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 XXIV
Bill Long 1/11/07
1. "I said in my haste, 'All men are liars,'" KJV. The NRSV has eliminated the potential sexism of the reference by having it say: "I said in my consternation, 'Everyone is a liar.'"
For the purposes of this one I will use the KJV. There seems to be, at first glance, quite a bit of difference between "consternation" and "haste." Well, if you look more closely at the Hebrew word (haphez), you realize that its primary meaning is to do something quickly but it also can suggest the alarm which provokes a person so to act. For example, Ps. 31:22 is rendered in the NRSV: "I had said in my alarm (haphez), 'I am driven far from your sight.'" The preceding verse describes the wondrous care of God for the person. Thus, we need to understand 31:22 as suggesting the Psalmist's explanation for his hasty action in concluding that God would not protect him. So, I would say that in Ps. 116 we should translate the word "haste." Too quickly had the Psalmist concluded that people weren't reliable. Why had he done so? Because he was greatly afflicted. Great trouble can tend to make us see the world in bleak terms. Thus, you got a free exegetical insight along with the quiz! How about that, as Mel Allen used to say? Well, I chose this verse because I spent my 20s in the Christian world when feminism, of the radical and calmer type, were all the rage. I happened to be in a community of the former. They actually loved this verse, and the KJV of it, because it dovetailed perfectly with their experience of the world. Now, 30+ years later, I chuckle. Feminism has changed; our culture has changed, but still we think that people are liars when we are afflicted--whether male OR female. Where do you find this delightful verse?
2. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest," KJV. The NRSV has: "Look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting."
For some reason I also like the KJV of this passage better than the NRSV. The image of "white already to harvest" fills my visual field better than "ripe" does. I was astonished, actually, to discover that the KJV has the words "white to harvest," rather than "white unto harvest," because the way this phrase is bandied about today (if, indeed, it is bandied) is "white unto harvest." For example, a Google search of the former yields fewer than 100 references, while there are thousands for "white unto harvest." How can this be? (by the way, that is a great biblical question. Who asks it?) Well, I discovered that the American Standard Version of the Bible, the "updated" KJV translation done in the 1880s, has the following: "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest." Bingo! Even though most conservative Christians who go around talking about "white unto harvest" think they love and quote the KJV, actually, they are making concessions to the modern world (of the 1880s!) by saying "white unto harvest." And, let's get it straight, it is "white already unto (or to) harvest." Now that I have shown myself worthy of a pedantry Ph. D., I would say that this verse is incredibly useful to describe a situation or people who are "primed" or "ready" for some kind of attention. Unfortunately the verse seems to be used almost exclusively by those who think that the "Great Revival" is about to start in America any day now. The "fields" of Washington DC, one site claims, are "white unto harvest." Huh? I think that Washington DC will never be a 16th century Geneva. Or, a ministry to older adults suggests that seniors are "white unto harvest." Better not say that to them, lest they think that it means they are being readied for premature death. Well, enough chat. Where do you find this verse?
3. "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good," NRSV. The KJV has: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good."
I rather prefer the NRSV because of the word "bungler." Actually, this verse made me think of America in 2007. Nice to have verses that speak right to today, isn't it? You may not share my political philosophy on the Iraq War, so I won't belabor the issue, but the basic Biblical point is not only crystal clear but probably a bit controversial. The verse is set up as a comparison--wisdom is better than weapons of war. I think we live in a culture where we might give lip service to that affirmation but we think that weapons of war get us pretty far. Another Scriptural verse has: "The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save" (any idea where that comes from?). That is the Biblical perspective. Weapons don't save. God does. Wisdom does. So, if this is true, we ought to spend a lot more time cultivating wisdom in our world, in our foreign policy, in our way we approach knowledge, in our understanding of America's role in the world in the 21st century. Why? Because, as the second half of the verse says: "One bungler destroys much good." Time always gives an annual award for the "Person of the Year" in December. Why can't we, in accordance with this Scripture, come up with a "Bungler of the Year" award. Any candidates? Ok, where is the verse?
4. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain," KJV. The verse has lost a lot of its color in the NRSV: "Human wrath serves only to praise you.."
In our zeal to "de-sex" the Biblical language we have lost the vigor of the verse. So, I will rest me in the thought of the KJV. Where does that phrase "I rest me in the thought" come from? It isn't from the Bible, but I hope you can easily remember it. Ok, now to the point. Humans rage against God and each other. We pour out our wrath because things aren't going our way. Sometimes that wrath is directed in life-destroying ways. A lot of time it is. This verse suggests that even human wrath can be used by God as the divine instrument. Wrath may even be directed against God, but God, like a skillful karate expert, can turn the force of the wrathful person either against himself or towards the benefit of God. John Milton thought deeply about the idea behind this verse and in Paradise Lost, Book VII, has this to say:
"Who can impair thee, mighty King, or bound
Thy Empire? easily the proud attempt
Of Spirits apostate and thir Counsels vain
Thou has repell'd, and from thee withdraw
The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks
To lessen thee, against his purpose serves
To manifest the more thy might," (PL VII, 608-15).
And with that nicely-expressed thought, I will end for today, though I only gave you four verses (well, there really are a few more tucked in here...).