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 XXXIII
Bill Long 1/18/07
1. "The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this XXXXX....."
A friend asked me yesterday how I conceived of God. In other words, how does God act in the world and in my life? I neatly deflected her question by discussing the two ends of the spectrum regarding that question. On the one hand are people embracing the notion of a "personal God," who cares individually for them and with whom they have some kind of personal relationship. On the other end of the spectrum are those who believe in some kind of mystical force they call "God." Somewhere in the middle, but closer to the first option, is this quotation, which stresses the speaker's belief that God has been a steady source of protection in his life. Indeed, in the situation where these words were uttered, the person needs divine protection. Where do you find this verse and who spoke it?
2. "He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye."
I could have cited this verse for two words or phrases: "howling wilderness" or "apple of his eye." I had the former in mind when I selected it. One of my first acquaintances with serious scholarship in early American History was through reading of Perry Miller's Errand into the Wilderness, the story of the 17th century Puritan effort in MA to build a godly society. If only the wilderness could be tamed by the diligent efforts of spiritual people, then "New England," as it was called, could truly become the "city on a hill" so that the eyes of the entire world would be upon it. But the early Puritans in America were under no illusions about the ease of the task. It was not just an errand into the wilderness they were pursuing; the vast, strange and dangerous spaces made up a "howling wilderness." That image is a powerful one--not only was there the lack of things affording sustenance (which the term "wilderness" connotes), but the wilderness itself was plagued by the sometimes wretched and dangerous forces of nature. The object of God's care in the howling wilderness in this passage is Israel; the New England Puritans, thinking they were a "new Israel," easily applied this passage to themselves. Where do you find it?
3. "for an obligation is laid on me," NRSV. The KJV has: "for necessity is laid upon me."
The "necessity" or "obligation" of which the author speaks is the duty to preach the gospel. He goes on to say that he luxuriates in the fact that he can offer the gospel "free of charge." The idea behind the passage is that there are certain duties in life that make their claim on us. Just listen sometimes to the way people talk. "I have to do X," or "I must do Y," or "This thing must be done before I can quit for the night." Certainly we have duties it would be foolhardy to ignore. But a lot of our talk consists of "must" statements which really aren't required. We often live under a false sense of duty when what we need to do is to assess why we come at things in this way. Well, what drives a person to use the language of "must" in his/her actions? I have often thought that I must write, though my life would probably have richness to it if I never penned another word. Do any of you feel that you must preach the gospel? The prophet Jeremiah talked about a fire deep within him that required him to speak about God. Once a person has been touched by the fire of God in some way, to try to keep quiet about it might be well-night impossible. Where is this verse?
4. "My name is Legion; for we are many."
The Roman Legion was one of the fiercest and most feared fighting forces of antiquity. The legions of the Empire were able to subdue a diverse array of people from Spain in the West, to Britain in the North, Africa in the South and Persia East by the end of the 2nd Century CE. Discipline and power were the marks of this ancient fighting machine. Many scholars think that the words bolded above, spoken by a man who was demon-possessed, reflect the man's struggle with his personal demons but draw upon visions of the Roman Legions passing nearby--to emphasize the debilitating and overmastering force of the demons.. The forces that took over his mind and heart were so numerous and strong that they appeared to be like the Roman legions themselves. This name, Legion, can be taken from its original literary context in the Bible and used in a variety of writing and speaking contexts. I have used Legion's name in my writing, for example, when I say: "the problems that confronted the department were, like the spirits possessing the Gadarene demoniac, Legion." Where do you find this useful, and very visually-rich passage?
5. "For you always have the poor with you," NRSV.
It might also be nice to finish the thought of the verse: "but you will not always have me." When I first focused on the bolded words, I thought it was a statement unworthy of the one who uttered it. I was a young person at the time, probably 18 years old, and I thought that one of the most worthwhile tasks in life was the eradication of poverty in the world. Things could be done; people could be fed; medications and vaccinations could improve life. I was "gung-ho" on eliminating poverty. Then, as I got older, I began to see that the issue of poverty was related to a host of issues that probably were beyond my power to control or influence. I reluctantly came back to this verse and recognized it as a statement of realism, a realism that still is present even in times of unprecedented wealth, as today. When we face an intractable problem today, it isn't inappropriate to say that it, like the poor, we will always have with us.
I think that our speech or writing, if seasoned with biblical language or phrases, takes on a pungency, immediacy, visualness and potency that it might not otherwise have. Thus, I look for opportunities to use this talk, and I hope you will join me in it. All of the phrases in this quiz can easily be used in our conversation. I hope you agree.