Wednesday, 7 March 2012

How does Psalm 2 relate to Psalm 1?

It is now generally accepted that the opening two Psalms of the Psalter function as a "gateway" to the book as a whole. Not only do they contain the two main themes that will be unfolded in what follows (Torah, Ps 1, and kingship, Ps 2), shared vocabulary and themes indicates that they have been purposely juxtaposed with each other. The most evident example is the framing function of the felicitation "Happy is the one who ... ."

If we have a case of two "Zwillingspsalmen" (twin-psalms), how are they to be related? Matthias Millard (in Die Komposition des Psalters) argues that Ps 2 specifies the identity of the righteous one in Ps 1: The righteous one is the king. The consequence is that he evil ones of Ps 1 are the enemy kings of Ps 2.

But is this correct? I would have thought that the parallel created by the framing אשרי ("happy who") clauses means that it is the torah and the king that are being set in parallel and not a would-be righteous individual and the king. What is being juxtaposed are two means of "redemption": kingship and torah. Happy is the one who imbibes the Law and happy the one who seeks shelter in the (Messianic) King.

In other words, the function of the juxtaposition is to portray two sides of a single coin answering the question: "How can we be happy?" [*]

What do you think?

[*] This also implies that Patrick Miller's interpretation does not go far enough. He argues that Ps 1 qualifies Ps 2 Deuteronomy-like by saying that whoever the king is, he must be like the individual in Ps 1. This is no doubt true, but I don't get the impression that this is the function of the juxtaposition. The issue is how the reader may be happy, not what is the nature of true kingship.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Betet für die arabischen Christen

Der arabische Pastor einer Gemeinde, die mit meiner Gemeinde verbunden ist, hat dieses Video weitergeleitet und ich leite es auch gerne weiter.

Hier ist ein Artikel über Youcef Nadarkhani. Der Artikel informiert auch, wie man eine Petition an die deutsche Regierung schreiben kann. ICGM haben einen Appelvorschlag hier. For a detailed Wikipedia on the man, go here.

Ich habe in meinem Leben bisher fünf Iraner kennengelernt, die aus ihrer Heimat aus Glaubensgründen geflohen sind, und zwei irakische Familien, die aus den selben Gründen ihre Heimat verlassen mussten. Ich kenne auch zwei ehemalige Muslime, die in sehr westlichen Familien aufgewachsen sind. Sie haben die leichtere Variante bekommen: Ausschluss aus der Familie und offizielle Enterbung. 

I recently watched this interesting debate between Dawkins and a Muslim. Dawkins asks the cleric what the punishment for apostasy (i.e. ceasing to be a Muslim) is. It is interesting to see how both he and another interlocuter avoid the question until forced to answer it in the end. 

According to Wikipedia, this mainstream cleric's view is the majority position.

I'd be delighted is someone more informed than I could tell me if this is a misrepresentation of mainstream Sharia on this issue.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A question concerning Yhwh and his gates (Ps 24:7-10)

I posted the following question on Jim West's Biblical Studies discussion list and it has generated an interesting conversation. The question itself, however, remains unanswered so I post it here in case anyone else can help me further:
In Ps 24:7-10, the (personified?) gates of the temple are being calledupon to open up so that the King of Glory, i.e. Yhwh, may enter into thetemple. They are called the "pithhe 'olam" (פְּתְחֵי עוֹלָם)  i.e. "eternal gates" or "gatesof eternity." 'Olam (eternity) is generally interpreted to refer to God'sdimension of reality, "heaven" in a sense. The gates are "eternal" becausethey are the gates of the temple, that place where heaven is madeimmediately present. One could also interpret the construct form as "gatesof eternity," i.e. they are the gates which open up onto God's dimension(rather like "the gate of heaven" in Gen 28:17).
My problem is that the person who is supposed to enter through these gatesinto this reality is God himself. In other words, there is a heavenlyreality behind the gates which is currently devoid of his presence and intowhich he will now enter.
Some say that God's presence in the OT is dynamic, so that there is no
contradiction to seeing him as being "in" the temple and "outside" it at thesame time. But most interpreters believe that vv. 7-10 embody some kind ofritual in which Yhwh-perhaps symbolized by a physical object such as theArk-is being transported into the temple.
My question is this: How am I to conceptualize what is going on here? Whatdoes it mean for Yhwh to enter his own reality in the way portrayed here? Ifthe temple already contains "heaven", does it make no qualitative differenceif Yhwh is behind the gates or not? And if not, why bother make him enter atall? And if there is a qualitative difference, such that Yhwh's enteringconsummates something (in Kgs for example, the temple only becomes holyafter he has entered it), why are they called 'eternal' before he isentering? Are there ancient parallels in which the temple is treated asalready being a heavenly abode before its occupant enters? Or am I justmissing something?