I’M NOT A FICTION WRITER. I can’t sit on my back patio and write a book while throwing tennis balls to Buddy the Dog.
If I could, I would. Forget the typing. I’d kick back and dictate that sucker.
“When Hermann Hershberger turned his buggy into Yoder holler, on his way to deliver Schweddy Cheeseballs to the English restaurant that only claimed to be Amish, he descended into what had become No Man’s Land.
“Hermann, an Amish pacifist, paused his buggy in the kill zone between two armies set to charge.
“On Zook farm to the south, Hermann saw enough vampires to suck the life out of Cleveland.
“On Shrock’s chicken farm to the north, or what used to be the chicken farm, werewolves. Too many to estimate by anyone but a preacher.
“Hermann climbed out of his buggy and broke the seal on his box of cheeseballs.”
Can you see why I don’t write fiction? That part of my brain has loose screws.
I write easy-reading Bible reference books.
Here’s how you do it.
Think like a leech—or a vampire—looking to suck the life blood out of anything tempting. Bible scholars are so juicy. They are full of it.
Looking for what Jesus didn’t seem to know
Today I’m working on a quote of Jesus. It’s one that makes him look like he didn’t know what in the dickens he was talking about.
“They [will] see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. … I can promise you that some of the people of this generation will still be alive when all this happens” (Matthew 24:30, 34 ).
You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.
It never happened.
Jesus was a no-show.
That’s certainly how it looks to many folks reading the Bible.
As an easy-reading Bible reference writer, how am I supposed to explain what happened—or didn’t happen?
Say, “He was only human?”
Actually, that’s pretty much what some Bible experts say. They say he missed the date.
Others who don’t want to pitch the ball quite that hard put a little curve on it. Makes it a tad harder to read. They say the Second Coming and all the horrors Jesus said would happen first are due to “a gracious postponement by God of the catastrophe as well as to a telescoping of events, comparable with seeing a mountain range at a distance. That perspective makes the mountains appear to stand close together” (The NIV Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 244).
To which I say, “What the Huh?”
This is what I do.
I research what the scholars say, and I report it to you in words that are nothing like the words they use.
That scholarly quote, by the way, deserves a follow up question:
“Which is it? Did God change his mind or did the future look closer to Jesus than it really was? Those are two different things, dude.”
Three of the books on my desk are Greek/English dictionaries. I needed to know what the Greek word for “generation” was.
As it turns out, I discovered it can mean “race.”
That leads some scholars to say Jesus was saying he’d come back before the human race died.
You’d think that would go without saying. But Jesus, having lingered somewhere for 2,000 years, is making “slow as Moses” look like a barefooted fiddler on a hot, tin roof. For some, it’s becoming increasingly conceivable that we could very well blow ourselves to kingdom come before the Kingdom came.
I’ll keep reading until I feel as though I fairly well understand what the scholars are saying. Then I’ll report their educated guesses to you. Probably not in this blog. I’m working on this Jesus quote for a book.
What I think about the theories
People sometimes ask what I think about the theories I report.
Here’s what I think.
I think they shouldn’t give a boohoo or how do you do to what I think.
Instead, I think they should do what I do.
- Read the Bible
- Read what Bible experts have to say about the background to any stories or passages that look confusing
- And then either form their own opinion
- Or—as I often do—drop the question into a pending file and get back to loving God and loving the neighbors.
That’s probably a better way to spend our spare time. Don’t you think?