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Friday, May 16, 2008

Puzzling the Bible 2

Yesterday, I posted the first piece of this Bible puzzle. Today, I give you all the pieces and allow you to have a go at deciphering the picture and its source. Tomorrow I promise to post the whole image assembled.

puzzle before

Take up your harp from the willow and sing of the puzzle:

  1. How close is this image to your mental image of the original story? And would a Better Bible link the original story to our culture or help us bridge the cultural and historical divide? How would it do that?
  2. How do we exegete a text without creating a caricature? How do we translate a text without transmogrifying it?
  3. Did you discover the truth about the puzzle by assembling the pieces in your mind or by putting together the text?  How do text and images interact?
  4. How did The Lord Of The Rings movies affect your enjoyment of the book? What about The Passion Of Christ?


At Fri May 16, 03:08:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

Sorry about the wide photo! I'm still learning how this system works. You can click on the image to see it by itself.

At Fri May 16, 07:07:00 AM, Blogger Paul Larson said...

1 Samuel 16:16?

At Fri May 16, 07:45:00 AM, Blogger Iyov said...

Well, I would not have guessed the story from the image -- but the text immediately gave it away. The images are too cute for my taste.

Speaking for myself, I interact with Scripture more as a series of words rather than as a series of images. An image always brings a fresh reading to the story.

That's one reason I like to put up images by Rembrandt, Dore, and others on my blog, and why I collect so many illustrated Bibles -- I find Biblical art as fascinating commentary on the Bible. I also try my hand at my own efforts.

I find that links from the Bible to contemporary culture are also interesting commentary on the text. The illustration for the Book of Joshua on this page is one such example. But again, the photos and art are commentary on the text; not explanations of the text.

The Lord of the Rings was an amazing piece of fiction because it created a "complete world" -- while the movie could never do this. The many wonderful uses of folklore, the creation of Elvish and other languages -- these are all missing from the movies. The movies are splendid -- absolutely -- but they are something completely different than the book.

When I watched the the Passion of the Christ (note you get the title wrong in your post) I kept on thinking to myself -- "the Aramaic in this movie is atrocious." (It really was awful.) That kept me from thinking that this was going to be a "realistic" interpretation. I had not thought of it as being based directly on the Gospels, but rather on the medieval passion play cycles. I did think it was a reasonable updating of those plays, but without their verbal beauty. My reading of the gospels is quite different than The Passion of the Christ (or the medieval passion play cycles). However, I did think that The Passion was very close to a certain stream of Roman Catholic art.

Perhaps a more interesting question would be to ask about Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew.

In any case, I am with those who hold that one should read a work before seeing a movie, so as to form one's own mental images.

Of course, the entire subject of religious art is an academic field to itself.

At Fri May 16, 10:22:00 AM, Blogger Paul Larson said...

Iyov, very interesting post. First, let me say that I don't want to hijack David's blog......but.....I love religious art, especially Dore. So let's figure out a way to have a separate topic on that.
The lord of the rings movies are part of popular culture and on the whole I enjoy whatever sci fi genre movies are available. They are part of what I see as the larger and growing subculture of paganism including environmentalism, witchcraft, and materialism. Part of peoples search outside of Christianity, for some form/method of release from fear and pain.
The Passion movie was interesting to me especially for its covert use of a woman as Satan, but ultimately did not satisfy me as my take on Christianity differs from his. He is a good actor/directory of historical/period stuff and I particularly enjoyed the photography and art that was present in Apocalypto (sp?). I have no idea what Aramaic sounds like really so I wasn't bothered by it.

I intend to go to you site and look at the illustrations. I

At Fri May 16, 10:55:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Right, Iyov. Doesn't the text warn against images? Else 10 pictures (not written commands) would have been given on that stone tablet.

And I also was trying to read something deep in David Ker's missing article, which sounded like Jesus speaking Mel Gibson's Aramaic. Deep and wide, you know. (If we read LXX in good English translation, then King David is "the" Christ first.) But I thought Ἰησοῦς was rather intentional about making his students interpret for themselves in order to translate his words as τὸ ἑλληνίζειν. (He even let Pasolini use an atheist Italian eye to make the motion picture, "Il Vangelo secondo Matteo"). David Ker, do you mind Paul Larson and the rest of us hijacking your post here? (I have seen you put up some pretty racy pics on blogs today. Thanks for letting us interpret their meaning too.)

At Fri May 16, 11:00:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

Hijacking welcome. It is one of the delights of comment threads.

Sorry about the anarthous Passion.

At Fri May 16, 11:14:00 AM, Blogger David Ker said...

BTW Thank you for that WSJ link. I can use that next door...

At Fri May 16, 11:29:00 AM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for your forgiveness and permissiveness.

We still want another post with the puzzle solved, and all the correct answers to your nine (4) enumerated questions.

At Fri May 16, 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Paul Larson said...

Of course my addled old brain read,

4. How did The Lord Of The Rings movies affect your enjoyment of the book?

I'm thinking affect my reading of 1 Samuel, with no thought to the Trilogy, of which I only read the first one, and I'm thinking, "well it didn't affect it at all."

What about The Passion Of Christ?

I assume Matthew...and I'm thinking well with all the gore and violence so realistic I'm starting to feel guilty, and complicite in killing Jesus, but wait....that's not what I think at all. Its the true "coronation" of Jesus and my soul being saved, so it really doesn't have anything to do with King David as the first Christ afterall because he wasn't the first messiah, even he did worship one God in one Place. I'd still say Gibson did a pretty good job on me, there, while he had me in the theater.

Iyov, great site! I thought there was something wrong with me for being drawn to Dore's work, especially drawn to the Old Testament drawings where my theology doesn't really lie. I am still somehow spiritually drawn to Genesis, and Yes! Job......(I read it as much as Genesis and more than anything else in particular). Why I'm not sure, and I like Ecclesiates too. I know from other experience that God often whispers to me and nudges me in a direction for a purpose; so I keep looking there. Why do I feel these particular books contain the word of God more than other OT works? Especially considering that the creation and flood myths are at lease partially appropriated. (Is Job?)

Somehow there is a vibe of peace that resides in the "fear" of the textual imagery, as well as the rather dark Dore illustrations. Job 3:25 "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." Really gives me the creeps.

At Fri May 16, 12:33:00 PM, Blogger David Ker said...

Le tagmemics c'est très Dallas.

At Sat May 17, 06:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

noticed your comments Jim Hamiltions blog and on the roll of Women and leadership. I commented as well but since he tends to delete anything he doesn't like (prerogative of the blogger) I figure my comments will be deleted. My disagreement with him was based on cultural not scriptural points of view. For that reason I figure he will delete mine as well. I copied them over to my blog.

Rob in Madrid

At Sat May 17, 06:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

opps above comment was meant for Suzanne McCarthy didn't realize this was a shared blog

sorry about that

At Sat May 17, 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Rob,

I picked up your comments and your own post on women elders. I share your distress and conviction that the teaching of submission has all too often become spiritual abuse.


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