Those who used the breviary early this morning may have gotten a glitch at the First Reading. I currently have the entire contents of the KJV and WEB Bibles in the database. As a result, the file pulls a Scripture reference and passes it to a parsing function which looks at it for colons, dashes, and commas. The short reason why there was an error this morning is because today’s first reference: Joshua 4:19-5:1, 15:10-15 overwhelmed the parser with the sheer volume of its punctuation. The longer answer is that I didn’t fully program the parser to handle this kind of Scripture reference because of a fundamental disquietude concerning our current Daily Office lectionary.
I know—the rule is common prayer. And I abide by it (99% of the time…). As a result, the Daily Office lectionary from the BCP is what is in there and what will remain in there.
But on occasion I have to register my objections, and this is one of them.
Whenever I look at a reference that causes my parser to break a sweat, I always have the same question: why? Why is there a gap here that we have to deal with? What is it about the intervening verses that the BCP Daily Office lectionary doesn’t include them. Did the compilers feel that they were too boring? Too strange? Too uncomfortable? Too raunchy? And how does the absence of these texts from our day-to-day biblical experience skew our understanding and apprehension of the Bible?
Here are the verses that we were instructed to—er—cut out today…:
At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not show them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
What about this was deemed unnecessary? Who got to decide that we shouldn’t encounter this, and what were their reasons for doing so? In a time when we are arguing over identity and covenants (recalling both the Anglican Covenant and the whole Communion without Baptism controversy) aren’t these verses worth hearing?
One enterprising reader compiled and sent to me a reverse Daily Office Lectionary which identifies which passages are, and therefore are not, included within the Lectionary. It makes for enlightening reading. He gave me permission to put it into a database with a web front-end but my current massive busyness has prevented me from accomplishing this yet. Soon, however…
I think it’s time to start revisiting the lectionary. I have no problem with a Mass lectionary with gaps. After all, that’s not the purpose of a Mass lectionary. But the function of the Daily Office lectionary is to move us through the entire Scriptures each year. Ours doesn’t—and that’s worth a serious discussion.