The Gospel Ring (1)

It’s been quite some time since my last post. Perhaps I should apologise but it wouldn’t be entirely sincere. I’ve been enjoying myself far too much to even begin to be sorry.

The fun started when I forgot a significant item of information I wanted for my next book. I could remember reading somewhere that John the apostle identifies himself as the author of the fourth gospel by using a unique placement. His signoff as ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ mirrors the testimony of John the Baptist at the beginning. This bookending identifies the writer as John.

Well, being unable to remember where I’d read this, I tried googling it. No joy. I remembered the technical name for this mirror technique was chiasmus and tried that as well. Lots of different examples of mirror episodes in John’s gospel turned up but not the particular matter I wanted. After quite a bit of searching, I began to realise that the lists of chiastic scenes were rarely the same. So I created my own list by putting together the ones I’d found. And that’s when I noticed something fascinating: the names almost always match.

It’s not just the testimony of John the apostle mirroring that of John the Baptist.

It’s a scene involving Mary the mother of Jesus mirroring one with Mary Magdalene.

It’s a scene with Nicodemus matching another with the same Nicodemus.

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The Nest of God

What do all the following Scriptural verses have in common?

  1. Jacob, however, went to Succoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Succoth.’ Genesis 33:17 NIV
  2. The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.’ Exodus 12:37 NIV
  3. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Matthew 17:4 NIV

They all mention ‘Succoth’ meaning shelters, tabernacles or booths. As Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, draws to a close, it’s appropriate to look deeper into the context of each of these events.

  • Jacob had only just received his new name, Israel, and passed over the ford of Jabbok. This is his first stopping place, after parting from his brother Esau.
  • The Israelites had only just received their new identity as God’s chosen people and celebrated the very first Passover. Succoth was their first stopping place after parting from the Egyptians.
  • Simon had only just received his new name, Peter, and gone with Jesus up a high mountain. In asking Jesus about building shelters, he was simply pointing out what God himself had commanded for this day: the building of temporary booths or tabernacles.

The thrice-repeated pattern here is of (1) a new name, (2) passing over a threshold (which in the last case is encoded in the name ‘Cephas’ or ‘Peter’) and (3) stopping to rest and build shelters.

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The Belt of Truth 3

I didn’t do anything illegal.’

Over the last few years, as various officials in high office have been accused of criminal behaviour, I’ve listened carefully to their language.

Their defence is never ‘I didn’t do it.’ Instead it’s the subtly nuanced ‘I didn’t do anything unlawful.’ Or some variation on that theme which emphasises legality rather than morality.

This reaction is fascinating. No one has been prepared to add public lies to secret sins. There’s obviously a paramount desire to retain some personal integrity through a carefully–edited version of the truth. In fact, I’m sure many of the officials concerned would feel able to state with perfect conviction that they are scrupulously honest!

These situations highlight the importance of individual perception when it comes to the law.

Oftentimes I’ve read that the Ten Commandments are not substantially different from a multitude of ancient (and earlier) legal systems such as the Code of Hammurabi, Code of Ur–Nammu or Laws of Eshnunna. That the laws Moses gave the Israelites had precedents all the way across the Middle East.

Joel Hoffman, however, in his significant book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning (with which I disagree passionately in parts) makes a very shrewd point. The Ten Commandments are unique. They are one–of–a–kind because they simply say: ‘Don’t lie.’ ‘Don’t kill.’ ‘Don’t steal.’

Because it’s wrong. Period. No arguments. No excuses.

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DM Cornish

The lightning-wielding fulgar, Europe—the Branden Rose and Duchess-in-waiting of Naimes—threw caution to the winds at the end of Book 2, Lamplighter, to rescue Rossamünd from the hands of the black habilist, Grotius Swill.

Although Rossamünd was accused of being a monster—even his name gave away his origin as a rossamünderling, a manikin, a creature born of mud from the dark fens who has all the appearance of a human child—Europe has taken him into her service as her personal factotum. Europe is a terrifying teratologist—a monster-hunter—so it is with considerable anxiety Rossamünd awaits the results of a cruorpunxis, a monster-blood tattoo, stamped on the arm of Fransitart, his old master from the foundlingery.

Will the mark come up after a fortnight? What will it reveal? Is he man or monster?

While waiting back in the city of Brandenbrass, Rossamünd comes to the attention of Pater Maupin, the owner of a gambling den and fighting pit where dogs and monsters duel to the death. Pitying the more kindly-natured creatures trapped there, Rossamünd creates a diversion that helps them escape. Spotted, he is pursued and almost killed; he is saved only by the intervention of the Lapinduce, the Duke of Rabbits, an eons-old monster who lives in a quiet wood in the very heart of the depraved city.

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BORDERLAND ~ A Trilogy: Re–entry —  Jihad —  Cameleer

Rosanne Hawke

Lothian Books

The thread stitching these three stories together is the character of Jaime Richards, an Australian girl brought up in Pakistan. In Re-entry, she experiences an unexpected homesickness for her adopted country and a deep sense of dislocation as her family relocate back to Australia. Everything is strange and she feels both confusion and loss as the awkwardness of adolescence vies with the awkwardness that comes from cultural ignorance.

To express her feelings, Jaime begins to write a journal but it soon becomes a flight of romantic fancy. Her teacher astutely identifies the mysterious stranger in it as an idealised personification of Pakistan itself.

As she slowly begins to unravel the mysterious language cues of her own culture, real friendships start to develop. Danny and Blake both come from a background of colliding cultures and are able to help her come to terms with her mixture of feelings.

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