Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ones You Didn't Hear in Sunday School

Some Bible stories are better-known than others.  Even people without a strong religious background have probably heard of David and Goliath, or Jonah and the Whale, or the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  They’re part of our Western Cultural Heritage, like Cinderella or Snow White or Star Wars: The New Hope.

But how many people have heard about Dinah and the Shechemites?  Or Abigail and her Really Stupid Husband?  Or the Parable of the Sleazy Embezzler?

There are some stories in the Bible that are not widely known. They don't often come up in Sunday School; sometimes because they are too violent, sometimes because they have sex in them; sometimes because they are disturbing and have no easy morals to apply; and sometimes they're just plain weird. Sometimes these stories present challenges to the Christian Faith because they seem to contradict what we want to believe.

Whether difficult or disturbing, confusing or confounding, lewd or just plain ludicrous; all these stories are a part of our religious heritage.  Whether we like it or not.

Personally, I like stories; and I like telling them.  In this blog I intend to tell someof the Orphans of Scripture, the tales that get shuffled to the back.  As I tell them, I’ll try to give a little bit of background to each.  I don’t promise to explain them; I don’t think I’m wise enough to do that, but I will discuss some of the interpretations that rabbis, theologians and scholars have given them over the years as they wrestled with these problem tales.  I hope my telling of these stories might lead the Reader to pick up the Bible himself and see what weirdness he can find.

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