Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Surprising Text

The Text never ceases to surprise me … the richness of the modest … the little throw-away phrase that would otherwise escape my attention.

God commands Noah to build and ark and take within it every creature, “to keep them alive.”

I think also of how the little story of Jonah ends: “and also many animals” as God expresses her concern about Ninevah.

As I ponder these little words, I think of the Polar Bear, the Peregrine Falcon, the Elephant and the Rhino, the Gorilla and the Lynx, Butterflies and Frogs – “many animals” … “keep them alive.”

After the Ark and the Flood, comes the Tower of Babel – made of hard brick and built to bring fame and recognition. Within these two stories, a contrast: Noah feeding the animals, up close and personal, and the powerful men of Shinar building a tower to make a name for themselves.

Whatever our take of things might be, the Text, in just a few little throw-away verses, gives a high priority to the Animal Kingdom. After all, the Text reminds us that we named all the animals, and to name something is to claim responsibility for it.

It’s said that the Devil is in the details. Maybe it’s not the Devil, maybe it’s God!