Judged by the Cover
Thank you for a most beautiful cover (
I love Bible Review. I anticipate it the year round and read it from cover to cover the day it arrives, and then wait for the next issue with bated breath.
My own personal “complaint” to an otherwise splendid publication: Your magazine contains some of the most beautiful, rare and well-reproduced objects of art, but I would like to see more detail about these—specifically, the artist’s name, the title and date of the artwork, the medium used and the current location. This addition would make your magazine perfect instead of the best.
Did we do any better in this issue?—Ed.
Luke or Lucia?
Mikeal Parsons, in his excellent article on Luke (“Who Wrote the Gospel of Luke?” BR 17:02), did not refer to the theory that this gospel, with its inclusion of “women’s themes,” may have been written by a woman (posing as a man, due to the tenor of the time). Even if scholars dismiss these ideas as bunk, I would appreciate any thoughts on the subject.
Stephen J. Patterson of Eden Theological Seminary responds:
In the first edition of his introduction to the New Testament, Stevan Davies made a brief case for seeing the author of Luke as a woman, based on the many references to women in the company of Jesus, e.g., Luke 8:2ff. In the second edition of this work, however, he retracted this view (New Testament Fundamentals [Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1994]). Offhand, I don’t know of anyone else who has made the case, though I may be mistaken. Even the older, widely held idea that Luke is particularly favorable toward women has come under more careful scrutiny in recent years. See especially Turid Kerlsen Seim’s discussion under “The Gospel of Luke,” in Searching the Scriptures, vol. 2: A Feminist Commentary, ed. by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (New York: Crossroads, 1994), pp. 728–762.
A Beastly Mix-Up
In a sidebar entitled “Why the Ox?” (see “Who Wrote the Gospel of Luke?” BR 17:02), Mikeal Parsons discusses traditional views of Irenaeus, Jerome, Augustine and others regarding the identification of the four evangelists with the four cherubim of Revelation 4:6–8. Almost none of these traditional pairings squares with what I learned years ago. Here is what I was taught:
Matthew, addressing a Jewish audience, presents Jesus as the messiah, the king of the Jews; he thus corresponds to the lion, the king of beasts and the lion of Judah.
Mark, addressing a Roman audience, presents Jesus as a man of action, and as the suffering servant of Yahweh; he thus corresponds to the ox/calf, the beast of burden and also of sacrifice.
Luke, addressing a Greek audience, presents Jesus as the perfect/ideal man, answering to Greek humanistic values; he corresponds to the face of a man.
John, addressing a universal audience, presents Jesus as the incarnation of deity; he corresponds to the eagle, which swoops down from its aerie on high and returns there again.
This makes more sense to me than the other views that were listed. I wonder if any ancient Christians held a similar view?
Fort Scott, Kansas
Mikeal Parsons responds:
While I see the logic in describing the iconography of the symbols in this way, I am not aware of any such discussion among the ancient sources.
My vote as to who wrote the Gospel According to Luke still goes to St. Luke “the beloved physician.” When discussing the woman with the 12-year issue of blood, Matthew (9:20) simply tells us she suffers. Mark (5:26) states that the physicians had taken all her money and yet she grew worse. Luke (8:43) is the only gospel to point out that the hemorrhaging woman could not be healed by physicians at that time. Only a physician would have been so familiar with the limitations of his field in his day.
Tracy City, Tennessee
Name that Tune
Cliff Edwards’s fine insights into the influence of the Bible upon Emily Dickinson’s poems and letters (“The Bible Through a Poet’s Prism,” BR 17:02) receive further support from the poet’s borrowing of song forms used by contemporary congregations for most of her poems.
For a congregation to stay together when singing many stanzas of a psalm or hymn, it was found useful to have the same number of syllables as notes in each line. Most popular was the stanza form consisting of four lines of eight, six, eight and six syllables abbreviated in metrical indexes as 126.96.36.199 (that is, alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter). This form was usually termed common meter (C.M.). Also popular was long meter (188.8.131.52. or L.M.) and short meter (184.108.40.206. or S.M.). One could sing any words written in common meter to any common meter tune, for example, “Oh, God, our help in ages past” or “All Hail the power of Jesus’ name” or “Joy to the world” (to the great discomfiture of today’s congregations, which are used to each hymn having its own tune).
The use of the common meter form in Emily’s poems is almost overwhelming. One example that can be sung to any common meter tune is
I took my Power in my Hand — (8)
And went against the World — (6)
’Twas not so much what David —
had — (8)
But I — was twice as bold — (6)
I aimed my Pebble — but Myself (8)
Was all the one that fell — (6)
Was it Goliath — was too large — (8)
Or was myself — too small? (6)
Other well-known examples include “There is no frigate like a book” and “My life closed twice before its close.”
Considerably less popular with Dickinson was the long meter. This has the metrical pattern best known as the Doxology or Old Hundredth (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow”). One can sing to it Emily’s
My Soul — accused me — And I
quailed — (8)
As Tongues of Diamond had reviled (8)
All else accused me — and I smiled — (8)
My Soul — that Morning — was
My Friend — (8)
Emily’s use of short meter might be most interesting of all, for she alone among poets uses it. Only the popular limerick, which counts the number of stresses (220.127.116.11.) rather than of syllables, is comparable. An example of her writing in this form is “Some say goodnight”:
Some say goodnight — at night — (6)
I say goodnight by day — (6)
Good-bye — the Going utter me — (8)
Goodnight, I still reply — (6)
For parting, that is night, (6)
And presence, simply dawn — (6)
Itself, the purple on the height (8)
Denominated morn. (6)
Emily, of course, used a variety of metrical forms, including many others from the hymnals and psalters. Her commitment to these sung forms not only suggests her commitment to this component of Christian worship but also implies a feeling for the music underlying her verse. For music is, after all, the origin of the lyric.
Greensboro, North Carolina
Having read Sara Lipton’s article on “The Un-Moralized Bible,” BR 17:02, I was stunned to discover that she does not mention John Lowden’s two magnificent volumes on the Bible moralisée (John Lowden, The Making of the Bibles Moralisées, vol. 1, The Manuscripts, vol. 2, The Book of Ruth [University Park, Pa: Penn. State Univ. Press, 2000]). Nor does she mention any of the other manuscripts of the Bible Moralisée, including a French translation also believed to have been made in Paris in the 1220s. Both the Latin manuscript that she does discuss and the French version are now in the same state library in Vienna.
International Society of Bible Collectors
To Forgive Is Human, To Justify, Divine
One correction is needed to N.T. Wright’s otherwise helpful column on justification—a main theme of what is also called “salvation” and “reconciliation” by the apostle to the gentiles (“The Shape of Justification,” BR 17:02). Twice Wright mentions “justification” as though it is equivalent to the more common term “forgiveness” (citing Jeremiah 31:31–34), although Paul never uses the latter word to describe becoming a Christian. Perhaps this is because although only God forgives in the Hebrew Scriptures, both man and God forgive in the Greek usage that Paul knows (as Paul states his own forgiveness in 2 Corinthians 3).
Justification is also better than forgiveness in that punishment is ruled out for one who is “justified,” whereas one can be forgiven and still be punished (as in the case of the sin of Israel with the golden calf in Exodus 32 and also David’s sin with Bathsheba and his attempt to 044hide it by the murder of her husband, Uriah [2 Samuel 11]). Although David was “forgiven,” he was still punished by the death of his child (2 Samuel 12).
It seems both deliberate and significant that Paul preferred the terms “righteousness” and/or “justification” over “forgiveness” when using the language of the law courts.
For the Sake of Argument
After reading N.T. Wright’s column on justification (see “The Shape of Justification,” BR 17:02), I went on to read the article he was responding to (Paul Barnett, “When Wright is Wrong,” www.anglicanmediasydney.asn.au/pwb/ntwright_perspective.htm). I think this is another case of Bible scholars getting so caught up in words and emphasis, they miss what so many of us “regular” readers see as very obvious. Unfortunately, this is a common problem today between many so-called different doctrines. People are debating over words just for the sake of debating. I would love to see us all rise above that for the sake of our Christian faith. I see in both Wright’s and Barnett’s articles the same message, just worded differently. Both Wright and Barnett bring the most important and, in my eyes, most relevant issue to light: By Grace we have been saved.
Commerce Township, Michigan
Judged by the Cover
Thank you for a most beautiful cover (April 2001). Now I know why I subscribed for two more years.