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, November 11, 2006

New People of God: II Esdras 1:1-2:9 with poem by Israel Zangwill, Moses and Jesus

Daily Readings
Psalm 128 Nehemiah 13 II Esdras 1:1-2:9 Revelation 1

Daily Text: II Esdras 1:1-2:9

New People of God
Scholarly research seems to concur that II Esdras 1:1-2:9, as well as the remainder of chapter two, were written in the middle of the second century A.D. by a Christian author. That author was familiar with the Greek text of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint. That is known because the list of the twelve minor prophets in 1:39-40 follow the Septuagintal order. It is supposed that chapters 1 and 2 were composed in Greek, though they have come down to us only through a Latin translation. Written as if Ezra’s call and prophecy were given directly by God and prior to the events described, this passage discusses classically the disobedience and rejection of Israel. Ezra ‘prophecies’ the coming of a new people that will replace Israel in God’s favor. They will have as their heritage the patriarchs and prophets. God’s judgement upon Israel is pronounced in the beginning verses of chapter two, and Sodom and Gomorrah are given as examples of nations that live contrary to God’s law.

II Esdras 1:28-32 express God’s care for Israel in sympathetic, even heart-rending terms and several of the references appear to be quotes from the synoptics, Matthew and Luke, and again from II Corinthians [cf. 539:85] . God as father may be seen in II Corinthians 6:16-18 and while there are Old Testament precedents they do not follow this form precisely. The reference to gathering them together as a hen gathers her brood is a close match with Matthew 23:37and Luke 13:34, while the reference to killing the prophets may well come from Matthew 23:34-36 and Luke 11:49-57. While these references alone do not make certain that the Church is the new people to inherit from defunct Judaism, it seems likely that this is intended by the author.

Moses and Jesus
Israel Zangwill

Methought on two Jews meeting I did chance—
One old, stern-eyed, deep browed; yet garlanded
With living light of love around his head;
The other young, with sweet, seraphic glance.
Round them went on the Town’s Satanic dance,
Hunger a–piping while at heart he bled.
Salom Aleikem mournfully each said,
Nor eyed the other straight, but looked askance.

Sudden from Church outrolled an organ hymn,
From Synagog a loudly chanted air,
Each with its prophet’s high acclaim instinct,
Then for the first time met their eyes swift-linked
In one strange, silent, piteous gaze, and dim
With bitter tears of agonized despair.

Collect for the Day
Gracious God, giver of life in its fullness, you take no pleasure in human want but intend your bounty to be shared among your children. Lead us in the ways of justice and peace, for Jesus Christ’s sake.

[476:887:128 Psalm prayer]


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