Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Master Catechist Class Project

We are reaching the end of the Master Catechist certification course that I am enrolled in. There is no final exam, but we will spend the last few sessions giving presentations to the class in groups of three.

Our group is not scheduled for a few more weeks yet, but we have tentatively decided on a topic -- Bible study/scriptural exegesis/lectio divina as applied to those passages in Exodus dealing with the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

We wanted something that would be a little more challenging, something dealing with some of the "hard cases" concerning God -- those portions of scripture (typically in the Old Testament) where God appears to be acting inconsistently with the God of Love and Truth that is revealed in the New Testament, that is, those portions involving the "wrath" and "anger" of God, where God "smites" His enemies, and rains down destruction on them. (These issues have also been recently considered over at the Archdiocese of Washington Blog.)

What are the different ways one might read and interpret and understand these passages from Exodus?

In the case of the Ten Plagues, scripture informs us that, when Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, God inflicted various calamaties upon Egypt, including the death of the first-born. How does one reconcile a God of Love with the infliction of suffering like this? Also, scripture states that God "hardened Pharaoh's heart." That being the case, was it really fair and just to punish Pharaoh for his refusal? And was God depriving Pharaoh of free will? Or is there some other interpretation of this text?

In addition to these questions concerning the "justice" (or apparent "injustice") of God, we have the questions of whether the Plagues really happened historically, and whether they were naturally caused or inflicted by God? Do the Plagues have any symbolic significance, individually or as a whole? Are they merely historical or is there prophetic meaning in them as well?

So, these and many other questions are what I will be working on and researching and reflecting upon the next few weeks. Hopefully, I'll have an outline presentation not too long from now.

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