Sunday, March 16, 2008

A different view of Scripture

The Torah
The Torah has been studied as the word of God for thousands of years. At some point during that long history, someone noticed:
R. Simlai expounded: Torah begins with an act of benevolence and ends with an act of benevolence. It begins with an act of benevolence, for it is written: And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skin (Genesis 3:21), and clothed them; and it ends with an act of benevolence, for it is written: ‘And He buried him in the valley’ (Deuteronomy 34:6). (Talmud Sotah 14a)
I know it's easy to pick nits; it's easy enough to see that Torah actually begins a couple of chapters earlier with creation, and ends a few verses after Moses' burial. For all that, the observation is basically correct: at the beginning of the Torah God acts with loving kindness towards people, and at the end of the Torah God acts the same way.

The Gospels
Do you know what happens when you apply the same perspective to the Gospels? At the beginning of the Gospels, the Lord blesses us, ("Blessed are the poor in spirit ..", Matthew 5:3). At the end of the Gospels, the Lord gives us peace, ("Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you," John 14:27). That works out to the Gospels beginning and ending in the same way as the priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24-26):
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Coincidence or providence? God's perpetual blessing over his people is fulfilled in Jesus.

3 comments:

SeekWisdom said...

Great new method of exegesis!

Here's one that does not need fudging:

The Psalms begin with a Blessing and end with Praise. What could be more fitting?

Weekend Fisher said...

Pretty cool.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yes, very cool, and very fitting, for there is nothing whatsoever about our glorious God that is not entirely benevolent.