Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Bible : Genesis Chapters 1 - 11 ~ Primeval History

Initially I was going to use either my New King James or ESV translation for this read-along, but I recently acquired an Orthodox study bible so I thought it might be interesting to read it.  There are extra books included in the Old Testament accepted by the Orthodox church that I've always wanted to read and what better time than this read-along?  So here we go ........

Source Wikimedia Commons

The name Pentateuch is used to refer to the first five books of the old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  A Greek word meaning “five scrolls”, it was popularized during the first century, however the Hebrew speaking Jewish people called these five books the Torah or “instruction”.  It is best read as a five-book volume.
Genesis begins with the breaking of the relationship between God and man and continues with the restoration of it through his convenant with Abraham.
The author of Genesis is unknown.  There is no evidence to connect anyone to it, however as the other books of the Torah are connected to Moses and most of biblical literature treats the Torah as a unit, a sensible guess would label Moses as the author, although at least some of the material would have existed before his time.

Presentation of the Torah (1860)
Edouard Moyse
source Wikipedia

Genesis 1-11 (Primeval History)
Chapter 1
……. In the beginning God made heaven and earth.
Chapter 1 takes us from the beginning of creation to the end of the sixth day.
In the beginning, the earth was “invisible and unfinished”. …
  • Day 1:  God made light and divided it from the darkness.
  • Day 2:  God divided the waters from the “firmament” and made Heaven
  • Day 3:  God gathered the waters together and called the waters, “Sea” and the land, “Earth”  The Earth bore grasses and (fruit) trees each according to their seed.
  • Day 4:  God made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, dividing light from darkness, as well as signs for seasons, days and years.
  • Day 5:  God made creatures of the sea and birds of the air.
  • Day 6:  God had the Earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind. He made man in His image, giving him dominion over living things, then he created woman.  Everything the plants and trees produce are food for man and the animals.

The Garden of Eden (copy of Jan Brueghel 1661)
Frederik Bouttats the elder
source Art UK


Chapter 2
  • Day 7:  God rested, and blessed this day, sanctifying it.

There had been no rain and when God made Man; a huge fountain came out of the Earth, watering it and God made man from the dust.
God made a garden (The Garden of Eden) where every beautiful tree grew including the tree of “learning the knowledge of good and evil”.  A river with four heads flowed through the garden, Pishon circling the land of Havilah, Gihon which circles Ethiopia, the Tigris near the Assyrians and the Euphrates.  
God placed man in the garden, commanding him not to eat of the tree of good and evil, then decided,
“It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Although God brought all the animals and birds, as none were comparable to Adam, God put him to sleep, removed a rib and turned it into “woman”.  She was “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone” and they were one.  
They were naked and unashamed.

Adam and Eve chased out of theTerrestrial Paradise (1841)
Jean-Achille Benouville
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 3
The serpent tempted the woman, promising she’d be like God if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  She complied and convinced Adam to eat as well, but when they heard God, they hid.  Their sin was revealed whereupon Adam blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent. As punishment, God declared the serpent would crawl on its belly and would have enmity with man and vice versa, women would have pains at childbirth and be subject to their husbands, and men would toil the earth for survival.  And finally the woman was named: “So Adam called his wife’s name Life, because she was the mother of all living.”  
Because God was concerned that the pair would also eat of the tree of life and live forever, he clothed them and cast them out of the garden, stationing a cherubim with a fiery sword at the door.
Rather than literally die, Adam and Eve’s (Life’s) old paradisical life died to them and they entered a new harsher one.

Cain and Abel (1542-44)
Titian
source Wikimedia Commons


Chapter 4
Eve gives birth to a son called Cain and next, a brother, Abel is born.  Abel was a shepherd and Cain a tiller (farmer); both brothers bring sacrifices to God but while God “respected” Abel’s offering, he did not “respect” Cain’s.
“… Did you not sin, even though you brought it rightly, but did not divide it rightly?”
Cain in his anger and jealousy rose up and killed his brother.  When God asked where Abel was, Cain gives the famous response:
“I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”
However, God knows his sin and curses him from the earth which will no longer give him sustenance but He also forbids anyone to kill Cain who goes to dwell in the land of Nod, opposite Eden.
Cain has a son, Enoch, whom he names the city he builds after, then proceeds a genealogical list of Cain’s family.
Adam and Eve have another son, Seth.
The Building of Noah's Ark (c.1675)
a French master
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 5
We have a list of the descendents of Adam, beginning with Seth.  Some live 700 or even 900 years, others in the hundreds.  The list ends with Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.


Noah's Ark (1846)
Edward Hicks
Source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 6
Men began to exist in great numbers on the Earth and the sons of God began to marry the daughters of men (I’m puzzled by the distinction between the two).  God was grieved at men’s wickedness on earth as “every intent of the thoughts within his heart was only evil continually.”  He planned to destroy all he had created but Noah “found grace in the presence of Lord God.”  He commanded Noah to build an ark.
“And behold, I am bringing a flood of water on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life. Whatever is on the earth shall die.  But I will establish My covenant with you: and you shall go into the ark --- you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.  From every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you …”

Noah and his Ark (1819)
Charles Willson Peale
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 7
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came. It rained forty days and nights. Water covered the highest mountains and all mankind was blotted out.  The waters stayed for 150 days.


The Deluge (1834)
John Martin
source Wikipedia

Chapter 8
The rains ceased and God sent a wind to help the water subside.  On the seventh month and the seventeenth day the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat.  On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains could be seen.  Noah sent out a raven and a dove but neither could find a resting place. Seven days later, after being sent out, the dove returned with an olive leaf.  The waters had receeded!  Seven days later the dove returned not and Noah left the ark, building an altar to sacrifice to the Lord.  The Lord promised never again to send a flood to destroy man even though man's inclination was to do evil.


Dankgebet nach Verlassen der Arche Noah (1901)
Domenico Morelli
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 9
God now appears to give Noah a new authority over the animals and says that “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” (assuming because of the flood there will not be enough vegetation and man will now have to eat meat to survive?) God makes a covenant with Noah never to destroy the earth again and sets a rainbow in the sky as a sign.  Noah becomes a husbandman and plants a vineyard but becomes drunk and naked.  Ham tells his brothers of his father’s indiscretion but Shem and Japheth cover their father without looking at him.  Noah later curses Ham and blesses his other two sons.  Noah died at 950 years of age.

Noah and his Sons (17th century)
Andrea Sacchi
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 10
We receive the geneology of Noah through his three sons, mentioning Nimrod who was a descendent of Ham and became giant-like and built cities.  

The Tower of Babel (1563)
Peter Brueghel the Elder
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 11
Mankind has one language and speech and decides to build a city and temple to hold themselves in unity and power, but God descends and confuses their language so they were unintelligible to each other.  He then scattered the people over the earth and the city and tower were called Babel because of it.

Now follows a geneology of Shem to Terah (most people are only living 100-300 years now), the father of Abram.  Terah also had sons named Nahor and Haran, who begot Lot.  Terah led his family out of Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan and when they reached Haran, they dwelt there.


The Bible As Literature Read-Along                      Genesis Chapters 12 - 25 →

Monday, 1 October 2018

The Bible As Literature Read-Along


At the beginning of this year Adam at Roof Beam Reader hosted a Bible as Literature event that I wanted to participate in so badly.  But knowing my overloaded schedule as late and knowing I probably wouldn't be able to keep up the pace, I unhappily decided to pass.  Yet how excited I was to see O's recently announced the Bible As Literature read-along which will take just over two years.  It may seem long, but the pace is perfect for me and having other readers to push me along will be just what I need.  I can't wait to start!

The schedule will be as follows:



The Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses

Genesis: 1st October - 22nd October 2018.
1st October 2018: 1–11. Primeval History.
8th October 2018: 12–25. The Abraham Cycle.
15th October 2018: 26-36. The Jacob-Esau Cycle.
22nd October 2018: 37–50. The Joseph Story.

Exodus: 29th October - 5th November 2018.

29th October 2018: 1–18. History of Egypt, the Exodus from Egypt, 
and the Journey to Mount Sinai.
5th November 2018: 19–40. The Covenant and Laws.

Leviticus: 12th November 2018 - 17th December 2018.

12th November 2018: 1:1 7:38. Laws on sacrifice.
19th November 2018: 8:1–10:20. Institution of the priesthood.
26th November 2018: 11:1–15:33. Uncleanliness and its treatment.
3rd December 2018: 16. Day of Atonement.
10th December 2018: 17–26. The Holiness Code.
17th December 2018: 27. Redemption of votive gifts.

Numbers: 7th January - 21st January 2019.

7th January 2019: 1:1–10:10. At Sinai.
14th January 2019: 10:11– 20:29. At Kadesh-Barnea.
21st January 2019: 21–36. The Wilderness, to Moab, and on the Plains of Moab.

Deuteronomy: 28th January - 18th February 2019.

28th January 2019: 1:1-4:43. Sermon I of Moses.
4th February 2019: 4:44-11:32. Sermon II of Moses.
11th February 2019: 11:32-33:29. Sermon III of Moses.
18th February 2019: 31–34. The Song of Moses, the Blessing of Moses, the Death of Moses.


The Historical Books

Joshua: 25th February - 4th March 2019.

25th February 2019: 1:1–12:24. The transfer from Moses Leadership to Joshua, 
and the entrance into and conquest of Canaan.
4th March 2019: 13:1–22:34. Division of the land among the tribes.
4th March 2019: 23:1–24:33. Covenant at Shechem and the deaths of Joshua and Eleazar.

Judges: 11th March - 18th March 2019.

11th March 2019: 1–3. Prologue; 3:9–11. Othniel and Chushan-Rishathaim; 3:11–29. Ehud and Eglon of Moab; 4–5. Deborah and Barak, and Jabin of Hazor and Sisera; 6–8. Gideon, Midian, Amalek, and the Children of the East; 9–10. Abimelech and all the Israelites in opposition.
18th March 2019: 11–12:7. Jephthah and the Ammonites; 13–16. Samson and the Philistines; 17–18. Micah's Idol; 19–21. Battle of Gibeah.

Ruth: 25th March 2019.

1:1–22. Prologue and Problem; 2:1–23. Ruth Meets Boaz;
3:1–18. Naomi Sends Ruth to Boaz; 4:1–22. Resolution and Epilogue.

1 Samuel: 1st - 8th April 2019.

1st April 2019: 1–15. Samuel and Saul.
8th April 2019: 16–31. Saul and David.

2 Samuel: 15th - 29th April 2019.

15th April 2019: 1–8. David's rise to power.
22nd April 2019: 9–20. David's reign.
29th April 2019: 21–24. Narratives, psalms, and lists.

1 Kings: 6th May - 20th May 2019.

6th May 2019: 1:1–2:46. The Davidic Succession; 3:1–11:43. Solomon.
13th May 2019: 12:1–13:34. The political and religious schism;
14:1–16:34. The two kingdoms until Elijah.
20th May 2019: 17:1–2 Kings 1:18. The Elijah cycle.

2 Kings: 27th May 2019 - 10th June 2019.

27th May 2019: 2:1–13:25. The Elisha cycle.
3rd June 2019: 14:1–17:41. The two kingdoms to the fall of Samaria.
10th June 2019: 18:1–25:30. The last years of the kingdom of Judah.

1 Chronicles: 17th June - 24th June 2019.

17th June 2019: 1–9:34. Genealogies from Adam.
24th June 2019: 10–29. The reign of David.

2 Chronicles: 1st July 2019 - 8th July 2019.

1st July 2019: 1–9. The reign of Solomon.
8th July 2019: 10–36. The kingdom of Judah, its destruction by the Babylonians,
and its restoration under Cyrus the Persian.

Ezra: 15th July 2019.

1–6. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem (c. 539 B.C.);
7–10. The return of Ezra and a group of Jews to Judah.

Nehemiah: 22nd July - 29th July 2019.

22nd July 2019: 1–6. The return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem.
29th July 2019: 7–10. The Feast of Tabernacles and the events after;
11–13. Repopulating Jerusalem and Nehemiah's return to Susa.
Esther: 5th August 2019.

1–2. Exposition: Life in the Persian Palace; Esther becomes Queen;
3–8:14. Haman's plot to kill Mordecai and the Jews; 8:15–10. The resolution and the results: the Jewish victory.


The Wisdom Books

Job: 12th August 2019 - 2nd September 2019.

12th August 2019: 1–2. Prologue on Earth and Heaven; 3. Job's prologue.
19th August 2019: 4–27. The three cycles of dialogues between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
26th August 2019: 28. A Poem to Wisdom; 29–31. Job's closing monologue; 32–37. Elihu's speeches.
2nd September 2019: 38–42:7–8. Two speeches by God and Job's response; 42:9–17. Job's restoration.

Psalms: 9th September - 7th October 2019.

9th September 2019: 1–41. Book I.
16th September 2019: 42–72. Book II.
23rd September 2019: 73–89. Book III.
30th September 2019: 90–106. Book IV.
7th October 2019: 107–150. Book V.

Proverbs: 14th October 2019 - 4th November 2019.

14th October 2019:1–9. Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel.
21st October 2019: 10–22:16. More Proverbs of Solomon.
28th October 2019: 22:17–24:22. The Sayings of the Wise; 24:23–34. More Sayings of the Wise; 25–29. Other Proverbs of Solomon.
4th November 2019: 30. The Words of Agur; 31:1–9. The Words of King Lemuel of Massa; 31:10–31. The Woman of Substance.

Ecclesiastes: 11th November 2019 - 18th November 2019.

11th November 2019: 1:1–1:2–11. Title and Initial poem; 1:12–6:9. Kohelet's investigation of life; 6:10–11:6.Kohelet's conclusions.
18th November 2019: 11:7–12:8. Concluding poem; 12:9–14. Epilogue.

Song of Solomon: 25th November 2019.

1:1–6. Introduction; 1:7–2:7. Dialogue between the lovers; 2:8–17. The woman recalls a visit from her lover; 3:1–5. The woman addresses the daughters of Zion; 3:6–11. Sighting a royal wedding procession; 4:1–5:1. The man describes his lover's beauty; 5:2–6:4. The woman addresses the daughters of Jerusalem; 6:5–12. The man describes his lover, who visits him; 6:13–8:4. Observers describe the woman's beauty; 8:5–14. Conclusion.


The Major Prophets

Isaiah: 6th January 2020 - 27th January 2020.

6th January - 13th January 2020: 1–39. Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the original Isaiah.
20th January 2020: 40–55. Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous Exilic author.
27th January 2020: 56–66. Trito-Isaiah, an anthology of about twelve passages.

Jeremiah: 3rd February 2020 - 9th March 2020.

3rd - 10th February 2020: 1–25. The earliest and main core of Jeremiah's message.
17th February 2020: 26–29. Biographic material and interaction with other prophets.
24th February 2020: 30–33. God's promise of restoration including Jeremiah's new covenant.
2nd March 2020: 34–45. Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem.
9th March 2020: 46–51. Divine punishment to the nations surrounding Israel; 52. Retelling of 2 Kings 24.18–25.30.

Lamentations: 16th March 2020.

1. Jeremiah mourns for Jerusalem and Judea; 2. The anger of the Lord;
3. Jeremiah's suffering; 4–5. The Justice of God.

Ezekiel: 23rd March - 13th April 2020.

23rd March - 30th March 2020: 1–29. Prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem.
6th April 2020: 25–32. Prophecies against the foreign nations.
13th April 2020: 33–48. Prophecies of hope and salvation.

Daniel: 20th April 2020.

20th April 2020: 1. Daniel and friends at the tale of the king; 2. Daniel interprets the king's dream.
3. The fiery furnace; 4. Nebuchadnezzar's madness 5. The handwriting on the wall.
6. The lion's den; 7. The vision of the son of man; 8. The vision of the ram and the he-goat.
9. Daniel's prayer and the seventy years of the devastation of Jerusalem; 10. The final vision and promise of resurrection.


The Twelve Minor Prophets

Hosea: 27th April 2020.

1–2. Hosea's marriage with Gomer (biographical).
3. Hosea's marriage (autobiographical).
4–14:10. Oracle judging Israel.

Joel: 27th April 2020.

1:1–2:17. Lament over drought and plague of locusts.
2:18–32. Promise of future blessings.
3:1–21. The coming judgement.

Amos: 4th May 2020.

1.3–2.6. Oracles against the nations.
4.1–8.8. Addresses to groups in Israel.
7.10–9:8. Five symbolic visions of God's judgement.
9:8–15. Epilogue.

Obadiah: 11th May 2020.

The vision of the fall of Edom.

Jonah: 11th May 2020.

1–2. Jonah flees his mission.
3–4. Jonah fulfils his mission.

Micah: 11th May 2020.

1–3. Judgement.
4–5. Restoration of Zion.
6–7. God's judgement against Israel.

Nahum: 18th May 2020.

1. The majesty of God.
2–3. The fall of Nineveh.

Habakkuk: 18th May 2020.

1. A discussion between God and Habakkuk.
2. An Oracle of Woe.
3. A Psalm.

Zephaniah: 18th May 2020.

1:1. Superscription.
1:2–13. The Coming Judgement on Judah.
1:14–18. The Great Day of the Lord.
2:1–15. Judgement on Israel's Enemies.
3:1–7. The Wickedness of Jerusalem.
3:8–13. Punishment and Conversion of the Nations.
3:14–20. Song of Joy.

Haggai: 25th May 2020.

1:1–15. The first prophecy.
2:1–23. The second, third, and fourth prophecy.

Zechariah: 25th May 2020.

1–8. The teachings of Zechariah.
9–10. The first and second oracle.

Malachi: 25th May 2020.

1–2:9. Israel preferred to Edom.
2:10–17. The Covenant Profaned by Judah.
3:1–7. The Coming Messenger.
3:8–15. Do Not Rob God.
4:1–5. The Great Day of the Lord.







The Gospels

Matthew: 1st June 2020 - 15th June 2020.

1st June 2020: 1:1–2:23. Birth and Childhood of Jesus; 3–4. Baptism and early ministry.
5–7. Sermon on the Mount; 8–9. Healing and miracles; 10:1–11:1. Mission Discourse / Little Commission.
8th June 2020: 11:2–13:52. Responses to Jesus; 13:53–17. Conflicts, rejections, and conferences with disciples; 18. Life in the Christian community; 19–20. Journey to Jerusalem.
15th June 2020: 21–22. Jerusalem; 23. Woes of the Pharisees; 24–25. Judgement day;
26–28. Death and Resurrection.
Mark: 22nd June 2020.

1–9. Galilean ministry; 10. Journey to Jerusalem; 11–16. Events in Jerusalem.

Luke: 29th June - 6th July 2020.

29th June 2020: 1:1–4. Introduction to Theophilus; 1:5–4. Jesus' birth and boyhood;
3:1–4:13. Jesus' baptism and temptation; 4:14–9:50. Jesus' ministry in Galilee.
6th July 2020: 9:51– 19:27. Jesus' teaching on the journey to Jerusalem;
19:28–24. Jesus' Jerusalem conflicts, crucifixion, and resurrection.

John: 13th July - 20th July 2020.

13th July 2020: 1:10-18. Introduction; 1:19-12:50. The Book of Signs.
20th July 2020: 13:1-20:31. The Book of Glory; 21. Epilogue

Acts

Acts of the Apostles: 27th July 2020 - 3rd August 2020.

27th July 2020:1. Preface to Theophilus; 2:1–12:25. From Jerusalem to Antioch (Petrine Christianity).
3rd August 2020: 13:1–28:21. From Antioch to Rome (Pauline Christianity).

Epistles

Romans: 10th August 2020.

1:1–15. Prologue; 1:16 –8:39. Salvation in the Christ;
12 –15:13. Transformation of believers; 15:1 –16:23. Epilogue .

1 Corinthians: 17th August 2020.

1:1–3. Salutation.
1:4–9. Thanksgiving.
1:10–4:21. Division in Corinth.
5:1–6:20. Immorality in Corinth.
7:1–14:40. Difficulties in Corinth.
15:1–58. Doctrine of Resurrection.
16:1–24. Closing.

2 Corinthians: 24th August 2020.

1:1–11: Greeting.
1:12–7:16. Paul defends his actions and apostleship.
8:1–9:15. Instructions for the collection for the poor in the Jerusalem church.
10:1 – 13:10. A polemic defence of his apostleship.
13:11–13. Closing greetings.

Galatians: 31st August 2020.

1–2. Paul's testimony on the gospels; 3–5:12. On faith and the commandments;
5:13–6. Fruits of the Spirit, the Law of Christ, and final warning.

Ephesians: 31st August 2020.

1:1–2. The greeting; 1:3–2:10. On the blessings that the gospel reveals;
2:11–3:21. On the Gentiles; 4:1–16. On unity;
4:17–6:9. Instructions about ordinary life and different relationships;
6:10–24. On imagery of spiritual warfare.

Philippians: 7th September 2020.

1:1–11. Preface; 1:12–26. Paul describes his present life; 1:27–2:30. Practical Instructions in Sanctification; 3:1–4:1. Polemical Doctrinal Issues; 4:2–23. Epilogue.

Colossians: 7th September 2020.

1:1–14. Introduction; 1:15–23. The Supremacy of Christ.
1:24–2:7. Paul's work for the church; 2:8–23. Freedom from Human Regulations through Life with Christ; 3:1–4:6. Rules for Holy Living; 4:7–18. Final Greetings.

1 Thessalonians: 14th September 2020.

1:1–10. Greeting; 2:1–20. Past interactions with the church;
3:1–13. On Timothy's visit; 4:1–5:25. Specific issues;
4:1–12. Relationships among Christians; 4:13–18. Mourning those who have died;
5:1–11. Preparing for God's arrival; 5:12–25. On proper Christian behaviour;
5:26–28. Final greetings.

2 Thessalonians: 14th September 2020.

1. On the return of Jesus and the persecution of the Thessalonians;
2–3. On the Holy Spirit and the Antichrist.

1 Timothy: 21st September 2020.

1:1–2. Greeting; 1:3–20. Negative Instructions: Stop the False Teachers;
2:1–6:10. Positive Instructions; 6:11–21. Personal Instructions.

2 Timothy: 21st September 2020.

1–2. Paul in prison; 3–4. Paul urges Timothy to be faithful and asks for some personal effects.

Titus: 28th September 2020.

1. On choosing church leaders; 2–3. On Christian living.

Philemon: 28th September 2020.

1–3. Introduction; 4–7. Thanksgiving and intercession;
8–20. Paul's plea for Onesimus; 21–25. Conclusion.

Hebrews: 28th September 2020.

1–10:18. The sovereignty of Jesus over the angels and on the New Covenant.
10:19–13. On faith and the Old Covenant.

James: 5th October 2020.

1. Putting faith into action; 2–3. On faith and deeds;
4–5. Instruction and the importance of prayer.

1 Peter: 5th October 2020.

1:1–2. Greeting; 1:3–12. Praise to God; 1:13–2:10. God's Holy People.
2:11–4:11. Life in Exile; 4:12–5:11. Steadfast in Faith; 5:12–14. Final Greeting.

2 Peter: 5th October 2020.

1–2. Guidance to churches; 3. Day of Judgement.

1 John: 12th October 2020.

1–2. Reassuring believers; 3–4. On the love of God;
5. The importance of faith.

2 John: 12th October 2020.

1. On love.

3 John: 12th October 2020.

1. On truth.

Jude: 12th October 2020.

1. Warning against false teachers.

Apocalypse

Revelation: 19th October 2020 - 2nd November 2020.

19th October 2020: 1–3. Seven letters warning against deception and lawlessness; 
4–7. Seven seals on a heavenly scroll opened by the Lamb.
26th October 2020: 8–14. Seven trumpets of warning.
2nd November 2020: 15–22. Seven bowls of God's final wrath.


If you're intrigued, please feel free to join us.  Head over to O's post for all the details!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

What I Demand of Life by Frank Swinnerton



My Deal-Me-In Challenge has been going the way of my other challenges this year, but I thought with a few months left in the year, I might try to resurrect it and at least finish well.  We'll see .... In any case, I drew the queen of Spades, which gave me an essay entitled, What I Demand of Life by Frank Swinnerton.

At the age of 40, Swinnerton is evaluating his life: what he has experienced and musing on the years to come.  While men can be failures in a number of ways, few fail from aiming too high, yet many aim amiss or do not aim at all and are like parasites on others.  These men should be pitied.  Swinnerton then lists things he does not want:
  1. money
  2. fame
  3. a life of gaiety
  4. possessions
  5. innumerable acquaintances
  6. contentment
  7. people to sing "for he's a jolly good fellow"
Wealth has no value and breeds insincere friends.  Fame lacks privacy, brings judgement and breeds pomposity and tyrants.  Poverty gave Swinnerton a good spirit and he was able to land a job with a publish company, J.M Dent and Co., a job which honed his insights into human character.  He realized his dreams about living in a cottage, writing "goodish" novels and marrying for love.  He has good friends, the best, in fact, a good nature and because he is not labelled among the popular authors, is able to write what he wants.

Now we get to the title.  What does Swinnerton demand of life?
  1. health
  2. privacy
  3. moderate security
  4. affections of those dear to him
  5. some leisure
Swinnerton is advocating a life of modest means.  
"That is the whole point.  No man can be satisfied with his attainment, although he may be satisfied with his circumstances ...... I have been returning thanks to good fortune.  I have been betraying perhaps, a readiness to be pleased with small results."
Swinnerton does not have lofty ambitions but only wishes to live the remainder of his life in enjoyment, immune from hardship.  
"I do not demand to be happy, because I expect --- on a basis of experience --- to be happy.  Is not happiness the most satisfactory of all possessions? .... when I come to die I shall be able --- in spirit at least --- to repeat the memorable last words of William Hazlitt ..... 'Well, I've had a happy life.'  Which of us --- uncertain travellers as we are upon uncharted ways --- can ask to say more?  Not I."
While I found Swinnerton's modest desires and thoughtful life philosophy interesting, I cannot say his expectations were particularly realistic.  Could he really be happy simply on expectation?  Could he avoid hardship because he had already experienced it and was therefore immune to it?  Could his moderate philosophy really bring happiness?

I supposed the fewer expectations we have, the less chance of being disappointed. There is something to be said for appreciating our lives as they are.  However, I'm not certain if I am in complete agreement with Swinnerton's approach to life.  What about you?  Is it better to accept mediocrity and be happy or to strive for higher ideals and perhaps encounter more dissatisfaction and strife but also maybe experience more intense joy and satisfaction?


Deal Me In Challenge 2018 #2 ~ Queen of Spades





Tuesday, 11 September 2018

September .......

The summer has officially gone and the rain has begun, however as yet, not much of it ...... thankfully.  In some ways I'm glad to see its passing and in others, it leaves me slightly melancholic.




Because of the amount that I was working, my garden this year was rather pitiful with only some garlic (which is small because I didn't cut off the scapes in time), kale, herbs and some volunteer potatoes, although my fig tree had a fabulous crop of about 60 King Kadota figs and my quince tree, instead of its usual 6-8 quince has about 20-25. If you've never tried quince it's a much undervalued fruit because you need to cook it to eat it, but it has a wonderful flavour.  Click on this link for a recipe for Apple Quince Crisp if you want to give it a try.  You won't be disappointed.

My construction job is nearly completed which leaves me with a sad yet joyful feeling as well.  I must say that I made sure that I enjoyed every minute of it and made the most of it, but all good things must end and this too, as others.  Life has brought many changes lately and I'm not quite certain where this one will lead.  I'm sure I will find out all in good time.

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel


My reading this year has suffered more than in the whole entirety of my life.  I've finished 2 books ..... can you believe it?  TWO!  But I've begun many more however I haven't been able to get traction.  With the changes and busyness and confusion, I've remained reasonably unfocused yet, with some extra time lately, I've managed to start and keep on track with two reads: Bleak House and New York by Edward Rutherford.  I feel like I'm going to like this particular Dickens.  I also plan to add C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.  I've seen Udolpho mentioned a number of times on blogs lately, so I thought I would join the trend.  I think a silly gothic romance might be just the thing I need right now.

© Cleo @ Classical Carousel

I also just created an Instagram account for Classical Carousel.  I have Instagram for my food blog but I hadn't thought of it for my book blog.  But fortunately I'm now signed up. Please find me and follow me for a more day-to-day, week-to-week update of my reading adventures!

So keeping this short, I will sign off and hope for you all a wonderful September!


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Great Ideas ~ The Darwinian Theory of Man's Origin



From How Different Are Humans? we move to the Darwinian Theory of Man, the argument and evidence for his origin and nature.  While Darwin did not present his theory until his second book, The Descent of Man, he relied on his first book, Origin of Species for the truths of his theory.

This is a tough chapter with complex ideas so bear with me.  I'm going to use many of Adler's quotes. Darwin's argument in The Descent of Man is structured as follows:
  1. man differs only in degree from other animals;
  2. man's origin can be like that of other species;
  3. if man's origin were like that of other species, then missing links must have existed and must be discovered.
His whole argument is dependent on this first proposal being true; there can be no missing links if "there are no intermediate varieties possible between man and ape" and therefore no intermediate varieties are possible if man differs in "kind" from other animals, instead of by "degree".

Luckman protests that the scientific people he spoke with claim that there are only two positions: 1) a difference in degree only and; 2) that any differences in kind are always reducible to differences in degree.

Adler says that these people "beg the question" (begging the question is a logical fallacy when an argument's premises assume the truth of the conclusion instead of supporting it).  They are right if things only differ in degree but they cannot say that the difference between kind and degree is indiscernible.  They cannot say that a difference in kind is reducible or a difference in degree is large enough to make a divergence to kind.  They cannot say that the difference between kind and degree is unintelligible because the fact they recognize a difference exists, makes their argument unintelligible.

Adler goes on to answer questions and observations from letters he received that support his point.  Then he moves on to the question, "how does man differ from other animals with or without intermediates, intermediate varieties?"


Ape in the Orange Grove (1910)
Henri Rousseau
source Wikiart

The Main Point of Darwin's Theory


Both Hume and Kant noted that man differs from other animals by degree alone with intermediate varieties hundreds of years before Darwin.  So what did Darwin add to the insistence on difference in degree?  He took their point and expanded it to theorize about man's origin which brought about his theory of evolution.

There are three main points to his theory:
  1. from generation to generation organisms vary by hereditary
  2. there is an accumulation and persistence of extreme variety
  3. this persistence of extreme variety is accompanied by the extinction of intermediate varieties (if this was not so, there'd be no origin of species)

In Darwin's own words, "On the theory of natural selection the extinction of old forms and the production of new are intimately connected ... The only distinction between species and well-marked varieties is that the latter are known or believed to be connected at the present day with intermediate graduations. .... numberless intermediate varieties linking closley together all the species of the same group most assuredly have existed.  The number of intermediate and transitional links between all living and extant species must have been inconceivably great.  Yet, if this theory is true, they must have all existed at the same time on earth, linking together all the species in each group by graduation as fine as our existing varieties."

Adler states that if all the intermediate varieties co-existed at the same time today as the other species, there would be no species because "you would have a continuous connection of one with another."  Darwin claims the extinct fossil remains connecting man to ape exist, but simply haven't been discovered yet.  Under the assumption that man differs only in degree from apes, then the fossil remains do indeed form the missing link. Adler then lists man along with four anthropoid apes.

Man and Ape (2013)
Stanley Pinker
source Wikiart


Mental Differences Between Apes and Humans


The fossil remains are often reconstructions from a few bones, in particular the jawbone or skull bones and only point to a physical resemblance between man and ape. Luckman points out there are physiological and embryological resemblances as well and Adler agrees, but in addition to resemblances, there are enormous differences.  Yet he asks, scientifically how is ape separated from man?  The species of man is Homo sapien, therefore being sapient enough to have the intelligence to become wise and that is the main point; the mental difference is what is important, not the physical similarities or differences. The most important question remains; are the differences between man and ape kind or degree, and are they bridgeable?  If they are, the fossil remains can be missing links but if they are not, the fossil remains prove nothing.  Then, even if evolution can account for the origin of man's body, it cannot account for the origin of man's mind.

Luckman asks from a letter he received, why a highly rational species cannot have evolved fom a less-developed one.  Adler also points to another letter that asks why God cannot have created a rational man from a rationally undeveloped ape.  There is also a speculation of a new "ingredient" being added at the moment of man's origin, separating him from ape.

Allegory: boy lighting a candle in the company of an ape and a fool - Fábula (c. 1590)
El Greco
source Wikiart

Alder circles back to Darwin's argument which did not depend on the anatonomical or physiological resemblances, but man's mental development, knowing full well his argument would not stand if the two were not linked.  He quotes Darwin's words: "My object is to show that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties.  Animals possess the power of reasoning just as much as men do ..." He says they can speak abstractly, understand human speech, etc. He claims though if there is a difference mentally, it is only of degree.

Next time, Adler says he will share more of Darwin's reasoning, and add to it evidence that has been done since then in animal learning, speech and thought, which he says gives strong evidence for the evolutionary theory.  However, if this evidence was indisputable, the matter would have ended  But Adler says it can be disputed and he will present equally compelling evidence in the next discussion, The Answer to Darwin.

My apologies for the length of the post.  It helped me to try to get my head around Adler's ideas, and of course, Darwin's. I hope it didn't put the rest of you to sleep! :-)






Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Books to Pull You Out of A Reading Slump

Well, I'm doing a little more reading lately but haven't finished anything to post, so I thought I would participate in this week's Top Ten Tuesday to keep some sort of momentum on this blog.

I don't often get into a complete reading slump.  If I get bored with a genre, I will sometimes switch to another.  But I can IMAGINE the books I would chose if I actually did experience a full-on slump (perish the thought). So here they are:



1.  I Capture the Castle: what a funny, whimsical read.  Definitely a book to pull you in and lull you into an unique yet engaging story.




2.  Swallows and Amazons:  this is a children's book but is sooo enjoyable to read as an adult.  Summer vacation, sailing, camping, and even a pirate.  What could be more fun to read?




3.  Pride and Prejudice:  one of my favourites.  I love the conflict that turns into harmony.  Definitely a book to grab your imagination, especially if you are interested in human nature.



4.  Three Men in a Boat:  get prepared to laugh uproariously.  Jerome outdoes himself with this story of three bachelors and their dog during their boating trip along the River Thames.




5.  Finn Family Moomintroll:  cute white hippo-like creatures, a beautiful Snork Maiden, and a magic hat.  What could tickle your imagination more than that?




6.  The Moonstone:  a crime is committed in an English country house .... a stolen diamond.  Where is the jewel and who is the thief?  Collins weaves a masterful piece of detective fiction.




7.  Jane Eyre: a little dark, nevertheless the story is so compelling and the life lessons so important (not the mention the romance) that it is one I just have to include!




8.  To Kill A Mockingbird:  A fabulous book.  Just read it!




9.  The Hobbit: an adventure shared with friends.  Tolkien's writing is magic.




10.  And finally ...... Henrietta's War: humorous vignettes from a small Devonshire village during WWII set in epistolary form.  It gives a light-hearted view of a very serious subject yet does so with insight and thoughtfulness.

As I finish my list, I realize how difficult this question is to answer and how personal this list would be for everyone.  And it also depends WHY you are in a reading slump.  Have you been reading tomes and need something lighter?  Or have you been reading fluff and need your mind challenged?  Or have you been over-reading and simply need a break?

My problem lately is that I have so much going on and feel so scattered that my reading reflects my life; I pick up a book, read a bit, then pick up another book, read a bit, etc.  If anyone has a remedy for this problem, I'm all ears!