Thursday, June 28, 2007
New classes
What is Peter doing with his summer, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Among other things, it's back-to-school time. I'm taking two summer courses. One meets all next week, and so I've been reading furiously (thought perhaps not as furiously as I could have been) all the thoughts and interpretations of the thoughts of John Wesley. The class is "John Wesley's Theology for Today." It's one of the required courses for my degree, thought I'm enjoying reading Wesley's standard sermons quite a bit.

The other class I'm taking is an independent study, exegesis of Leviticus. I have to read the whole book in Hebrew while also reading Mary Douglas' Leviticus as Literature and a companion commentary of my choice. Then there will be a big old paper to write at the end.

Here are a couple of interesting things I've found so far.

Leviticus is a book of the senses--sight, sound, smells, tastes. It's a book dealing with concrete reality, so as one reads, once has to imagine all of these actions occurring in the real world. These aren't abstract theological suppositions. So you have to think about the senses involved in worship, or those absent.

Regarding the burnt offering of chapter 1:
"The lack of speech can be best explained as the concerted attempt of the priestly legists to distance the rites of Israel's priest from the magical incantations that necessarily accompanied and, indeed, empowered the ritual acts of his pagan counterpart... Thus all of the biblical narratives on Moses and Aaron agree that, in the initial stages of the formation of Israelites cult and prophecy, the actions of the divine representative, whether in sacrifice or in miracle, were performed in total silence" (Milgrom 22).

I like this connection between worship and silence. It makes me wonder about the contemporary application.

On a related note Into Great Silence, a documentary about a French monastery, opens at the Kentucky Theater this weekend. That should be pretty cool.

Regarding the "fellowship/well-being" offering of chapter 3, Hartley brings into play Acts 2:45-47 and connects the offering with Eucharist:

"In so doing they [the early church] were fulfilling the design of the offering of well-being. From 1 Cor 11:17-34 it is learned that the Eucharist was celebrated when believers joined together for fellowship at a meal. The partaking of the bread and the wine was the practice of Christ's presence, similar to God's presence with those eating a festive meal from an offering of well-being. The highest purpose of both ceremonies is the praise of God. Whereas blood was strictly forbidden to the OT worshipers, the cup, representing Christ's blood, is freely made available to all who partake of the Eucharist. The design of the offering of well-being has been continued in the new covenant, and it has been changed to appropriate the full blessings and privileges gained for all believers by Christ's death" (42).

It's an interesting connection, but I can't help but wonder if Hartley takes this connection with Eucharist too far. After all, the context of the first Eucharist is Passover, not a fellowship offering.

On top of all this Leviticus, Pastor Aaron has been teaching through the book on Wednesday nights. Last night was chapter 18, the sex chapter. More on that later.

posted by Peter at 11:46 AM
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