8 September 2008

Female discontinuities

Perhaps, I thought this morning, I ought to omit, as the OF allows, the Lord's genealogy in the Gospel for the Festum of the Nativity of the Mother of God. A bit of a burden before breakfast. Then I thought: No; there's something mysterious about that long list of names. The male names are striking enough, integrating the Lord into the sweeping continuities of Israel's history. As S Paul put it in Romans 9:1-5, 'They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever [don't let 'translators' bamboozle you into putting a full stop after God so as to eliminate this striking assertion of Christ's Divinity].

But the women are all the more remarkable. Tamar who prostituted herself to her father-in-law; Rahab the the resourceful harlot; Ruth the foreigner; Baathsheba who so curiously seemed to be unaware that the bath she used was overlooked by King David's rooftop viewing place. It is as if the evangelist is making a point about the Virgin Birth: of course Christ is a descendant of David by virtue of his patriarchal lineage even though he was not Joseph's son secundum carnem. Matthew does this by showing the family tree to have been, so to speak, helped on its way by the most remarkable collaborations between (sometimes even wayward) human behaviour and divine predestination.

So I read it: attempting exegis as I did so by the knowing, nudge-nudge way I read the phrases about the women. But that was questionable, wasn't it? One isn't supposed to intrude personality like that into the proclamation of the Gospel Word, is one?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Father, another blessing in disguise (ala the OT femme fatals) is that I and my friends found your blog as a result of insults at "Continuum."

I truly enjoy reading your posts. It is very gratifying to learn of an Anglican priest who reads and follows the rubrics in keeping with the ancient practice of the Church (despite the occasional howls of protest).