Friday, April 30, 2021

Bible Study Resources: Foreshadowings of Christ in the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha is a collection of Jewish religious books written in the period between the Old and New Testaments. Protestants do not view them as being part of the Bible, nor inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, they are the reflections of the chosen people of God during the years before Christ’s first coming, and as such, they offer many lessons about how God was preparing the hearts of the Jews to receive their Messiah. The following passages, which I selected from my reading of the texts, hint in various ways at the coming of Jesus, from his birth to Mary to his crucifixion and resurrection.

Tobit 13:11 – A bright light will shine to all the ends of the earth; many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name.

Judith 16:5 – The Lord Almighty has foiled [his enemies] by the hand of a woman.

Wisdom of Solomon, ch. 7-10: Descriptions of “Wisdom” (compare to 1 Cor. 1:24, 30 – “Christ [is] the wisdom and power of God,” “Christ…has become for us wisdom from God.”)

                Wisdom…pervades and penetrates all things. It is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty…It is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Though it is but one, it can do all things. (Wis. Sol. 7:24-27)

                Wisdom is a partner in the knowledge of God, and an associate in his works… [It is] the active cause of all things…[and] the fashioner of what exists. (Wis. Sol. 8:4-6)

                Wisdom delivered [Israel] from a nation of oppressors…It guided them along a marvelous way, and became a shelter to them by day, and a starry flame through the night. It brought them over the Red Sea, and led them down through deep waters. (Wis. Sol. 10:15, 17-18)

Wisdom of Solomon 14:7 – Blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes!

Wisdom of Solomon 16:12-13 – It was your Word, O Lord, that heals all people. For you have power over life and death; you lead mortals down to the gates of Hades and back again.

Baruch 3:35-37 – This is our God; no other can be compared to him. He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave Wisdom to his servant Jacob and to Israel, whom he loved. Afterward, Wisdom appeared on earth and lived with humankind.

Baruch 4:22 – I have put my hope in the Everlasting to save you, and joy has come to me from the Holy One, because of the mercy that will soon come to you from your everlasting savior.

2 Maccabees 7:9, 23 – The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws….The Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again.

2 Esdras (4 Ezra) 7:28-33 – For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years…After those years my son the Messiah shall die, and [then] all who draw human breath….The earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who rest there in silence; and the chambers shall give up the souls that have been committed to them. The Most High shall be revealed on the seat of judgment.

2 Esdras (4 Ezra) 8:52-54 – It is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand. The root of evil is sealed up from you, illness is banished from you, and death is hidden; Hades has fled and corruption has been forgotten; sorrows have passed away, and in the end the treasure of immortality is made manifest.

2 Esdras (4 Ezra) 12:31-34 – As for the lion [which you saw in the vision]…this is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David, and will come and speak with [Israel]. He will denounce them for their ungodliness and wickedness, and will display before them their contemptuous dealings….But in mercy he will set free the remnant of my people, those who have been saved throughout my borders, and he will make them joyful until the end comes, the day of judgment.

2 Esdras (4 Ezra) 13:25-26, 32, 37, 39 – As for your seeing a man come up from the heart of the sea, this is he whom the Most High has been keeping for many ages, who will himself deliver his creation….When these things take place and the signs occur that I showed you before, then my Son will be revealed, whom you saw as a man coming up from the sea….Then he, my Son, will reprove the assembled nations for their ungodliness….and gather to himself another multitude that is peaceable.


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Heroes of the Faith: G. K. Chesterton

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

[Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-3 
G. K. Chesterton: Basic Facts
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was an English journalist and author whose work touched on the fields of theology, fiction, apologetics, philosophy, biography, poetry, politics, culture, current affairs, art, and literature. He is remembered today for his aphoristic quotes and his way of melding humor with profound Christian reflection.

- Chesterton grew up in a nominally Christian family. After being driven to near-suicidal depression by nihilistic philosophy while at art school, he slowly returned to the faith. Over the course of several decades, he moved from a vague Christian faith to high-church Anglicanism and then, finally, to Roman Catholicism.

- His best-known works today are Orthodoxy (apologetics), The Man Who Was Thursday (fiction), the Father Brown stories (detective fiction), St. Francis of Assisi (biography), and The Everlasting Man (theology/history).
Themes of Chesterton's Work:

- The Insufficiency of Modern Philosophies: Atheistic and agnostic ideas which leave no room for the spiritual dimension of life are manifestly unable to match our common-sense understanding of the way things are. They also often suffer from an overblown sense of certainty and a tragic arrogance against earlier periods of history.

- Christianity simply makes sense: In contrast to modern philosophies, faith makes sense of our basic perceptions of the world, it respects human value and encourages virtue, and it honors the worth of our traditions.

- Wonder & Joy: The fundamental attitude of the human towards God, the universe, and life in general, ought to be a childlike sense of wonder and of awestruck gratitude. 
Quotes Critiquing Modern Philosophies:
“As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity….We have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out.”

“The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the [madman] mentioned before is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts. Spiritual doctrines do not actually limit the mind as do materialistic denials.”

“Now it is the charge against the main deductions of the materialist that, right or wrong, they gradually destroy his humanity; I do not mean only kindness, I mean hope, courage, poetry, initiative, all that is human.” 
Quotes on the Christian Faith: 
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again,’ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

“Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief is superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious laughter by which all things live….Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small.”

“The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything—Like the sun at noonday, mysticism [that is, Christian spirituality] explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invincibility.”

“The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”
“I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.”

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Additional Quotes:
 “[Christ] restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that he hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

“Before any modern man talks with authority about loving men, I insist (I insist with violence) that he shall always be very much pleased when his barber tries to talk to him. His barber is humanity: let him love that. If he is not pleased at this, I will not accept any substitute in the way of interest in the Congo or the future of Japan. If a man cannot love his barber whom he has seen, how shall he love the Japanese whom he has not seen?”

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”

“The church is the one thing that saves a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his own time.”

“It is only the very good who can live riotous lives.”

“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.”

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

“Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but it cannot be believed on Tuesdays.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”

“There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.”

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.”

“I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

“The great poets have been strangely silent on the subject of cheese.”

“Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pockets. But I found it was too long, and the age of the great epics is past.”