Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"god gave noah the rainbow sign..." (part two)

I think "O Mary don't you weep" is one of the more interesting gospel tunes for a number of reasons. (I really like Aretha Franklin's version off of her Amazing Grace album. The closest I could come to it in terms of a link was the Yolanda Adams version) I'm bringing it up now because at least the Springsteen version has the line "God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water the fire next time" which seemed relevant to the previous discussion of the Noachides.

Secondly it is one of the least objectionable hymns from an Islamic theological perspective. (No talk of Trinity, Incarnation, Crucifixion, etc.)

In fact, I would suggest that it makes a very good "ashurah hymn" (see day after day after day...) If you go by the most rigorous Sunni textual standards, Ashurah celebrates God rescuing the Jews from the forces of Pharaoh. And of course for Shias it commemorates the death of Hussein. But there are also soures which associate the day with other acts of God's mercy throughout sacred history, including the landing of Noah's ark, the healing of Job, the ascencion of Jesus and other events which are all superimposed on one another much as they are in the song:
God gave Noah the rainbow sign
"No more water but fire next time"
Pharaoh's army got drownded
O Mary don't you weep

The same God who is willing to enter powerfully in history and drown an army to save a nation, is the same God willing to raise one person to comfort a crying woman.

You Tube: O Mary don't you weep (1930's Georgia fieldhands)
You Tube: O Mary don't you weep (Bruce Springsteen)
You Tube: O Mary don't you weep (Yolanda Adams tribute to Aretha Franklin)
Lyrics to O Mary don't you Weep (Springsteen version)


sondjata said...

Of course the problem here is that historians have debunked much of the Exodus story.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

I've read a couple things about the Penteteuch, especially about the Documentary Hypothesis which says that the "Torah" in the Bible wasn't just written by Moses but that it had multiple authors and wasn't put together until centuries after Moses.

But I wasn't sure what mainstream historians believe regarding what actually happened during the Exodus.

I've heard some odd theories but I still had the basic impression that the Egyptians enslaved a Semetic group who ultimately left Egypt.

sondjata said...

That's not what I was referring to, though that particular "enslaved semites" story is another point to be argued.

Actually historians have discussed the book of Exodus breaking down the significance of the Pillar of Fire by night and the Cloud by day as allegorical to how military formations were used in Egypt.

The red sea actually being the Reed Sea which does dry out enough to walk across periodically but would entrap any carriage that attempted to cross.

Other items addressed would be the Battle of Jericho.

bin gregory said...

I went to catholic school, and the Jesuit priest who taught theology for the old testament would repeatedly storm that there were no miracles in the old testament. He had elaborate explanations for everything, along the lines of the Reed Sea idea, that natural phenomenon could account for the miracles of the plagues, the manna from heaven, etc. It seems odd to me, because a string of rare and unusual natural phenomenon consistently falling on the side of one person or group of people is miracle enough, isn't it? Besides, it's not as though one comes from God and the other comes from other than God...

sondjata said...

The issue is whether one actually believes in such events or not. If one needs to believe in mannah from heaven, burning bushes, etc. then one will find a means to make it fit into ones belief system. On the other hand a doubting thomas will find the fault in the descriptions including what I've briefly pointed out. The fact that all societies embellish thier stories in order to puff themselves up should at this day and age be obvious. I'm sure that some people think God made three hurricanes pass over florida on purpose to punish Floridians that voted for Bush.

Anyway, the point of my original comment was that in the context of the blogpost, certain things have to be accepted as truth in order for the post to carry weight. So for example if Mary is an allegorical character, then comforting her by referring to Pharoes army'sdrowning doesn't make sense. Similarly if Phareoh's army's drowing never actually happened then it can't be used to comfort Mary.

Similarly with the flood, there is ample evidence that no such flood happened at least not in the context of a 7 day creation & short history Earth philosophy. The sheer logistics of have an ark of known dimensions, smaller than the largest ships we have built today, holding each and every known and unknown animal and plant life is so outlandish that anyone who seriously discusses it should be considered mentally challenged (IMHO).

Anyway, in the context of Negro Spirituals all of these items are in fact allegorical to the Slave experience and the seeking of relief from slavery and the plotting to escape or hold clandestine meetings. Still make for good music though.

Abdul-Halim V. said...
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Abdul-Halim V. said...

My take on this sort of topic is that it would be inconsistent with an attitude of faith to say in an arrogant kind of way "I know how the world works, and so I know that people don't just rise from the dead (or food comes out the sky, etc.)"

e.g. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

On the other hand, I'm very open to the idea that a lot of scripture was intended to be metaphorical and that sometimes people make the mistake of reading things too literally.

So for example, I would tend to agree with Sondjata that a lot of the descriptions in Genesis of the creation of the world are unscientific (like plants being created before the sun) but then that would make me work harder to not read those passages as if they were even claiming to be scientific.

Instead of laughing at such passages or making fun of them, it makes more sense to try to find some other symbolic meaning.