The problem of early pregnancy in Palestine, year zero


30, in Articles No comments 15

In English there is a translation problem that has not touched us in Spanish. In 1 Thessalonians it says, in King James Version 60, "Abstain from all manner of evil." (5:22) The Greek word behind "species" is eidos, which has two possible meanings: species or appearance. That is why in English this passage was translated for many years as, "abstain from all appearance of evil," which obviously has a very different meaning. Instead of being a warning against doing wrong it becomes a command to keep up appearances.
Nowadays, the translation "species" is usually preferred, as it has always been done in Spanish. But the passage always bothered me even before I understood the correct translation, because it did not fit. How is it, I asked myself, that the apostle is focusing on the external, in appearance and not inwardly as he does in other places (eg, Romans 2: 28-29). The passage would seem to justify superficiality, and the effect of obeying it would seem to be the ossification of the status quo. Do not do anything different, it does not look good. Or, we can not do that because someone might think badly of us.
Interestingly, what finally convinced me that the passage could not mean "avoiding all appearance of evil" was not a Greek lexicon or a biblical commentary but the Christmas story. Well, the truth is that it seems wrong.
What would we say today? A pregnant young girl announces that "she was an angel of God."
A typical answer would surely be something like this:
Please, an angel? Do you think that someone will believe that barbarity? She was the most dedicated of all the group of young people, but (warning to all): she also fell into the sin of premarital sex. Now, worse, he wants to cover his sin with a story about an angel and this absurd insistence that he has never been intimate with a man. I do not know if it's to protect herself or her boyfriend. He, in passing, does not say anything in public, but I understand that he has privately expressed that he is not the father. Go figure! And they're still together and they're getting married. So they say, at least. If it were me, goodbye woman. You can never trust her. And now he goes to Judea to "visit his aunt" in the mountains. Why do not they call it what it is? To hide his sin from the rest of us. To escape the shame. But what I am most sorry for is the poor little boy. For his whole life he will have that burden of being an illegitimate child.
I do not believe my fictional reaction was exaggerated. It is likely that in that context the reaction was even stronger. Interestingly, Maria never complains. It does not say "But angel, what will the people say?" "How am I going to convince Jose?" "What will my family think?" Although it would be impossible for him not to think of such things. Your response is a model for the rest of us. Simple, eloquent: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; come to me according to your word. "(Luke 1:38)
I am afraid that we give such a strong spiritual aura to the events of Christmas that this aura becomes a haze and we can not see the facts described in the Bible as they happened. First, understand the level of obedience involved in Mary's response. It's not so much "Oops, good! I am going to be the mother of the Messiah! "It is rather,
"I will be judged by my relatives, I will hurt my beloved, I will carry the suspicion of being an adulteress for the rest of my days. All right. In agreement. Ask me according to your word. "
And Jose. Understand the psychological pressure that this situation exerts on Joseph. He is a good man and does not want to humiliate her publicly, but on the other hand, he can not marry her. Imagine the pain, the jealousy, the feeling of betrayal. There can be no other explanation than the most terrible: before the wedding, his fiancée has been unfaithful. It is only after experiencing his own revelation that Joseph can accept what has happened. But this does not solve the problem, and again I must point out that if two young people came to us today with this story – "Yes, pastor, she is pregnant. It is true. But it was something supernatural revealed by an angel. He also appeared to me "-we would not believe them for a second. And that is why, in accepting Mary, Joseph does not erase the dishonor of his wife. On the contrary he joins her and together they carry that burden for the rest of their days. Nothing can erase what has happened. They are objective data that everyone will know: His firstborn was conceived outside marriage bonds. And if they were wise they kept their mouths shut about the visions. Who will believe that? It would only make things worse.
Some have suggested that all this is behind what happened on that announced night. Recall why Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem: they must return to their tradicional home for the Roman census. So why did they have to spend the night in a barn? Does not Joseph have family in Bethlehem? Can not these people help a pregnant relative who could give birth any day? Is that why they end up at an inn instead of a house in the first place? The hard lack of compassion involved fits well with a rejection based on judgment. In a culture based on honor, she has embarrassed them, has brought untold family. There is no place for Mary among the relatives of Joseph and that is why they have to go to the apartment. As there is no place there, to sleep with the animals.
Dishonor and scandal. Sounds abierto? This child who was born under a cloud of suspicion then dies in like a criminal in the most shameful and tortuous way of the ancient world. Many are not surprised. Boys who are born in bad situations go wrong, do not they? "Let this be an example to all," they said in Nazareth and in Bethlehem.
What am I saying? What is good early pregnancy because maybe the baby is of God? Of course not. The birth of Jesus was unique. The point I am pursuing is more subtle: that as Christians we should be much more aware than others of the problem of judging by appearances. After all, our faith is founded on events that do not seem right. An early pregnancy brings forth the son of God (today what would you say? Would you believe it?). A criminal rebel executed by the state turns out to be the savior of the world (today what would you say? Would you believe it?). It does not seem good. Irony of ironies when Christians are linked to the defense of the status quo, when they defend traditionalism because it was always like that, and when they judge lightly those that seem to be wrong instead of understanding the situation and judging according to grace and truth. Well, Christianity does not seem right.
But not everything is what it appears. In "illegitimate child" he is truly the son of God. The "criminal" has truly risen and is the savior of the world. For that matter, God is a God of ironies, of surprises, of strength in weaknesses. And a God who is not afraid of bad appearances. Without saying that we should be lax with sin (please – it is not my argument), I believe that this irony of God should produce in us the characteristics of grace, patience and hope. Well, it's true that things seem to be wrong. And how many things do we have to complain about today? We can go for the entire alphabet; one or more complaints per letter of the alphabet. Be the society, be it the church, be it the television, be it the neighbor, be it the dog or the cat. But the biblical evidence suggests that this is precisely the fertile ground of our God. And even when they are really bad and it is not a case of appearances, there too, before condemning and discarding: grace, patience, hope. Who knows what our God will do?
NOTAR: The comment about Marcos continues next Thursday.

Author: Rob Haskell
Director of pastoral training ministry Senderis. He is also the author of the book Hermeneutics: Effective Interpretation Today, Editorial CLIE.
Director of pastoral training ministry Senderis. He is also the author of the book Hermeneutics: Effective Interpretation Today, Editorial CLIE.


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