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epiphany

Above:  Triptych with the Epiphany, by Jan van Dornicke

Image in the Public Domain

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I like lectionaries, for the orderly reading of scripture, especially in the context of other scripture, helps me to understand it better.  Lectionaries have also provided the necessary structure to my Bible study program.  Converting that program into a blogging project has provided the requisite discipline.  Even if only a few people have ever read a given post, I have reached at least those few individuals.  Furthermore, I have reaped certain spiritual benefits by drafting and creating the posts at this weblog.

I have been following the proposed Year D of the Revised Common Lectionary.  Timothy Matthew Slemmons has created an intriguing plan, one I have found useful so far and anticipate completing.  He has selected passages overlooked in the Revised Common Lectionary.  In my case this has meant that I have had opportunities to study and ponder more scripture–certainly something positive.

I have organized this weblog with ease of finding a post in mind:

  1. There is a search bar.
  2. I have added tags to posts.
  3. I have created guide posts for Advent (November and December), Christmas (December and January), and the Season after the Epiphany (January and February).
  4. I have also created categories, which are self-explanatory.

My prayer is that something you read at this weblog will glorify you, O reader, and that all of the content here will glorify God alone.

Pax!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNA, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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Guide to Epiphany/Ordinary Time Devotions for February 2017   1 comment

resurrection

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia, February 8, 2015

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

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Wednesday, February 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-fourth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-january-31-and-february-1-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, February 2:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/devotion-for-thursday-before-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-february-2-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/week-of-4-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Friday, February 3:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/devotion-for-february-3-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/week-of-4-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Saturday, February 4:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-4-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-4-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE PENTECOST, YEAR A:  FEBRUARY 5, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/devotion-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/fifth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-5-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, February 6:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-6-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-5-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, February 7:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-7-and-8-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/week-of-5-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, February 8:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/devotion-for-wednesday-after-the-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-7-and-8-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/week-of-5-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, February 9:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/devotion-for-february-9-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/week-of-5-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Friday, February 10:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/devotion-for-february-10-and-11-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/week-of-5-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Saturday, February 11:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/devotion-for-february-10-and-11-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/week-of-5-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A:  FEBRUARY 12, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/devotion-for-the-sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/devotion-for-february-12-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/sixth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

Monday, February 13:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-13-and-14-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/week-of-6-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, February 14:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-13-and-14-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/week-of-6-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, February 15:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-sixth-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-15-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/week-of-6-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, February 16:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-16-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/week-of-6-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Friday, February 17:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-17-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/week-of-6-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Saturday, February 18:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-18-and-19-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/week-of-6-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A:  FEBRUARY 19, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/devotion-for-the-seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/seventh-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-18-and-19-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, February 20:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-20-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/week-of-7-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Tuesday, February 21:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-21-and-22-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/week-of-7-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

Wednesday, February 22:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-seventh-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-21-and-22-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/week-of-7-epiphany-wednesday-year-1/

Thursday, February 23:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-23-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/week-of-7-epiphany-thursday-year-1/

Friday, February 24:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-thursday-and-friday-before-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-24-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/week-of-7-epiphany-friday-year-1/

Saturday, February 25:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-saturday-before-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-25-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/week-of-7-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A:  FEBRUARY 26, 2017:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/devotion-for-the-last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-d/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/last-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-a/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/devotion-for-february-26-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Monday, February 27:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/devotion-for-february-27-and-28-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/week-of-last-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Shrove Tuesday, February 28:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-the-last-sunday-after-epiphany-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/devotion-for-february-27-and-28-in-epiphanyordinary-time-lcms-daily-lectionary/

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/week-of-last-epiphany-tuesday-year-1-shrove-tuesday/

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Devotion for the Last Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   1 comment

the-wrath-of-elihu-william-blake

Above:  The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Oratory and Theology of Elihu, Part VII

FEBRUARY 26 2017

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 36:14-37:24

Psalm 11

Matthew 8:5-13 or John 4:43-54

Jude 1-25 or Hebrews 13:9-14, 17-25

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Elihu’s speeches contain much that sounds pious.  Job 36:24-37:24 supports this generalization.  We read, among other things, that we should praise God and that divine grandeur exceeds our knowledge of it.  Elihu even sounds like God in Job 38-41, the “I am God and you are not” speeches:

Mediate on God’s wonders.

Can you tell how God controls them

or how his clouds make the lightning flash?

Can you tell how he holds the clouds in balance:

a miracle of consummate skill?

When your clothes are hot to your body

and the earth lies still under the south wind,

can you help him to spread the vault of heaven,

Or temper the mirror of cast metal?

–Job 37:14b-18, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

I prefer the God of Job 42:7-8 to the God of Job 38-41, for the former acknowledges that Job was correct.  For some reason I have really noticed Job 43:7-8 during the preparation for this series of posts, despite the many times I have read that passage over the years.  Part of the wonder of scripture is that one can always find something one has missed.

Among my favorite aspects of Judaism is the practice of arguing faithfully with God.  The character of Job exemplifies that well.  He is, contrary to an inaccurate cliché, impatient and argumentative–justifiably, I contend.  Yes, we can take refuge in God, but this does preclude a good argument now and then.

We should repent of and express remorse for our sins, as grace helps us to recognize them.  As we do so, we ought to follow the advice of Hebrews 13:13-15 and follow Jesus, who healed people around whom he was not present, into the world as pilgrims each day.  We might suffer reproach, but the servant is not greater than the master.  Sometimes we will suffer for reasons neither we nor others understand, or because of the sins of others.  That is simply reality.

One lesson to learn from the Book of Job is the difference between speaking the truth in love and blaming the victim.  Unfortunately, recognizing that distinction can prove difficult in the moment.  May we, by grace, prove innocent of being like Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Elihu, who were sincerely wrong and not helpful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 19:  THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNA, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/the-oratory-and-theology-of-elihu-part-vii/

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Devotion for the Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   1 comment

the-wrath-of-elihu-william-blake

Above:  The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Oratory and Theology of Elihu, Part VI

NOT OBSERVED IN 2017

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 36:1-23

Psalm 61

Matthew 13:53-58

2 Peter 3:1-7 (8-14) 15-18

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Elihu went on speaking.

–Job 36:1a, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

I read those words and thought,

Unfortunately.

“Elihu” means “He is my God.”  Elihu mounts a full-throated theodicy; he seeks to prove that God is just.  (God needs no human defense, of course.)  In the process Elihu accuses Job falsely of having been an agent of economic injustice and states that this alleged sin of Job is the reason for the main character’s sufferings.  All of this contradicts Job 1 and 2, as a reader of the text is supposed to know.  Elihu, who is falsely confident that he is correct, is blaming the victim.

Later in the Book of Job, a text with layers of authorship, we read two very different answers from God.  In Chapters 38-41 God gives Job the “I am God and you are not” speeches.  In the prose epilogue, in Chapter 42, however, God speaks briefly to Eliphaz the Temanite, saying:

I burn with anger against you and your two friends for not speaking truthfully about me as my servant Job has done….

–Verse 7b, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

There is no mention of Elihu after Chapter 37.  I suppose that this is because the composition of Chapters 32-37 postdates that of the epilogue, but, given that the Elihu material is similar in content to the speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, he would have met with divine disapproval also, had the Elihu cycle existed at the time of the composition of the epilogue.

In contrast to the arrogance of Elihu (Job 36:4) one finds humility before God in Psalm 61 and 2 Peter 3:14.  Divine patience is, in the words of 2 Peter 3:15, an

opportunity for salvation,

but divine judgment and mercy exist in a balance which only God understands fully.  May we accept this opportunity for salvation, not imagine that we are enlightened and that our words contain no fallacies.  And may we avoid committing the error of people of Nazareth in Matthew 13:53-58, that is, permitting familiarity to blind us to the fact that we do not know as much as we think we do.  This is an especially helpful caution regarding passages of scripture with which we are familiar; they retain the ability to contradict our false assumptions and surprise–even scandalize–us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF MORDECAI JOHNSON, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT NEMESIAN OF SIGUM AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/the-oratory-and-theology-of-elihu-part-vi/

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Devotion for the Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   3 comments

the-wrath-of-elihu-william-blake

Above:  The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Oratory and Theology of Elihu, Part V

FEBRUARY 19, 2017

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 35:1-16

Psalm 119:(1-16) 17-32

Matthew 7:13-20

2 Peter 2:1-22

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Elihu is simultaneously correct and incorrect.  Indeed, whenever we sin, we harm others, not just ourselves, and whenever we act righteously, we benefit others, not just ourselves.  Furthermore, nothing escapes divine notice.  One might think of the false teachers in Matthew 7 and 2 Peter 2 and find examples of these principles.  One might also imagine Elihu agreeing wholeheartedly with the ideas in Psalm 119:1-16 and be correct.  The problem with Elihu’s speech in Job 35 is that he employs truthful statements to support a mostly false conclusion:

Hence when Job opens his mouth,

it is for idle talk:

his spate or words comes out of ignorance.

–Job 35:16, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

In the Book of Job all people who speak do so out of ignorance, but the main character is accurate in his assertion of innocence (Consult Job 1, 2 and most of 42, Chapters 38-41, and the first few verses of Chapter 42 not withstanding).  That Job, as an innocent person, is suffering, is the main idea to which Elihu objects.  Elihu speaks out of ignorance yet does not know it.

Each of us speaks out of ignorance, partial or total, daily; that is part of the reality of the human condition.  Knowing this about ourselves is a fine beginning of the process of addressing the problem via grace.  May we be sufficiently humble to recognize the fact that we do not know as much as we might imagine about many topics, especially the nature of God.  And may we, even in our ignorance, glorify and draw people to the throne of grace, not blame victims and incur divine anger.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF MORDECAI JOHNSON, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT NEMESIAN OF SIGUM AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/the-oratory-and-theology-of-elihu-part-v/

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Devotion for the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   2 comments

the-wrath-of-elihu-william-blake

Above:  The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Oratory and Theology of Elihu, Part IV

FEBRUARY 12, 2017

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 34:21-37

Psalm 12

Matthew 7:1-12

2 Peter 1:1-15

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God cares for the poor and the oppressed, Elihu, Psalm 12, and Matthew 7 tell us.  Yet how do we explain the divine wager in Job 1 and 2, as well as the suffering of other innocent people?  It is a difficult theological question, one for which I, along with the Book of Job, refuse to offer any easy answers.  I not that, according to God in Job 42:7, Job had, unlike Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, spoken truthfully about God.  I remind you, O reader, that Job had spoken critically of God, who agreed with Job in Chapter 42 yet not in Chapters 38-41.  Such contradictions are par for course in a text with layers of authorship.

Elihu, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar should have followed timeless advice which the author of 2 Peter 1 summarized thusly:

…you should make every effort to add virtue to your faith, knowledge to virtue, self-control to knowledge, fortitude to self-control, piety to fortitude, brotherly affection to piety, and love to brotherly affection.

–1:5b-7, The Revised English Bible (1989)

They would have avoided being not only inhospitable but overreaching in statements in defense of God, as they understood God.  Elihu said:

But this is what all sensible folk will say,

and any wise man among my hearers,

“There is not wisdom in Job’s speech,

his words lack sense.

Put him unsparingly to the proof

since his retorts are the same as those that the wicked make.

For to him he adds rebellion,

calling justice into question in our midst

and heaping abuse on God.”

–Job 34:34-37, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

They would have refrained from heaping abuse on Job and would have been good friends had they acted according to the timeless advice the author of 2 Peter 1:5b-7 understood well.

May we–you, O reader, and I–act according to 2 Peter 1:5b-7 daily, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SALVIUS OF ALBI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF MORDECAI JOHNSON, EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT NEMESIAN OF SIGUM AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/the-oratory-and-theology-of-elihu-part-iv/

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Devotion for the Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany (Year D)   2 comments

the-wrath-of-elihu-william-blake

Above:  The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

Image in the Public Domain

The Oratory and Theology of Elihu, Part III

FEBRUARY 5, 2017

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 34:1-20

Psalm 28

Matthew 6:7-15

Hebrews 13:9-14 (15-16) 17-25

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Elihu seems like a rather annoying person.  He is eager to defend God against Job’s complaints and to offer a more vigorous theodicy than that of Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  Elihu argues, in part:

So far is God removed from wickedness,

and Shaddai from injustice,

that he requites a man for what he does,

treating each one as his way of life deserves.

God is never wrong, do not doubt that!

Shaddai does not deflect the course of right.

–Job 34:10b-12, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Translation:  Job sinned, and these sufferings of his are divine punishment for those sins.  If he repents, God will forgive Job and end his sufferings.  This conclusion contradicts Job 1 and 2, which offer a truly disturbing answer:  God has permitted an innocent man to suffer as part of a wager.

This seems like an excellent place at which to add the analysis of John Job, author of Job Speaks to Us Today (Atlanta, GA:  John Knox Press, 1977), pages 102-103.  The author asks, “Why are Job’s friends not truly wise?”  He concludes, in part:

The friends, first of all, are shameless utilitarians.  Repentance, in the estimation of Eliphaz, is a kind of insurance policy.  Making petition to God is advocated, not for the intrinsic value of a relationship with him, but simply for the pay-off in material terms–as when he says, “Come to terms with God and you will prosper; that is the way to mend your fortune” (22:21).  The interesting point here is that the friends adopt precisely the position which Satan regards as universally occupied by those who make a show of being god-fearing.  “Does Job fear God for nothing?” he had asked.  Eliphaz makes no secret of the grounds on which he is advising Job to fear God.  It is all too shallow.  Faith is depersonalized:  it becomes self-centered instead of God-centered.  Its character as faith is destroyed.  Fear of God is simply not the right way to describe it.

If one replaces “Eliphaz” with “Elihu” and changes the citation from Job 22 to one from Chapter 34, this analysis remains valid.

The Book of Job defies the desire for easy answers that fundamentalism typifies.  God is just, correct?  Then how does one explain the wager in Job 1 and 2?  And does not Job deserve better than the “I am God and you are not” speeches in Job 38-41?  In Job 42, however, God expresses his displeasure with Eliphaz and company for speaking falsely about him and praises Job for speaking honestly about him (God).  Those two responses seem incompatible, do they not?  Of course, one came from one source and the other came from another.  Elihu, who states correctly that God does not meet human measures (Job 33:12b), also spouts foolishness.  The Book of Job provides no easy answers and offers a false, Hollywood ending, at least in its final, composite form.  The original version ends with Job’s repentance for overreaching a few verses into Chapter 42.

Job needed good friends, not Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu.  He needed people who came to comfort him, to listen to him, and to let him cry on their shoulders.  He needed friends who followed advice from Hebrews 13:16:

Never neglect to show kindness and to share what you have with others; for such are the sacrifices which God approves.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

The standard we apply to others will be the standard God applies to us; we read this in Matthew 7:1-5.  Forgiveness is something we are to extend to others, and divine forgiveness of our sins depends on our forgiveness of the sins of others.  This is a lesson the author of Psalm 28 had not yet learned.  This is a lesson with which I have struggled mightily and with which I continue to struggle.  Success in the struggle does not depend on my own power, fortunately; grace is abundant.  The desire to do something one knows one ought to do is something with which God can work.  It is, metaphorically, a few loaves and fishes, which God can multiply.

In Job 42 God burned with anger toward Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  (The text does not mention Elihu, most likely because the text of the Book of Job did not yet contain the Elihu cycle.)  The alleged friends had not spoken truthfully of God, but Job had.  Job interceded on their behalf, however, and God excused their folly and forgave their sins.  Job, who had complained bitterly to his alleged friends, who had taunted him and sometimes even enjoyed his sufferings, all while imagining that they were pious and that he had done something to deserve his plight, prayed for their forgiveness.

That is a fine lesson to draw from the Book of Job.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CONSTANCE AND HER COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH SHEPHERD, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ISAAC THE GREAT, PATRIARCH OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CHATTERTON DIX, HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/the-oratory-and-theology-of-elihu-part-iii/

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