Thursday, April 22, 2010

I got all my homework done this week. I stayed up until 1 o'clock last night to finish and bagged the Great Adventure stuff because Ella was home sick Tuesday anyway. I might make up that work but maybe not.

The first lesson is a gentle introduction to the method with a lighter workload. After the opening drivel about how important this all is and how wonderful we are for engaging in it, several passages from Genesis were assigned. Rather than merely reading them, I copied them out in the space provided between the references and highlighted verses I thought significant. The interpretation is very literal: God promised specific land to Abraham, repeated that promise to Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and God can be trusted to keep promises. cf. Gen. 12:1-7, 13:14-18, 15:13-18, 26:1-6, 28:10-15, 37:23-28, 41:41, 46:2-4, 50. As I said, with the exception of chapter 50, I copied out these pericopes.

The next instruction was to read Exodus 1 and identify the main characters: a new king in Egypt who did not know Joseph, Hebrew midwives, namely Shiphrah and Puah; God, and the sons (and daughters) of Israel. Then, I read Exodus 2 and answered the 5 W's and the H about Moses:
  • Who: Moses ben Levi (2:1)
  • Where: near the Nile (2:3)
  • What: Moses' early life (2)
  • When: after the patriarchs, during the reign of a king who did not know Joseph
  • Why: God's deliverer (2:24-25)
  • How: wisdom & providence (2:3, 7, 9)
Swimmingly, right? I'm not new to this. But then, the snag: read Acts 7:15-30. Ah, I copied it out first. What is St. Stephen's speech? A pious reflection, attributing to Moses thoughts that aren't expressed in Exodus.
"... it came into his heart to visit his brothers ..." (cf. Acts 7:23; Ex. 2:11)

"... defended the oppressed and avenged him ..." (cf. Acts 7:24; Ex.2:12)
Apparently Moses was under the impression that his brothers would understand God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they didn't. To all this, I say, why the burning bush. The point of the exercise isn't the specific "insight" that the New Testament gives to the Old but the general evangelical principle that "Scripture interprets or enlightens Scripture" (page 7).

Now, I found two things interesting this morning when we gathered for discussion and the video lecture. Three things, maybe. First, when confronted with St. Stephen's description of Moses in Acts, the French lady seated next to me objected aloud to everyone:
"But that's the New Testament!"
Rather than saying what I thought ("Exactly!"), I heard myself whisper the party line to her, "It's the inspired word of God." European liberalism meets American Fundamentalism. Comforting to observe someone else wig out over the clash.

Second, strangely, I found that I'd missed Kay Arthur after all these months. I appreciate that she doesn't allow her crew to edit out all self-correction of her verbal blunders anymore. It demonstrates some humility. The third interesting thing, maybe a little disturbing, was how Arthur presented Acts 7, beginning about verse 20 and continuing to the climax in verse 37. Obviously, verse 37 speaks of Jesus but instead she attempted to impress upon us that we can be that prophet in our world today. Before she was done, she rectified that imbalance. Maybe it's just my own fault, but I would just expect her to stick to the intent of Scripture. The video lecture ought not be a sermon. She's a Bible teacher.

I have yet to read Sarna on the first three chapters of Exodus. I would expect, without the benefit of these New Testament "insights," Sarna's read of Moses' character will be different. Don't get me wrong: I affirm St. Stephen's "remembrance" of Moses, but let's at least consider Moses' own remembrance first.

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