Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jerusalem juHwIj Quch

maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem; Jerusalem, vetlh ghaH chenta' as a veng vetlh ghaH compact tay'; nuqDaq the tuqpu' jaH Dung, 'ach Yah's tuqpu', according Daq an ordinance vaD Israel, Daq nob tlho' Daq the pong vo' joH'a'. vaD pa' 'oH cher thrones vaD yoj, the thrones vo' David's tuq.
Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem; Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together; Where the tribes go up, even Yah's tribes, According to an ordinance for Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there are set thrones for judgment, The thrones of David's house. Psalms 122:2-5

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Here's a word that comes to mind as I considered these verses: anagogical. No, that's not Klingon - it's a very old school term for one dimension of Biblical interpretation. It's one of the "senses" of Scripture put forward centuries ago by Biblical scholars who saw the Biblical text as having four dimensions - literal, allegorical, moral and ... anagogical.

A mystical interpretation of a word, passage, or text, especially scriptural exegesis that detects allusions to heaven or the afterlife.

According to the FreeDictionary, it comes from late Latin anagg, from Late Greek, spiritual uplift, from anagein, to lift up. mu' pepwI' (a word which raises up ) might be a way to say that in Klingon.

I'd be remiss if I didn't note that those fourfold "meanings" were loudly rejected by many of the Reformers - and not without reason. For many interpreters had spun complicated and farfetched interpretation - stretching the scriptures out of all recognition - there was definitely a need to draw believers back to an anchorage in the literal, historical meaning of the texts.

Yet, how are believers to hear this call to Jerusalem?

First, we can regard the literal, historical meaning - Jerusalem as a place on Earth that stands in latitude 31 degrees 46' 35" north and longitude 35 degrees 18' 30" east of Greenwich. The Psalmist really looked to, and loved the city of Jerusalem. Home of the temple, it was a destination that devout believers longed to reach. Even today, many travel to see Jerusalem to experience the land of the Bible and see first hand the sites important to their faith.

But over time (even within the Bible) believers looked beyond the earthly Jerusalem, and saw it with an anagogical eye - as the writer of Hebrews looked forward to a "heavenly Jerusalem," and in Revelation we hear of a "new" (or renewed) Jerusalem. In this way (whether or not we can afford the plane fare to the earthly Jerusalem) we can sing out with the joy of the Psalmist as we look forward to be able to say, in that future day maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem - Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.

The Klingon who was caught up in this hope might speak of Jerusalem juHwIj Quch - Jerusalem, my happy home, and indeed that is the name of an ancient Christian hymn:
        Jerusalem, my happy home,
Name ever dear to me,
When shall my labors have an end?
Thy joys when shall I see?

For the believer - it's not unusual to feel out of place. That is, our Biblical faith has to acknowledge that this world is not all it should be - it isn't all the Almighty intended. We can find ourselves feeling nostalgic, homesick as we move through life - as it is said of Abraham, "he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God." (Hebrews 11:10 NLT)

This is our hope too - and trusting in God's help, we move forward, to the day when at last we'll joyfully cry out:

maj qamDu' 'oH standing within lIj lojmItmey, Jerusalem - Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.


Ciera said...

We are but strangers in this world, or something like that :D

Joel said...

as Larry Norman once put it: "don't mind me, I'm only visiting this planet"