Thoughts for Friday 7th August, 2020

Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Genesis 36:1-8; Acts 18:24-28

 

Friday 7 August

 

While, at Genesis 25:25, we learn that Esau, when he was born, was ‘reddish’, there’s no hint that this then led to the alternative name for him of Edom (which sounds like the Hebrew for ‘red’). On the contrary, we learn from the notes in the GNT of our Old Testament passage for today that the actual explanation for Esau’s alternative name has to do with Jacob’s ‘red’ bean soup instead. This does seem a remarkable coincidence. Maybe, though, there were two reasons why Esau was also known as Edom.

 

The other question I have today is whether Edom (the person) then gave Edom (the place) its name, or whether Esau was also known as Edom (a third reason!) because he settled in a place called Edom. I doubt we will ever know, today’s reading reminding me, though, of that great phrase – a ‘mess of pottage.’ The dictionary definition for this is, ‘something immediately attractive but of little value taken foolishly and carelessly in exchange for something more distant and perhaps less tangible but immensely more valuable. Not actually Biblical, although it might have been, it comes instead from a 15th century sermon by John Capgrave, who also wrote a ‘Lives of the English Saints’.

 

Another eloquent preacher, Apollos, is someone who is not only mentioned in Acts, but 1 Corinthians and Titus too. He was a Jew from  Alexandria in Egypt which, at the time of his birth, had the largest urban Jewish population in the world. Famous for its scholarship, Alexandria had the best library in the world, and was where the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament) had been produced. Growing up there, Apollos could not have failed to have come under the influence of the great philosopher and teacher, Philo of Alexandria (c20BC – c.50AD).

 

In 1 Corinthians 3:6 we have that great text from Paul: ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow.’ Along with a number of other ‘issues’ that had arisen in the life of the early Corinthian Church, factionalism was threatening to lead to schism; and so Paul is intent on saying to those who claim to favour Apollos over him and vice versa: ‘It’s not a competition. We’re both on the same side.’ There is a legend, though, that Apollos was so upset by what was happening that he left Corinth (with Zenas – see Titus 3:13) for Crete, until such time as the matter had been resolved.

 

Let us pray:

 

“I am not afraid of schisms. I pray that they do not happen,” (Pope Francis, 2019)

 

Amen.


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