Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Kissing Calves: Bible Commentary on Hosea 13 with poem by T.S. Eliot, from Murder in the Cathedral

Daily Readings
Job 22 Exodus 10:1-27 Hosea 13 II Thessalonians 1

Daily Text: Hosea 13

Kissing Calves
We might entertain Hosea 13 as a dialogue within the mind of God. Through Hosea’s words God alternatively describes Ephraim’s fault and the response he should make.

Fault: Once a power in Israel, Ephraim, the largest of the ten tribes of Israel, and son of Joseph, has weakened himself through Baal worship, including human sacrifice and submission to the work of human hands. He stoops to kissing calves!

Response: I am the only real god you know, Ephraim, because I am the only true God, and though I sustained you in the Exodus, I will destroy you through the Exile as an essential part of your salvation—strange as that may seem.

Fault: Rather than store up good deeds, Ephraim has bound up iniquity and that is leading him to folly.

Response: Shall I ransom him anyway? No, I refuse to entertain compassion. Let Samaria bear her rightful guilt and be destroyed by the sword.

from Murder in the Cathedral
T. S. Eliot

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

Collect for the Day
O God, sovereign Lord over all creation, without whom all purposes are futile, grant me today the assistance of your Spirit. In all the surprises and changes of life, may I fix my heart upon you, so that your eternal purposes may be fixed in me. In the name of Jesus, who came to make your eternal purpose clear. Amen. [479:58]


Blogger Norm said...

The original Hebrew text is almost certainly denying that YHWH will redeem Israel from Sheol and Death. However, LXX and other ancient versions, and also the New Testament, take the passage in a positive sense, and there is no reason why the author of Isaiah 26:19 should not have read it thus as well. The evidence that he did so is cumulative but overwhelming: no fewer than 8 features of text and context can be paralleled. From a later perspective, this appears as it stands as a prayer of faith in the life-giving, restorative power of YHWH. However, in it original context it almost certainly was intended as a description of a prayer that the prophet regarded as inadequate. It indicated a failure to repent at a deep level, a simplistic hope that maybe YHWH could be bought off. But it is entirely possible that later readers, including later biblical writers, would have taken it in a more positive sense. When read in this sense, the passage has a claim to be the earliest explicit statement that YHWH will give his people a new bodily life the other side of death. It appears to have influenced Daniel 12, perhaps via Isaiah. [N. T. Wright]

9:33 AM  

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