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 XXVII
Bill Long 1/13/07
1. "And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes," NRSV. The KJV has: "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, theymay receive you into everlasting habitations."
I was tempted to include this verse in an earlier quiz where I gave some verses that just didn't make sense but I think, upon further reflection, that this one has a meaning. But it is a verse like this which shows us our limitations as "readers" of the Bible a few thousand years after it was penned. We are limited because we can't hear the inflection of the speaker's voice and we don't really know all that much about how a person would have heard phrases like "mammon of unrighteousness" or "eternal homes" (i.e., the Greek equivalent of these) in that society. But I think that these words contain serious advice. The verse appears in the context of a story of a person who "cashed in" when he was in need. We, then, are exhorted also to become friendly with those who have "unrighteous" money (in this case I take it that money itself is so characterized), so when ours fail, others may receive us in "everlasting habitations." The last words reminds me of Chauncey Gardner's line in Being There, where he says to "Ben" that if he, Chauncey, is bereft of possessions tjem all he will have is the "room upstairs." Whatever you take the passage to mean (and I hope you have a reasoned interpretation), where do you find it? Who speaks it and what is the story about where this quotation is embedded?
2. "But the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
We often hear this verse, if we hear it at all, as "the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." But, in fact, the words "knowledge of the" also are in the verse. I like this verse because it challenges me to think about what my own "eschatology" is. Two pictures, in tension with each other, appear in the Bible. On the one hand is the picture that things will keep getting bleaker and bleaker until the "end times." In fact, the guy who replaced my water heater this week tended to be this kind of Bible reader. Oh, it is not that I regularly quiz the service people who come into my house on what their eschatological vision is, but he found out that I had a "past" with the Bible and he wanted to tell me all about his approach. I really like to listen to people who want to talk about the Bible, just to see how they "put it all together." I admire the attempts of people who spend all their lives under other people's homes or in their basements or cleaning up their offscourings to read and apply the Bible to their own lives. People long to think about life in all professions. Academics sometimes pride themselves on the fact that they think more than other people, or that somehow their thoughts are more profound than other people in the trenches of life. But I haven't found that necessarily to be true in my life. Surely an academic has an area of expertise, as does a plumber. Often academics are relatively insecure because they know that if the university cut them loose they just might die in the streets, while most practically-minded people have no doubt that they can make a living for themselves. So, to return to my story, my hot water heater guy told me that he felt that with all the evil in the world, the return of Christ must be right around the corner. I challenged him gently. I asked him if he thought his kids were good people. "Yes," he said. I told him that I dealt with young people all the time, people mostly in their 20s and early 30s, who are preparing for a career in law. My experience teaches me that these are, for the most part, conscientious people who really would like to make a positive contribution to life. Well, he allowed as that was so possibly. In fact, I confessed to Mr. Water Heater that I was more concerned today to get a water heater that functioned properly than to know if Christ would soon return. With that, he went to work, and we parted friends.
But the text bolded above has a different vision of what is going to happen in the future. I call it the "seepage theory." God is gradually going to "seep" into the world with indications of the divine presence to such an extent that the world will some day be filled with that knowledge. I don't know what that world will look like, and I am sure the Biblical author who used these words had only the faintest notion of what he meant, but here it is. Where does it come from and what do you know about the book in which it appears?
3. "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love," NRSV.
When I was a 20 year-old intern at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in the summer of 1972, I spent the summer immersing myself in the Bible. Rather than dating, going to the beach and doing all kinds of healthy things for a person of that age, I was consumed with the Scriptures. The next summer, or the summer of 1974 (I forget now), I began to write long expositions of the Bible texts I would then teach that weekend to classes of adults or college students. I recall writing a multi-page exposition of the book which contains this passage. I think I still have it tucked away somewhere. Its message is stark and simple. Love characterizes the person who knows God. Of course, it doesn't tell us what love means or how one can love, but it gives us the clarion call to love. I think I am only "growing into" this verse in my 50s. I have always been genuinely interested in people, but only in the past three or four years have I developed what I think is compassion or understanding towards people in their circumstances. People face mountains to climb in their lives, and, for the most part, they realize that they must surmount those mountains alone (or with one or two other people). Love arises, I think, when we can understand these mountains, encourage another on the trek, and tell the person sincerely that we believe in him/her despite the gloominess of the current situation. To love, also, means to look for life-affirming things to say or do towards others. People need listeners and cheer-leaders. If you do those things, you may begin to realize the truth of these two verses. Where are they found, by the way?