Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Reader's Diary #791- The Good News Bible: Isaiah

Reading the Book of Isaiah felt like a very long game of That's Good/ That's Bad. You know the game best illustrated in the Simpsons' "Tree House of Horror III" episode:

Shopkeeper: [Homer has agreed to purchase a Krusty doll for Bart's birthday] Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
Homer: Ooh, that's bad.
Shopkeeper: But it comes with a free frogurt!
Homer: That's good.
Shopkeeper: The frogurt is also cursed.
Homer: That's bad.
Shopkeeper: But you get your choice of toppings.
Homer: That's good!
Shopkeeper: The toppings contain potassium benzoate.
[Homer looks puzzled]
Shopkeeper: ...That's bad.
Homer: Can I go now?

Except in the book of Isaiah, it's without the humor, the good things have been replaced by God's promise of a glorious future and the bad things have been replaced by God's wrath. It just seems to go back and forth. As a character, God is certainly hard to get a handle on in the Book of Isaiah.

From a historical standpoint, it's more than a bit disheartening. I hate to generalize an entire region, but there are certainly pockets of the middle East that have seemingly been fighting forever. To read the Old Testament and see that that the areas and people who were fighting back then are much the same as the ones that are still involved with so much hostility, it's enough to make one want to throw up his hands in frustration. If you've been at war for thousands of years, isn't it a cultural norm at this point? How can something this ingrained ever be stopped?

Another point of interest in the Book of Isaiah was all the talk about other gods. It's not the first Bible book in which other gods are mentioned and I always find them fascinating when they are. In this particular book, however, the idea of one god is really hammered home. Yet I'm a little surprised, especially considering that the Bible has been interpreted six ways to Sunday, that lines such as "besides me there is no god" haven't been read to mean "besides me there is no god for you," meaning that there are other gods out there but they're for other people. Then, this is more of a theology question and at this point that's a depth far deeper than I'm intending to read. Still, curious, is it not?

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that I would rather read the Simpsons's version, but then I have never been good at keeping my begats straight.