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 XLIX
Bill Long 2/6/007
1. "For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires..."
The verse isn't useful for many things because it simply points to a timeless observation about human character--people seek "teachers" who tickle their fancies. We all do, whether it is through method, content or style of presentation. But the reason I like this verse is because of the reference to "itching ears." The Greek behind it isn't spectacular, but the Vulgate translation of it has prurientes auribus." The translation, literally, is "itching ears." But note the word prurientes. If you have pruritus, you have an itch. No suprise there, but prurire is also the root behind our word prurient. Thus, the prurient interests of youth, which tend to accompany us to middle age, are "itching" interests. Our ears "itch" for a salacious story. Our eyes "itch" for a shocking picture. I don't think we use the term "itching ears" much anymore but at least there is a little story behind it. Where do you find this verse?
2. "He brought him outside and said, 'Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to umber them.' Then he said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'"
The advice to "count the stars" is one of the most useful pieces of advice to a young person. In this case it was addressed to a biblical person uncertain of whether he would ever have children. To that skepticism God didn't respond with an argument but with an illustration. That illustration was a celestial one. Lift up your eyes, not to the hills, but to the stars, and start counting. When you get to the end, let me know. This will be the number of your descendants. Well, we can use it as the kind of advice a young person needs when uncertain of his/her path and longing so much for usefulness in the world. "Count the stars" can be an encouragement for them to embrace an unimaginably rich future. We live by our dreams and our visions, individually wrought in us by our amibitions, training or the singular shape of our soul. Ambition needs cultivation and encouragement, lest it become covered with weeds or rendered useless by the withering furnace of the world's heat and our own lusts and unhelpful emotions. "Count the stars" is the best advice I can give to someone who is dreaming about the future. I love it much better than "think big." Ok, where do you find this one?
3. "and what does the Lord reuire of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Once your learn to "count the stars," you may decide that the burden on your heart is to do precisely what this verse says. This verse has been beloved of the liberals for as long as I can remember. In the 1970s, when I met them, they were caught up with the idea of social reform, of standing up for justice, of doing all kinds of things to help the "little people" in life. I suppose my head was with them, for how can you help not wanting to help people in need, but I never, for some reason, became as committed to the causes as they did. I always reproached myself for this, thinking myself as a lesser Christian because I didn't want to spend my days in marches or boycotts or leafletting or painting signs or doing whatever they did. I also was becoming increasingly alienated from Evangelicals in those days, too. Thus, I loved the verse but never managed to love the people who think they owned the verse. I still don't think I have ever "preached" on this verse or "taught" it. Somehow I think I can never live up to it. Well, maybe you can. Where do you find it?
4. "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.."
This was also a verse beloved by liberals when I first started studying the Bible seriously in the early 1970s. They loved this one not for social justice purposes, as in the previous example, but because of how this related to the development of the "religion of Ancient Israel," as they called it. Even the liberal biblical scholars, who I hung around with a lot at Brown and elsewhere, only had a few beloved verses. This one was helpful for them because it posed the interesting question of whether God's covenant was everlasting or not. Exile loomed for the people, judgment impended. The people were selfish, idolatrous, unfaithful and a host of other things for which the Scriptures indict them. But could they ever "lose" their covenant relationship with God? Or, was it something as eternal as the hills? This prophetic passage emphasizes the eternality of the covenant from God's perspective. It shows God's pain at dealing with the unfaithfulness of the people while, at the same time, demonstrating God's commitment to making this an eternal relationship. God will destroy Ephraim once, but "I will not again destroy Ephraim." Why? Simply becaues "I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath." This verse can be a comfort to those who think that God has abandoned them. Such abandonment hurts God more than it does those who think they are abandoned. At least that is how I read things. Well, where do you find this great verse?
5. "So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaming to others I myself should not be disqualified." The KJV has the much more mild, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection..."
This fascinating passage provokes interest from a number of angles. Who is speaking about "enslaving" his body here? Why would he use that kind of language? I think this verse gives us a window into the heart of this author, a window that allows us to see attractive, and rather unattractive features about him. When I began to write earnestly online, one reaction I received from a colleague is that I reveal so much (maybe too much) information about myself here. How and why do I do it, she wanted to know. I wasn't quite sure how to answer, but I thought of this biblical character as a sort of model for me. He certainly reveals a whole lot about himself, much of which isn't necessarily that attractive, but he seems not to know the modern distinction which we make between "professional" writing and "personal" writing. I told my colleague that I am not particularly comfortable with that distinction either. It doesn't mean that I "tell all" about my life (one woman whom I asked for a date asked me first if the date would end up in an essay..I told her, 'no way.'); it does mean that I reveal more than many authors. And, I seem to have biblical "precedent" for it. Well, that is enough on this one. Where do you find it?