Theology Update for the Week of July 29

Out of Egypt: Reading Exodus Theologically

On July 22 at 10 a.m., the Sunday class continues its study of the book of Exodus in the Old Testament. We pick up with chapter 15, the so-called “Song of the Sea” or “Song of Moses.” This poetic recounting of the Red Sea crossing is thought to be the oldest text in the Hebrew scriptures. In the Episcopal Church, it is the custom at the Easter Vigil for the canticle of Exodus 15 to be sung after the reading of Exodus 14:10-15:1. “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea” (here).

In addition to being a record of the central event in Jewish history – the exodus from Egypt and journey toward the Promised Land – Exodus also provides a prime case study of the benefits of a utilization of the traditional “four senses” of scripture: the literal, the typological, the moral, and the mystical.

All kinds of people love Vermont

I spent part of July in Vermont. It was a wonderful place to be: green, cool, wooded, beautiful. I thought that it would be a great place to escape to periodically. Apparently I have that, and probably only that, in common with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. According to the magazine of the National Endowment of the Humanities (here), Solzhenitsyn and his family lived in tiny Cavendish, Vermont (population 1,264 at the time) from 1976 to 1994. He had been exiled from Russia and the family was concerned that the European capitals were still too close to the KGB for comfort. As a result, they made Vermont their home for almost two decades, until regime change in Russia made it safe for them to go home.

Solzhenitsyn was not a Christian, so far as I know. Yet his famous line from Gulag Archipelago could easily have been written by Augustine himself: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” To put it in other words: original sin is no respecter of individual persons, but diminishes each one of us. The good news of the apostolic witness is that the love of God in Christ is no respecter of individual persons either, enveloping us all, even with our diminished and divided hearts. And when the final regime change comes, and the King of kings rules on earth as he does in heaven, it will finally be safe for us to go home as well. Come, Lord Jesus, and take us home.

Yours in Christ,