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Day 3: My Head Asplode

June 12, 2007

I’m home for lunch and my Dad just made me a peanut butter and bacon sandwich.  His Dad lived to be 99 yrs and 359 days old on those sandwiches and Falstaff beer.

I found a cassette tape here yesterday that I made in high school.  The label said, “Haircut 100/Heaven 17”, (two “new wave synth pop” bands of 1983).  So I thought it would be funny to pop it in the car stereo this morning on the way to Debra’s Good Eats.   Evidently I had already decided to euthanize this recording in college, because what came out of the speakers was Led Zeppelin.   Fortunately, it was only a few minutes’ drive to the restaurant, so my study wasn’t too distracted by the flashbacks.

When I got to the restaurant I began by reading Psalm 104.  This psalm is a great meditation on creation.  It’s the song that Fernando Ortega put to music in “Creation Song”. 

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
   O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 
 covering yourself with light as with a garment,
 stretching out the heavens like a tent. 

That’s quite a picture.  When God said, “Let there be light” and the heavens were stretched out like a tent, it was as though he was clothing himself with the light of the galaxies.  The whole universe is like his robe.   

Then I read on through the rest of the psalm, pausing at verse 15 to give thanks that the new local liquor store stocked Talisker, until I came to verse 34:

May my meditation be pleasing to him,
   for I rejoice in the LORD.

Emphasis added, of course.  What makes your meditation pleasing to God?  The joy you find in it.  Paging Dr. Piper.

Then I started in on Romans 10.  I wrestled with the meaning of the word “end” in verse 4: Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.  Does end mean termination, the law is abolished?  Or does end mean goal, the law points us to Christ?  Or does end mean culmination/fulfillment, the law is fulfilled by Christ? 

Then I read Robert Haldane who said that the book of Hebrews furnishes a complete commentary on this text.  That was when my head exploded.  

Hebrews 7:11-12 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come— one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.

Hebrews 7:18-19  The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 10:14  by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.

In each of these verses, the word perfect is from the same root as the word “end” in Romans 10:4.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2007 12:12 pm

    I thought maybe your head was exploding because of the peanut butter and bacon sandwich, which would be a head asploding thing I imagine.

    So…sorry I don’t know much about roots of Greek words and how they influence the translation of each particular verse, but…why wasn’t the Romans verse translated more along the lines of, “Christ is the perfection of the law”or, “Christ perfected the law” or something along those lines – something that sounds less like abolishment or termination, and more like betterment or accomplishment or perfection? Is there a reason why the translators used the word “end” here?

  2. June 14, 2007 2:37 pm

    I’m sure I’ve said this somewhere before, but I love, love, *love* Psalm 104. It’s pretty much the bestest Psalm to read while camping ever.

    Once, I watched a forest fire in the distance, and all I could think about was the line where “he touches the mountains and they smoke.” :D It was beautiful, even if it was a forest fire.

  3. June 23, 2007 12:31 pm

    Ellie,

    Sorry I forgot to answer your question. “End” preserves the ambiguity in the original. Translating it “perfection” would be a case of translators doing the intrepreting for us. But the context makes the translation “perfection” fitting in Hebrews, and this, Haldane argues, should influence our interpretation in Romans.

  4. June 23, 2007 2:33 pm

    Ok, that makes sense. Thanks. :)

  5. egana permalink
    June 25, 2007 11:47 am

    Ellie, I love it when you ask questions… I learn so much from both your questions and the answers you receive!

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