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 LXVI
Bill Long 3/2/07
1. "twenty-three thousand fell in a single day."
This example belongs, if it belongs anywhere, on quiz # 10, but it wasn't on my mind back then, and so I bring it to you now. Most people aren't "numbers-oriented" folk, and even if you are, the reference is somewhat obscure. But that is no reason not to learn it. Actually, in the context of the argument in which it appears, the fact of 23,000 people losing their lives in a day is pretty significant. It is an "encouragement" to the reader to repent or, at least, be circumspect in how s/he lives life. Actually, it is more of a threat. No need to belabor it. Where do you find it?
2. "You are the man!" NRSV. The KJV has the more familiar, "Thou art the man."
We don't really say this much anymore in our culture. Rather we have adopted the phrase, "You da man!" or something like that. When we say "you da man!", we mean something directly opposite to the Biblical meaning. We mean, "you are the special guy" or "you are the one who is really in the spotlight." I will never forget the first time someone said that to me. I had just begun law school, my family was still back in KS, and I wanted to make a big "splash" in my law school world. So, I studied very hard, mastering lines of judicial opinions as if they were Biblical truisms. On more than one occasion I was asked to "recite" in large classes; I did so with skill. After I did this, a fellow student, a guy about 40 who was struggling to put his life back together by going to law school, came up to me and said, "You da man, Bill!" I think I almost blushed, but I still remember the experience.
Well, the Bible story in which this text appears uses the words for a different purpose. Someone has done something to anger the Lord, and he has tried to conceal it. Nevertheless, the prophet of God goes to the great concealer, tells him a story, gets the person's sympathy for the "little guy" who gets screwed in the story, and then sends the zinger to him--"You are the man!" That is, 'you are the one who has trodden on the little guy.' And, as the story progresses, we see how the "big guy" will have to pay, big time, for his transgression against the "little guy." It is one of the most touching Biblical stories. Where do you find it, by the way?
3. "They hiss and wag their heads at daughter Jerusalem; 'Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?'"
How are the mighty fallen. That is not only the Biblical message but also is a truth from our day. High-flying companies from the 1990s are no more; teams that once had a "lock" on the future have descended to the depths; the Republican party, which one analyst referred to as the "majority party until well into the next century," has fallen on hard times. This quotation comes from a book that isn't much studied anymore, but it is there, and the poetry is beautiful. Where do you find it?
4. "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies," KJV. The RSV has the verse in a poetic form: "Sun, stand still at Gibeon,/ and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon./ And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,/ until the nation took vengeance on their enemies..."
There are some people that take this verse literally. That is, they actually believe that the sun, for some period of time, was stopped in its diurnal motions by the hand of God so that God's people could clean up on the battlefield. I suppose that those who take it literally think of themselves as spiritually superior to anyone else, for no person who isn't completely credulous could believe it. That is, those who believe it may need to have the assurance of superior spirituality lest we think they are both credulous and just like the rest of us. In any case, I think the meaning of this verse is that God will do anything possible to aid the people of God in their moment of need--even stopping the sun from going down so that we can attain our "victories." In fact, the theological point from these verses is arresting: "There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice..." I love that notion--the idea that God is so concerned for us, so engaged in our struggles, that He will actually hear and heed our voice. Stopping the sun "in its tracks" is a beautiful literary device to show what lengths God will go to aid those who serve Him. But, to imagine this happens literally? No, that gets you into trouble with scientists and with people of common sense. Just take the theological point and run with it. That is gift enough. Where does this verse appear?
5. "With the jawbone of an ass,/ heaps upon heaps,/ with the jawbone of an ass/ have I slain a thousand men."
Whereas the previous quotation luxuriates in the divine heeding of a human cry, this passage celebrates the human delight in his own strength. The story in which this verse is embedded is about one of the more fascinating characters in the Bible. He is a guy's guy, a man who can and does kick butt indiscriminately, a guy who takes the jawbone of an ass (the NRSV softens it to "donkey"--the organ may now play) and kills people with it. Have you ever wondered how the jawbone of an ass can become a weapon and one person kill 1000? Well, maybe behind this verse is the slightest echo of a Deuteronomic verse where the people of God are promised that one of them will make a thousand flee. In any case, after the victory over his enemies the text says, "When he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone." He is so strong, and so confident in his strength, that he can give away or throw away the key to his victory. Is he just heedless? Wouldn't you have taken home the jawbone and placed it in your trophy case? But this person acts on the basis of his emotions and his superior strength. He knows that no one can "touch" him. So, he is careless and carefree. He meets an unusual end. Well, where is this verse? Are you attracted to this biblical character?
6. "If anyone has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more."
Well, here we have the line of another Biblical character of apparently strong ego but, I argue, of really rather fragile ego. He entered "late" into the early Christian movement, and never was able to shake the feeling that he was sort of an intruder, a person of "untimely birth," as he says in another passage. What does such a person do when confronted with conflict and attempts to denigrate his position? Well, he tries to pull rank. He tries to emphasize how significant he is or was. This character says that he had, at one time, lots of reasons for confidence in the flesh. He then lists all his "credentials," which he no doubt nurtured each night as he tried to overcome the debilitating feelings of inadequacy. It makes for fascinating reading; I think that this character is the most interesting person in early Christianity, apart from Jesus. Who is he, and where does he say these words?