Biblical Quizzes for Really Smart People
Quiz III--Movies II
Quiz VII--X rated
Quiz VIII--X rated
Quiz X- The Numbers
Quiz XXIX (Messiah)
Quiz XXX (Messiah II)
Quiz XXXI (Mess. III)
Quiz XXXII (Mess. IV)
Quiz XL--vivid images
Quiz LIX--weird doct.
Quiz LXV--doctrine II
Bible Quizzes for Smart People LXII
Bill Long 2/26/07
Normally a "book" of essays, for me, is 66 essays. This makes about 200-230 pages of writing. But I will give you 67 Bible quizzes because I may have repeated a few verses along the way. My lists of verses are so voluminous and my notes so incomplete that I sometimes don't indicate if I used a verse previously. Thus, I give you one "extra" quiz to "cover" for possible repetitions. But, then again, repetition never hurt anyone. Repetition never hurt anyone. It really is the key to learning. I have always wondered why there is so much emphasis on "editing" work, often by people who really don't know the "heart" of their author. Editors are, among other things, supposed to "cut out" repetitions. But they often do so at the expense of learning. In my judgment the following ought to be the rule: Let the author write as s/he wants, unless s/he wants an editor, and you will have more insight into the person and into the knowledge s/he wants to bring than if you subject that person's words to an editor. I think that is the basic reason I began to write on this web page. Finally, I could write as I wanted. Well, back to the Bible.
1. "It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'The dog turns back to his own vomit,'" NRSV. Or, as the more elegant KJV has it, "The dog is turned to his own vomit again..."
Handel's Messiah may have a wonderful chorus in which we all sing, "He has turn-ed every one to his own way..." but this Scriptural author has the dog "turning itself" to a natural course of its life, too. As one eloquent online sermon-writer suggests, 'we have all seen the distasteful sight of a dog turning to his own vomit.' I think it must be rather tasty, however, for dogs or else they wouldn't do it. Actually, a far more "unspiritual" thought just filled my mind. The thought is as follows. In the Episcopal Church (and Catholic, for that matter) there is a practice of having the people of the congregation, after the service, consume the remaining pieces of consecrated bread. I suppose you don't want to let the Body of Christ just sit there or just go out with the garbage. So people "fress" it (from the German "fressen," to gobble it up). I remember the first time I experienced this. Charlie Baldwin, the Brown Univ. Chaplain, would sometimes put on Episcopal garb (Charlie was a Congregational Minister, I believe), and do the service at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Providence (nicknamed "smoky Steve's," since it was "high church"). Well, I went there to worship once in my ecumenical days in the early 1970s. After the service, Charlie came up to me. I thought that he, the University Chaplain, was simply going to greet me and maybe extend the "right hand of fellowship" (where is that verse, by the way?) to me. But nothing could be further from the truth. Charlie had other things on his mind. The chief thing on his mind was that he needed willing eaters of the remains of the consecrated host. So, he came to me, looked at me, and said three words (I can still hear his voice). "Consume the elements," he said. It wasn't as if he was making a request. It was almost as if he was giving me a command. "Consume the elements." I, who was about 19 at the time and who had been nurtured in the tepid world of New England Congregationalism and then the slightly warmer world of evangelical Presbyterianism in Northern California (after 1967), had never heard anyone make such a request. I thought at first that he was kidding. But a quick look at his face made me see that he was dead serious. "Consume the elements," he said. What should I do?
I recall that I responded instinctively with a feeling of inner horror. It was as if all my Protestant forbears back to the time of the Reformation were rising up in their collective graves and appearing in my mind at once to stamp out this vestige of "popery" that had unceremoniously raised its head. I thought, "I will not consume the elements. Who is this guy anyway? What is going on here anyway? Is this such a 'magical' church, a church which believes that Christ is somehow in the bread so that if it isn't consumed that somehow Christ will go wasting?" I had just read something in a course on Reformation theology I was taking at the time from Prof. Wendell Dietrich regarding Protestant-Catholic debates in the 16th century on the nature of the Eucharist. One Protestant theologian had ridiculed the Catholics by giving the following example. 'If a mouse had eaten a crumb of the consecrated host that had inadvertently fallen on the floor, would the mouse become saved?' Of course, this was just 16th century bullshit polemics, but it established a point. And, all this seemed to rush in on me when Charlie Baldwin looked at me with a sort of kindness in his eyes and said "Consume the elements." All I did was say, "No, thank you," or something equally innocuous, and then retreat a step or two. I saw that he really wasn't interested in talking to me. He went on to other unsuspecting people, presumably with the same question. I wonder how long he had to go until he got enough takers to eat all the rest of the bread.
I figured at that moment that I would never become an Episcopal priest. I could understand visiting the sick, praying over those in need, feeding the hungry, preaching and teaching the Word of God, and even administering a parish, but asking people to eat the consecrated host? Never. It just stuck in my craw, to use an inappropriate metaphor.
Back to the verse. I see I am not making much progress this morning on Scripture passages. I love this verse because of its rawness. The Scripture authors don't shy away from vivid descriptive expressions derived from their experience of the natural/animal world. The text says that the words quoted are a "true proverb," though the proverb doesn't appear in the Book of Proverbs. Thus, the Biblical authors don't feel compelled to quote just Biblical sources. Indeed, Luke, in Acts 17, quotes from a pagan poet and philosopher. One of the reasons this verse arrests me is that it fits with other "bodily excretion"-types of passages that one can find in the Bible. I have cited some of these in previous essays--the "piss against the wall" passage from I Kings; the "eat their own dung and drink their own urine" passage from the OT. There are probably others. You could make, if not a meal, at least a snack out of them.
Finally, we ought not to think that the early Christians (ok, this is a NT text), were a harmonious bunch. There was a huge struggle within Judaism as one group of Jews (the early Christians) tried to argue for the centrality of Christ while another, and larger, group said that Christ wasn't necessary to be a good Jew. There were fights between Christians and pagans as the early Christians began to "spread the word" into the pagan world. Indeed, when a new world comes to birth, there is lots of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (where do you find that verse, by the way?). So, this verse appears in a context of controversy. Where do you find it, and do you get the buzz out of it that I do?
I see, once again, that I have only gotten to one verse. Still, I plan only to write 67 essays. I have loads more Scripture passages. Maybe a "Bible Quizzes for Really Smart People II"? Nah. This isn't exactly "Rocky."