Tuesday 26 June 2012

Things noted this week

Here's a laugh - dot-liturgy.  it might be called, amen, amen, I say unto you, follow the money.

Kurk Gayle and I (somewhat off his topic) talked about Psalm 27. The subject verse is rather interesting.

Here's some nostalgia for you bridge players - autobridge from the 40s. (No that's not an auto on a bridge).

Long conversation here on praying the psalms and how the long psalms become longer and longer when you follow the Anglican tradition. A colleague told me of the weekly monastic rule of reading the Psalter once a week! I hope it was a good translation. [KJV has law for Torah. This is a misleading translation if there ever was one.]  Long psalms are not a chore when you see the poetic devices the poet was using and let yourself play as well as pray.

Monday 25 June 2012

Take the God survey

Rabbi Rachel poet and newly appointed Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel has posted a survey for Reformed Judaism. To take the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/thegodsurvey - anyone can take it. Some day I might use it to form some questions...

Of course if you have any questions - leave them in a comment :_:

Messing around with genre as inscribed

Working only with the Hebrew - the question is - do the genres in the inscriptions form a pattern? Here is the raw data [updated].
........Book 1..................Book 2..................Book 3..................Book 4..................Book 5.........
1-2 no genre
3-6 psalm
7 reel
8-9 (10psalm
11 no genre
12-13 psalm
14 no genre
15 psalm
16 miktam
17 prayer
18 no genre
19-24 psalm
25-28 no genre
29 psalm
30 songpsalm
31 psalm
32 insight
33,34,35 no genre
36 oracle
37 no genre
38-41 psalm
42 (43) 44-45 insight
46 song
47 psalm
48 song, psalm
49-51 psalm
52-55 insight
56-60 miktam
61 no genre
62-64 psalm
65 psalmsong
66  songpsalm
67 no genre
68 psalm
69-72 no genre
73 psalm
74 insight
75-76 psalmsong
77 psalm
78 insight
79 psalm
80 testimony, psalm
81 no genre
82-85 psalm
86 prayer
87 psalmsong
88 songpsalm, insight
89 insight
90 prayer
91 no genre
92  psalmsong
93-97 no genre
98 psalm
99 no genre
100-101 psalm
102 prayer
103-106 no genre
107 no genre
108 songpsalm
109 psalm
110 oracle,  psalm
111,112,113-119 no genre
120-134 song
135-138 no genre
139-141 psalm
142 insight
143 psalm
144 no genre
145 praise
146-150 no genre

Notes and observations:
several have double even triple genre
No prayer in Book 2
The prayers of Book 4 are a significant frame for that book.
No insight (maskil, Kimhi : a poem requiring an interpreter) in Book 4
psalm 14 the double of psalm 53 - one is an insight but the other is not
Miktamim (gold, inscribed, atonement ?) only in Books 1 and 2
Analysis could be impacted by the placement of acrostics (in bold)

A side note re inscriptions: Kimhi cites the tradition that ‘of David : a Psalm signifies that the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and (then) afterwards he uttered a Psalm while a Psalm of David signifies that he uttered a Psalm and (then) afterwards the Holy Spirit rested upon him’. See Psalms 24, 40, 68, 101, 109, 110, 139. That these are the 7 psalms that are marked in this way is an argument in favour of Kimhi’s comment.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Rhetorical Criticism, Fish netted

I am reading Phyllis Trible's little book on Jonah. The book begins with a historical review of Rhetorical Criticism. It is a lovely review from Aristotle to Frye and all points since to 1990. Here though - part way through her description of reader-response criticism is a cute sentence that stands apart as my quote of the day:
Susan Suleiman identified six approaches within reader-response criticism: rhetorical, semiotic and structuralist, phenomenological, subjective and psychoanalytical, sociological and historical, and hermeneutic. Even then she found it difficult to anchor the floating work of the critic Stanley Fish. He began his literary voyage by countering New Criticism. "Meaning" is not the end result of analyzing the formal structures but rather develops as the reader experiences the text.... Yet a common level hooked Fish into assuming once again the stability of the text for controlling the reader's experience...
pause for book titles: Suleiman, The reader in the Text ...
Fish, Is there a Text in this Class?

Bayard would help us place these titles in our Library.

Now for the continuation of Triblisms as she nets out the Fish metaphor:
...He wrote of the constant transformation of interpretation. The process meant, however, that the reader no longer controlled the text. At the end of Fish's voyage, the reader did not respond so much as disappear into the belly of "rhetoricizing".
(Page 66) She hasn't mentioned Jonah yet - but I've had a sufficient intro to Rhet. Crit.

Monday 18 June 2012

Why Bible Study

John Hobbins has a remarkable summary of what the canon of the Bible represents. This small sample is not the only part worth the effort to read and ponder.
The question, then, is how biblical literature makes assertions about the way things are. Let me count the ways: through myth, legend, and chronicle; through the description of the bios of a people and individuals thereof; through the critique of prescription (torah) and prediction (prophecy); through satire, parody, and parable (e.g., Jonah, Esther, and the parables of Jotham and Nathan); through prayer, by definition the most fundamental indictment of the way things are; through praise, the affirmation of particular features of the way things are; through empirical observation and speculative inquiry within the bounds of philosophical religion (Proverbs; Job; Qohelet).
I was struck by these concise definitions of prayer and praise (my emphasis). There is more...

Saturday 16 June 2012

Comparing Psalms 96 and 98

I was looking at old posts, playing the role of archivist, and I noted - of course we all knew how psalms 96-99 seem to be one song, but I had forgotten how closely related psalms 96 and 98 are, sharing over 50% of their words.

If we assume that such grand repetition frames other text, then the framed text is Psalm 97. Imagine yourself observing these three pictures in a gallery. You attention would be drawn to the picture in the middle, between two such similar images. Why, you ask, would the curator have placed that picture between the other two? Surely like things should be adjacent? Maybe the one in the middle is worth a gander. So you stop for a moment and stretch your neck to stare at the words. You find you are in the midst of ascension and the words recall Psalm 47, bringing to mind the command to Abraham to offer Isaac as a whole burnt offering. It's a remarkable reach that these psalms have.

יְהוָה מָלָךְ
תָּגֵל הָאָרֶץ
יִשְׂמְחוּ אִיִּים רַבִּים
1יְהוָה reigns
let the earth rejoice
let the multitude of coasts be glad
עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל סְבִיבָיו
צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאוֹ
2clouds and dark turbulence surround him
righteousness and judgment are the stability of his throne
אֵשׁ לְפָנָיו תֵּלֵךְ
וּתְלַהֵט סָבִיב צָרָיו
3fire walks in his presence
and will blaze his surrounding foes

הֵאִירוּ בְרָקָיו תֵּבֵל
רָאֲתָה וַתָּחֵל הָאָרֶץ
4his lightnings light the world
the earth saw and was in birth
הָרִים כַּדּוֹנַג נָמַסּוּ
מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה
מִלִּפְנֵי אֲדוֹן כָּל הָאָרֶץ
5hills melted like wax
from the presence of יְהוָה
from the presence of the Lord of all the earth
הִגִּידוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם צִדְקוֹ
וְרָאוּ כָל הָעַמִּים כְּבוֹדוֹ
6the heavens make evident his righteousness
and all the peoples see his glory

יֵבֹשׁוּ כָּל עֹבְדֵי פֶסֶל
הַמִּתְהַלְלִים בָּאֱלִילִים
הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ כָּל אֱלֹהִים
7all servants of a graven image will be ashamed
boasting in the good for nothing
worship him all gods
שָׁמְעָה וַתִּשְׂמַח צִיּוֹן
וַתָּגֵלְנָה בְּנוֹת יְהוּדָה
לְמַעַן מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ יְהוָה
8Zion heard and was glad
and the daughters of Judah rejoiced
on account of your judgments יְהוָה

כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה עֶלְיוֹן
עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ
מְאֹד נַעֲלֵיתָ עַל כָּל אֱלֹהִים
9for you יְהוָה are Most High
over all the earth
you are utterly ascended over all gods
אֹהֲבֵי יְהוָה שִׂנְאוּ רָע
שֹׁמֵר נַפְשׁוֹת חֲסִידָיו
מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים יַצִּילֵם
10those loving יְהוָה hate evil
he guards the beings of those who know his mercy
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked
אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק
וּלְיִשְׁרֵי לֵב שִׂמְחָה
11light is sown for the righteous
and gladness to the upright of heart
שִׂמְחוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּיהוָה
וְהוֹדוּ לְזֵכֶר קָדְשׁוֹ
12be glad in יְהוָה you righteous ones
and give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness
Hebrew words: 95. Percentage of Hebrew words that recur in this psalm: 43%. Average keywords per verse: 3.4.

2dark turbulence ערפל (`rpl) only here and in Psalm 18, recalls the darkness of Exodus 20:21 and of the people, perhaps ironically in Isaiah 60, the Surge Illuminare.
7[Hebrews 1:6]
9Ascended, עלה (`lh) is used for offering, for going up, for ascent, even climbing. It is the word of the offering of Isaac. The ascension of Jesus written of in the NT is part of the whole offering of his life and its acceptance. It is not then a magical space journey, but a recognition that the offering is complete and accepted. In the same way, the goodness of יְהוָה is noted in his superiority to other things that might be worshiped.
Selected recurring words in relative order

Word and gloss * first usage123456789101VsRoot
תגל let rejoice
הארץ the earth
ישׂמחו let be glad
סביביו surround him
צדק righteousness
ומשׁפט and judgment
לפניו in his presence
סביב surrounding
האירו light
ראתה saw
הארץ the earth
מלפני from the presence of
מלפני from the presence of
כל all
הארץ the earth
צדקו his righteousness
וראו and see
כל all
כל all
כל all
ותשׂמח and was glad
ותגלנה and rejoiced
משׁפטיך your judgments
כל all
הארץ the earth
כל all
אור light
לצדיק for the righteous
שׂמחה gladness
שׂמחו be glad
צדיקים you righteous ones
Psalm 97
Translation and Notes last updated on 2012.06.16-11:27

Selected words occurring in each of psalms -96,-98 - The frame for Psalm 97.

Word and gloss * first usage123456789101234567892012VsStem
שׁירו sing
שׁיר a song
חדשׁ new
שׁירו sing
כל all
הארץ the earth
שׁירו sing
ישׁועתו his salvation
בגוים among the nations
בכל to all
העמים the peoples
נפלאותיו his wonders
כל all
כל all
העמים the peoples
עשׂה made
לפניו are in his presence
במקדשׁו in his sanctuary
עמים the peoples
ובאו and come
קדשׁ holiness
מפניו from his presence
כל all
הארץ the earth
בגוים to the nations
מלך reigns
* תבל the world
עמים the peoples
במישׁרים with uprightness
הארץ the earth
ירעם let thunder
הים the sea
ומלאו and its fullness
וכל and all
ירננו will shout for joy
כל all
לפני in the presence of
בא he comes
בא he comes
לשׁפט to judge
הארץ the earth
ישׁפט he will judge
* תבל the world
בצדק in righteousness
ועמים and the peoples
באמונתו in his faithfulness
שׁירו sing
שׁיר a song
חדשׁ new
נפלאות wonders
עשׂה he has done
הושׁיעה brought salvation
קדשׁו holy
ישׁועתו his salvation
הגוים the nations
צדקתו his righteousness
ואמונתו and his faithfulness
כל all
ארץ the earth
ישׁועת the salvation of
כל all
הארץ the earth
ורננו and shout for joy
לפני in the presence of
המלך the king
ירעם let thunder
הים the sea
ומלאו and its fullness
תבל the world
ירננו shout for joy
לפני in the presence of
בא he comes
לשׁפט to judge
הארץ the earth
ישׁפט he will judge
תבל the world
בצדק in righteousness
ועמים and the peoples
במישׁרים in uprightness

Friday 15 June 2012

Similitude and forehead

וְהֵם יִרְאוּ אֶת־פָּנָיו וְנָשְׂאוּ אֶת־שְׁמוֹ עַל־מִצְחָם 
and they will see his face and they will bear his name on their foreheads

What a delightful distraction, reading random verses of the NT in Hebrew. Psalm 17:15 anticipates the ultimate vision of the Apocalypse. 
I in righteousness will gaze on your face
I will be satisfied to awaken in your similitude
This is phrased in terms that contrast such an awakening with normal human satisfaction (Psalm 17:14b)
Let them be satisfied with children
and leave their surplus to their progeny.

Now to jump to my super-conclusion: The whole Bible TNK+NT records a single act of giving birth. We are in the midst of Creation. The birth imagery is everywhere in the Psalms. It is central in Revelation. And this final chapter in the final book of the NT reflects the opening of Genesis (tree of life) as well as the opening of the Psalms (leaf does not wither).

This verse also reflects the mark on the forehead. There is no use of forehead in the Psalms (!) but I guess it's OK to point out that it is a contrast with the mark of the beast, and the stone in the forehead of Goliath, and similar to Aaron's plate of pure gold (Exodus 28:36-37, the first use of forehead in TNK) and not something to be taken for granted as did the beauty of Ezekiel 16.

I suppose too I could get carried away with the use of bear, = lift up, but enough's enough.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Things of Note

Michael Barber reports that some of Origen's commentaries on the psalms have been discovered.

I was thinking of growing pumpkins this morning. Just a thought. Then there was this discussion of nuance in the word 'keep' at BBB that I am somewhat stumped by. (But Kurk Gayle has resolved my problem with a comment).  And the conversation continues...

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Angels gazing and children despised

OK - just skip the next bit if you don't read Hebrew or Greek. (I don't read Greek but I can sort of figure it out.)
הִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם
 מִבְּזוֹת אַחַד
 הַקְּטַנִּים הָאֵלֶּה
 כִּי הִנְנִי אֹמֵר לָכֶם
 אֲשֶׁר מַלְאָכֵיהֶם בַּשָּׁמַיִם
 רֹאִים תָּמִיד אֶת־פְּנֵי
אָבִי אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמָיִם׃ 

Ὁρᾶτε μὴ καταφρονήσητε
ἑνὸς τῶν
μικρῶν τούτων
λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν
ὅτι οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτῶν ἐν οὐρανοῖς
διὰ παντὸς βλέπουσιν τὸ πρόσωπον
τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς
What are we to make of the NT having read the Psalms?

This is a very serious question. I should read first the Septuagint in Greek - but then I might never get back to the NT. I have quoted a Hebrew translation above to see if I can find resonances with the TNK that I might not see with the NT Greek. Here is a word for word translation of the Hebrew. (This is also a good exercise for me since I now don't have to use a dictionary for every word!)
You keep from despising one of these little ones. For note well, I say to you, that their angels in the heavens gaze continually on the face of my Father who is in the heavens.
Keep / guard, reminds me of Psalm 121 where keeping (שׁמר) is repeated 6 times. In that psalm, it is יהוה (Yhwh, the LORD) who does the keeping. I like the Hebrew plurality of the heavens. Heavens are always plural (though often translated as singular). Plural is more mysterious and less like a bowl over the top of the head of the earth, waiting for a haircut. The particle הִנְנִי appears to be extra over the Greek, a kind of plural version of the common 'behold'. There is perhaps some emphasis in the Greek that my ear does not hear. I see it is repeated in this dynamic French translation.
Gardez-vous de mépriser l'un de ces petits; je vous l'affirme, en effet, leurs anges se tiennent continuellement en présence de mon Père dans les cieux.
Gazing is not given as a rendering in the French. Regardent would be the literal gloss. The phrase 'in the heavens' appears only once. I am guessing that the duplication is removed in some manuscripts.

The RSV paragraphs this verse at the beginning of the parable of the lost sheep. But I think it more suitably closes the bracket begun in Matthew 18:1.

What about these little ones? In Psalm 34 I translated בנים, (sons and daughters) as Little ones, L for the acrostic. But little ones might remind us more of Psalm 8 where splendour is chanted מִפִּי עוֹלְלִים וְיֹנְקִים "from the mouths of babies and nurslings". Rashi reminds us that the word for babies is cognate with filth. Whoops - watch out for the despising!  The Hebrew here is used only twice in the Psalms, 104, both small and great, feminine plural, of the creatures dependent on God and 115 masculine plural as above, of the blessing of all who fear יהוה.

Continually (tamid). This is the nature of the children. Theirs is the kingdom (Matthew 19:14 and par). The continual offering is a note in Paul - "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and other places.)

The face of my Father - the presence of God. This face / presence is everywhere in the Psalms. Read them. Note particularly Psalm 68:1-11.

I hardly ever say what the text means to me! These meanderings on Matthew remind me of George MacDonald's image cited in Lewis, The Great Divorce, of the immensity of the soul of the human, somehow playing out the reality of its existence on an invisible heavenly chess board. There is judgment against those who do violence to these little ones. See Psalm 58, the last two verses:
The righteous will be glad for he gazes on vengeance
He will wash his footfall in the blood of the wicked
and an earthling will say
surely fruit for the righteous
surely there is a God judging in the earth
No distant heaven here, but the presence of judgment. (And Do Not Destroy this Psalm - pun).

I am currently reading Sarah's Key, a novel about the Vél, d'hiv, that once suppressed and ignored but now more infamous rounding up of French Jews in 1942 by the French police into the vélodrome d'hiver for deportation to the death camps.

If the angels are gazing, are they also doing their job of protecting (Psalm 34)?
hovering, the angel of יְהוָה surrounds those who fear him and rescues them.
How many generations does a rescue take? How much gazing effects a rescue? The Jewish Annotated NT mentions several places of angels guarding humans, but not Psalm 34 - curious.

Surely this heaven and earth image has to change in our minds. It is commonplace that the heavens are far away. But perhaps heaven is close and an effective refuge in that effects on earth are known in heaven faster than a text message and the blue-tooth connection from heaven to earth is as efficient. So he says in verse 5: whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Elaborated in Mark 9:37. And for children, Matthew 19:13-15 as noted takes up the subject again.)

I asked my wife what she might say about this verse and she said, read the poets and listen to Mahler.

Monday 11 June 2012

Other interests

My last printed copy of my draft is 10 days old, more than peas porridge in the pot, and I have only made maybe 150 words worth of changes - less than 0.1% and most of those were based on an algorithm to find two and three word repetitive figures in the Psalter.

I do have other interests. Steve Becker's bridge column in the Globe and Mail did not appear for my weekly column fix on Saturday, so I subscribed to Bobby Wolfe's blog, a disciplined one post a day that is quite delightful. Here is the latest.

Other than that I think I want to write about the imagery in the NT and the way it relates to the Writings. I was going to start with Matthew 18:10. I wonder ...

There's a very interesting conversation going on here. My last comment was done from my blackberry while my leech was drawing its monthly blood.

Other conversations have been pointed out that are extensive but more like ships passing in the night than conversation. So no link from me.  Where are the debaters of the age?

Saturday 2 June 2012

State of the project - how hard is it to write a book?

Seeing the Psalter - the Cover (a fractal
for the tree of Psalm 1
and the ice and snow of Psalms 147-148
I knew it was hard to write a book. I have 'finished' it. These past 15 days [Update: proofing and correction continued for 7 more months.] I have been proofing my work, making sure that when I said verse 5 I meant verse 5 and not 6 or 4. But 250,000 words is a lot of proofing and I scarce can say how many errors remain or how many more months the pot must simmer.Delivery to the publisher will be [and was achieved] on Aug 31, 2012. (I almost wrote 1012, perhaps allowing me to identify with Ethelred the Unready.)

I compared the proposal I made for support for my project to the University of Victoria, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, in January 2011. You would scarcely know that the author of that chapter on Psalm 8 was the same person writing today. It really is astonishing to me how the design, the approach, the translation, the notes, and the content have changed in 18 months. Yet in comparing the chapter with the chapter today, I found a sentence that was incomplete - the remnant of a thought where perhaps I was interrupted for some reason. Today's technology makes slaves of us and introduces classes of error that would not happen with pen and paper. I can scarcely name the many classes of error I have corrected. (And of course, I need other eyes to tell me what errors remain that I have not yet seen!)

But what do I have? I have the book I wanted to teach me the poetry of the Psalms in their original language. I have a complete English-Hebrew and Hebrew-English glossary for all the words in the psalms including their root forms. I could have bought one, I suppose, but this is one I developed from seeds.

Anyway, I am going to rest next week - or something. My wife has edited my English in Book 1. I hope she has time to finish her critiques this summer [she did and so also did the publisher]. And there are 10 readers out there, though 95% of the feedback to me so far has been Diana's or my own. But the very fact that there are readers makes me read differently. And some have been very encouraging, laughing where they should laugh, making me focus where I must focus, and asking - how did you do this? - we want to know the technique.

  • 526 pages, 55 of these are index, in 7 parts: 1 Torah, 2 Prophets, 3 Writings, 4 New Testament, 5 Names, 6 Themes, 7 Other, and glossary (Hebrew English and English Hebrew for every word in the psalms with references).
  • 150 chapters + about 20 excursus and summary / intro sections. 
  • There are introductions for 
    • Technique, 
    • for each Book of the Psalter, 
    • and Excursus on things like Acrostics, 
    • Paired consecutive psalms, 
    • Hell (for the enemies of course), 
    • On the Good, 
    • An allegory of Love, 
    • Foxes (or Jackals if you prefer), 
    • Vengeance, 
    • Music,  and
    • Inscriptions. 
  • many brief summaries of the story in sequence, designed to help memorization,
  • a structural overview for the Psalter as a book, 
  • and acknowledgements - including UVIC CSRS of course, Oxford 2010, St Andrews 2006, (and some of you, dear readers and teachers and bloggers from the last 10 years)
  • and a brief bibliography.
  • Each chapter (from 1 to 20 pages depending on the length of the psalm, mostly 2 or 3) has 
    • Very readable Hebrew-English text side by side. If you are learning Hebrew this is a marvellous way to read. The English is to raise questions, not to be definitive or speculative  about answers. You can have your favourite translation or commentary nearby to help raise more questions.
    • Word count and percentage word recurrence for each psalm.
    • Brief notes by verse, sometimes many, sometimes none, including the relationship of the text to the NT or to TNK, particularly to other writings like Job, the Song, Lamentations, and Qohelet, (and my favourite prophet, Jonah) or to other Psalms, Torah and Prophets based on word usage.
    • Tables of the patterns of word usage, always one, sometimes many, sometimes comparing psalm with psalm or even a whole group of psalms.
    • Extended notes interpreting the tables and briefly noting the point of view for each section. Here is where I have tried to focus on the text and not on confession or opinion.
    • Some personal comment (limited).
I have laid out in part how I have done my close reading. As R. Jonathan Magonet says, read with a set of coloured pencils. But here is how to read a poem and construct a relatively objective table of its internal structure from the point of view of word usage.
As you read the poem (in Hebrew of course), for each word, decide what the root word is. As soon as you see a repeating root, make a column for that root. Number the column and write the root also as column header. At the end of the poem, you will have a table with as many columns as there are repeating roots. Then read the poem again to fill in each row with the word and verse and mark the relative place in the poem with an X as you fill in each column in sequence.
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Friday 1 June 2012

1, 2, or 3 Trinity, Duality, or Unity

It is noised abroad that God is complex numerically. Perhaps we should use mathematical notation like the tuples of complex numbers to present a thesis.

But first: What possible experience can we establish as common in order to explore the problem space? I have always wanted to reason from the primal shared experience of the heavens and the earth to the postulates of Godhead, but this is one person's speech and may be subjective. Then again, perhaps I should study the written record before speaking. If I did that, I would never speak. As a blog post, this is of necessity, short. And there are so many opinions and confessions.

I base my thinking on the TNK and NT, and being biased towards chiasm, the K is my focus (joke). So I will begin with Psalm 8.4, picking one psalm about the heavens and the earth at random. We all, from cabbages to kings, have some experience of the heavens and the earth.
כִּי אֶרְאֶה שָׁמֶיךָ
מַעֲשֵׂה אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ
יָרֵחַ וְכוֹכָבִים
אֲשֶׁר כּוֹנָנְתָּה
For I see your heavens
that your fingers make
moon and stars
which you have established
A bone one might pick with the poet of the Psalms is that this particular sentient being composed the poem in the first and second person singular, using I and thou, implying some individual or singular corporate personal aspect to the sensing of the body, eyes, and ongoing interrelationship of subject and conversation partner.  So there are immediately two dimensions to the record of this conversation, in the eyes of the poet: self and other. The thou (you) in this conversation is invisible. What the thou made is not. We could spend a book on this word heavens, not to mention the earth or the sea (as Jonah does). And there is a third issue hinted at in the psalms, a singular-plural tension, the I and the we, the subjects. Does this imply that there might be a singular-plural tension in the thou?

Skipping right on, there seems to be some insistence that the other is singular.  But the other is not particularly clear about it. The unity is a complex unity. So Deuteronomy 6:4, שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד, Hear Israel יְהוָה our God יְהוָה one.  You put the verbs and punctuation in this sentence as you wish. God is plural. This is not monotheism, this is unity, a similar unity as might be found in a people, a nation, a congregation, or a family. It is possible for many voices to be in unity. So it is with singers and even those profane dancers (Psalm 87). So it may be with a single voice speaking on behalf of the many (Lamentations 3, or Psalm 42-43). Once this is admitted in one place in the Writings, a question arises as to when the person really is singular or not.

Moving right along again, what makes a relationship work? Force, fear, dread, terror. I am sure that Tim will get to it in his 5-minute Bible noted above. And the other side of fear - love? (Psalm 18, or 139 or the Song.)

So in the theological complex number, there are two (at least) dimensions

Dimension 1 - the self, us, me.
Dimension 2 - the other, unity and plurality.

In the physics and math that we use, the second part of the complex number is multiplied by the square root of -1, or i. You will know that there is no possible way that the same number multiplied by itself can be negative. (-1 x -1 = 1) So the second dimension is called imaginary. Hence the i. This imaginary number is nevertheless real. Without it, there would be no science! No bomb! (No trinity! the name of that bomb.) Probably no I-phone and no Blackberry Torch either. Maybe even no probability. The imaginary is real. And it is dreadful as those mortal salt-sea-farers knew (Jonah 1.5, 10).

There appears to be evidence (Psalm 34, taste and see), and speech where there is no speech (Psalm 19) from the same heavens. But there is a second tension implied by fear. It has to do with will to power and violence in the party of the first dimension. In a word, all is not well amongst those who perceive. When what is not well is put well, (Psalm 103) there seems to be some cross over between the dimensions. In math, this would be odd behaviour if one considers the mutually orthogonal nature of dimensions. But there may be moment and inertia in their interaction. And there may be mysterious expressible transcendence like (e^(i * pi)) + 1 = 0, Euler's identity.

This mysterious interaction, coming back to the theological problem, is expressed in the story of Israel. It includes creation - redemption - wilderness - promise - exile - and restoration. Many possible books here too beyond the blog post. It is story through and through (and so is the NT). But it is story expressing the transcendent for the benefit of all.

This post went in a strange direction. I still don't know if I can allow the imaginary dimension to include any number 1 to n multiplied by i.  I don't see why not. So it may be that we fight over the 1 or the many, but the voice of many waters (Ezekiel 43.2) וְקֹולֹו כְּקֹול מַיִם רַבִּים as a cypher for the voice of God might allow us a certain patience with our reasoning.