Friday, 27 November 2009


The Bible in five statements challenge. I wasn't tagged but I was intrigued.
Summarise the Bible in five statements, the first one word long, the second two, the third three, the fourth four and the last five words long. Or possibly you could do this in descending order. Tag five people.
What aspect of this multivalent text to focus on? The liberal or the conservative interpretation? Western Christianity or Eastern Orthodoxy? A Kabbalistic or esoteric interpretation? The Arian and Unitarian views? Changing human perceptions of the divine – from tribal thunder god to all-embracing universal consciousness? How notions of justice changed from tribal codes apparently dictated from the top of Mount Sinai towards concepts of compassion and inner conscience (starting with Micah and Amos, and later promoted by Yeshua)? Very tricky to summarise all that in 15 words... but here goes.
  1. Law
  2. Prophetic conscience
  3. Widening compassion, justice
  4. Love is the key
  5. Heaven around and within you
I tag Andrew Brown, Paul Oakley, Cat & Peter Carl McColman and Stephen Lingwood. You don't have to play but I thought you would enjoy this challenge. I think it would be quite fun to do this with haiku, too.


Steve Hayes said...

Thanks for rising to the challenge, even though I didn't tag you! I wonder how many of the ones I did tag will respond.

What I also find interesting is that our views are not really divergent, because there isn't a common starting point. More parallel, never meeting.

Yewtree said...

Yes, neither divergent nor convergent.

The Jews have a saying that every Torah verse has seventy faces (seventy different interpretations). So does the whole book.

Yewtree said...

Jesus summarises the Torah, the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim:

[37] Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22:37-40 (New International Version)

Cat C-B (and/or Peter B) said...

Oh, arg! Get back to me in three years?

I started the Bad Quaker Bible Blog because I wanted to figure out what I think about the Bible, not because I had! I'll be looking forward to reading responses, though...

Yewtree said...

Well, my effort is not my definitive and final statement on the Bible, as I hope my preamble suggested!

Another one could be:

put aside
until very recently
because the fundamentalists' interpretations
put me off reading it.

Go on, take the plunge.

Paul Oakley said...

Thanks for the tag!

I'll have to think about this one for a while. But I accept the challenge.

15 words to capture some essence of a small library of books written and edited by a small army of writers and editors over hundreds of years of Near Eastern history... That'll take some thinking! :)

Carl said...

Okay, here goes...

1. Interruption
2. God story
3. Sacred myth evolving
4. Transformational mystery expressed textually
5. Western wisdom source, often misunderstood

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in haiku then has gone quite far down that road.

Yewtree said...

Good one, Carl, I like it.

Thanks Mark, I'll check it out.

Paul Oakley said...

Yewtree, I'll probably do another later, but here is a first run - fifteen words summarizing Bible content rather than message:

Jealous God
Slavery yields freedom
Coalescence – people and law
Afterlife: we forget our bodies

Yewtree said...

Interesting, Paul. I think I get the first four, but not sure I understand the last one.

Paul Oakley said...

I intended to follow the biblical narrated chronology in its unfolding of major ideas and concerns because I find the Bible never to be one thing but to be the evolving religious biography of a people. Identity can never be summarized over a lifetime but only at a particular point in time So:

1) Cosmogony - the origins of the cosmos, of an ordered natural world.

2) Jealous God - the foremost early-developed characteristic of the divine. God exiles humanity from the Garden, destroys all but 8 persons in the flood, destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. God as first delineated, refuses to allow any competition and will destroy those who do allow it.

3) Slavery yields freedom - literally and metaphorically, the Hebrews and their spiritual descendants are slaves who are freed - once literally, many times metaphorically.

4) Coalescence - people and law - the Exodus, Sinai, Conquest, Captivity, and Return experiences together formed the Israelites into a unique people with a unique system of divine law.

5) Afterlife: we forget our bodies - while the Hebrew Bible is thoroughly embodied with laws regulating the here and now and death leading to a shadow existence without agency or activity, the Greek Testament, while admittedly interpretable multiple ways, largely supports the concept of an afterlife of Heaven and Hell, leading to a devaluing of life and suffering in the here and now because ultimate reality is there, not here.

Sally said...

Glad you played along, I've enjoyed reading these!