Sunday, February 19, 2006

Life in the trenches

It's been a long time hasn't it? What will follow will be a whirlwind of stuff, so don't look for details.

Rethinking 1 Corinthians 7
I've just finished looking through 1 Corinthians 7(NIV) for tomorrow's Bible study. I'm not leading it, although as the co-leader I'm still required to do some prep to lend my co-leader a helping hand should he need one!

When the Bible study group leaders were taught this passage last week (we're looking at the first 16 verses) it was certainly an eye-opener for me. I knew vaguely that this was the supposed chapter on marriage and singleness, but actually studying it in-depth for the first time helped me see just how much confusion there is around this passage.

In particular, I never realised that the NIV didn't do a great job of translating this chapter. So right off from the bat, in verse 1, the NIV's "it is good for a man not to marry" is increasingly falling out of favour today. If you look at the footnote the alternative translation is "it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman", which is the translation favoured by more literal translations - even the TNIV now favours the latter. Literally, in the Greek it's rendered "good for a man not to touch a woman" - which is apparently a euphemism for sexual relations in those days. (It also makes sense in light of what Paul has been arguing for in chapters 5 and 6; the letter flows better.) And that immediately blows to pieces all the popular teaching I've heard concerning this passage! (The NIV also translates a couple of things awkwardly later on in this chapter).

Among other things I was struck by was how pro-sex and pro-marriage God really is. I'm sure we've all heard sermons on how God's plan for sex is the best, but this passage really hammers that truth home. In verses 3-5 sex within marriage is celebrated as something to be enjoyed equally by husband and wife, and verses 10-16 shows how much God treasures marriage, to the extent that a believer should not divorce his/her unbelieving spouse. I found verse 14 especially one that really struck me, since I grew up in those sort of conditions.

I could go on and on, but I shouldn't, have other things to blog about. Just one other surprising fact, or surprising to me anyway. Apparently quite a few commentators believe that Paul was married at one time!

I'll start writing another extended essay this week, this time on postcolonial literature, focusing in particular on Coetzee and early Rushdie. It was a little ironic that I started reading The Satanic Verses at around the same time the Danish cartoon controversy fanned into flame (no pun intended). Since at its core it's essentially the same issue with both - Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist both depicted the Prophet in a way that was unacceptable to Muslims, and in both cases, many reacting without actually having read the book/seen the cartoons.

I'm less confident about this essay than I was on Dickinson last term though. The theoretical aspects of this paper are more difficult, I feel, and there's a huger range of material to cover, and I guess I received good teaching on Dickinson last term.

Speaking of which, my final tutorial - ever! - is this Wednesday! I'm finding it hard to believe that my university years have whizzed by so fast. I can still remember my first tutorial like it was last month.

Love Actually
As you might or might not have gathered from a previous posting of mine, Christians here at Oxford University had put on a series of events to tell others of Jesus and the Christian faith. In some ways, those two weeks might have benefitted me more than non-Christians! It was really just hugely encouraging to see so many of us sharing the common vision and finding that sharing the gospel is less hard than it sounds.

Here in my college, it's been great to see how God worked in one particular person, Anna(not her real name). She grew up in a nominal Christian home, and having come to university, began to feel that she should really know more about why she should call herself a Christian and whether there was anything to it. She found a KJV in her home over Christmas and started reading it for the first time, not really understanding it. Then this series of events came along at just the right time for her; her friends bringing her to a couple of events. She's really, really keen to learn more about Jesus and the Bible. So having explored a couple of options, I thought that someone doing a one-to-one, reading the Bible with her, and John's Gospel in particular (since those were what we gave out) would be good. I did it as a one-off on Friday, and it was really fun as we went through John 1:1-18. Obviously, this can't be a long-term arrangement, since a guy-girl one-to-one is probably a no-no, so I'm looking for someone to replace me (plus I've got Finals coming up!). But yeah, I thought it was just great to see how God works in each individual's particular story, and how He uses various people at particular points of somebody's story.

And I'm stepping down as CU Rep in a fortnight's time! It's been quite a challenging and humbling experience really, but I did enjoy the ride. I'm looking forward to handing over though!

I actually updated my reading and movie lists on the sidebar a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason, after a few days it reverted back to the previous update. Oh well. Anyway, to sum it up, in recent times I've watched Spielberg's Munich and the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. I had high expectations for the former and felt slightly disappointed. It seemed to me as if Spielberg settled too easily for a simplistic tone, and for some reason, I didn't feel that much sympathy for Avner, the lead character. That's not to say it's bad, and I suspect others will disagree with me on this point. I enjoyed the latter, although I sort of see why it didn't make the cut for Best Picture (Oscar). Jeffrey Overstreet has a superb review on the latter, and I agree with him that we never truly get a real insight into Cash the man, although I think he might be a little harsher than me in his final assessment.

Dang, Nate Robinson is the Slam-Dunk Champion! And I'm barely two inches shorter than him!

Watch out for them Mavericks.

And when Amare comes back, watch out for them Suns.

But don't take your eye off the Pistons and Spurs.

Other stuff
Sorry for the hodgepodge nature of this post, only to be expected when I've been away too long. There are plenty of other good bloggers out there though, and let me try to point you in the direction of a few posts that have caught my eye recently (or those I can remember anyway):

Discordant Dude on battling duality and cancer is a good sharp reminder. I love Piper, however, I think Rhett Smith here might have a point. (Ultimately, I think it's just a case of speaking to two different audiences, or making two very particular points).

As always,JollyBlogger has the most balanced treatment of the whole McLaren-on-homosexuality thing. I share his views as articulated here.

I like reading etrangere. She's working for IFES in Belgium in campus ministry there.

*Accessorizing the Gospel. A must-read.

Bah. There's plenty more but I can't dig them all up now. OK, I really must end here.

† Expand post

Blogger mad_scientist said...

Whoops ... I tot it'll b as short as dat sentence - look like it's far longer than da intro! ;-D

Hey; it was a good piece on 1 Cor. 7! I NEVER knew the actual Greek translation had such a meaning. I guess I've been too lazy to look at others other than NIV ... :-) Sticking to one to make life easier - I can't imagine trying to memorise verses in 5 different versions! But yeah; to get it's true meaning,t hen have to return to it's actual wording in Greek.

And speaking about movies, haven't seen any since Narnia - I'm THAT busy! Sheesh ...

5:09 pm  

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