While reading the Old Testament, you probably noticed there are moments of violence in which the role of the antagonist is played by the Hebrew people. The Book of Joshua, following on the heels of the Moses and the time in the wilderness, presents a narrative of the way Israel took possession of the land of Canaan, making it the land of Israel – by conquest.

The Book of Joshua is not a newspaper report or a historical reporting – most scholars hold that it was not composed at the time of Israel’s entry in the Promised Land, but is a later composition that preserves older oral narratives of Israel’s settlement of the land – especially the division of the land among the 12 tribes of Israel. If the people entered the land of Canaan circa. 1200 BCE, the initial composition is thought to be sometime between the fall of the 10 northern tribes (722 BCE) and the fall of Jerusalem (587 BCE) – some 500+ years later. The Book of Joshua should be read not so much as imparting information about how Israel took over the land of Canaan as teaching a lesson about how Israel is to avoid losing the land. It should be remembered that by the time the book was written, the Canaanites were long gone.

A comparison of Joshua with the account of Israel’s early history found in the first chapter of the Book of Judges shows that Israel’s emergence as the dominant presence in the land was a slow and piecemeal affair, not achieved at one stroke and with great ease: the Book of Joshua, with its highly idealized depiction of the “conquest,” is a cautionary tale about what the people are to do and not do in order to avoid the fate of the Northern Kingdom in losing the land.

The folks at the Bible Project have produced a nice video overview of the Book of Joshua and offers insight as to the violence described in the book.

As always, I encourage you to support the not-for-profit work of The Bible Project.

Riches of the deep end

The first reading from the 5th Monday in Ordinary Time, Year B as well as the 5th Tuesday, cover the opening verses from the Book of Genesis. It is the account of the creation story. There are all manner of commentaries available that richly and in great detail describe and analyze the text and all its nuances. At one point in my life, I would dive into the “deep end of that pool” to soak it all in. And then turn to the folks in my Bible Study and start to share the discovered riches…and watch their eyes glaze over. Not because of the nature of the riches, but because of the narrator … me. Along the way I got better. I hope. At least the eyes were not noticeably glazed. But I think the masters of offering a mixture of the big picture and the detailed riches are the folks at the Bible Project.

So, I invite you to take about 8 minutes of your day and watch their video about the literary design of Genesis 1.  It will give you a deeper understanding of Genesis and probably lead you to want to dip your toes in the “deep end!”

As I always note, the Bible Project is an amazing not-for-profit group that I think worthy of our support for their great work of evangelization.

A tough read

Many folks and friends have told me over the years that they “started to read the Bible… beginning with Genesis.” I always want to ask what happened when they reached the Book of Leviticus. Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Scriptures following after Genesis and Exodus. These first two books are largely narratives with protagonists, antagonists, plots, crises, and resolutions. They are forms of writing quite familiar to us. But  Leviticus? It is described as “The book mainly treats cultic matters (i.e., sacrifices and offerings, purity and holiness, the priesthood, the operation of the sanctuary, and feast days) but is also interested in various behavioral, ethical, and economic issues (e.g., sexual practices, idolatrous worship, treatment of others, the sale of land, slavery). The goal of the laws is not merely legislative.” Not exactly a page turner. It is a tough read.

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Spiritual Beings

If you follow this blog you have probably deduced I am a big fan of the non-for-profit Bible Project which I promote and support. Their work to bring the Word of God to people is one of the great ministries and exmples of the possibilities of the “new evangelization.” Tomorrow has been designated “Word of God Sunday” by the Catholic Church as a day. Pope Francis, in his motu proprio “Aperuit illis, instructed that on third Sunday of Ordinary Time each year, we pause to remember and reflect upon and reawaken an awareness of the importance of Sacred Scripture for our lives as believers, beginning with its resonance in the liturgy which places us in living and permanent dialogue with God.

The mission of The Bible Project is “to help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” They do that through animated videos (podcasts also!) that explore books of the Bible, word studies, themes and more – sometimes in a series of videos – like the one below on Spiritual beings. You can explore their whole catalogue…. for free!

“Word of God Sunday” is a great place to start your renewed commitment to reawaken your love of God by diving into His Sacred Word.

Loyal Love

In Exodus 34, God describes himself as overflowing with khesed, or loyal love. Khesed is a rich Hebrew word describing a love overflowing with generosity and born out of commitment to relationship. Khesed is shown through actions and deep personal care for another person even when they don’t deserve it. In the Bible, no one shows more khesed than God – it’s core to who he is. God creates out of khesed. He protects his people from disaster because of his khesed. He makes them prosper because of khesed. He forgives them in a display of khesed. God continually extends his loyal love to his people, not because they deserve it but because his love is generous.

The Bible Project is a not-for-profit ministry which provides an amazing treasure trove of videos on the Word of God. This coming Sunday the Catholic Church celebrates “Word of God Sunday” – so, perhaps this would be an apropos time to support Bible Project with a donation!

The meaning of love

The God revealed in Scripture doesn’t just love, he is love. As a triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—he has always been and always will be an others-centered, self-giving, communal being. God so loved us, loved the world that he sent his only Son, Jesus, who fully embodies the love of God. That love was demonstrated most clearly when he gave his life on behalf of humanity. When people learn to trust Jesus’ love for them, they join in God’s community of life and love, and their very nature is transformed to live a life of love with him. In today’s video offering from the amazing folks at The Bible Project, you can explore the biblical meaning of love.

Choosing Joy

Earlier today I posted my homily for this 3rd Sunday in Advent. I noted that I like words, especially know their etymology, that is, their origin and development. I gave two examples (“peruse” and “egregious”) of words that have an original meaning, but human uses and circumstances change how we perceive and use the words. I went on to describe the word “joy” in that same context; how smush “joy,” “happiness,” and other synonyms into a generic sameness. But how Christians are to understand and live joy is different that “happiness.” How different? I will leave it to you to read the earlier post.

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Bible Basics

One of the amazing online Christian ministries is The Bible Project. What is the Bible Project?  They are an animation studio whose purpose is to… well let’s listen to their explanation!

They are launching a new series: Bible Basics. The Bible Project has always made biblical concepts accessible through short and concise explainer videos. These are videos pack big ideas into just a few minutes, but in this on-the-go, busy world they wanted to make the Bible even more approachable to people from all backgrounds.

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This week we’re continuing our reflection on the Bible’s raw and honest portrait of the human condition. We will look at the word “transgression” in the Bible, which refers to ways that people betray or violate someone’s trust. This concept provides us with an important perspective as we continue to lament and draw attention to the realities of racial injustice in our culture.It’s never pleasant to focus on our failures or the ways that we are complicit in the betrayal of others, but it’s necessary. Only then can we open ourselves up to the healing and forgiving love of God that transforms us into agents of justice and peace in our world.

The Bible Project is an organization supported by our donations. Support their good work.