Bible Quizzes for Smart People LI
Bill Long 2/15/07
1. "A threefold cord is not quickly broken."
In order to understand the wisdom of this verse, it must be set alongside its neighboring verses. They say: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one.." We are just prepared for "ones and twos," so to speak, with the emphasis being on the superiority of the latter to the former. Then comes this "threefold" verse. The argument is technically called an a fortiori ("from the stronger") argument--if two is better than one, how much stronger will be a threefold cord? What threefold cords to you have in your life? Sometimes we can think of one as three generations of teachers--such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Their threefold teaching has never been "broken" in the history of Western thought. But do you have others who strengthen you, give you insight, correction and support so that you know you won't be "broken" if you are associated with them? The older I get the more valuable I consider the ties or cords which bind us to others. Thus, this verse has a very practical dimension to affirm. Where do you find it?
2. "Those who trouble their households will inherit wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise."
I think I first ran into this verse when reading the script of the 1955 Broadway play "Inherit the Wind." It is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" trial, in which the TN teacher John Scopes was found guilty of violating a TN statute forbidding the teaching of evolution. But how could this verse in any way relate to such a theme? I think I recall that in the movie version of the play that the fundamentalist preacher's daughter fell in love with or was strongly sympathetic to the evolutionist's cause. Instead of trying to understand or sympathize with his daughter, the pastor let the theological division between him and her trouble his household. Thus, the title of the play. Such a person shall "inherit wind." What does it mean to "inherit wind"? It means that you get absolutely nothing or even less than nothing. When you look closely at life and realize that our lives are shaped in large measure by our families of origin, we see the importance of this verse. Anyone who brings trouble in the household is not just hurting a lot of innocent people but will actually destroy him/herself. Nothing will be gained by or "inherited" by that conduct. Don't, therefore, trouble your households. It is a most fragile but blessed unit of society. Where do you find this verse?
3. "Consequently he is able for all time to save all those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them," NRSV. The King James has the more resonant wording: "Wherefore he is able also to save to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
One book of the Bible, and one alone, emphasizes the "high priestly" work of Christ on behalf of the saints. In the role as high priest Christ became both priest and victim. He offered up the sacrifice and he is, himself, the sacrifice. And, he prays for us. He became a sacrifice for others, and he continues to intercede for others. The NRSV and KJV differ on how to render a prepositional phrase--it is either a temporal phrase ("for all time") or it is a phrase emphasizing extent ("to the uttermost"). For some reason the KJV hits me deeper; salvation "to the uttermost" has a ring to it of perfect and complete sufficiency for all human needs. Where is this verse, and how does it fit in to the author's argument?
4. "clothed and in his right mind."
Yep, that is all that I want to give you. Actually the phrase occurs in more than one passage, so this means that your chances of knowing precisely where it comes from are at least doubled. I like to use this phrase when someone asks me how I am doing. I respond, "Clothed and in my right mind." Usually the person to whom I say this has no idea where the pasage comes from, and they think I am a little daft. But it is a powerful passage, for it describes the condition of a demon-possessed person after he has been freed from the demons in his life. He now sits at Jesus' feet "clothed and in his right mind." When the pressures of life and work and family almost threaten to overwhelm us, it is salutary to take a deep breath and tell ourselves and others that we are clothed and in our right mind. I did a Google search on "clothed and in my right mind," and this yielded about 150 results, with many of them taken from literary works. Apparently this phrase from the NT stuck in enough minds to be generative of images and conversations. The Bible is like that; let the phrases and words sink deeply into your mind, and you will speak and think differently--and more attractively than if the Bible was not a part of your life.
5. "So I said to them, 'Whoever has gold, take it off'; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
This is the locus classicus for denial of responsibility. If ever you meet someone who denies, without good reason, their involvement in something, refer them to this verse. In this verse a very prominent Biblical character denies that he had any responsibility for what happened among the people of God when another important figure was "away." They just happened to give him their gold; and he just happened to throw it into the fire; and a "golden calf" was the result. This is a great verse to use to mock another person or to point out his/her intellectual strategy of trying to get out of something that was clearly his/her responsibility. Where do you find this one?
6. "Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin," NRSV. The KJV has: "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
It looks as if the first part of the verse is tough to translate (I will sort that out when I write my "book" on Proverbs), but the second part is where the emphasis lies. There is a friend that is closer than a brother. Maybe s/he is that friend who is part of the "threefold cord" that isn't quickly broken from # 1 above. In any case, this is the kind of friend that I think we would all want, but few have. Many people claim they have hundreds of "friends," but this Scripture points to what we all know to be true as we mature--that those who really want to follow the beatings of our heart are few indeed. Where do you find this verse, and do you have any experiences where you can show whether it is true for you?