Friday, October 31, 2014

Best of: Bible Edition

Before I begin, we learned last night that Junior B (whose real-life name is Carrie-Grace) made it to the semifinal rounds of Bible Bee. If you would like to watch her compete today (Friday), tune in to the FREE livestream starting at 12:30 EST.

Photo:Trounce/Wikimedia Commons (used by permission)

Since Junior B. is competing right now in a National Bible Bee competition, and I'm just about to finish my fourteenth or fifteenth year reading through the entire Bible (I have now officially lost count), it seems appropriate to do a literary Bible edition of this year's Best Of series.

Actually, I rarely like Bible editions of things. Apples to Apples is much better with the secular version, because how can you put adjectives like Goofy and Weird and Wicked and Confusing next to words like Jesus or Ark of the Covenant? It just isn't funny. It's much better to pair up such adjectives with a generic noun like Marriage or the White House. Then at least you can laugh.

But in literature, it's different. In literature you can celebrate the fact that the best of Books, crafted by an infinite Creator God, contains some of the most rich descriptions of battles and sacrifice, friendships and feuds, long journeys and reconciliations and healing. A hallowed book where the sun stands still for a day, and a river turns to blood, and holy God becomes accursed Lamb, bearing our sins in the most cruel death known to the world at that time. The Bible is the source of everything we consider epic in the other books we read. And it deserves ultimate study and consideration.

I have chosen the following Best Of people, not because they are perfect, nor because they are the top in the category. They are simply the ones I love the most after a decade and a half of reading through the Scriptures.

Sidekicks
My favorite sidekick in Scripture is Jonathan's armor bearer. You never know much about his age, his religious beliefs, or his life--but following a young master up the hill to a bunch of hostile Philistines shows that he had courage and skill in warfare. Other honorable mentions go to the slave doctor, Luke; Paul's beloved son in the faith, Timothy; and David's mighty men.

And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” ~1 Samuel 14:7

Heroines
My favorite heroine in Scripture is Jehoshebeath in 2 Chronicles 22, who rescued her baby nephew, the rightful king, from his grandmother, Athaliah. We're given few details as to the rescue--only that she hid him in a room. But every time I read those few verses, I can taste the fear and feel pursuit breathing down my neck as if I were the one hiding him. Other honorable mentions go to Anna the prophetess, Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, and Lydia, the first convert in Philippi.

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 
~Acts 16:14-15

David and JonathanDoré's English Bible


Friendships
I am torn here between Jesus and Peter and David and Jonathan, and so will include both. Peter was included in Jesus' intimate circle of friends; I never knew enough about James to really connect with him, but Peter is identifiable for a lot of people--he's the audience of the Gospels, if you will--always asking the questions that you and I would ask if we were there. Stumbling, falling--clinging to Christ through it all. Honest and blunt in a way that few of Christ's followers dared to be. And the way Christ was patient with him and showed him mercy always warmed me.

As for David and Jonathan--I think every tragic sacrifice of friendship in literature must stem from them.

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
~2 Samuel 1:26


Siblings
Five daughters of Zelophehad, 
The Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons
There are a  lot of siblings in Scripture. Not all of them got along very well (*sideways look at Joseph's brothers.*) Even Jesus' siblings didn't believe or support his ministry, forcing him to give the care of his mother to John instead of one of her own children.  But the most interesting group to me is the five daughters of Zelophehad. They lived in a time and a region where women were property along with animals and lands. But because they were part of God's chosen people, Israel, they benefited from the Lord's tender love and care for the female sex that surrounding cultures didn't have. Instead of being shy and surrendering their right to their father's land, they came to Moses for justice, and their case not only won them an inheritance but also revealed God's law of daughters having equal civil rights with sons. 

And the LORD said to Moses, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. ~Numbers 27:6-7

Definitely David. He has one of the best stories in all of Scripture, and aside from Jesus, probably the largest amount of space. A young man who slew giants in the strength of the Lord, matched wits with kings and defended sheep from lion and bears--who became a mighty king grappling with the sins of others and his own heart. His psalms are the heart-cry of millions. David's story is that of a man who was so flawed, so earnest, so dedicated to the Lord--a story where God's providence and power and forgiveness are portrayed in every line. And the root from which descended the Messiah, our Savior. 

“Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. ~Jeremiah 33:20-21


Other categories I didn't include today, but will include in future installments of the 2014 Best Of series are fathers, mothers, unlikely heroes, and animals. If you have favorites in any of the above categories, feel free to share in the comments! :)

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile

4 comments:

  1. You got some of my favorites! (David & Jonathan/Jonathan's armor-bearer.) <3

    E.H. was saying today that she loves the friendship of Jesus and John, and I agree. You can feel in John's writing from centuries away how much he loved his Master.

    And as far as siblings go, I've always felt that Jacob and Esau had the most epic and intriguing of brotherhood rivalries....

    Congratulations to Carrie-Grace on making semi-finals AND finals! We are so proud of her.

    ~the Philologist

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    Replies
    1. I would like to talk to you two about Jesus and John sometime. I love John's writings; they are some of the most deeply comforting and reassuring of all of Scripture.

      Thank-you very much. It was so special, and we are all praising the Lord for His goodness. :)

      Love,
      Schuyler

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  2. This was such a fun post! I had actually read about Jonathan's armor-bearer the day you posted this. :)

    I was thinking of Paul's nephew who came and warned him about the Jews. :) The centurions were all very nice in Scripture-even Paul's centurion seemed kind.

    It's interesting when you look at these stories, how all books find their plots from them. Like you mentioned David/Jonathan and the tragic friendship theme; I think inward soul searching and struggle comes from David (well, more than David, but he's probably the primary one), and bumbling side-kicks come from Peter. :) Anyway, something interesting to mull over. It would be cool to go through Scripture sometime, and trace where the seven basic plots and conflicts come from. Perhaps you could do a blog post on it. ;)

    Love,
    Carrie-Grace

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    Replies
    1. I was reading your comment and thinking of Michael Card's talks. You know, Acts was written by Luke, and Luke had the theme of positively portraying people that were looked down upon in society--slaves, tax collectors, Romans, and centurions. That's a fascinating connection, and perhaps it is through his perspective that the centurion has a good description (though ultimately through the Holy Spirit.)

      I love that Bible/7 plots idea!

      Love,
      Schuyler

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