Here are some items from church last Sunday. I attended the LCMS church.
A. The theme was spiritual gifts. The youth pastor asked the kids if
they have ever been on a team. If a person is on a basketball team, she
may feel bad that she does not shoot as well as another player. But she
may have her own strengths, such as defense. God has given to us by
sending his Son to bring us salvation; similarly, we should give to
The pastor in his sermon said that, whether we are proud of our
spiritual gifts like the Corinthians, or we lament that we do not have
impressive spiritual gifts, the focus is on ourselves. In addition to I
Corinthians 12:1-11, our text was John 2:1-11, the wedding at Cana. The
wedding occurred on the “third day,” a pregnant term in Scripture, as
that often indicates a time of dramatic divine intervention that changes
things for the better. Jesus was bringing that. Our spiritual gifts
should focus on Jesus’s love and forgiveness: what Jesus is doing. The
pastor talked about things that the church is thinking of doing:
following up on visitors to make sure they know they are welcome, and
visit members who are going through difficulties.
B. I have four items on the Sunday school class.
The teacher talked about Roman pedagogy. Elite Roman children had
pedagogues, tutors who taught them reading, writing, and rhetoric.
Rhetoric was important if they were to go into politics. The pedagogues
were highly educated slaves, often from Greece after the Romans
“annexed” it. Some of them were harsh towards the children, acting as
their disciplinarians when their fathers were away for war. When the
Roman empire became Christian and Christians were the elites, the
question was whether Christian elites should continue to read Homer’s
writings, which were about pagan gods. Some Christians said “no,” but
the Bible was deemed too unsophisticated to use: the New Testament was
written in common (koine) Greek, not literary Greek. Public schools came
much later. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, the
vernacular, but what good was the translation if most were illiterate?
Consequently, Luther appealed to the German princes to set up public
schools. These would be for both boys and girls.
The teacher talked some about Constantine. The Roman empire had more
than one emperor because it was too big for one person to rule it. There
were heir apparents so there would not be civil war once an emperor
died, but that did not work. Constantine receives a vision convincing
him to rule the entire Roman empire. He reaches a deal with another
emperor, the Edict of Milan, saying that the government will no longer
hunt down Christians, though Christianity is still illegal. Constantine
triumphs militarily though he is overwhelmed. Constantine may not have
been totally open about his Christianity, but his empire incorporates
cross imagery. Constantine returns property that was taken from
Christians during the third century persecution, and, to make up for the
burned Christian books, he orders twenty-five manuscripts of the
Christian Bible to be produced with Christian money.
The teacher talked about the Septuagint. The Septuagint of the
Pentateuch was produced in third century BCE Alexandria, Egypt. None of
the synagogues in Alexandria spoke Hebrew or Aramaic; for that matter,
Hebrew was rarely spoken in Palestine, which was why a person would
translate aloud the Torah portion into Aramaic. Most of the synagogues
then were Greek-speaking and outside of Palestine. There are different
legends about how many translators produced the Septuagint, seventy or
seventy-two. Legends say that the translators worked in separate
cubicles and all ended up producing the same document, miraculously. The
teacher doubts that really happened, but he thinks that Alexandrian
Jews told this to Palestinian Jews because the Palestinian Jews treated
them as second-class citizens and lorded over them. The Alexandrian Jews
were saying that they did not need to use the Bible that the
Palestinian Jews did, for the Septuagint was divinely-inspired.
The teacher gave us a taste of text criticism, but that will be the
main topic next week. Ordinarily, he said, earlier manuscripts are more
reliable, in terms of being closer to the original text. But what if you
have an earlier Latin translation of a Greek Gospel? Or a later Syriac
translation preserves an earlier line of text from Antioch?
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