Monday, October 11, 2010
Marginal Stories in the Bible and the 70 Faces of Torah
The Old Testament scriptures hold numerous stories, some familiar, and some not so familiar. Usually what we do is to take well known biblical stories and make them fit our theology. Whenever we read those old stories, we bring our own experiences to our understanding of the story. There is a rabbinic tradition of the 70 faces of Torah (shiv’im panim la'Torah), meaning that its meaning may vary depending upon how we approach the passage. Our psychological or intellectual perspective will affect what “face” the Torah presents to us. Another view of that concept is that in an average lifespan of 70 years, each year of our life we will present a different face to the Torah, which is why the same passage may be understood in a different light at different times. Certainly at different stages of our lives, passages can take on new meanings.
This week I’ll look at a few of the "marginal" tales from scripture, and I'll try to give a different angle on some more familiar passages. I try to make stories real by accessing the poetic, emotional aspects of the stories, so what I present will not necessarily be orthodox or mainstream. Indeed, I am often attracted to those “marginal people” and marginal incidents in the Bible that orthodoxy tends to skip over.
In my postings this week you will find a couple of poems, some stories and meditations. These are not intended to be definitive, nor are they necessarily radical. They simply reflect where I happened to be at different times when contemplating the Old Testament stories.