Notes on Genesis (iv)

‘The dove returned to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth…’ (Gen 8:11) When this passage is read with the Church, the dove that returned to Noah appears more significant than it may at first apear. The bird’s flying over the waters of the flood recalls the Spirit hovering over the face of the water at […]

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In Praise of Aaron Copland

There can be no-one who doesn’t warm to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. From its haunting, gentle beginning, suggestive of Grieg or Wagner, and the lovely passage about six minutes in right through to the Shaker melody that has found popularity elsewhere as the Lord of the Dance and segues into the tranquil beauty of the final bars, there is continual enjoyment. I relish […]

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Developments in the library

A procedure I ‘ve just encountered at the library I most frequently use marks what is surely the last stage in a process that began some time ago. When I began to use the library you filled in an orange card for every book you borrowed, then stood in a queue to have a staff member process the loan. As […]

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Why do terrible things happen?

The recent disasters in Japan raise again the old issue of theodicy: how could a God who is good and almighty allow such things as earthquakes, tsunamis, and leaks of radioactive material to happen? The notion that those who suffer are being punished for sin is sub-Christian: ‘Do you suppose that these Gallileans were worse sinners…?I tell you no…Or those eighteen […]

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Notes on Genesis (ii)

‘…from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death.’ (Gen 2:17) These are hard words, and emphatic; apparently an intensifying Hebrew expression lies behind the inelegant expression ‘die by death’ , which translators have struggled with; cf  ‘thou shalt surely die’ (Authorized Version), ‘you […]

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In praise of Handel

I’d been looking forward to listening to a broadcast of a performance of Handel’s Messiah, but the program was pulled, and instead something I didn’t know existed, a reorchestration of the oratorio produced by Johan Hiller in 1786, was played. It was no more successful than reworkings of earlier music usually are, turning it into something softer and more lush…of course such […]

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Notes on Genesis (i)

‘Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…So God made man; in the image of God he made him; male and female he made them.’ (Gen 1:26f) This is a very dense passage. Among other things that could be said, I’d like to note three matters. The narrative in Genesis places the creation of […]

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Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

It’s good having the time and intellectual energy to reread some classic works, among them this study, which I last looked at when an undergraduate. Burckhardt was a Swiss German, and in this work, first published in German in 1860, he produced one of the major interpretations of Renaissance Italy. Basing his study on a close reading of many texts, he produced some […]

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‘I believe in one God…’

In what way do we believe in God? The expression at the beginning of the Creed, translated into English as ‘believe in’, occurs a number of times in the New Testament. John the Theologian mentions believing in the name of Christ (1:12; 2:23), and represents Christ as speaking of those who believe in him and his Father (14:1). In other words, ‘believing in’ […]

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