Thursday, 25 August 2011

The temple of Eden

No, no that's not right Joe, it should be "Garden of Eden", surely?

Hold your fire one mo, there is a point to this. In preparing a sermon for Sunday week about Genesis 2 I've been revisiting some fascinating material I came across in my MA Old Testament module. There was a really good article by Gordon Wenham called "Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story". There he spells out some parallels between what we find in Genesis 2-3 and elsewhere in passages about the tabernacle/temple. Here is my own synopsis of those points:

1.   The tree of life and the “menorah”
2.   Both the tabernacle and the temple had entrances on the east side and had cherubim over the ark in the holy of holies – the garden of Eden is guarded by cherubim (after Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden) at its entrance, which is on the east side
3.   The gold and stones mentioned in the Eden account remind us of the gold coverings to the temple furnishings and the stones used in the temple and on the priests’ clothing
4.   The tree that they are forbidden to touch has a parallel in the ark of the covenant, which it is forbidden to touch
5.   In Ezekiel 47 a river is pictured as flowing from the renewed temple and this imagery is picked up in Revelation 22 with the water of life flowing from God’s throne. Eden is the focus of the life-giving waters of the ancient world

So, what do you make of that?

I guess that the main point is that it shows some kind of thought association - the key concepts being the presence of God and human access to it. But, which came first - Eden or the temple? Now, I'm not trying to be daft, contrary to appearances; I'm actually just wondering whether bits of the Eden story were modelled on people's experience of the temple or vice versa. Or, perhaps neither? Or, does it matter?

Anyhow, I think it helps us to realise that the thrust of Genesis 2-3 is not being kicked out of a pretty little place, like some kind of ultimate National Trust garden. No, it is about not being in God's presence as we should be. And that really is a bummer.

Friday, 12 August 2011

New look and new stuff

The website has had a facelift. Why not take a look and see if you prefer the new improved version?

There are new seminars on offer there now too, some of which with downloadable (is that really a word?!) pdf files of the outline for the workshop/seminar to give you a better idea of what you would be getting.

6 picture-based meditations are now up with suggestions to aid your reflections/prayers.

I'm hoping to prepare some more material to appear on there soon - probably some new Bible studies. If you have any suggestions for books/topics that you'd think it would be good to have study material on then do let me know.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Norwich beat Parma!

Yes, my wife and I saw an entertaining 3-0 win over Parma on Saturday. Probably the only game I'll get to see at the stadium for a while now, given both the cost of Premier League tickets and the fact that there are more season ticket holders, super-members (presumably with yellow and green capes?) and members than there are seats in the stadium and I'm not even a member. Ho hum. At least I can keep myself (and maybe one or two other odd individuals) entertained (even if only mildly for a few seconds) with my post-match report...

Parma were hung out to dry by Norwich on Saturday. That should cure any pre-season worries of always being thrashed by the big boys. The scoreline clearly reflects Norwich's dominance and no this was not down to a ham-fisted keeper. There were several sliced shots and some interesting play-acting that failed to get the referee's (or the crowd's) sympathy, which probably only rubbed salt into the wound. It might be cheesy to say it, but Norwich's neat passing seemed to grate on the Parma guys after a while. The weather remained dry and offered a clear view of a maturing team that has really learned to pasta one another accurately. The Italians remained firmly caged in whilst the canaries were on song.

To any Italian friends reading this, I wave my hands held together before you in the traditional, non-stereotyped way of begging apology. Seriously though, it was impressive how about 2 dozen Parma fans managed to out-sing around 13,000 Norwich fans. Given the usually noisy and vocal nature of Norfolk people, this was quite amazing.

Oh dear, I seem to have had an attack of Boris Johnson syndrome and risked inadvertently offending everyone I talk about. Well, only if you have no sense of humour that is ... Darn, done it again, time to stop.