The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Notebook

Normally at this time I'd be complaining about the Brewers' slow start, or the Admirals playoff woes (which, at this point, there are none), or on some other topic of general interest to sport (LeBron James deserved the MVP award in the NBA).

However, today I'm going to be talking about something else: notes.

I don't know about you, but if I think something's important, I write it down. I usually grab some paper, a pen and start writing. Lately, I've gotten into the habit of sitting down in front of the computer, book propped open in front of me (aside: anyone who can find me a book holder that can do that for me would be appreciated greatly - and twice that if you can get it for me...) and copying my notes into Microsoft Word. It's how I did it with The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

Back in the old days, though, I wasn't fussy about where I wrote notes. In fact, I think I'm like many of us who went to church and bible studies and wrote in the margins of our Bibles. Back on Saturday night, I decided to sit down with my old Ryrie NIV Study Bible and copy down the notes I had in the margins into a separate notebook.

I knew for a fact that I would likely have much, much, much more in the way of notes in the New Testament than in the Old - and I'm pretty much dead on with that. I managed to wind my way through the entire OT - not reading every page, mind you, but just skimming to find the tell-tale sign of ink on the pages. I had a habit back in the days of my youth of preferring ink rollerball pens, which are nice for writing - they give you a feel of using a "real" ink pen, at least to me. However, they tend to bleed through most paper - and they definitely bleed through the thin pages of most Bibles.

All in all, I had 22 1/2 pages of notes on the 39 books of the OT. Thanks to Pastor Nathan James, I had 3 1/2 of those on the book of Hosea. 11 of the books, though, had no notes at all: Ruth, 2nd Chronicles, Nehimiah, Lamentations (yeah, I never was crazy about Jeremiah's wailings), Joel, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Malachi. I was somewhat surprised at that last one, because I thought I had noted some of the last verses in Malachi.

So 22 1/2 pages on 28 of the 39 books of the Bible. That sounds like a lot, but keep this in mind: I've only gotten through three of the Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark and Luke), and I've already got nine full pages of notes. I can pretty much assert that I'll have much more in the way of notes on the NT than the OT. I commented to Sarah in church about how hard it was for me to read when we were doing a series on the book of James - because I had practically every word of the first two chapters already underlined and highlighted!

Anyways, there were some really neat things that I've come across in my transcriptions so far. One of them was, of all things, a song. In the book of Numbers, the tribes of Israel were on the verge of entering the Promised Land, as they were sitting at the Desert of Paran. God told Moses to have one of the leaders from each of the tribes go into the land and explore it, spying out the fruits, trees and soil of the land; and the people who live there and the cities they live in.

In the narrative, each of the 12 men were listed by their tribe. At the end of the list, it was noted that the representative from the half-tribe of Ephriam was given a different name by Moses. We know from his words earlier in the book of Exodus that Moses was "slow of speech and slow of tongue", so it's possible that Moses, due to his speech impediment, couldn't say "Hoshea" properly. Either way, Moses gave him the appellation Yah-Shua - what we call in English "Joshua".

An aside: Joshua isn't the only Yah-Shua in the Bible, of course; by the time of the return of the Jews to Palestine, the name of the other "Joshua" had been shortened to Yeh-Shu, which the Greco-Roman alphabet shortened to IESU, and then later (when "J" was added to the alphabet) Jesus.

Anyways, 12 men went to spy on Canaan. What do you think they saw in Canaan? Well... some saw giants, big and tall - or is that big and strong? Some saw grapes of clusters long. But some, like (assumably) Joshua and the elder Caleb from the tribe of Judah saw God was in it all.

"We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." was Caleb's statement to Moses and the people. Unfortunately, this was drowned out by the cries of the other 10 elders, who started circulating rumors about the giants who roamed the land they explored. When Joshua and Caleb tried to make their case for taking the land - the people of Israel considered stoning them. In the end, the 10 who were bad ended up dying of the plague after 40 more years of wandering through the desert in Sinai - while Joshua and Caleb, the two who were good, ended up leading Israel into the Promised Land. Unfortunately, all of Israel suffered because they believed the 10 that were bad over the two that were good.

And that was where the song comes in:

Twelve men went to spy on Canaan
10 were bad and two were good
What do you think they saw in Canaan?
10 were bad and two were good
Some saw giants big and strong
Some saw grapes of clusters lo-ong
Some saw God above it all
10 were bad and two were good

I might be a bit off on some of the lyrics; I've seen "giants big and tall/grapes from clusters fall" in Google searches instead of strong/long. Still - that song got lodged in my brain over the weekend. I think it might even take over the vaunted title of "song dislodger" from Abba's "Take A Chance On Me."

Back to the story: Joshua apparently didn't forget about the public relations loss from this incident at Kadesh in Paran. This was evident when he became the leader of the Israelites after Moses died - and he sent only two spies into Jericho to look over the land.

Anyhow - I'm having fun with this transcribing. I've already peeked ahead, and I believe that of the 66 books of the Bible, I've got notes on 52 of them - and that's just in this Bible alone. (The other three books are the second book of Peter, the third book of John, and the "forgotten" epistle of Jude.)

I hope to write a few more of my findings in a blog or two over the next few weeks as time permits. To me, it's like finding something you had hidden up in the attic from your childhood.