I don’t think I have a much of an audience here. But that’s okay. Sometimes it is okay to waffle on without an audience.
I got asked to pray last night at my bible study. This I haven’t done for quite a while. I didn’t mind, truth be told. But it did set me thinking about who else in the room would be praying out of unshakable belief and who was merely doing it for lack of any other option.
We’re studying Zechariah at the moment. This is a difficult book of the Bible and we’re relying on the study book more than I really like and sometimes still we don’t have answers. Even so, I find myself spouting knowledge about the history of Israel that the others might not know (which reminds me; I need to check if I’m coming across as pompous or not). Things like how the Jews were not really monotheistic until The Return.
(They basically got one god-awful shock with The Exile to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar, and then it got worse when Persia invaded and they were moved further away. Whilst they were in exile, they were exposed to Zoroastrianism, which was a lot more monotheistic than they were. There is some evidence they imported a significant piece of Zoroastrianism into Judaism which they then took back with them to Jerusalem. Up until then, they had never truly ignored or abandoned the Baalim, despite what the Bible says God warned them repeatedly what would happen if they did not, and despite what the early Jewish editors of the other OT books would have us believe. So the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah were an incredibly important time in the history of Judaism – more than many Christians I know quite realize, finally and firmly laying the groundwork for the Israel of Jesus’ time and thus Judaism of today.)
But in my research of all this, what is clear is the historical record of the Bible gets increasingly uncertain the further back one goes. This should not be astonishing news, of course, but it does mean I now have some quite healthy doubts about some of the earlier Biblical stories. (Somewhat ironically, the ones recorded in Judges are probably the most true to form of that period, because not only do we have a people not yet welded together into a kingdom, but the book itself acknowledges the general lawlessness and godlessness.) And embarking on a spiritual journey outside Christianity means I’m back to wondering if I’m the only one praying to a God I’m not sure I’m totally certain about anymore.