Monthly Archives: August 2015

On the OTHER readings for August





A visualization of the Bible’s “Song of Songs…”








Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

For more on expanding your mind and horizons, see the Introduction.

The theme here is that taking the Bible literally is a good place to start.  But to be all that you can be in this earthly pilgrimage, you need to explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*”

That’s what this blog is about.  Exploring that mystical side of the Bible.

Or see Some basics, on the Three Great Promises of Jesus:  1) He’ll accept anyone who comes to Him;  2) He wants us to live abundantly; and  3) He wants us do greater miracles than He did.

In the meantime:

I’m leaving town on Monday, August 10, and won’t be back until August 27.  (A matter of some “unfinished business,” canoe-trip-wise.)  So here’s an analysis of the Bible readings for Sunday, August 16, 23 and 30.

(You can see the full readings for all three Sundays at Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 15, Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 16, and Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 17.)

In the readings discussed below, we see a rare Biblical glimpse on the beauty of sexual love, and on David finally dying, or “sleeping with his ancestors.”  They also tell about Jesus as both the Bread of Life and as the Light of the World.

But first, a note that on August 16 there’s a switch in the Old Testament readings.

Up until August 9, those readings were from the Second Book of Samuel.  On August 16 – and 23 – they switch to the First Book of Kings.  The two books “of Kings” were originally one, but they were so long that they had to be put on two different scrolls.  (The ancient Hebrews didn’t have “books” as we know them.  Their books were actually scrolls.)

The Two Book of Kings present the Bible view of the “history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon.”

Then for August 30 the OT reading changes again, from Kings to the “Song of Solomon” or Song of Songs.  (After that, during the month of September the Old Testament readings are from the Book of Proverbs.)

The “Song of Songs” is unique.  It doesn’t refer to The Law (illustrated at right), or to the Covenant, or to Yahweh.  And the song doesn’t teach wisdom “in the manner of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes:”

Instead, it celebrates sexual love.  It gives “the voices of two lovers, praising each other, yearning for each other, proffering invitations to enjoy.”  The two are in harmony, each desiring the other and rejoicing in sexual intimacy; the women (or “daughters”) of Jerusalem form a chorus to the lovers … whose participation in the lovers’ erotic encounters facilitates the participation of the reader.

But more about that later.

The OT reading for August 16 – 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14 – starts: “David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the City of David,” that is, Jerusalem.  (This was after he’d been King of Israel for 40 years.)  It then introduces Solomon – David’s son – as the new King.  (Though not without a bit of drama, in the form of a struggle over the succession.)

Wikipedia said Solomon was known most for his wisdom, and the reading shows Solomon praying for such wisdom.   God responded by giving him “wisdom plus:”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.  God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches … I now do according to your word…   I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you…  (E.A.)

All of which provides a wonderful object lesson in the proper way to pray to God.

The OT reading for August 23 – 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43 – includes a similar prayer with Solomon praising God.  He did this in the process of bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to the First Temple in Jerusalem.

( 1st Kings 7 described the process of building the Temple.  Note that the Ark had been with David when he fled Jerusalem “at the time of Absalom‘s conspiracy.”  It was later returned, and during the 13 years that Solomon built the Temple, it was kept in “a special inner room, named Kodesh Hakodashim, or Holy of Holies.  See 1st Kings 6:19.)

The OT reading for August 30 – Song of Solomon 2:8-13 – follows the Introduction (1:1–6) and a “Dialogue between the lovers (1:7–2:7).”  In this reading the “woman recalls a visit from her lover (2:8–17).”  Passages include “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag,” and the beloved speaking to her, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”  (Wikipedia noted the Christian tradition, “appreciating the literal meaning of a romantic song between man and woman,” but also seeing the poem as “an allegory of Christ (the bridegroom) and his Church (the bride).”)

The psalms for these three weeks include Psalm 111, Psalm 84, and Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10.  The International Bible Commentary (IBC) described Psalm 84 as “A pilgrim’s testimony.”  It added that the psalm rivals Paul’s letter to the Philippians as an expression of spiritual joy.”  The psalmist finds in God “true security and abundant blessing, to which a life of [attempted] moral integrity is the key according to the covenant.”  (See “the Covenant, above.)

(“Attempted” in brackets is a reminder that we’re all still “works in progress,” and will remain so…)

And speaking of weddings, the IBC said Psalm 45 was a “wedding song for a king and his bride.” Continuing the theme begun in Song of Songs – above – Psalm 45:2 reads:  “You are the fairest of men; grace flows from your lips, because God has blessed you for ever.”  And Psalm 45:8 reads: “All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.”

The New Testament readings are Ephesians 5:15-20Ephesians 6:10-20, and James 1:17-27.

As noted in WikipediaEphesians 5:15-20 is part of Paul’s discourse of instructions about ordinary life and different relationships.   But in  Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul moves on to the “imagery of spiritual warfare (including the metaphor of the Armor of God).”  And James begins with an introduction, with an additional instruction to “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”  (James 1:22.)

That simple phrase set up a spiritual battle that continues even to this day.  See Mary and Martha of Bethany:  “the debate over which is the better path – faith or works – has been going for most if not all the 2,000 years since the Church was born.  See Faith and Works.”

Martin Luther for one characterized James’ letter as an ‘epistle of straw,'” mostly – he thought – because it supposedly conflicted “with Paul on the doctrine of justification.”  (Like I said, that spiritual battle continues “even to this day,” but maybe the answer isn’t “either-or,” but rather “both.”  See Mary and Martha.)  Note also that readings from James will continue throughout the month of September.

The Gospel readings are John 6:51-58John 6:56-69, and – in another switch – to Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.  In the readings from John’s Gospel, Jesus continues His Bread of Life Discourse:

In the Christological context, the use of the Bread of Life title is similar to the Light of the World title in John 8:12 where Jesus states: “I am the light of the world: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  These assertions build on the Christological theme of John 5:26 where Jesus claims to possess life just as the Father does and provide it to those who follow him

See also The readings for August 9, which added that “part of that ‘light of life’ or ‘bread of life’ approach is to know how to process anger and/or misunderstandings…”

The Gospel for August 30 includes Jesus being criticized by “Pharisees and some of the scribes.” (They saw some disciples eating with “unwashed hands.”)  He responded by quoting Isaiah 29:13 and concluding, “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”  Incidentally, Mark 7:9 is skipped over in this reading, but in it Jesus continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

Another example of the proper way not to approach God…


Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!


The upper image is courtesy of  The article doesn’t have a readily-identifiable attribution, but it appears to be the work of Aubrey Beardsley.  Beardsley (1872-1898) was a noted English illustrator and author:

His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement…   [His] contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis.

See Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The canoe image is courtesy of  Canoe – Wikipedia.  Caption:  “Voyageur canoe shooting the rapids.”

Re: First and Second Kings.  The consensus is that First and Second Chronicles repeat much of the material in First and Second Kings.  See Wikipedia: “Much of the content of Chronicles is a repetition of material from other books of the Bible, from Genesis to Kings.”  But see also Chronicles and Kings – A Comparison – Mark Haughwout, and/or The Relationship between … Kings and Chronicles.

The “Law” image is courtesy of Torah – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Presentation of The Torah (1860) –Museum of Jewish Art and History.”  The Torah is also known as The Law:  

Christian scholars usually refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the “Pentateuch” … or as the Law, or Law of Moses.  Muslims refer to the Torah as Tawrat (توراة, “Law”), an Arabic word for the revelations given to the Islamic prophet Musa (موسى, Moses in Arabic).

The “Solomon dedication” image is courtesy of the First Temple Wikipedia article.  The caption:  “In an artistic representation, King Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem (painting by James Tissot or follower, c. 1896–1902).”

The Martin Luther image is courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Luther as a friar, with tonsure.”  See also Tonsure – Wikipedia, referring to  practice “in medieval Catholicism, abandoned by papal order in 1972.”

The lower image is courtesy of Woes of the Pharisees – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “James Tissot, Woe unto You, Scribes and Pharisees, Brooklyn Museum.”  See also Light of the World – Wikipedia. The quote including “hypocrites” is from Matthew 23:14.


On the readings for August 9

 Jesus, sharing the “Bread of Life” at Emmaus – as discussed in the Gospel for August 9…


Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

For more on expanding your mind and horizons, see the Introduction.

The theme?  Taking the Bible literally is a good place to start.  But to be all you can be  –  on this earthly pilgrimage  –  you need to explore “the mystical side of Bible reading.*”

That’s what this blog is about.  Exploring that mystical side of the Bible.

Or see Some basics, on the Three Great Promises of Jesus:  1) He’ll accept anyone who comes to Him;  2) He wants us to live abundantly; and  3) He wants us do greater miracles than He did.

In the meantime:

There’s more on the Bible readings for August 9 below.  But first, here’s an update:

I talked about David and Bathsheba – and how they “met” – in the readings for July 26.  She was married at the time – to Uriah the Hittite – when David secretly watched her taking a bath “in the altogether.”  To make a long story short, he got her pregnant.

Then he tried to cover it up by bringing Uriah back from the battle-front and inviting him to sleep with Bathsheba.  (So Uriah would think the baby was his.)  When all that didn’t work, David basically had Uriah killed in battle, but managed to make it look like an accident.

In the OT reading for August 3, the “stuff hit the fan.”  (See 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a.)  First, Bathsheba heard that Uriah had been killed in battle, and not much later she became David’s wife and “bore him a son.”  But God wasn’t too happy about it, and so sent His prophet Nathan.

Nathan told David a story about a “little ewe lamb,” and how it got stolen by some “fat cat” (as illustrated at right).  But Nathan didn’t name the Fat cat.  Then David got all bent out of shape and said the man deserved to die.  That’s when Nathan told David, “You are the Fat cat!”  (A loose translation.)   Nathan then described what would happen next.

First, “the sword shall never depart from your house.”  That meant David would undergo nothing but trouble for the rest of his life.  Also, God said (through Nathan), “I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives,” in public.  (All of which came to pass, by the way.)  The August 3 reading ended with David confessing: “I have sinned against the LORD.”

And incidentally, the psalm for August 3 was Psalm 51:1-13.  As noted in Readings for July 26, David wrote it after – and because of – this incident involving Bathsheba and Uriah.  In turn Psalm 51 is widely recognized as “one of the best-known and most often read penitential texts” in the Bible:  “David threw himself on the mercy of God after committing adultery and murder…  His two-fold repentance provides a model that we should follow.”

(Although the better course would be not to do what David did in the first place…)

Moving right along, that brings us to the Bible readings for Sunday, August 9.  (See Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 14.)  The Old Testament reading – 2d Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33 – tells about the death of Absalom, David’s third and favorite son.

Unfortunately, the Lectionary readings went from the beginning of Chapter 12 to the beginning of Chapter 18 in the Second Book of Samuel.  In doing so they skipped over a lot of juicy stuff, like incest, rape and murder.  Basically, David’s oldest son raped his half-sister, who happened to be the full sister of Absalom.  Absalom was David’s third and favorite son.  But in the course of some revenge killings and other mayhem, Absalom ended up leading a revolt against David – his father – and ultimately forcing him to flee the capital, Jerusalem:

After [Absalom’s] full sister Tamar was raped by Amnon, their half-brother and David’s eldest son, Absalom waited two years and avenged her by sending his servants to murder Amnon at a feast after he was drunk…  (2 Samuel 13).

To go over some of the other skipped materal, 2d Samuel 15 tells about the beginning of Absalom’s revolt.  And among other things, 2d Samuel 16 tells about Absalom taking over David’s palace and “sleeping with” his concubines.”

This fulfilled Nathan’s prophecy: “they pitched a tent for Absalom on the [palace] roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.” ( 2 Samuel 16:22.)

But Absalom was eventually killed in battle, despite David’s orders that he not be harmed.  The death of Absalom is shown at left, courtesy of Absalom – Wikipedia.  This happened at the battle “in the Wood of Ephraim,” as father and son struggled for supremacy over Israel.  But again, despite his son’s revolting against him, David ordered his troops to “deal gently with the young man Absalom.”  (The troops were led by the same  Joab who carried out David’s orders to have Uriah put out front in battle, “where the fighting is fiercest.  Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”  2d Samuel 11:15.)

So, here’s what happened after the battle started turning against Absalom:

Absalom happened to meet the servants of David…  [He] was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak.  His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.  And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him.

Naturally David’s troopers thought Absalom’s death was good news, but when he heard about it, David broke down and wept: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!  Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  (2 Samuel 18:33.)  See also O Absalom – My Son, My Son! : Christian Courier, for a deeper analysis.

All of which brings us up to speed for the Old Testament Bible readings leading up to August 9.  And incidentally, the psalm reading is Psalm 130, discussed in Oscar Wilde and Psalm 130.

ephesians-4-26-27The New Testament reading – Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – is part of Paul’s set of instructions about ordinary life and different relationships.  One of the best-known passages is Ephesians 4:26, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.”  (As shown at right.)  For further analysis see Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger – FaithGateway.

And finally, the Gospel for August 9 is John 6:35, 41-51, which includes the Bread of Life Discourse.  The reading begins with Jesus saying “to the people, ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'”

Unfortunately, this selected reading skips over what I consider the most important passage in the Bible.  That’s John 6:37, where Jesus promises He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him.  (See also Some basics.)   The skipped-over parts include Jesus saying He came down from Heaven to do the job God sent Him to do, including “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

So anyway, the reading picks up where people start complaining, for reasons including that they knew Jesus.  “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, `I have come down from heaven?'”  Nevertheless, Jesus continues:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever:”

In the Christological context, the use of the Bread of Life title is similar to the Light of the World title in John 8:12 where Jesus states: “I am the light of the world: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  These assertions build on the Christological theme of John 5:26 where Jesus claims to possess life just as the Father does and provide it to those who follow him.

And part of that “light of life” or “bread of life” approach is to know how to process anger and/or misunderstandings.  As discussed in FaithGateway, ” One approach you might want to try is reading Proverbs 14:29 out loud three times (or ten, if necessary):  ‘People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.'”


Jesus – the Light of the World…


The upper image is courtesy of  Road to Emmaus appearance – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  (In the “Gallery of Art” at the bottom of the article, under Abraham Bloemaert.)  See also File: Abraham Bloemaert – The Emmaus Disciples.  Bloemaert (1566-1651) was a Dutch painter, printmaker, etcher and engraver.  He was a “Haarlem Mannerist,” starting around 585, but changed styles at the turn of the century (1600). He specialized in history subjects and also taught.  (Training most of the “Utrecht Caravaggisti.”)  He did Emmaus Disciples in 1622.  “all that you can be.”  See Slogans of the United States Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001. The image at left is courtesy of

*  Re: “mystical.”  As originally used, the term mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.”  See Mysticism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and also the post On originalism.  See also On the Bible and mysticism.

The “fat cat” image is courtesy of Fat cat (term) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Light of the World – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “Detail on stained glass depicting Jesus: I am the light of the worldBantry, Ireland.”



What’s a DOR?

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You don’t have to become a monk to do the Daily Office

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The acronym “DOR” stands for Daily Office Reading. That’s where the “DOR” in “Dorscribe” comes from. In turn, the Daily Office is a two-year cycle of Bible readings. Which means that if  you follow the full set of readings, you’ll get through virtually the entire Bible one time in two years.  (And the psalms and Gospels three to four times.) See also Canonical hours – Wikipedia:

The canonical hours mark the divisions of the day in terms of periods of fixed prayer at regular intervals…  In western Catholicism, canonical hours may also be called offices, since they refer to the official set of prayer of the Roman Catholic Church…  In the Anglican tradition, they are often known as the daily office (or divine office), to distinguish them from the other ‘offices’ of the Church, i.e. holy communion, baptism, etc.

Wikipedia added that the practice of making such daily prayers “grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day,” as for example in the Book of Acts, where “Peter and John visit the temple for the afternoon prayers (Acts 3:1).”  (E.A.)

See also Psalm 119:164, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

This practice started with the Apostles, then – later – as monasticism spread, monks developed standardized hours and liturgical formats for daily prayer. (And daily Bible study.) “Already well-established by the ninth century in the West, these canonical offices consisted of eight daily prayer events: lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline, and the night office, sometimes referred to as vigils.”  The canonical hours article added:

By the time of the Roman Empire, the Jews (and eventually early Christians) began to follow the Roman system of conducting the business day in scheduling their times for prayer.  In Roman cities, the bell in the forum rang the beginning of the business day at about six o’clock in the morning (Prime, the “first hour”), noted the day’s progress by striking again at about nine o’clock in the morning (Terce, the “third hour”), tolled for the lunch break at noon (Sext, the “sixth hour”), called the people back to work again at about three o’clock in the afternoon (None, the “ninth hour”), and rang the close of the business day at about six o’clock in the evening (the time for evening prayer).

A side note, that way of telling time is shown in Mark 15:33 and Matthew 27:45, of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Those passages refer to the sixth and ninth hours of the day: “Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice … and breathed His last.” Thus the “darkness” that day started at noon and lasted until 3:00 in the afternoon. “Canonical hours” concluded:

The traditional structure [of the Daily Office today] reflects the intention by the reforming Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, to return to the office’s older… Like many other Reformers, Cranmer sought to restore the daily reading or singing of psalms as the heart of Christian daily prayer. Since his time, every edition of the Book of Common Prayer has included the complete psalter, usually arranged to be read over the course of a month…  

On the other hand, over the centuries the practice of daily Bible reading seven times a day became too onerous for working-class folk. So Cranmer started the present system of studying the Bible at most twice a day. Each day’s readings include two sets of psalms, “AM” and “PM.” (One set for morning prayer and one for evening prayer.)  But with the difficulty of setting aside even two times a day for Bible reading, you could read both sets of psalms at once, for me usually first thing in the morning.

See also Daily Office | From the Diocese of Indianapolis, also known as “”

The Daily Office is an ancient way to pray.  There are many ways to pray, including your own cries to God of joy and sorrow and need.  Such prayers are intensely personal, while the Office gathers up all our prayers so that we can pray together.  From monasteries to churches to private homes, people have been praying the Daily Office for thousands of years.  Why?  Because it brings us closer to God.

So there you have it. The Daily Office provides a way for ordinary people to read and get through the Bible in as little as two years. (And not get bogged down somewhere in Leviticus, what usually happens when you try to read the Bible like a novel.) And who knows? By consulting this blog “for clues” – and maybe reading the Bible yourself – you might end up solving your own life’s fascinating detective story, like Sean Connery.

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The upper image is courtesy of New Parson’s Handbook: Two Ways of Praying: Psalms and Daily Prayer, which added, “the Daily Office or Liturgy of the Hours (Morning and Evening Prayer, for most Anglicans) has itself a rich and varied tradition, and its celebration can take varied forms.” The article gave even more reasons why Psalms are essential to daily prayer, and spiritual growth.  

Aside from the Daily Office there’s the Revised Common Lectionary. It sets out the Bible readings for Sundays, and follows a three-year cycle. That in turn means if you attend an Episcopal church each Sunday for three years, you’ll hear virtually the whole Bible read to you, “once in three years, and the psalms and Gospels three to four times.”

The lower image is courtesy of The Name of the Rose (film) – Wikipedia. See also The Name of the Rose – Wikipedia, which referred to “the first novel by Italian author Umberto Eco. It is a historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery in the year 1327.” The book revolves around the canonical hours during the visit by “Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk,” to a “Benedictine monastery in Northern Italy to attend a theological disputation.”

Those canonical hours were:   1. Matins (at sunrise);   2. Prime (first hour of the day);  3. Terce (third hour of the day);   4. Sext (sixth hour of the day or noon);   5. None (ninth hour of day);   6. Vespers (end of day, sunset);  and  7. Compline (before retiring);   8. Vigils (during the night).   As the book also indicated, the monks in a monastery normally went to bed around 6:00 p.m. and got up at 3:00 a.m.  See also Vigiles – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, about the Vigiles Urbani (“watchmen of the City“) or Cohortes Vigilum (“cohorts of the watchmen”), the “firefighters and police of Ancient Rome.”

As to the simplification of the Daily Office, see Intro to Prayer Book | The Daily Office

Cranmer and the English Reformers were committed to: 1. Bringing the complicated and extensive prayer system out of the monasteries and convents to the common people, and  2. Necessarily, simplifying it all and putting it in their common language. This meant Morning and Evening Prayer and the Eucharist would accessible to all who could read.

(Emphasis added.) Meaning from 1549 on, reading and interpreting the Bible was no longer the exclusive province of the clergy.

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One final note: To increase your ease in “reading” the Daily Office, Church Publishing Incorporated (formerly known as Church Hymnal Corporation) offers a four-volume set, Daily Office Readings, as shown below. Each volume includes “Lectionary texts for reading the daily office using the Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible.” See Welcome to Church Publishing (E.A.).

As noted in the Introductions to each volume, there are two volumes for each year of the Daily Office, “in strict accordance” with the Lectionary set out in the Book of Common Prayer, at pages 936-1000.  (See also Daily Office Lectionary.)  The Introductions add:

Because of the importance of the Daily Office in the Anglican tradition … these volumes will make the Offices easier to recite [sic], aiding the use of the Office for private or public prayers.  [They] eliminate the need to find three readings for each day in the Bible and to track down those readings which skip around within a given passage. DOR should make it more possible for the laity and clergy alike to develop the habit of reciting [sic] the Offices by eliminating much of the work involved. They are also invaluable for those who are traveling.

See also More on the Divine Office: Private Recitation, and How to Pray the Office:

[T]he canonical hours stemmed from Jewish prayer.  During the Babylonian Exile, when the Temple was no longer in use, the first synagogues were established, and the services (at fixed hours of the day) of Torah readings, psalms, and hymns began to evolve.  This “sacrifice of praise” began to be substituted for the sacrifices of animals…   When praying the Hours privately it is not a requirement to ‘sing’ a hymn.  You may simply pray
the verses provided.

For yet another take see How to Pray the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, and also note The Daily Office – Mars Hill Bible Church:  “The Daily Office is a set rhythm of reading the Scriptures, singing, and prayer.  Sometimes called the Liturgy of the Hours, it originally developed when early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers and songs at certain hours. Priests, monks, and followers of Jesus the world over observe the Daily Office, even today.”

Transfiguration – The Greatest Miracle in the World

Transfiguration Raphael.jpg

Transfiguration, by Raphael (1516-20)

The Transfiguration stands as an allegory of the transformative nature” of the faith of the Bible…

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August 6 is the Feast Day for The Transfiguration, arguably the “greatest miracle in the world.” (Unlike the other miracles of Jesus, this one happened to Him.   All the others involved Jesus doing things for other people.)  The story of the Transfiguration is told in Luke 9:28-36:

About eight days after Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.  Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.  They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem…

See also Transfiguration of Christ, which noted this particular miracle is unique among those listed in the “Canonical gospels, in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself.” And St. Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration “the greatest miracle.”  (E.A.)

The problem was that “Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep.”  But they did manage to stay awake enough to see Moses and Elijah.  In fact, Peter thought that Moses and Elijah were planning on staying awhile.  That’s why he suggested that he make three “booths” – or primitive huts – for Moses, Elijah and Jesus to stay in. (Luke 9:33.)

See also Sukkot – Wikipedia, which described the type of “booth” that Peter was referring to.  (Sukkot is also known as the Feast of Booths.)  The thing is:  When we think of a “booth,” what comes to mind is a “stall, compartment, or light structure for the sale of goods or for display purposes, as at a market, exhibition, or fair.”  (Like the “kissing booth” at left.)  But Peter was thinking of a whole different structure.

During Sukkot, faithful Jews remember The Exodus by living in the kind of huts their ancestors stayed in while Wandering for 40 years in the Wilderness.  That kind of booth is a frail, lean-to-type structure, with two-and-a-half walls and covered with some kind of local plant material.  (Which hopefully won’t “blow away in the wind.”)  The feast is “intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which … the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.”  (See Judaism 101: Sukkot.)

But back to the Gospel.  We pick up after Peter spoke of the booths, “not knowing what he said:”

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.  Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.  And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

Which brings up the painting above.  (Courtesy of Transfiguration (Raphael) – Wikipedia.)

Wikipedia said the painting “exemplifies Raphael’s development as an artist and the culmination of his career.”  And it’s unique for showing both the Transfiguration – in the upper half of the painting – along with another episode from the Gospels in the lower half.

The lower part of the painting illustrates Matthew 17 (verses 14-21), where Jesus had to step in and heal a boy possessed by demons, after the disciples couldn’t do it themselves.  (This comes right after Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17, verses 1-13.)

The upper part of the painting shows Moses and Elijah “floating.”  On the ground, the three disciple-witnesses,  “from left to right, James, Peter and John, traditionally read as symbols of faith, hope and love; hence the symbolic colors of blue-yellow, green and red for their robes.”

In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.

For another view, check out Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.  That site presents a Greek Orthodox analysis, including that – in the story – Moses and Elijah “represent the Law and the Prophets.” (“Moses received the Law from God, and Elijah was a great prophet.”) So it was indeed a dramatic moment in time. Or as Aquinas said, “the greatest miracle.”

Or see What was the meaning and importance of the transfiguration.  The site noted that the three disciples “never forgot what happened that day,” which was probably exactly what Jesus intended.  John, one witness wrote in his gospel, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only.” (John 1:14)  Peter also noted, wrote of it, “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18.)

The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of the deity of Christ…  That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing the shocking news of His coming death…  But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” – clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets [noted above] must give way to Jesus.

And one last note:  See Readings for October 26 for more on this feast and how it fulfilled a centuries-old dream for Moses, who God kept from the Promised Land. (See Why was God so upset with Moses and Why Moses [couldn’t] enter the Promised Land.)  As Readings noted:

Moses finally entered the Promised Land – [at] the Transfiguration – albeit a Millennium after he expected.  In modern terms, Moses died some seven miles due east of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, inside Jordan, while in the Transfiguration he “met up” with Jesus on Mount Tabor, inside Israel and 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee.

Which is proof positive that while God may have His own time-table, He always keeps His promises.  (And that patience is definitely a virtue)

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A note on the painting by Raphael:  According to Wikipedia, “The iconography of the picture has been interpreted as a reference to the delivery of the city of Narbonne from the repeated assaults of the Saracens.  Pope Calixtus III proclaimed August 6 a feast day on the occasion of the victory of the Christians in 1456.”

Re:  The Greek Orthodox analysis.  Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord added that in addition to representing “the Law and the Prophets,” both Moses and Elijah experienced visions of God.  (“Moses on Mount Sinai and Elijah on Mount Carmel.”)  And the two men “represent the living and the dead (Elijah, the living, because he was taken up into heaven by a chariot of fire, and Moses, the dead, because he did experience death).”  But see the final note above…

The lower image is courtesy of Christian mysticism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption:  “Transfiguration of Jesus depicting him with Elijah, Moses and 3 apostles by Carracci, 1594.”  The site noted:  “[P]ractices such as the Eucharist, baptism and the Lord’s Prayer all become activities that take on importance for both their ritual and symbolic values.”  Further, “Jesus’ conception, in which the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary, and his Transfiguration, in which he is briefly revealed in his heavenly glory, also become important images for meditation.”

For related posts see On Exodus (Part II) and Transfiguration and On the Bible and mysticism.