Monday, January 15, 2018

Midway between palindromes

A snippet of Psalm 19 from 2006
When you have 929 chapters to read from a distant time in a distant place in an unfamiliar culture, there are oddball milestones along the way every 99 chapters following the first 19.

I reported one in October when I had read 613 chapters and there were 316 to go. The next palindrome is at 712 with 217 remaining. I am as of the ides of January, midway.

The first several palindromes I missed. I don't remember when I had first read 19 chapters. I see from my old blogs, that it was about this time 12 years ago. I was reading the psalms in random order, word by word, letter by letter, using diagramming software, the precursor to my current app and publishing to a now obsolete site. I still have those diagrams. On the right is an example of the kind of startup work I was doing 12 years ago. It is an accident that Psalm 19 was among the first 19 chapters.

My first status report was just 3 years ago on March 17, 2015. It appears that I had 161 chapters in the 'done' pile at that time. And a plan to complete by the middle of 2019. An estimated 1,350 workdays. Who knew that actually reading a portion of the primary literature of Biblical Studies was such a long journey? And there seem to be no short cuts even toward the end of the task.

About 15 months ago I had read 389 chapters. Of course I would have missed 118 done, 811 left. At that time (2011-2012) I still didn't know how many chapters there were to do. I missed 217-712 probably for the same reason, c 2013-2014.  Even at 316-613, I would have just discovered the web service that tanach.us provides.

A year ago today I had done 501 chapters and so was already past 415-514 without noticing. On the ides of June I noted my first palindrome. On October 29th, the next. Today we are at 681 done. The pace has been faster recently and my blog posts are scheduled ahead of real time by a few days. The summary status is always here. Some time next month, we may get to the next palindrome.

In the early days I drafted proposals and posters to sell the idea, but it was not so much selling anyone else, but following the techniques for organizing and describing the project that I knew from my day job. I knew I had to do the work of learning what the base data for the Hebrew faith was. This was the faith that Jesus had been born into, the person I claimed to have followed. The realization that I must follow by learning Hebrew only happened in my 61st year, 2006. It was at the St Andrews conference on Hebrews and Theology where I heard one presenter mention that the dialogue between father and son in the letter to the Hebrews was 95% taken from the Psalms. It's not a bad stimulus for a disciplined approach to reading the Psalms.

I 'finished' the Psalms in 2013. I have not finished the Tanach, but I have made my point to myself. I am, by the way, familiar first hand with a number of faith disciplines including atheism, science, Christian tradition, and now what came out of my fingers, the Hebrew faith.

Having seen in my impressionable years the News of the World in movie theatres, and the images of the Shoa, commonly called the Holocaust, I knew that something fundamental had been lost in Christendom. It now appears to me to have been lost a long time ago, much as the faith of the Hebrew tradition is lost as described within its own canonical literature.

As then, human beings join house to house today and the rich exploit the poor. As the psalmist says early in the book, When the fundamentals are overthrown. How does a righteous one work? The answer is, righteous or otherwise, one step at a time.

The images of my youth and the abuses of my schooling propelled me into a rejection of all religious belief. The opposite happened in my late 20s. Unpleasant I was to all around. But that's another story.