What's ahead in the Bible readings
November 9 to November 14, 2018
The Twenty-fourth Week After Pentecost
The Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time*
Bible Review: New International Version
The most important thing to know about the New International Version (NIV) is that it is written in contemporary English. The second most important thing to know is that it attempts to find a middle way between literal word-for-word translation and thought-for-thought translation. Here is what they say on their website:
Some Bible translations focus on the way Scripture was written—the form, grammar, even the word order of the original. The difficulty is that no two languages follow the same set of rules. That’s why translating Scripture is more than a matter of replacing Greek or Hebrew words with English equivalents.
Other Bible translations focus on the meaning of Scripture, helping you grasp the message of the Bible in your own words. The challenge with this approach is that if you stray too far from the form of the text, you might miss some of the subtle nuances—literary devices, wordplays, etc.—found in the original.
Even the best literal translation can’t follow the original form all the time. And even the best meaning-based translation can’t capture every detail of meaning found in the original.
In 1978, the NIV pioneered a different approach: balancing transparency to the original with clarity of meaning. Our view is that if the first people to receive the Bible could understand God’s Word the way it was written, you should be able to as well.
There are hundreds of editions designed for everything from journaling to confirmation classes.
The translation was developed by Evangelicals. I have not found any biases in the text related to this.
The feature that I find most useful is the footnotes.
Hebrew Scripture used in the Christian Scriptures is always footnoted.
As the preface says, sometimes the Christian Scripture writers were using the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. When the Septuagint was used and the text does not match the Hebrew Scripture translation, the footnote says “(see Septuagint)”
Alternative translations begin with “Or”
Selah is not included since its meaning is unknown and it interrupts the text. However, there is a footnote where it appears in the original text.
The text is very readable and is certainly a credible alternative if one is looking for a second Bible (or a first!). It includes section headings, which are not part of the actual text.
Here is the Wednesday Gospel lesson from the NIV. (The Saturday and Sunday lessons are very short, which is why I chose Wednesday.)
New Testament Gospel Lesson: Luke 4:16-30
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled it and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”¹
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn"t this Joseph's son?”they asked.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will say to me, ‘Do here also in your hometown what we have heard you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in the his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in the Elijah's time, when the heaven was shut up three and a half years, and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy² in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked through the crowd and went on his way.
¹Isaiah 61:1-2 (see Septuagint) and Isaiah 58:6 ²The Greek word traditionally translated as ‘leprosy’ was used for various diseases affecting the skin. (NIV)
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Previous Bible reviews covering the NET Bible, the Message, and The Inclusive Bible, the Amplified Bible, and the Modern English Version are here.
This week's image
Ruth and Naomi are off to Judah, where Naomi will be an alien but will find a husband and become an ancester of King David. Orpah, her sister-in-law remains with the Maobites, among whom all three and their deceased husbands had been living.
We have no way of knowing the potential of the people being turned away at our borders. Perhaps another King David will be born in Central America because we would not let his ancesters enter the United States.
In Thursday's Epistle lesson, Paul write that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, so we have been justified by his blood.” I hoped to find an easy way to explain justification; no such luck. It has divided Catholic, Protestants, and the Orthodox for many centuries. The first sentence in the definition in The Oxford Dictionary Of the Bible is, “The establishment by God of a new relationship with mankind.” How exactly faith, atonement, and blood are involved in this is where the disputes arise.
Many of our readings this week concern the most vulnerable among us, most especially widows. In our Sunday Sunday Gospel lesson, Jesus observes a poor widow putting her last two copper coins into the temple treasury, and he commends her generosity. When read in the context of our other lessons, we can see that she has made a statement about her faith that God will provide for her. provide. Our Saturday Gospel lesson is the miracle of the withered fig tree. It's what Jesus says after the miracle that fits with the other lessons:
[I]f you do not doubt in your heart, but believe what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Matthew 11:23b-24
It is important that we not believe that if God does not provide what we have asked for it is because we lacked sufficient faith. I believe that God's ways are mysterious, but that somehow God is working for my good, even if I can't see it. And I do know that if I do not believe that I will receive, it is less likely that I will. Even the followers of New Age gurus know this.
Our Epistle lessons during the time of reflection, on Monday and Tuesday, are from Paul's letter to his younger colleague, Timothy. When I first read them, I was taken aback at Paul's concern about caring for “real widows,” by which he means a woman at least sixty years old whose good works are well attested, rather than for younger widows. On reflection, I think Paul may have been concerned that the burden on the church be those whom he thought to have the least chance of remarriage and future children. Ageism is apparently not an invention of the twenty-first century.
Our Epistle lessons for the time of preparation and on Sunday come from a different place. Here is some context for the Thursday Epistle lesson. The high priest, and only the high priest, entered the holy of holies (the inner sanctuary) once a year to make a sacrifice of blood for the sins of the people which hadn't been atoned for. Paul compares Christ's sacrifice of his life to the priest's sacrifice of the blood of animals. You probably recall that we had a number of lessons recently concerning Christ as a member of the priestly order of Melchizedek. Christ's being a priest would allow for his sacrifice to atone for our sins. Someone pointed out to me that these words from Romans are the whole Gospel in four words: Christ died for us. In the Friday Epistle lesson, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. It's a reminder that our sins are costly. We don't sacrifice animals or humans (at least not in the way the Israelites did) these days, but we do pay a price for our sin, whether it is psychological, relational, or financial. In the Sunday Epistle lesson, we are reminded of two things: Christ appeared once for all, and Christ is coming again. Thanks be to God.
This week, both the complementary and semi-continuous series have readings from Ruth. For the complementary series, during our time of reflection, all three readings are from Ruth. You will recall that Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi, the widow of Elimelech. Naomi and her husband had moved to Moab because of a famine in Israel. Their sons married Maobite women. Elimelech and his sons all died. Ruth and Naomi return to Israel. So Ruth is both an alien and a widow, and yet she is provided for. In the semi-continuous series, we read the end of the book, in which Ruth marries a relative of Naomi's, and thus provides for both herself and her mother-in-law.
Complementary Hebrew Scripture
Our Sunday reading from the Hebrew Scriptures tells the story of a poor widow to whom Elijah is sent. Her supply of oil and meal is provided miraculously. One point to note is that she shares what little she has with the prophet. From this sharing flows the miracle she receives. Like the poor widow at the temple, she too is showing her faith that God will provide.
During our time of preparation, the two readings from Deuteronomy, on Friday and Saturday concern economic justice for aliens, widows, the poor, and orphans. Cancelling debts every seven years was probably an ideal not completely implemented. There's a hint of that in the appeal to conscience in the Friday reading.
Thank you for all that you do to bring God's reign into being.
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Summaries and Links for the Next Seven Days
Thursday to Sunday Psalms
Complementary Psalm 146 God sets the prisoners free and opens the eyes of the blind.
Semi-continuous Psalm 127 Unless God builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Thursday: Preparation for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Numbers 36 So that each tribe's heritage is preserved, women heirs must marry within their tribe.
Semi-continuous Ruth 4:1-10 Boaz makes plans to marry Ruth.
Both Romans 5:6-11 While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, so we have been justified by his blood.
Friday: Preparation for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 15:1-11 Give liberally and ungrudgingly; on this account God will bless all your work.
Semi-continuous Ruth 4:11-17 Boaz marries Ruth.
Both Hebrews 9:15-24 Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.
Saturday: Preparation for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Deuteronomy 24:17-22 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice.
Semi-continuous Ruth 4:11-17 The lineage of David includes Boaz.
Both Mark 11:12-14, 20-24 Jesus uses the withered fig tree to teach that faith can move mountains.
The Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary 1 Kings 17:8-16 God feeds Elijah and the widow.
Semi-continuous Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor. Ruth and Boaz marry and become ancestors of David.
Both Hebrews 9:24-28 Christ will appear a second time to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Both Mark 12:38-44 A widow's generosity
Monday to Wednesday Psalms Complementary Psalm 94 Can wicked rulers, who contrive mischief by statute, be allied with you? God has become my stronghold, my rock and my refuge.
Semi-continuous Psalm 113 God is the helper of the needy.
Monday: Reflection on the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Ruth 1 Naomi of Judah, and her Moabite daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah, become widows.
Semi-continuous Genesis 24:1-10 Abraham sends his trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac from among Abraham's kindred.
Both 1 Timothy 5:1-8 Whoever does not help a relative in need is worse than an unbeliever.
Tuesday: Reflection on the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Ruth 3:14-4:6 Ruth leaves the threshing floor with grain from Boaz. Boaz redeems Elimelech's land.
Semi-continuous Genesis 24:11-27 The servant realizes the God intends that Rebekah and Isaac marry.
Both 1 Timothy 5:9-16 The church assists widows.
Wednesday: Reflection on the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Complementary Ruth 4:7-22 Those at the city gate approve of Boaz' marriage to Ruth. They become the ancestors to David.
Semi-continuous Genesis 24:28-42 Abraham's servant tells Rebekah's family of his mission.
Both Luke 4:16-3 The rejection of Jesus at Nazareth.
*Denominations have different ways of designating the weeks during the year, so your church may refer to this week by a different name or number or both. Regardless of the name or number, the readings are the same. Here is an explanation: Calendar Explanation
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Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings copyright © 1995 by the Consultation on Common Texts.
Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from Holy Bible New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.
Footnotes in the Christian Scriptures that show where a passage from the Hebrew Scripture is used are from The The Holy Bible: New International Version ® (NIV®), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. When text is taken from the NIV, the passage ends with (NIV) and the foregoing copyright notice applies.