as “lust” or “power” or “appetite” in Genesis 3:16. So, the original meaning of teshuqa was not lost on the early English translators. Though, by the end of the 1700s, all three verses were unified in their translation to “desire.” And the turning of teshuqa‘s meaning in English was complete. So historically, the influence of “desire” did not originate in Songs 7:10, but the other way around with “desire” in Genesis 3:16 taking the lead.

Three Turnings

I close with the three uses of teshuqa translated with its original meaning.

Genesis 3:16 You are turning to your husband, and he will rule over you.

Genesis 4:7  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it is turning to you, but you must rule over it.

Songs 7:10 I belong to my beloved and he is turning to me!