Lectionary Year B
April 27, 2003
Step IV: Cross-Section
A. Primitive Christianity
(JFC) It has hitherto been stated in Bi 216 on line that Early Christians used Psalms to
express praise and supplication to God. Jesus quoted at least one Psalm (22) on the cross. Doubtlessly, His followers read, studied and recited Psalms as they did other parts of what we now call the Old Testament. They also, surely, employed Psalms in worship in the homes of believers in the first century and thereafter, too. Such statements as the Psalms could certainly give Christians being persecuted some hope and even confidence. The Psalms are so God-centered, their sentiments and witness could focus immature and faltering followers of Christ on their Savior's revelation of God's providence. In Matthew 17:16fff, Jesus was engaged in a conversation stimulated by a question regarding, "What is good?" Then, in James 1:17, as if answering a question, we read where "every good comes from above". The Septuagint translates bwj, kalon, morally good, noble, praiseworthy, contributing to salvation and pleasing to God. The Corinthians had asked Paul about whether it was good for people to marry (and/or to or not to have sex). Early Christians, naturally, had questions about bwj. Don't we all?
B. Old Testament and Judaism
(JFC) In Genesis 1's Creation Saga, God pronounces every day's creations as "good",
bwoj. According to the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, vol 2, page 431, what is good is that which is designated as in the created order, to be "according to God's plan". Aaron's beard's, tent's and the ark of the covenant, etc., are anointing with a concoction of several "precious oils" is recorded in Exodus 30:22-30. Such an extensive and detailed anointing makes the items holy and consecrated. In the Old Testament, things, animals, plants, crops, people, activities, etc., are evaluated as "good". That appellation usually indicates that the spokesperson and/or author of that evaluation thinks highly of that which is so designated. They are thereby found to be agreeable, beneficial, sacred and/or contributing to the welfare of those concerned. Thereby, happiness, prosperity, bounty are received and enjoyed. Tribal, familial and community togetherness has long been a highly valued theme in life on earth, at least. Psalm 122 "praises Zion as the pilgrims' goal," according to the NRSV's footnotes, where verse 8 is said, "For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, 'Peace be within you'." Familial togetherness is joined with friendships as being of value. Deuteronomy 25:5ff designates how brothers assume responsibilities for procreation when brothers die. Family perseverance is important to that agrarian culture. The Old Testament needed to remind/re-command brothers to remain together for mutual support, etc., see Genesis 13:6f and 36:7.
C. Hellenistic World
(JFC) The Greek speaking philosophers would appreciate any document that might
prompt them to discuss the theme of goodness. Pleasantries would appeal to them, as well. Consecrating one such as Aaron could inspire the Hellenists to consider the propriety of such an exaltation. God's promise of eternal life might even inspire the Hellenists to engage in dialogue on such an appealing subject. The concept of unity might interest those scattered thinkers of Hellenistic background.
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