Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It is Finished

My Rousseau Paper is finished, I may twiddle with some grammar and such, but it is more or less done!
Ahhh. That means all I have left tomorrow is to read a couple of things for creative writing. Mmmm.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The first draft of the Falk paper is done

And the best part is it is only 4:10PM the night before, as opposed to 5AM the morning of!
The message of the Fourteenth Chapter of the Book of Zechariah is very powerful; it is at least as powerful as the creation stories in Genesis. In fact these two texts are curiously intertwined. This end of the Book of Zechariah can be looked at as a sort of return to the world of Genesis one, and yet at the same time Genesis going in reverse; creation contracts in on itself returning to the one. This has some startling consequences, but first some background.
Zechariah chapter 14, verses 1-11 are part of a larger prophetic section of the Book of Zechariah known as Second Zechariah. Second Zechariah encompasses Zechariah chapters 9-14. Unlike First Zechariah, which can, at least theoretically, be dated precisely from 520BCE to 518BCE, dating of Second Zechariah can be very problematic as it is, “almost completely bereft of an identifiable historical context.” Still, that has not stopped people from trying to figure out when Second Zechariah was written. What makes things even more difficult is that many scholars think chapters 9-14 were not all written at the same time nor by the same authors. D. L. Petersen, a commentator writing at the same time the Anchor Bible of Zechariah 9-14 was being written, tends to think chapters 9-11 should be grouped together into a single booklet, as should chapters 12-14. Second Zechariah has been dated from the eight century BCE to 333BCE when Alexander the Great invaded Palestine. At bare minimum Second Zechariah was written in the post-exilic period.
While First and Second Zechariah are quite different works in a lot of ways they do share some very similar features. Brevard Childs “believes that this compatibility is due to the fact that the same authoritative scriptures, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, lie behind both sections.” Still, some see Zechariah 9-11,12-14, and Malachi, not First and Second Zechariah, as sections of one prophetic body of work, each new section of prophecy accented with the word “oracle.” Paul Lamarche views Zecharaiah chapter 14 as the ending section of a Chiasmus started in chapter nine, thus pinning some sort of structural unity to Second Zechariah. Second Zechariah starts with the judgment and salvation of neighboring peoples and chapter 14 ends it with the judgment and salvation of all nations (Italic mine).
The name Zechariah, contains the Hebrew words (rkz) and (hy) the first word meaning remember and the second pointing to the divine name, so the name means something like the LORD remembers. This name was, “a common name… especially among the priests and Levites in the post-exilic period.” This fits with how Paul Hanson sees the author/authors of Second Zechariah; to him they are “a group of disenfranchised Levites who were struggling against the ruling hierocratic party for control of governmental and spiritual affairs of the early post-exilic community in Jerusalem.” Paul Tarazi takes this one step further and sees these angry Levites as attacking priestly definitions of purity.
Being that this was written post-exile, the author is dealing with disappointment with the return from the Exile, which did not live up to Deutero-Isaiah’s vision. As Tarazi writes, “the New Jerusalem had already been aborted.” This is probably what led the author from the genre of prophecy to that of apocalypse (though this claim is hard to maintain as there is no heavenly being interacting with the author.). The prophetic justice he sought had not arrived even after the Return, so a more God’s eye view of the world was necessary, one where he could see God acting decisively in history and changing the way of things. If this is not an apocalypse it is at least a major transition point from Prophecy to Apocolypticism.
One of the things that were changed was the very physical geography of Jerusalem. The boundaries of Jerusalem were no longer those of a city , but instead the capital involved all Judah, from Geba to Rimmon. Secondly, “the Mount of Olives, which is, in reality higher than the Mount of Zion, becomes only an archway for the victor-warrior to enter his city. Indeed, everything outside Jerusalem is merely level ground for God on his way to Jerusalem.” Finally, there is the mention of the earthquake in the day of Uzziah, this is also referenced in Amos 1:1.
There are a few phrases in Zechariah 14 that need to be defined in some way shape or form. They are “a day is coming for the LORD”(14:1), and “the LORD will be one and his name one”(14:9).
This first phrase is on one hand an eschatological term about a day in the future when the LORD intervenes ultimately in history. On the other hand the events of the exile and the destruction of the temple were viewed as the “day” so when post-exilic prophets referred to “the day” they referred to the completion of what had been started by those previous events.
The second phrase affirming the oneness of the LORD is interesting as well. “The LORD will be one,” goes back to the Shema, “Hear O Israel; the LORD our God, the LORD is One.”(Deut. 6:4). It is an affirmation of “Israelite monotheism.” That the LORD’s name shall be one too is where one can step out of the narrow ghetto of Israelite religion and into a wider ancient Near Eastern, or even Greek, frame of reference. Cyrus H. Gordon of Brandeis University takes “his name one,” literally. That is “the numeral (dxa) “1” will be the official name of God in the End of Days.” Gordon cites numerous ancient deities as examples of god with numbers as names, including Gemini the double god, and Amon-Re, who is also known as, “the one ‘ONE.’” He also sees this focus on oneness as related to Greek philosophical thought about the Prime Mover. In fact the philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon was the first Greek to identify The God, with the One.
At base the message of Zechariah 14 is this. Some really bad things are going to happen to Jerusalem; the whole world will be against it. This oppression is from God. Then God will intervene saving those who survive the cataclysm that had enveloped Jerusalem. This will change the geography of the battlefield, raising Jerusalem up and flattening out the areas surrounding it. This change then expands, changing weather patterns, the patterns of night and day, and it will create new rivers. Jerusalem will become a Theocracy with God as king and the borders of Jerusalem will be expanded, and protected.
While it goes beyond the scope of verse 1-11 it seems right to finish summarizing the events of the last chapter of Zechariah. Just as the people of Jerusalem were afflicted by God, God turns on those nations who attacked Jerusalem. They are afflicted with plague and drought. The survivors of this will worship God enthroned in Jerusalem, those who do not will be punished. Finally all things, from the bells of horses to the common cooking pot, will be made as holy as the bowls used for temple sacrifice. The God of Israel will be able to be worshipped everywhere.
The last chapter of Zechariah is packed with allusions to the first Creation story in Genesis. It is like there is a, “re-creation of social, political, ecological, and cosmic structures on Yahweh’s day.” At times, these verses can also be viewed as if the Genesis one story has been put on video and the reader is watching it rewind.
In verse four of Zechariah 14 we have our first allusion to the creation account. The first creation story, the priestly account, in Genesis is a demythed version of other ancient creation myths where a god would rip a defeated enemy’s body asunder and create the world from it. In verse four the LORD stands against the nations and in doing so he rips asunder the Mount of Olives.
In verse six of Zechariah there is a phrase that is often translated, “cold or frost,” but quite literally it should read “there shall not be light.” The MT (Masoretic text) reads “roAa hyhy-la” but most translators have amended it to (rWa) and translate it to mean heat or flame. What if “there shall be no light” refers to “the lights in the dome of the sky” that “separate the day from the night.”(Gen. 1:14) This would make some sense, especially since verse seven reads, “And there shall be continuous day… not day and not night.” This fits well, especially considering that previous to Genesis 1:14 there was still light. What is happening here may be that on the Day of the LORD the Cosmos itself is reverting back to the first day of creation when God created light!
In verse eight of Zechariah water springs from Jerusalem and is split, half flowing east and half west. This is again looking back to the ancient tradition of the creator defeating and splitting cosmic waters; thus this verse points to “Yahweh’s universal rule, mythically portrayed in divine control over cosmic waters.” That is not all it does though, it also reinterprets Genesis 2:6, where “a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground.”
The phrase, “the LORD will be one and his name one,” has already been discussed above to some extent. Yet, looking at this phrase in light of Genesis one it can be interpreted as all of creation, which per Plotinus, “are extant by reason of The One,” return to the One, and all that remain is God, “in the beginning.” That Zechariah does not end right at the word (dxa) makes this interpretation rather weak, although intriguing.
Once again overstepping the bounds of verses 1-11 the festival that God wants the remnant of both Jew and Gentile to keep is the festival of booths. This is a festival that lasts seven days, and happens on the seventh month, and involves complete rest on it’s first and eighth day (Lev. 23:39-43). This echoes Genesis 2:2, where on the seventh day of creation God rests.
Zechariah, seen in light of creation, leads toward one main conclusion, equality. economic equality, destruction of hierarchy and equality of purity. The rough land, which is bad for farming, has been flattened out so it is plowable. Also the abundance of water from the Jerusalem, and the constant light, will destroy the “inevitable and habitual disparity in the productivity of agrarian units,” thus creating, “conditions optimal for social harmony and stability. Resources would be equally and abundantly available to all.” Through this new creation the hierarchy that Tarazi writes plagued the post-exilic era will come to an end, because the priests will no longer have a monopoly on purity. Instead, “every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts.” In fact the gentiles too will be pure enough to worship God enthroned in Jerusalem. There are no more “traders/Canaanites in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day” (Zec 14:22) because they are now as pure as the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Famous Athiest becomes Deist

Also here is the answer to why we can't recruite enough soldier. "There's a bottom line to the recruiting debate. People don't want to die."
Well, back to the grindstone. I'm going to work til midnight, sleep, and work some more.