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December 9, 2022 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Friday Noon Study Group
December 2, 12-1
On November 18, our discussion of Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews began with our examination of some loose ends from Chapter 2:
what Cahill meant by calling Abraham “the contingent one” (dependence upon an inscrutable God provided that he met certain conditions)
what is our understanding of “fear of this God . . . is the beginning of wisdom” (fear = “awe and reverence” and not “terror or dread” and “to see the face of God” (not meant to be taken literally, but simply “to be in the presence of the divine”
We then moved on to a discussion of Chapter 3 which began with a consideration of Cahill’s understanding of how Abraham and his heirs imagine God and their obligation to Him differently from the Sumerians and their “sacred copulation rites.”
The God of Abraham is not “the usual mythological creature whose intentions can be read in auguries”; He “gives and takes beyond human reasoning or justification.”
“Faith supplants the generalized predictability of the ancient world.”
“Time is no longer cyclical [i.e. linear] but one-way and irreversible; personal history is now possible and an individual life can have value.”
“God . . . is a real personality who has intervened in real history, changing its course and robbing it of predictability.”
We then examined Moses’s initial encounter with God, and its significance and Cahill’s definitions of how God identifies Himself/YHVH: 1) “I am who am” (Existence or “He who causes things to be”); 2) “I am who I am” (“None of your business; you can’t control me”); “I will be there with you” (God’s presence continues in His creation).
We concluded with a brief consideration of Exodus 4:25 in which Moses’s wife, Zipporah, performs the functions of a mohel (person who performs circumcisions). For an interesting discussion of this enigmatic episode, see https://www.gotquestions.
When we resume our Zoom meetings on Friday, December 2, we’ll conclude our discussion of Chapter 3, looking at Moses’s encounter with Pharaoh, Cahill’s claim that “this narrative delegitimizes all political structures of the ancient world” and the author’s interpretation of the crossing of the Red/Reed Sea. We’ll then discuss Chapter 4, “From Life to Death.”
Our informal discussion group meets via Zoom every Friday from 12-1. The Zoom link is available through CBI’s web site and weekly announcements. All are welcome to attend regardless of their level of expertise. If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at firstname.lastname@example.org.