A fairly short section this week, since I spent two days at another office, so my bag was an overnight one rather than my usual work bag, hence no Bible reading.
When I left off last week, the Acts of the Apostles had turned into The Ongoing Tales of Paul’s Preaching, but I guess that was too catchy for the Bible. After the Acts we move on to the Epistle to the Romans. In Dutch it is De Brief van Paulus aan de Romeinen, which means ‘the letter from Paul to the Romans’.
After Paul’s capture and subsequent two-year imprisonment, in Acts 27 he is finally sent on to the emperor in Rome. Except the boat runs into trouble and is shipwrecked, and only after many trials and tribulations do they all finally arrive in Rome. Anyone else might interpret that as a sign from God that he doesn’t want you to go to Rome, but Paul is mainly grateful that God spared everyone. Plus he has a hotline to Him via the Holy Ghost, who told him not to fear because he (Paul that is) was destined to stand before the emperor, so nothing too bad was going to happen.
Speaking of the Holy Ghost, I can’t resist this xkcd comic:
Anyway, Paul now moves on to lecturing various peoples by means of long-winded letters, starting with the Romans. It starts off well, since in the first chapter he already admonishes the people who have abandoned God, for they have exchanged the natural intercourse with the unnatural. And that’s not just men, women too! So far the Bible has been concentrating on male homosexuality, but clearly the female version is taboo as well.
I must admit that I found this epistle to be full of incomprehensible prattle and twisted logic. Case in point: Romans 2, verse 12-14. ‘Because all who have sinned without the law will be lost without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law; because not those who hear the law are righteous with God, but those who act the law shall be justified. When then heathens, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law commands, then they are, even without the law, a law to themselves.’
This would possibly make a lot more sense if I were reading a more modern translation of the Bible, but as it stands it’s gobbledygook.
Paul then goes on to say that circumcision is pointless; following the law is circumcision of the heart. Given how obsessed God was with trimming penises in the Old Testament, I find this a little fishy. Paul’s explanation is also a perfect example of twisted logic: God chose Abraham to be the father of His people, because of his faith. And was he circumcised when God chose him for this? No, he wasn’t! Therefore circumcision isn’t necessary, because it doesn’t make you a believer. Never mind that the circumcision was a tangible thing to seal the pact between Abraham and God, and that He specifically stated in his law that it had to be done to all his people.
It got worse, because my notes here say that Romans 7 makes no fucking sense at all. A quick skim shows it to be some sort of metaphor about belief in Christ being similar to a woman who is adulterous if she takes another man while her husband is still alive, but she isn’t when she takes another man after her husband’s death, because his death means she is no longer bound to him by law. There’s also something about how Paul didn’t know about sin until he knew about the law. He didn’t know how to desire until the law told him ‘thou shalt not covet’. To me it seemed to say that if you don’t know the law it’s impossible to commit a sin, but I doubt that’s what he meant with it. Either way I got bored trying to make sense of it.
I got the feeling that Romans 10 is (at least in part) responsible for the missionary zeal of spreading Christianity. It says something like ‘All who praise the Lord shall be saved, but how can they believe in Him if they haven’t heard of Him? Praised be the feet of those who spread the good word.’
Romans 13 tells you to obey those in positions of authority, for they have been put there by God. Yeah, right.
Oh, and here it is: Love is the fulfillment of the law: love thy neighbour like thyself. (But only if he’s also a believer, of course.)
Romans 14 says that no food is unclean unless you consider it so, and you should not judge others for eating it.
The rest is just Paul saying ‘oh, and by the way, please say hi to Bob and Karl and Pete and Tim and Frodo and Michael and all my fifty other friends in Rome, kkthxbye.’
Can’t wait to get to Revelations, then I can at last get back to reading real books.