Wedding Feasts

In Matthew’s parable of the wedding feast, the host is much more violent, as well as those invited. It says how the guests killed the servants sent to them and that the king in return, “…destroyed those murderers, burned their city” (Matthew 22:7).Luke’s version of the same parable fails to mention these brutal actions. He writes only of the guests excusing themselves for business or other personal reasons. Continuing the story, Matthew writes a man is thrown out of the feast hall once he is already inside. Thus part confused me a bit to be honest. Despite the differences, their cores are similar in the fact that the King invites guests but none show up. The originally uninvited then go to take his place.

Using Ralph’s definitions of parable and allegory, these stories have different meanings. Reading the story as a parable, you must first recognize who Jesus is talking to. If you go a few lines back in Matthew’s version, you discover he is preaching to a crowd containing “chief priests” and “Pharisees”. This parable is harshly criticizing them. They are the guests that were invited, but disrespect the host, abuse his servants, and then must suffer because of it. They are either physically punished (Matthew) or in both are not allowed into the feast later. Reading this story as an allegory, you can make the comparison that the feast is the Kingdom of heaven, and the originally invited guests are the Pharisees. God invites them into his kingdom, but the refuse his offer. The servants they ignore or abuse can be seen as the prophets sent to them in the past. The Pharisees were in God’s grace but have sinned and fallen off the path to Heaven. Now, as Jesus explains, the poor, the weak, the common people, the good are invited into the Kingdom of Heaven and will be cared for and loved. This is my interpretation at least. Your reading of it may differ. 

Gospel of Mark

Many of the times when Jesus performs a miracle, especially when no one else is around, he tells the person not to tell about his deeds. For example, when he heals the deaf man in chapter 7. He healed the man and then “…ordered them not to tell anyone”( Mark 7:36)
One of the more obvious reasons why Jesus wants to keep his identity a secret is to avoid the publicity. He never wants to travel in crowds or attract attention to himself. He is humble in a sense. He does not brag about being the Messiah in words. I think that it may also take some sort of toll on him doing all these miracles. It has to be hard work. More importantly though it shows an important aspect of God; that he is forgiving. When Jesus performs a miracle he tells them not to spread word of him. It is almost in reverse psychology that the people go and tell the whole town. They do what they he tell them not to. Does he punish him though; no. He forgives the people and continues preforming miracles and spreading the word of God. Similarly, although God has punished the Jews at times throughout history he has continuously watched out for them.

Book of Amos

The prophet is man who shares a bond with God that the common man cannot. He is, as Heschel says, ”attuned to a cry imperceptible to others”. He bears the duty of warning the people of God’s actions and thoughts regardless of whether or not they listen. For instance, in Amos, Amos tells the people of God’s disappointment and anger for their disobedience, lack of faith, and overall sins. However the people do not listen. Instead the expel him from, “…prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple” (Amos 7:13). This brings us to another point; the people do not like the prophets. Herschel questions as to why the cities even let them rant. However, a prophet does not enjoy his work. He was granted a power that he must bear no matter what. It is a blessing and a curse so to speak. Herschel describes his as, “distasteful to him and repugnant to others; no reward is promised to him and no reward can temper his bitterness”. Even Amos admits that, “They hate him who reproves in the gate/ They abhor him who speaks the truth” (Amos 5:10). This demonstrates the Amos too must face the burden.
I do believe that there are still prophet in the world today. There are many “prophets”, that you may hear on the news that claim a rapture is coming, but those I believe are fakes. However I think that we, as a world, have sinned and should correct ourselves. I think there might be legitimate people telling us to correct our wrongdoings but there words fall on deaf ears.

Exodus Question 1

In Exodus, when Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, God displays himself several ways to Israel. His actions are very specific. God acts as “a strong east wind all night long and turned the sea into dry ground” (Exodus 14:21) in order to provide a pass of escape to Israel, while, through Moses, literally opens up the flood gates on the Egyptians. God also sets the plagues on the Egyptian people in order to convince Pharaoh to release Israel from their chains. This demonstrates the duality of God. God is kind and loving to all those who follow him, but will strike down harshly upon all those who disobey or hurt God’s people, even Israel. When speaking to Moses God tells him to warn the people to not touch the mountain or to try to see God. God says, “ For I , the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishments for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but showing love down to the thousandth generation for those who love me and keep my commandments” (20:5-6). This, again showing God’s compassionate, and strict natures.
God reveals Godself several times throughout these readings. However, most of these times are not anthropomorphic, unless speaking to Moses. He appears as a cloud and flame to lad Israel, along with a luminescent storm cloud to protect them from the Egyptians. Later on the mountain he speaks to Moses through a raging storm of thunder and heat. This goes along with Rausch’s idea that God must be experienced. They cannot see God, when he appears on the mountain or even when he speaks to Moses as the burning bush. Israel experiences God’s power through the storm, the separating of the seas, and the plagues. It is only after they experience God and escape Egypt that they believe in God and follow his will.
Israel’s story remains important for people in slavery today because it demonstrates that despite whatever obstacles you may face, as long as you have faith in God he will protect you and ultimately take you to freedom.

Genesis vs. Enuma Elish

Genesis 1:1- 2:4 and Enuma Elish are both creation stories. Both of their goals are to use a mythic story in order to explain the mystery of creation. Similarly the story begins in a place where the world is a dark, dangerous, watery environment devoid of life with exception of deities (deity in Genesis). Despite the multiple Gods in Enuma Elish, there is still only one God responsible for the making of the world, Marduk, just as the singular God is responsible for creation. One explicit similarity is their early, and distinct, separation of the water of the seas and above. Albeit similar in some regards, these stories have striking differences. An obvious one would be that the Babylonian story has multiple Gods, while the Bible only tells of one. Furthermore, Murduk creates the world through battles and killing, while God shapes earth and its creations using his own power. Most importantly, in my opinion is the difference in each story’s take on how humans were created. God, benevolently creates us in his own image. Enuma Elish tells that we were spawned from the blood an ancient and mythical rebel. These creation stories set the tone of the people’s relationship with their God(s). Christian’s generally view God as kind and forgiving. The Babylonians viewed their gods as cruel and destructive. To them, the humans were made to serve the gods, but in Genesis 1:1- 2:4 God makes the humans the rulers of all other creatures. I think a relative point to make is that Enuma Elish also had political motives, as is stated in the preface to the story in the reading. I think it is a natural thing for the people of the times to borrow ideas and concept from other cultures. Neither of the stories are historically accurate, it is their moral/ethical meanings that are important. That being said, I appreciate the comparison of the Genesis creation myth to Enuma Elish because we have a much more benevolent God.