Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TFBT Close Readings in the Bible and the Iliad

A while back the Gospel reading at Petersburg Lutheran Church was John 15:9-13.  

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

Alan, my friend from church,  stopped by Monday morning.  There is a lot of talk among Christians about who their “neighbor” is.  (Mark 12:31 … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.)  My buddy wondered who his “friends” were.  He followed up his question by quoting Webster’s definition of “friend”.

 I interrupted, “Wait, wait!  I know the answer to this one.”  As I pulled my Bible from the shelf, I hesitated and then explained “Professor Nagy calls it a close reading, where you don’t read stuff into it, but get something out of it.  Read the next line.”  

John 15:14 “You are my friend, if you do what I tell you.”

The point of the story is not finding an opportunity to quote my favorite Bible verse nor to brag about my knowledge of the Bible.  Rather I wish to point out gratefully how studying “The Iliad” under the tutelage of The Ancient Greek Hero, improves my appreciation of Holy Scripture. 

Any day of the week, I think of “wisdom literature” as Isaiah, Psalms and such.  But, occasionally I remember that God’s word is everywhere for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.  Nagy and Alan help me remember that more often.

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