Wednesday, 30 December 2020

The Today of Psalm 2

This article on Psalm 2 is a superb exploration of its reception history. What imaginary, what imagery, what metaphor do we inhabit? What is “today” in the time of our quanta and our decisions?

We live within the metaphors that we create, whether they be religious or scientific. We use theology and science to create and explain our imagery that we live within. These words seek to approach what we experience. My brother Bill, among many, rejected the religious framework as describing a god of the gaps in our knowledge. He said science will explain everything. This is a fine movement forward in time, testing the limits of our knowledge but subject to the same difficulty we have in glossing the gaps everywhere. But?

Imagine if it were possible for humanity to explain everything! We would think we had become gods?  

When I think God has a son - what do I think. First I recognize that all our words are metaphor. They stand for something that may or may not be shared. With respect to 'son', I replace it with a non-masculine metaphor, 'child'. We are all (like) children of God. What is God that this God should have a child? A child is a chip off the old block. Such a child is like the parent, whether male or female. What is the parent like?

Here we need some help from other parts of Scripture. A large number of Psalms cite Exodus 34:6:

And Yahweh, passed over before him, and he called, Yahweh, Yahweh, a God compassionate and gracious, // slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth,

You will find this verse reflected in 23 verses of the remainder of the Hebrew Bible. See the verses under compassion rkm or slow arc or gracious knn or kindness ksd. It is possible we could find more verses that might have been influenced by Exodus 34:6 under abundant and truth. You can browse the concordance pages for these too.

There are many associations raised for me by the above article at One I want to follow up is the notion of today. Kimchi's argument does not stand because it is too dependent on the passage of time. 

Today is poetry. We are present at the Exodus. Our presence is made real in the congregation whether in the First Testament or the Newer Testament. See the passage in the latter part of Deuteronomy 6. Then you will say to your child, Servants we were to Pharaoh in Egypt, // and Yahweh brought us out from Egypt with a courageous hand. See also the instructions at the beginning of Psalms 78. And note how the poet speaks with a parable.

We are not separated by time. This is Einstein's "spooky action at a distance". Time is both limited and created even though we experience it as unidirectional and absolute. We are not absolute in our knowledge. There is no complete argument for or against a theological position. So we must hold them in tension. We are not out to win arguments. We should be suspicious when we seem to be heading in this direction. 

Last Lent, I followed the 40+ posts on the poetry of Herbert at Living Wittily, Jim Gordon's site. He ends with the poem Easter. This use of language is life giving. About time and today, Herbert writes: we count three hundred but we misse, there is but one and that one ever. 

This is the today I am thinking about. The problem with the absolute value of time is that it makes Jesus into a magician instead of a son, unique or one among many.

spr thlim

Book of Psalms



almh rgwu goiim?
ulaumim ihgu-riq?
1Why such a throng of nations?
and tribes in empty muttering?
bitiixbu mlci-arx vroznim nosdu-ikd,
yl-ihvh vyl-mwiko:
2They station themselves, these sovereigns of earth, these rule-makers reasoning as one,
over Yahweh and over his anointed:
gnntqh at-mosrotimo,
vnwlich mmnu ybotimo.
3Let us snap their bonds,
and kiss good-bye to their cords.
diowb bwmiim iwkq.
adonii ilyg-lmo.
4The one sitting in the heavens, he laughs.
My Lord derides them.
haz idbr alimo bapo,
ubkrono ibhlmo.
5Then he will speak to them in his anger,
and in his burning vex them.
vvani nscti mlci,
yl-xion hr-qodwi.
6I myself have offered as libation my own king,
on Zion, my holy hill.
zasprh al-koq.
ihvh amr alii bni ath.
ani hiom ildtiç.
7I will recount the decree.
Yahweh promised to me: You are my son.
I myself this day gave birth to you.
kwal mmni vatnh goiim nkltç,
vakuztç apsi-arx.
8Ask me and I give the nations as your legacy,
and as yours to hold fast, the ends of the earth.
'ttroym bwb't brzl.
ccli ioxr tnpxm.
9You will injure them with an iron sceptre.
Like fashioned vessels, you will smash them.
ivyth mlcim hwcilu.
hivvsru wop'ti arx.
10So now, you sovereigns, let there be insight.
Be warned you who judge on earth.
iaybdu at-ihvh birah,
vgilu brydh.
11Serve Yahweh in fear,
and rejoice in trembling.
ibnwqu-br pn-ianf vtabdu drç
ci-ibyr cmy't apo,
awri cl-kosi bo.
12Kiss, each of you, pure lest he be angry and you perish in the way,
for he kindles as a hint of his anger. Happy are all who take refuge in him.

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