“Scripture,” Fr. Paul wrote years ago, “is its own interpreter.”

“The sermon,” he continued,“…is at best an invitation to hear and obey the text.”

“An invitation card has no value whatsoever when it comes to the dinner itself; the guests are fed by the dinner, not by the invitation or its phrasing (Luke 14:16-24; Matthew 22:1-14).”

This study of the Gospel of Luke began with a command that the priest (which has nothing to do with the institutional priesthood in any of our churches, let alone historical Judaism) become silent. 

I have heard Fr. Paul teach this for as long as I can remember and have taken it literally and seriously. 

But how does one teach and preach without speaking?

At first, by simply accepting one’s hypocrisy, which most cannot. 

Or perhaps they can but then find themselves shocked that a wanton hypocrite like myself remains unmoved and zealous in my preaching.

I was sitting on the steps outside St. Elizabeth this past summer, and an older woman walked by with a sweatshirt that read, “West Side Against Everybody.” 

“Keep the faith, Padre,” she said.

“Always,” I replied.   

So how does a hypocrite, as younger colleagues put it, “Let the text speak?”

The answer is not a big stupid group hug. 

If that’s what you want, stick with CNN. Your educated, inclusive, culturally sensitive group hug is now on full display in Gaza.

It, too, is a hypocrite—it even has eyes—but it can’t see—it is totally blind to its own hypocrisy. 

Honest to God, it really believes that planting a rainbow flag in northern Gaza will liberate the oppressed. 

“Blind as a bat,” your expression goes. 

So, I have a suggestion. If you want to understand how your sensitive, relationship-driven, evolved culture works in 2024, watch “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The spirit of William King Hale is alive and well in the United States. He sits on your school boards and still holds government office. He has “dear” friends in Gaza for whom he cares “dearly.” His nephew even married “one.” He speaks Arabic fluently, and he really understands “them.” 

I’ll tell you what I understand. 

If you want to understand Paul, open your ears:  

“For each one will bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:5) 

Teaching is not about speaking, let alone learning; it is about carrying your weight. 

People do not learn; they are taught, meaning a teacher has to pick up a shovel and do work with their own hands. 

The answer is not one’s ideas, knowledge, opinions, input, or explanations, let alone hermeneutics or theology. 

(May God protect us from the blasphemous seduction of reception history, in which the Academy, once and for all, is working harder than ever to replace the Scriptural God with its own ego.)

Our duty is word study and lexicography: grammar and functionality in the text of the Bible.

The role of the preacher is not to give a disciple something to hear but to equip a disciple so that they can hear the text on their own dime.

It is embarrassing that Western scholarship treats *re’shit *and *ro’š* as different words. Far worse, however, is the fact that so many Eastern clergy who grew up hearing the liturgy in Arabic—even if they themselves do not speak Arabic—fall into the same trap. 

This is not about identity. People of all colors, genders, religions, and identities are fully on board with the military-industrial hate parade in Washington and London. Still, Scripture is not against them. It is against you. 

And that’s the point. 

When are *you* going to do something?

Didn’t you hear what she said? 

“I’m so scared. Please come. Please call someone to come and take me.”  

“OK, Habbibti, I will come and take you.”

But no one came except God. He always comes through, especially when you don’t. 

He took them all. 

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

This week’s episode is an excursus on the term Amalek. (Episode 520)

After ten years of programming, The Bible as Literature Podcast will take a sabbatical, starting mid-February and extending until after Pascha in May, following the Eastern calendar. 

This sabbatical will provide an opportunity for me to concentrate on Fr. Paul’s work and some exciting developments planned for his weekly podcast. Rest assured, while The Bible as Literature is on temporary hiatus, I will continue to produce Fr. Paul’s program, “Tarazi Tuesdays,” on a weekly basis. 
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