Biblical Quizzes for Really Smart People
Quiz III--Movies II
Quiz VII--X rated
Quiz VIII--X rated
Quiz X- The Numbers
Quiz XXIX (Messiah)
Quiz XXX (Messiah II)
Quiz XXXI (Mess. III)
Quiz XXXII (Mess. IV)
Quiz XL--vivid images
Quiz LIX--weird doct.
Quiz LXV--doctrine II
Bible Quizzes for Smart People LVIII
Bill Long 2/22/07
Sometimes the Bible just seems to have a way of saying things that arrests our attention or even makes us smile. Let's look at a few of these passags or quotations today.
1. "I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz son of Zadok."
We often say when we see someone from a distance, "That looks like XXX." Or, more elegantly, "The unmistakable gait of XXX could be dimly limned through the fog." This Biblical passage says the same sort of thing but, to me, says it in a way that is more delightful than our usual modes of speaking. David and a sentinel are sitting around, waiting for news from the "front." Instead of carrier pigeons or a telegraph message, they have to wait for "runners" to bring the news. They scan the horizon. A figure appears. At first they cannot determine his features, but they can see how he is running. Well, they know who it is long before you can discern his features. How? Well, by the way his legs or arms move; by the way he jerks his head; by the angle of his body, etc. Rather than saying "By George, it looks like Ahimaaz," the author has the sentinel say the bolded words above. I think we can use this verse figuratively when we see someone doing almost anything distinctive of them. Why limit it just to "running?" We can say it of a person's distinctive writing style or of other "traces" of the individual. "The writing of the words is like the writing of Bill.." or some such thing. Well, that's enough on this one. Where do you find it?
2. "A certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness; wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, 'Turn thy hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded,'" KJV. The NRSV has lost the nice phrase (at a venture) by translating it, "But a certain man drew his bow and unknowingly struck the king of Israel.."
Focusing on the KJV for a moment actually takes us on an interesting word journey. The OED says that "at a venture" (and it cites this passage) is "improperly printed." Originally the phrase was aventure and this was derived from "at adventure." The word "adventure" in English is derived from the Latin verb advenire meaning to "come upon (someone)" or "to happen." The first appearance of the word adventure in English was in the 13th century, and it meant "that which comes to us, or happens without design; chance, hap, fortune, luck." From 1587: "As for adventure or chance it is nothing else but disorder and confusion." Or, in Richard Hooker's 1594 Of the lawes of ecclesiasticall politie, we have the following: "Infants..whom the cruelty of unnatural parents casteth out and leaveth to the adventure of uncertain pity." Thus the proper way to say what the KJV wanted to say was that a person drew a bow "at adventure" or "at adventures" or even "aventure." It means that he drew it at random or at hazard. Maybe this will help us restore the original meaning of "adventure" to our speech. Probably not, but at least I can try! Where do you find this verse?
3. "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The parents (KJV--fathers) have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?' As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel."
In another Biblical book we have similar words: "In those days they shall no longer say: 'The parents (KJV--fathers) have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge."
Two observations are important. The first is that the proverb must have had some rare staying power if two Biblical writers independently thought they had to try to attack it. It had staying power because it makes a lot of sense. We might say, using another Bible passage (where is it?), "for whatever a person sows, that also will he reap," which means that you are only "responsible" for the things that you do. But, secondly, the older you get the more you realize that people are figuratively, and sometimes literally, doomed by choices made by their parents. The parents eat the sour grapes--i.e., they have bad habits, they are violent, they don't know how to care for a child, they are drug addicts--and the children's teeth are set on edge, which means that the children "feel" or experience the results of their parents' actions or inactions. So, which will we have? Are we more sympathetic to a view of life that only holds you responsible for your own actions or do we also continue to think that the inheritance from parents is not only of facial or temperamental features but also of more debilitating things? Certainly we agree that you shouldn't serve time in prison if your parent robs a bank (though you shouldn't also be able to pocket the dough); but the issue of how parents' actions and lives affect children is a controversial one. These two biblical authors want to "wipe the slate clean," so to speak, by emphsizing the importance of personal (and not familial) responsibility. Where do you find each?
4. "And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to the heaven.."
So powerful and long-lasting was the effect of this biblical picture that Jesus played with it in the following verse, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." Well, actually, Jesus doesn't refer to a ladder in this passage, but the "picture" that I receive from Jesus' words is of a series of angels going "up and down" on him, possibly on some kind of divine escalator or ladder. But who was it that dreamed about a ladder reaching to the heavens? "We are climbing Jacob's ladder," says the hymn. Any ideas? Well, I think this verse entered the religious imagination because it presents a way that heaven and earth can be linked. People are always interested in narrowing the distance between God and the world; a ladder to heaven is an attractive way to do it.
5. "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind."
This verse lies at the heart of Jesus' message in one of the four Gospels. In other words, this Evangelist sees Jesus as coming to help the "little ones," those who have no pretensions that they are high and mighty, or that they are deserving of any "breaks" in life. Jesus speaks of the poor as blessed; his mother speaks of Jesus' coming as an occasion for removing the exalted from their thrones and lifting up those of low degree. Jesus speaks of the importance of release for the captives, for recovery of sight for the blind. Thus, this verse is not only a good "quiz" verse, it tries to get to the heart of Jesus' message. Where do you find this verse?