Saturday, June 02, 2012

"Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest" -- Exodus 34:21

My recent very unpleasant medical problems have made me ask what is the best way forward in my life. To answer that question I turned to the wisest book I know: The Bible. And I found the quotation above. Following Bible advice has always worked wonderfully for me so I now intend to follow that piece of advice too. I intend from now on the keep the Sabbath and will blog only six days of the week instead of seven.

But it will be the real Sabbath I will keep, not the pagan abomination of the Sun's day. It was precisely because the pagans had set aside the first say of the week as a day to worship the sun that the ancient Hebrews defiantly made the seventh day of the week their holy say and I will follow their example. I will no longer blog on Saturday but will do other things.

But I will not be surrounding what I do with rules. As Jesus said, the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Bible simply says to do no work and that does not exclude doing all sorts of other things.

One of the things I would like to do today is to learn the words of the Stabat Mater in full. It is the most famous Medieval Latin poem and has been set by many composers -- with the glorious rendition by Pergolesi being best known. I already sort of know the poem but would like to be able to recite the whole thing right through without interruption. To be able to do that will be pleasure, not work. Latin poetry is wonderful even in a work of Marian devotion.

Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat filius

Cuius animam gementem
contristatam et dolentem
Pertransivit gladius ... etc

The is a video from Italy here which offers a respectful version of the first part of the Pergolesi masterpiece. If it's a techno beat you like, you will hate it. This is a work of profound contemplation about the central event of the Christian faith. Even I as an atheist can feel the power of it.


Steve Fox said...

Extraordinary, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Please enjoy your day off every week to relax....Elwyn Jones, wales UK, God save the Queen.

KuhnKat said...

May God bless you and keep you.

A Lovell said...

Glad to hear you will be taking a day off, and I hope you are recovering from your medical problems.

You are doing important work and I'm sure I speak for other readers when I say we want you around for a long time yet!

All the best.

Valerie O'Regan said...

Your statement that the Bible prescribed only "no work on the Sabbath" is incorrect. There were many detailed prescriptions and proscriptions.

From the entry on "The Sabbath" in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Sabbath: The seventh day of the week among the Hebrews, the day being counted from sunset to sunset, that is, from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

The Sabbath was a day of rest "sanctified to the Lord" (Exodus 16:23; 31:15; Deuteronomy 5:14). All work was forbidden, the prohibition including strangers as well as Israelites, beasts as well as men (Exodus 20:8-10; 31:13-17; Deuteronomy 5:12-14). The following particular actions are mentioned as forbidden: cooking (Exodus 16:23); gathering manna (16:26 sqq.); plowing and reaping (34:21); lighting a fire (for cooking, 35:3); gathering wood (Numbers 15:32 sqq.); carrying burdens (Jeremiah 17:21-22); pressing grapes, bringing in sheaves, and loading animals (Nehemiah 13:15); trading (Ibid., 15 sqq.). Travelling, at least with a religious object, was not forbidden, the prohibition of Exodus 16:29, referring only to leaving the camp to gather food; it is implied in the institution of holy assemblies (Leviticus 23:2-3, Heb. text), and was customary in the time of the kings (2 Kings 4:23). At a later period, however, all movement was restricted to a distance of 2000 cubits (between five and six furlongs), or a "sabbath day's journey" (Acts 1:12). Total abstention from work was prescribed only for the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement; on the other feast-days servile work alone was prohibited (Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:7 sqq.). Wilful violation of the Sabbath was punished with death (Exodus 31:14-15; Numbers 15:32-36). The prohibition of work made it necessary to prepare food, and whatever might be needed, the day before the Sabbath, hence known as the day of preparation, or Parasceve (paraskeue; Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; etc.). Besides abstention from work, special religious observances were prescribed.
In the time of Christ it was allowed to lift an animal out of a pit (Matthew 12:11; Luke 14:5), but this was later modified so that it was not permitted to lay hold of it and lift it out, though it might be helped to come out of itself by means of mattresses and cushions. These examples, and they are not the worst, show the narrowness of the system. Some of the rules were, however, found too burdensome, and a treatise of the Mishna (Erubin) tempers their rigour by subtle devices.

The gentile converts (to Chrisstianity) held their religious meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) and with the disappearance of the Jewish Christian churches this day was exclusively observed as the Lord's Day. (See SUNDAY.)
End quote

Sunday in Christian usage is NOT the Sabbath as such, but THE LORD'S DAY, in honour of the resurrection, even though some Christians mistakenly refer to it as the Sabbath. It has only some elements of the Old Testament Sabbath and has absolutely nothing to do with pagan sun worship. It is not clear why you would align yourself with the Old Testament and not the New Testament, which supersedes the Old. If you regard the Bible as "wise", there are plenty of other injunctions to follow. But how can you regard it as "wise" and still be an atheist? Every line of the Bible is implicitly or explicitly dependent on the existence of God.
It is certainly a good idea to have a day of rest from work, but strange to choose Saturday from the Old Testament.