Sub-atomic particles in biblical literary composition

One “good question” I’ve explored in recent years, working with Bible publishers and translators, is this: How can we illustrate the structure and composition of the biblical writings by the way we lay out the text on the page? My most recent layout experiment has been with the episode in the book of Samuel-Kings that tells how Adonijah tried to claim the throne when his father David was dying.

As a rule, such episodes are the basic building blocks of that book—its “atoms,” if you will. This particular episode is one of several that make up the succession narrative that describes how Solomon followed David on the throne of ancient Israel.  (Readers find out shortly afterwards how Solomon dealt definitively with the threat of Adonijah.) This narrative, in turn, is part of the long history of the Israelite monarchy in Samuel-Kings. But we can sometimes get a glimpse of literary “sub-atomic particles,” that is, even smaller pre-existing literary units that have been drawn into the composition to provide the structure and framework of an individual episode. I believe that’s the case here.

David swore an oath to Bathsheba that her son Solomon would succeed him. As was common in this culture, David made this a solemn pronouncement by speaking it in poetry.  (I discuss that practice in this post.) David’s original poetic couplet is quoted five times over the course of this episode, guiding the narrative flow as the words move from the mouth of one character to another. The oath is quoted:

– By Nathan to Bathsheba;
– By Bathsheba to David;
– By Nathan to David (with a delightful ironic twist);
– By David to Bathsheba, reasserted in slightly lengthened form;
– By David to his officials, as a fresh assertion in renewed language, embedded in a series of instructions that will actually make Solomon king.

When we see the episode through this lens, we recognize that the concern is not just “Who will be king?” but “Will the king’s word be upheld?”  This thematic perspective connects the episode to one of the largest concerns running all through the Bible, the memory of God’s sovereign words and the hope of their ultimate fulfillment.

To highlight the function of this oath within the narrative, in the layout below I’ve set it off as poetry in each case. Have a read through and see what you think. Particularly if you’ve read this episode before, does seeing the oath set off as poetry help you “catch the flow” any better?

(This is how the episode comes out in the WordPress template.  A typesetter might decide to use different line spacing for a printed version, but I personally think this works well for online reading. Also, I’ve used the ESV translation because it presents the oath as a direct quotation in the first four cases. The Hebrew original could also be rendered as an indirect quotation in certain of these cases, as in other translations.)

– – – – –

Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.

Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.

Then Nathan said to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king and David our lord does not know it? Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying,

“Solomon your son shall reign after me,
He shall sit on my throne”?

Why then is Adonijah king?’ Then while you are still speaking with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”

So Bathsheba went to the king in his chamber (now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was attending to the king). Bathsheba bowed and paid homage to the king, and the king said, “What do you desire?” She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying,

‘Solomon your son shall reign after me,
He shall sit on my throne’?

And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord the king, do not know it. He has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army, but Solomon your servant he has not invited. And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it will come to pass, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted offenders.”

While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. And they told the king, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed before the king, with his face to the ground. And Nathan said, “My lord the king, have you said,

‘Adonijah shall reign after me,
He shall sit on my throne’?

For he has gone down this day and has sacrificed oxen, fattened cattle, and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest. And behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But me, your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he has not invited. Has this thing been brought about by my lord the king and you have not told your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”

Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. And the king swore, saying, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, as I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, saying,

‘Solomon your son shall reign after me,
He shall sit on my throne in my place,’

even so will I do this day.” Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. And the king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel. Then blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ You shall then come up after him,

And he shall come and sit on my throne,
For he shall be king in my place.

And I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, say so. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”

So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished feasting. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, “What does this uproar in the city mean?” While he was still speaking, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came. And Adonijah said, “Come in, for you are a worthy man and bring good news.” Jonathan answered Adonijah, “No, for our lord King David has made Solomon king, and the king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites. And they had him ride on the king’s mule. And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon, and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you have heard. Solomon sits on the royal throne. Moreover, the king’s servants came to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon more famous than yours, and make his throne greater than your throne.’ And the king bowed himself on the bed. And the king also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has granted someone to sit on my throne this day, my own eyes seeing it.’”

Then all the guests of Adonijah trembled and rose, and each went his own way. And Adonijah feared Solomon. So he arose and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. Then it was told Solomon, “Behold, Adonijah fears King Solomon, for behold, he has laid hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me first that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’” And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and paid homage to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”

Raphael, The Anointing of King Solomon

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” Really?

Q.  Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.”  Are we supposed to take him literally?

It’s often claimed that when Jesus said this, he was engaging in “hyperbole” or intentional overstatement (exaggeration, if you will), a device that rabbis often used in his time.  We do see Jesus employing hyperbole in other instances, for example, when he said. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  If that is the case here, then Jesus would be saying, “Okay, I don’t literally mean for you to go all the way and pluck out your eye or cut off your hand, just try to keep them under better control.”

But I wonder whether we shouldn’t take him a bit more literally.  The key is in the word “if.”  I think Jesus might be calling the bluff of people who say, “I just can’t help it, my body responds automatically and there’s nothing I can do about it.”  For example—“I just had to look at that pornography, it came up when I was searching for something else (really, really), and once my eye locked onto it, I just couldn’t look away.”

What if a person who made that claim took Jesus literally?  They’d have to admit that even if this truly were the case, they could still keep from sinning by plucking out their eyes—if they really wanted not to sin.  But taking Jesus literally actually would force them to admit, “All right, it’s not my eye that’s causing me to sin, it’s my heart, which needs to change.”

Similarly for a person who said something like, “I just had to take that money, it was left right there on the table with no one watching it, and before I knew it my hand had scooped it up.” If that really were the case, the person could still keep from sinning by cutting off the offending hand—but of course the hand is not to blame, and taking Jesus literally forces us to admit this.

So perhaps this is not just an overstatement or exaggeration that we are supposed to dial back a few degrees, but an astute and literal observation designed to make us look at our hearts and wills rather than blaming our bodies for the wrong things we do—since, as Jesus observes, we actually could do something about our eyes or hands if they really were responsible.

Why was Ruth told to stay with the other women in the field?

Q. Why was Ruth told to stay with the other women in the field? and the workers were told by Boaz to leave her be? Were women not safe from rape in those days? Hard to understand.

Unfortunately, women were still in danger of rape even within the ancient Israelite theocracy, and particularly at the time when the book of Ruth is set, “in the days when the judges ruled,” when, according to the book of Judges, “Israel had no king” and “everyone did as they saw fit.”

That is why Boaz, who is introduced from the start as a godly man, takes special measures to protect Ruth, who would otherwise be at great risk as a defenseless foreigner.  He tells Ruth not to glean in anyone else’s field (where the owner or foreman might not be godly) and even to stay in the part of his own field where his female servants are working.  He also says, for everyone to hear, that he has warned all the men not to lay a hand on her.  As a “man of standing,” Boaz has the power to enforce this order of protection.

Similarly, when Ruth returns home and tells the story of her day, Naomi observes ominously, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”  (The Hebrew is more explicit: “and they will not molest you in another field.”)

We see here the great courage and faith of Ruth, who was willing to do the only thing she could to support herself and her mother-in-law:  go out and ask if she could glean in someone’s field, even though this meant exposing herself to the danger of potential rape.

We also see that the godly character of Boaz led him to take active measures to protect women like Ruth from sexual abuse and exploitation.  In this way Boaz provides a biblical model for all men today who aspire to lead a godly life:  they, too, should protect women from sexual abuse and exploitation, and not participate in anything that degrades or exploits them, such as on-line pornography, actual prostitution, or anything similar.

“Ruth Gleaning,” James Tissot, 1896

Why is “mene” written twice in the handwriting on the wall?

Q. In the handwriting on the wall in the book of Daniel, why do you think God wrote “mene, mene” twice instead of just “mene, tekel, upharsin”? Does the repetition mean something?

For one thing, “mene” might be repeated to fill out the poetic line, so that it will have two parts with four syllables and two stresses each: mené, mené; tekél, parsín.    (The “u” is barely pronounced and simply means “and”; it’s a variation on the usual “w,” when it comes before “p.”)  As I note in this post, solemn pronouncements, including judgments like this one, are often spoken in poetry in the Old Testament.  Repeating “mene” allows the line to have a memorable poetic cadence.

But the repetition of the first word might also be a clue that each word actually has a double meaning.  As I explain in my study guide to Daniel and Revelation:

The inscription is a play on words.  In one sense, it lists the names of three coins of decreasing value: the minah (worth many shekels), the tekel (the Aramaic form of the word shekel itself), and the peres (half-shekel; parsin is the plural).  This duplicates the image in the statue dream of materials of decreasing value, underscoring God’s purposes to replace the Babylonian empire with later ones.  (The narrator echoes this image by describing how the goblets from Jerusalem were gold and silver, while the gods of Babylon were gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.)  

But the meaning of the inscription also rests on the derivation of the names of these coins.  Minah comes from a verb meaning “to count” or “to number”; tekel comes from the verb “to weigh”; and peres from a verb meaning “to divide.”  Daniel explains how all of these meanings apply to Belshazzar and his doomed empire.  (Peres is also a play on the word “Persian.”)

So this was a very dense puzzle; the last term actually has a triple meaning, disclosing the identity of the empire that would soon conquer Babylon. Even though the repetition of “mene” might have offered a slight clue to its interpretation, “all the king’s wise men . . . could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant.”  But Daniel showed both his divine gifting and the certain fate of Babylon when he interpreted the puzzle.

Rembrandt, “Belshazzar’s Feast,” 1635. In this depiction the words read from top to bottom and then from right to left. (Uparsin takes up the two leftmost columns.) In Aramaic they would more likely have read from right to left and then from top to bottom.

Why does God call Ezekiel “Son of Man”?

Q. Ezekiel is constantly referred to as “Son of Man.” Since this is a reference often used for Jesus, why is it that Ezekiel seems to singled out for same designation?

Basically, the phrase “Son of Man” means something different in the book of Ezekiel than it does in the gospels.

In Ezekiel, “son of man” means “human being.”  It’s a poetic Hebrew expression that’s used with that same meaning in several other places in the Old Testament, for example, in Psalm 8, where the ESV translates the Hebrew terms literally: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  The NLT expresses the meaning of these terms: “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

Since “son of man” means “human being” in Ezekiel, in the Common English Bible, that prophet is addressed as “human one”; in the Good News Bible as “mortal man”; in the New Century Version as “human”; and in the New Revised Standard Version as “mortal.”

Why does God address Ezekiel in this particular way?  Some have suggested that this is done to distinguish the prophet from the various supernatural beings in his visions–Ezekiel needs to know that God is speaking to him, rather than to one of them!  But I think it’s more likely, as others have suggested, that by calling Ezekiel “son of man” (“mortal”), God is stressing the difference between His own powerful words and deeds, described in the visions Ezekiel receives (for example, breathing life into dead bodies, symbolic of restoring the exiled nation), and the few things, paltry by comparison, that the Judeans might accomplish without God.

In the gospels, “Son of Man” means something different.  It’s an allusion to the Old Testament, though not to the book of Ezekiel, but rather to the book of Daniel.  As I explain in my study guide to the gospel of Mark:

This expression comes from a vision the prophet Daniel had of “one like a son of man” who was given “authority, glory and sovereign power” by God.  Jesus chooses this expression to describe himself because it communicates his divine mission without having the nationalistic and militaristic overtones of some of the other titles that were used for the Messiah at this time (such as “Son of David,” which he’ll be called later in the book).  The title Son of Man particularly highlights the humanity and humility of Jesus.  He will invoke this title repeatedly in the second part of the gospel as he speaks of his coming sufferings and death.  But here it captures the authority he has, as a divinely-appointed representative of humanity, to forgive sins and determine how to make appropriate use of the Sabbath.

As I explain further in my study guide to Daniel and Revelation, commenting on Daniel’s vision of the “Ancient of Days,” books like these:

. . . use humans to represent divine figures.  The person who’s presented to the Ancient of Days here is described as “like a son of man.” This Aramaic phrase means that he “looked like a human being,” but the implications within the vision are that he was divine.  The Jewish people took the phrase “son of man” from this vision and used it as a title (“Son of Man”) to describe the divine savior figure they were expecting.  Jesus often applied this title to himself, both to show that he was the Savior sent from God, and also, paradoxically, to show that he had given up his divine prerogatives and come to earth humbly, in human form, to identify completely with those he came to save.

So Ezekiel is not really being given a title that properly belongs to Jesus alone.  Rather, the poetic phrase that meant simply “human being” in Ezekiel’s time had become a Messianic title by the time of Jesus.

How can I know when I’ve “covered” a given book as I study the Bible?

Q. I have an ongoing Bible study project that I keep developing and refining. It’s the sort of thing that would probably take longer than my lifetime to finish, but I like to keep it moving forward anyways. I prefer having a pre-established plan of action before going too in depth on these sorts of huge projects, so I’m trying to distill a list of items to study for each book of the Bible to say that I’ve more or less “covered it.” The list below is a rough sketch of what I’d ideally like to study for each book of the Bible and I was just wondering if you could either add to the list or make some suggestions in terms of what I should prioritize. Thanks so much!

– Author (along with main theories about authorship of the book)
– Intended Audience
– Date written (Main theories about date)
– Culture and social setting of the text (People, economy, government, religion, world situation, worldviews and philosophies, gods, etc.)
– Geography / Topography of the area and any bearings this might have on understanding the text.
– Literary Genre of the book and any implications this has on understanding the text
– Word Study of key words in the book (Etymology, Variant Connotations, Ellipses, Difficulties in Translation, Technical Usage, Repeated Words, etc.)
– Key point being made by the author in each literary segment of text
– Distinctions in the text (Unique concepts, descriptions, words, theological points, etc.)
– Passages elsewhere in the Bible this text clarifies or that clarify this text.
– Theology that can be derived from the book (explicit or implicit)
– Outline of the book (Main arguments of the author and natural literary breaks in the text)
– Historical views / evolution of understanding of key theological points made in the text throughout church history.

Tools for study: Interlinear Bibles, Hebrew/Greek Lexicons, (Expository) Bible Dictionary, Bible Atlas, Strong’s Concordance, Various Commentaries, Church History Books, and Ancient History and Culture Books.

This is a really excellent project you’ve got going!  What I like most about it is that you’ve recognized that you really need to study the Bible book by book, and that you need to know the answers to some foundational questions in order to understand each individual book.  It’s amazingly like what I taught in my course at the Regent College Summer School a few years back (whose story I tell here), which ultimately led to my being invited to join the group that produced The Books of the Bible. (You can now see the intentionality in that title!)  Here’s an excerpt from my course lectures:

– – – – –

It should be clear by now that even though we should indeed approach the Bible on the book level, the book names, order, and (in some cases) boundaries we are accustomed to are, like chapters and verses, traditional factors impeding an objective reading of the Bible. We therefore need to take a new approach to the Bible, one that is informed and guided not by tradition, but by the structures and emphases inherent in the biblical text itself. And in order to do this, we may need to remind ourselves all over again how to read a book.

How to Read a Book is, in fact, the title of a classic text by Mortimer Adler (which he later updated with his colleague, Charles van Doren). Their text explains that we cannot meaningfully read smaller sections of a book (the way we typically approach books of the Bible) without first attaining an appreciation for the whole. Specifically, we need to know the answer to four questions:

– Why was this book written? What specific situation was the author speaking to? That is, what problem or problems gave rise to the book in the first place? In biblical interpretation, this is usually referred to as determining the “circumstances and occasion of composition.”

– What kind of book is this? Is it a novel, a textbook, a collection of poetry, a biography? The kind of book we are reading should determine our expectations in reading. For example, should we ask whether everything the author describes really could have happened? We would not apply this test to a James Bond novel, but we would when reading something purporting to be the true account of an ascent of Mount Everest. The different kinds of writing are commonly called “literary genres”; we determine literary genre precisely in order to have the right expectations when we read.

– How is the book put together? What are the major parts, and into what parts are these divided, and so on? When it comes to modern books, it is usually the case that the chapters and larger divisions correspond to the argument or story’s essential parts, because these divisions are the work of the author. In the case of biblical books, however, we need to be aware that the chapters and verses are not the work of the original authors; they were added centuries later, as we have already explained. While it is theoretically possible for them nevertheless to correspond to a biblical book’s essential parts, in actual practice, they more often do not. So we must make it another piece of preliminary business to determine what we might call a book’s “literary structure.”

– Finally, we must ask what overall idea or purpose unites all of the parts and aspects of the book. We might speak of this as an attempt to express its “thematic unity.”

– – – – –

You can see how the program for understanding biblical books that I sketched out in my course, and which was built into the “DNA” of the format for The Books of the Bible, overlaps almost entirely with your list of “study items” for each book.  Yours could easily be organized under the four categories I list: circumstances and occasion of writing, literary genre, literary structure, and thematic development. Each of these four key background items is discussed and explained in my series of study guides to the books of the Bible.

The main thing I’d say you’re missing, and it’s a very significant thing, is a knowledge of the languages in which the Bible was originally written.  From my own experience, I’d say that an ability to read the Bible fluently in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek has contributed at least as much to my understanding of the biblical books as a knowledge of all the other factors you list combined.  It’s one thing to try to make sense of Greek or Hebrew syntax with an interlinear Bible, or to try to do comparative word studies using Strong’s Concordance; it’s quite another to read the biblical author’s words and thoughts as they were originally expressed, to do word studies using a concordance to the original-language text, etc.  So if you are going to invest all of this time and effort in a lifelong program to understand the Bible, I’d encourage you to learn the original languages.  This investment will be richly repaid.  (And for each language you would then want a critical text of the Bible as well as a language textbook, lexicon, analytical lexicon, grammar, and concordance, at least.  I also really appreciate having a textual history, textual commentary, and theological dictionary.)

And let me mention one more thing.  There are some tremendous electronic resources out there these days, including software and web sites, that make searches, textual studies, etc. fast and powerful.  Some of them will link a text to much of the history of the interpretation of that text, which you said you were interested in.  So I’d encourage you to become familiar with software such as Logos, Accordance, Bibleworks, etc. and find the best fit for you interests, as well as with online sites such as (my favorite),,, etc.

Once again I commend you for this thorough and ambitious desire to know the Bible well by understanding each its books.  You’re definitely on the right track!  Keep up the good work.  What you’re after is worth a lifetime of study.

Insider and outsider language

My recent post about the altar inscription Paul saw in Athens–did it say “To an unknown god” or “To the unknown God”?–was prompted, as I noted there, by a conversation I had with a friend who does sociolinguistic analysis of the New Testament and early Christian literature.  One thing she has helped me see much more clearly is the way biblical characters employ either “insider” or “outsider” language depending on the audience.  (To give a contemporary example, a follower of Jesus today might speak of “the Lord” to a known fellow believer, but of “God” instead to someone whose faith they aren’t sure of.)

Since this conversation I’ve been seeing more ways in which recognizing “insider” and “outsider” language can help us appreciate the possible dynamics of biblical episodes.  Consider, for example, the episode in Acts in which a believer named Ananias is asked to visit Saul of Tarsus (later known as Paul) right after Jesus has appeared to Saul on the Damascus Road.

Ananias first greets him as “Brother Saul” (Saoul adelphe).  This is how followers of Jesus addressed one another.  Does this mean that Ananias is immediately acknowledging Saul as a fellow believer?  Not necessarily.  This is also the way one Jew would typically greet another in the Roman Empire.  My friend thinks, and I agree, that the original audience of Acts would have sensed the ambiguity here, and many of them may have thought, “Okay, he’s playing it safe, appealing to their shared Jewish identity to create some common ground with this man who, for all he knows, might still be an enemy.”

However, Ananias says next, “The Lord has sent me” (ho kurios apestalken me), using insider language for Jesus (“the Lord”), as if he were sure that Saul really was a follower of Jesus now.  This suggests that “brother Saul” maybe was intended as the greeting of a fellow believer.

But then it appears that Ananias worries he may have gone too far out on a limb too early, because he immediately qualifies who “the Lord” is:  “Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here.”  This is outsider language:  the proper name Jesus with a descriptor, like “Jesus of Nazareth . . . a man accredited by God” in Peter’s Pentecost sermon.

We don’t get much more of the dialogue, but I’m sure that when Ananias saw the scales fall from Saul’s eyes, he was probably comfortable going back to “the Lord” as a name for Jesus!  But the movement from language that could be taken “safely,” to insider language, to outsider language shows that Ananias was obediently going into a dangerous situation courageously but carefully.  (As we all should do when God–you know, the Lord–sends us into one.)

What “insider” and “outsider” language are you seeing as you read the Word–you know, the Bible?

Pietro da Cortona, Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul, 1631