Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Worship a Jew

I'm a Christian. More specifically, I'm a practicing Catholic.

Which means that I worship a Jew.

There's no getting around the point. 'It's in the Bible:'
"1 2 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
(Matthew 1:1)

Matthew, Luke, and Getting a Grip

This is in the Bible, too:
"12 When Jesus began his ministry he was about thirty years of age. He was the son, as was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli ... the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God."
(Luke 3:23-38)
The Gospels have two genealogies of my Lord: Matthew 1:1-18; and Luke 3:23-38. The one in Matthew only goes back to Abraham. Luke's goes back to God.

Aha! The two genealogies don't match: which 'proves' that the Bible is a fake and Christians lie, and only stupid people are religious.

Or, not.

I've been over this sort of thing before.1

Briefly, although it's possible to assume that the Bible is a "history text, a science book, or a political manifesto:" It's not.2

A footnote to Luke 3 gives a pretty good explanation of what Matthew and Luke were up to:
"Whereas Matthew 1:2 begins the genealogy of Jesus with Abraham to emphasize Jesus' bonds with the people of Israel, Luke's universalism leads him to trace the descent of Jesus beyond Israel to Adam and beyond that to God (Luke 3:38) to stress again Jesus' divine sonship."
(New American Bible, Luke 3, footnote 12,
Matthew's right, emphasizing my Lord's connection to the descendants of Israel. And Luke's right, emphasizing His connection to all of us.

As to why none of the Gospels is a complete, comprehensive, thorough discussion of all aspects of the Person in the Trinity who became flesh, I think John's got it about right:
"There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written."
(John 21:25)

Jews, Gentiles, and Me

Anthropologists, paleontologists, and philologists seem pretty confident that my remote ancestors lived somewhere around the east end of the Mediterranean, a very long time ago. Even so, my family connection to Abraham is very, very remote. I am about as "gentile" as it gets, west of the Urals.

Which makes me very glad that Luke takes time to emphasize that my Lord's Incarnation was for all of us: not just the descendants of Abraham and Isaac.

Jesus is a Man? AND God?

I don't understand how the Incarnation works: I'm not God. The important point, though, is that "The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God...." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 457, and see Catechism, 456-478) It's like John says:
"1 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
(John 1:1-5)
Somewhat-related posts:

1 There may have been cultures, during the several thousand years of recorded history, which were less literal-minded than contemporary American culture - but I can't think of one, offhand.

It's not that the culture I'm in doesn't have a word for "metaphor." On the other hand, a whole lot of folks here don't seem comfortable with something that's not true, important, and dry-as-dust factual - all at the same time.

Which gets really interesting when these literalists meet the Bible.

About that general topic:

2 "Believing in the Bible" and trying to use it as a science textbook are very different things. Not just my opinion:
"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a copy of the Bible online: it's the one I link to for quotes in this blog. The NAB Bible home page has a link called "Tips for Fruitful Reading of Scripture." It leads to "Understanding the Bible," Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"There's a 10-point list there, which includes this item:"
  1. 'Know what the Bible is - and what it isn't. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.'
(USCCB, 'Understanding the Bible')
"If 'Bible-believing' folks in the 19th century hadn't been quite so insistent that the Bible was a science textbook: well, that's water under the bridge. (See "Science, Religion, and being Catholic")"
(January 14, 2011)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.