Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Year: Nm 28-30 for Feb 17

If your mind is like a computer you may remember some of these sacrifices from Leviticus, listed in Nm 28 and 29. Nm 30 should get more attention than it does, in light of Mt 5:33.

What is different is the context. Theologians sometimes use a fancy German word for that, at least, one of the types of context that there are. New contexts are discovered seemingly every day ... ;)

What might be different to the human brain reading along is the summary nature of some of these sacrifices. The writer knows that we have seen these festivals before, in Lv 16 and 23. The context is the imminent entry of the Israelites into the promised land (Nm 27:12-14). The times of these festivals are given, for identification, and most of the names -- but not the explanations of their significance, as was given when first described, say, for example, in Ex 12. There is a 40-year tradition at this point, going on.

It very well could be that we are being told, in a subtle way, about the practices of a tradition having a life of their own, and all the while, the meanings behind their institution not be as fully specified as at the beginning. Ad fontes! Go to the source, the beginnings, of a movement, to see where it got its initial energy from. Forty years later, you might, through no fault, or perhaps through fault, of their own, not find the original meanings spelled out.

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