Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Week 1: Worlds, Texts, Sets: Class Orientation

Great to meet you all!
As promised, either before or after each class session, I will post here, in blog format, as summary of the material we covered, with links to videos and articles where possible.  Hope it helps.

Tonight was an orientation to the course, by way of these 9 symbols below.
Remember, we revised the reading load as well as some of the assignments, so adjust your syllabus by making the revisions posted on the tab above
We also clarified next week's assignment: Write a letter (paragraph or one page) addressed to your classmates explaining a tradition from your family, or work, or life: how you celebrate Christmas, how your office is organized etc.

For fun, we watched these videos..which are funny...but have a serious point.
Remember the "WHO IS JESUS" question in BIBLE 300A?:
Jesus Video 1: Jesus doesn't have time for Peter

Jesus Video 2: Jesus gives rules for First Christian Church, and confronts a follower for missing prayer meeting for the Super Bowl:

Jesus video 3: Jesus tells all the disciples what they have recently done wrong:

See the tab at top for the rest

FIRST, we talked about TEXTS.
a TEXT is technically any message designed to communicate..
so obviously the Bible counts as a TEXT message.

Texts need contexts.

I had several students text me (cell phone) random text messages during class to illustrate that texts need contexts. 

Like this one:

How you read the text changes as much as everything.

Spaces matter.

Like this:

Professor Ernest Brennecke of Columbia is credited with inventing a sentence that can be made to have eight different meanings by placing ONE WORD in all possible positions in the sentence: 
"I hit him in the eye yesterday."

The word is "ONLY".
The Message:

1.ONLY I hit him in the eye yesterday. (No one else did.)
2.I ONLY hit him in the eye yesterday. (Did not slap him.)
3.I hit ONLY him in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit others.)
4.I hit him ONLY in the eye yesterday. (I did not hit outside the eye.)
5.I hit him in ONLY the eye yesterday. (Not other organs.)
6.I hit him in the ONLY eye yesterday. (He doesn't have another eye..)
7.I hit him in the eye ONLY yesterday. (Not today.)
8.I hit him in the eye yesterday ONLY. (Did not wait for today.)

Like this 'text message' from Jesus:
or is it,

The original manuscripts of the Bible not only run all letters, all caps, together, but include no punctuation.

Punctuation matters.

Everything is  context.
Context is everything.

By the way, that last statement was a chiasm (we'll define that later)..

 won't even mention the "but, cheeks" story (:  


Here are the 9 symbols we introduced.. which will also be the mix and match quiz of Week 5:

  1. Three Worlds
  2. Inclusio
  3. Chiasm
  4. Intertextuality (Hyperlinking)
  5. Intercalation  (Sandwiching)
  6. Bounded Set
  7. Centered Set
  8. Subversion of Empire
  9. Parallelism
1)We became familiar/reacquainted with the "Three Worlds"  concept which comes from your Hauer/Young Textbook, see especially chapters two and three, and see class notes.
Here  below is how one student summarized the worlds (she has more detail here)

Literary World--The literary world of the Bible is simply the text itself, apart from anything outside the text.  We mean the world (or, better, worlds) created by the text; the words on the page, by the stories, songs, letters and the myriad other types of literature that make up the Bible.  All good literature (and the Bible is, among other things, good literature) creates in readers' minds magnificent, mysterious, and often moving worlds that take on a reality of their own, whether or not they represent anything real outside the pages (Hauer and Young ch 2).

Historical World--The historical world of the Bible isthe world "behind the text" or "outside the text".  It is the context in which the Bible came to be written, translated, and interpreted over time, until the present.  In studying the historical world of the Bible, we look for evidence outside the text that helps us answer questions such as, who wrote this text, when was it written, to whom was it written, and why was it written.  We also probe the text itself for evidence that links it to historical times, places, situations, and persons (Hauer and Young 2)..

Contemporary World--The contemporary world is the "world in front of the text" or the "world of the reader."  In one sense, there are as many contemporary worlds of the Bible as there are readers, for each of us brings our own particular concerns and questions to the text.  They inevitably shape our reading experience.  We are all interested in answering the questions of whether the Bible in general, or particular texts, have any relevance to our personal lives (Hauer and Young  ch3).

To give example of the HISTORICAL WORLD reality, we watched this clip to get the backstory of what it entailed when the Bible simply says  in its LITERARY WORLD WAY,"And Moses went up to God":

   We pick up after a 6,000 foot climb, 10 hours of hiking, several camels, over 100 bottles of water:

Ever notice Matthew starts with "His name will be called Emmanuel, which means 'God with us.'
And ends...very last sentence...with "I will be with you."?

No accident.
And neither is the midpoint and message of the gospel: "I will be with you" (18:20).
In Jesus, God is with us.
Jesus is the With-Us God.

That's an INCLUSIO.
You knew God was with us in Christ.. But now you see it as you look at Matthew structurally..
Links with more info:
Chiasm(definition) ).. once you are attuned to seeing them in Scripture (and most ancient literature) it seems they are everywhere.

Sometimes they are.
Who can argue that "the first shall belast/
the last shall be first" is a chiasm?
A-B-B-A, X pattern.

(and this one, because it's in Matthew [20:16], will be important
for our class.
But often the chiasm is wide enough to spotlight and intended embedded theme in between the endpoints.

And to really help us get what the Spirit is saying...structurally.

People remember how to perform a piece of music by using musical notations on scale. A similar solution to the problem of remembering how to perform a piece of dance has been solved with the use of Labonotation. In antiquity, it seems most written documents were intended to be read aloud, hence to be performed. The purpose of writing was to facilitate remembering how the document went when one read it aloud. But how did one make paragraphs or mark off units in a document read aloud? It seems that the main way to mark off a unit was to use repetition of words and/or phrases at the beginning and end of a unit, either alone (as in Matt 5:3, 10,"...for theirs is teh kingdom of heaven) or in parallel bracketing fashion (as John 1:18). The Greeks called such parallel brackets a chiasm, after one half of the letter "chi" (our 'X"), thus ">."-Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, p. 295, emphasis mine.. a free read online here.
See also:

4)Intertextuality (Hyperlinking):
One of Chris Harrison's projects is called "Visualizing the Bible":

"Christoph Römhild sent me his interesting biblical cross-references data set. This lead to the first of three visualizations. Intrigued by the complexity of the Bible, I derived a new data set by parsing the King James Bible and extracting people and places. One of the resulting visualizations is a biblical social network. The other visualization shows how people and places are distributed throughout the text."  Chris Harrison-

But why should I tell you when I can show you?:

"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect." .More info about this chart, and charts of the Bible as a social network  here.

5) Intercalation  (Sandwiching)

ntercalation" is a "sandwiching" technique. where a story/theme is told/repeated at the beginning and ened of a section, suggesting that if a different story appears in between, it too is related thematically.  We looked at  this outline of Mark 11:


We discussed how the cursing of the fig tree was Jesus' commentary of nationalism/racism/prejudice, because fig trees are often a symbol of national Israel.  That the fig  tree cursing story is "cut in  two" by the inserting/"intercalating" of the temple cleansing, suggested that Jesus action in the temple was also commentary on prejuidice...which become more obvious when we realize the moneychangers and dovesellers are set up in the "court of the Gentiles," which kept the temple from being a "house of prayer FOR ALL NATIONS (GENTILES).

This theme becomes even more clear when we note that Jesus  statement was a quote from Isaiah 56:68, and the context there (of course) is against prejudice in the temple.
When a text reference is made to another text/Scripture, this is called INTERTEXTUALITY.


Most think Jesus' "temple tantrum" was due to his being ticked off about folks "selling stuff in church.". But he didn't say "Quit selling stuff in church" , but "My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations," quoting Is 56:6-8, whose context is all about letting foreigners and outcasts have a place..hmmm. He was likely upset that not that Dovesellers and money changers were doing business selling and changing , but that they were doing so in the "outer court,"  (AKA the "Court of the GENTILES"), the only  place where "foreigners" could have a pew at "attend church." They were making the temple area "a den of thieves" not (just) by overcharging for doves and currency exchange, but by robbing folks..'all nations'... of a place to pray..and to "access access" to God.

Could it be that Jesus' temple anger was targeted at racism/prejudice more than (instead of) commercialism? 
Maybe read this short article I wrote on the topic for Salt Fresno Magazine:

“Temple Tantrums For All Nations"



6) and 7) 

set theory::

8)Subversion of empire:

We defined this by watching the video below..
to get the power of HISTORICAL WORLD..
We looked at  Matt. 2:1a, and the historical world image of the Herodian fortress, in whose shadow was  Jesus).  YOU CAN WATCH our VanDer Laan  "In the Shadow of Herod" video HERE in two parts:

VanDer Laan writes

There was another side to Herod. His visionary building programs, his ingenious development of trade with the rest of the world, and his advancement of the interests of his nation are legendary. Many of his building projects were designed to strengthen the loyalty of his subjects, a goal he never achieved. Most seem to have been built to strengthen his relationship with Rome and to establish himself as the greatest king the Jews had ever had. Herod built on a magnificent and grandiose scale. His building projects included:
The Herodion: This mountain fortress overlooked the town of Bethlehem. Standing on a high hill, the upper fortress was round and more than 200 feet in diameter. Originally, it was seven stories high, with an eastern tower that stood more than 40 feet higher. Packed dirt covered the first four stories, giving the upper fortress a cone shape. Inside were a peristyle garden, reception hall, Roman baths, and countless apartments. The lower palace included an enormous pool, a colonnaded garden, a 600-foot-long terrace, and a building more than 400 feet long. The Herodion was the third-largest palace in the ancient world....

....The visitor cannot help being impressed with Herod's vision and ingenuity. However, all that remain are spectacular ruins, because Herod lived for Herod. By contrast, another builder, a humble carpenter born in Bethlehem, used a different material than did Herod (Matt. 16:181 Peter 2:4-8). Jesus' buildings continue to grow because He built for the glory of God. Like David (1 Sam. 17:46), Elijah (1 Kings 18:36), and Hezekiah (Isa. 37:20), He lived so that the world may know that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is truly God. His construction projects will last forever because He built for the glory of God the Father. -link                                        

VanDer Laan's website is a great's here.
-- --------------


Sometimes a repetition can be called parallelism..Here is a 5fold  structural parallelism in Matthew:

"Jesus is the new Moses."

Matthew could have said that,   or even said that five times..but instead he embedded thematically five times in the literary structure/fabric of his book;

It is no accident that 5 times Matthew offers an almost identical sentence to close off his five teaching blocks..

                        "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he moved on..."
..shows up in

  1. 7:28
  2. 11:1
  3. 13:53
  4. 19:1
  5. 26:1

See  page 269  of your Hauer/Young textbook (the three paragraphs underneath the "Higher Righteousness" section)  for more on this..
There is huge  signicance of fiveteaching blocks in Matthew, how they are identified, and what they likely symbolize.

Why 5?

Jewish people reading Matthew would say
"Oh, I get it.  Matthew is trying to tell us  (5 times, no less( that Jesus is the New Moses (or the fulfillment of Moses)!" 
Why? The answer has to to with the obvious intentionality of the5 "teaching blocks" in Matthew..Five being a hugely significant  number for's the number of books in the Torah, AKA the Five Books of Moses, AKA The  Pentateuch "(Five Books in One.") .  Moses=5ness.

More "New Moses" symbolism in Matthew:

 BTW: Note an inclusio in that the first and last teachings happen on a mountain..hmmmm

--You'll notice some of the questions in the textbook relate to Scriptures we deleted from assigned readings.  But you will usually be able to answer the questions based on the textbook section, and your own opinion.

-Remember if still working on the maps from week 1, some of the places are not easy to find  in the textbook (we need to change the syllabus) Just do the best you can , or you can Google the missing answers.  I will give full credit if I see you triend.

-Be sure to work off the revised syllabus (click tab at top)


-Letter assignment: make the letter assignment more generic 
than original syllabus says. Write a letter to your
classmates.  The letter is to explain a family, work, or school tradition to your classmates (Don't worry about Passover references, etc).  A long paragraph, up to a page is fine.