Monday, July 13, 2009

Bailey, Lettuce and Tomato

Part 6 (vii)- The Parable of the Serving Master

I know, I know... the title and toon are a little cheeky. I really don't think Bailey is full of baloney. He has a lot of good stuff as well. As Carson might say, "He's often on the side of the angels".

First, I'd like to thank Bailey for presenting a poem from Milton here. Yet, I suspect Milton is minimizing the "standing and waiting" part far too much here. Would he also minimize the standing and waiting of the thief on the cross? Was the thief merely standing? Rome is correct in correcting some of us Protestants here-- the penitent thief was also doing good works while just hanging out. Teaching, rebuking and encouraging. I doubt Milton would disagree here. And I admire Milton's desire to do more.

Now, as regards this passage (Luke 12:35-38) Bailey is non-committal here as well. He's not sure if the sandwiches the master is serving are 'borrowed or bloody'. Seems to be leaning to the former when he claims that the former offers a larger picture (374).

What does he mean by this? Seems to think that the master borrowed (?) something like sandwiches (something that Rabbi Hillel had just invented because he didn't like those bitter herbs/horseradish in the Passover meal) from the wedding banquet that he attended. Thinks the master ducked out (according to the "more culturally authentic" Syriac and Arabic translations) partway through the banquet (they are about a week long) with a "tray full" of his buddy's sandwiches for his servants. As Bailey says, 'dramatically shocking behavior in any culture'(374). I doubt if his buddy would have approved of such behavior.

But then I think that Bailey's other perspective is even more shocking. That the master/Jesus is offering His servants His own literal "body and his cup [blood is just a little too distasteful a word]" as a sandwich. Sure shocked a lot of his followers too. Even many of his disciples withdrew from him after that carnivorous comment (John 6:66).

Now, a common rule of textual criticism (and axiom of F.F. Bruce)- is that if you find a saying of Jesus easy to understand- then you are probably not understanding it properly. That the harder reading, is likely the better reading (possibly because our Lord rewards diligence and perseverance). With that in mind, I find Bailey's latter perspective much more distasteful. Yet, more in line with the proper perspective. But not the proper perspective!

You see, if that literal reading were the case- then when the Lord's Supper was instituted (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was actually feeding his disciples his actual body and blood. Protestants don't see that to be the case. Protestants see this institution as a symbolic celebration. Symbolic of his glorious marriage feast in Heaven. Something that should be seen as a foretaste of this future glorious event rather than something that "can be seen as a foretaste of this future glorious event" (374).

In fact, Protestants are sickened by the thought of Jesus re-presenting His body and His blood for every Eucharist. Protestants believe that His- was an effectual once for all presentation (Hebrews 7:27) of His body. Not a presentation in perpetuity. A presentation in perpetuity is a cuckoo clock presentation. I expect His mother Mary would be sickened by it as well.

So... when Bailey "longs for the day" that a contemporary Coptic monk has his stuff published in English- is he is also longing for Miskin's Orthodox (? see link) views on this "Eucharist" to be promoted? Seems to me that Bailey is testing the backwaters of the Tiber here. May he reconsider tickling that dragon's tail.

For back of that dragon's tail- remains a trail of do, do, do. Something that both Bailey and Milton recognize- as little more than a dung sandwich.

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