"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, February 06, 2006

I'm a Little Verklempt...

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Blood for Oil.



John Tabin said...

Blood for oil? No car is going to run for very long like that.

Kathy Hutchins said...

You can't really use it in a deep fryer either. Or in salad dressing. I have never tried using blood in place of WD-40, but I have my doubts.

To be perfectly fair to blood, oil doesn't make a very good blood substitute either. A nice pan sauce for steak, for example, will taste dreadful if you try to use Pennzoil instead of meat juices.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

I got nothing to add. If, however, you want to talk about blood for antifreeze ...

Jay D. Homnick said...

No, but there is an interesting theological question about the First Plague turning water into blood. All the other plagues seem like they don't require a transforming miracle, just adjustments within nature by creating infestations, eclipses and epidemics.

Water becoming blood is a total abrogation of the natural order. Why would that come first? If it's important, why would that not be repeated in future plagues? (Unless you read literally that the dust of the earth "became" lice.)

Food for thought.

kenny said...

Why are we talking oil? Twenty years ago I knew a man who ran his car on pig slurry. In Brazil they run cars on sugar cane.
Blood for oil? If blood is being shed for oil then it is for oil companies.
The middle east needs the west more than we need the middle east but hard to get out now and whilst were there we may as well have a bit of the only thing they have to offer.

Matt Huisman said...

Jay>> Water becoming blood is a total abrogation of the natural order.

Jay - not sure where you're going with this, but I'm curious. I've always understood the plagues as a means of God specifically embarrassing the little gods of the most powerful nation on earth at the time.

Tlaloc said...

The bibilical connection is interesting Jay. Given that water was the primary resource of need to an agricultural society and that oil has replaced it in industrialized societies then we end up with an interesting allusion in which "Blood for Oil" suggests Bush is trying to play god by acting out his own biblical plagues upon the holy land.

Killing first born sons? Check.

Boils and sores? Maybe Depleted Uranium? Or the use of WP?

Eclipse? Shattered power infrastructure and hence darkness.

Locusts? Destruction of native resources?

Yes I think you could write a quite interesting essay upon that theme.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Matt, you're right that embarrassing the illusory gods is important, but the positive lessons are always the main ones.

If you put Truman Capote's writing next to a schlub's, outdoing the schlub is less the point than showing how it's done.

So God is demonstrating through the plagues mastery of the natural order. Nachmanides (1194-1270)notably analyzes the various phrases that show up in between the plagues, like "so that you may no there is none like Me" and "so that you may know that the earth belongs to the Lord" etc. He basically boils it down to three principles, a) to show that He created, b) to show that He manages Creation constantly, c) that He cares about individuals and about history. But even those categories include many subdivisions.

There are also traditions about groupings, a 2-2-2-2-2 series (sea, earth, sky, wind, light/life), a 3-3-4 series and a 5-5. In any case, I still maintain that one would expect all the miraculous elements to follow a certain equivalence.

In other words, if He means to show that He can summon all the frogs and the lice and the wildlife and various bacteria, then the currency being used is the control and large-scale rearrangement of elements presently existent.

How does a transformational miracle like turning water into an entirely different substance fit into this sequence?

It occurs to me that the answer must lie in the fact that the turning of water into blood was the only effect that was assigned a dual function: it was both a "sign" (Exodus 4:9) and a "plague" (ibid 7:17).

Still pondering, though.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

(Unless you read literally that the dust of the earth "became" lice.)

Is there a reason you chose to purport that dust->lice is not literal and water->blood is?

Jay D. Homnick said...

That's an excellent question, CL.

The expression in Hebrew of "hayah lekinim" means literally "became lice" rather than "turned to" lice. Thus it can be understood to mean that the surface of the earth was suddenly lice, in the sense that lice were swarming everywhere and had become the top layer.

However, the Hebrew word used for the water becoming blood is "nehefchu" which means transformed.

Again, excellent question. Thanks.

Matt Huisman said...

Jay>> ...but the positive lessons are always the main ones.

I agree. I would only note that the embarrassment I was referring to has to do with our reaction to the magnitude of the disparity. As you point out, the revelation on display here is meant to assist us in our understanding of who He is.

How does a transformational miracle like turning water into an entirely different substance fit into this sequence?

With respect to the water becoming blood, obviously there is a lot of symbolism involved with the blood. But the thing that I find interesting is the comment that Pharoah's magicians were able to do the same thing. What they were not able to do, however, was turn it back into water.

Still pondering, though.

So am I.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Thanks for the gracious answer.

As a Christian with an inquisitive mind, these "factoids" really interest me.

There are many other questions that I'd like to study (may not have easy answers), for example:

septuagint vs. vulgate vs. JPS tanakh (masoretic text) ... whats the diff?

From a faith standpoint, probably not much, but from a doctrine standpoint???

Your question regarding water->blood is interesting.

Jay D. Homnick said...

The Talmud explains that the scholars who wrote the Septuagint under duress by King Ptolemy deliberately mistranslated a number of phrases that require more subtle understanding. Eleven examples are given there.