The New Year’s Day Melancholy

In Korea, we get one year older every new year’s day, though we also use the usual way to count our ages–birthday-centered numbering. So Koreans’ ages are like “ordinal numbers.” If you were born on the 31st day of December in 2022, it is your “first year,” and you are one year old. Then the next day, 2023, is your “second year,” and you are two years old. But, to be more precise, it is incorrect to say the person is “two years old.” We have our own way of saying it, that is, “두 살”(doo sɑ́l)(doo means two; sɑ́l is an age numbering unit). This means 2023 is your second year since you were born.

Anyway, the numbering system of the human age based on the earth’s revolution around the sun is, in fact, just a numbering system and nothing more. But it is? It is not at all easy to overcome the social dimension or cultural implications of getting “older,” or more precisely, “adding up numbers” to our ages. At every round of the earth’s evolution around the sun, we are expected to be wiser, more prosperous, more stable and secure. But the new year’s day is just another revolution of the earth around the sun. Nonetheless we are more pressed to be better and better at every dimension of our lives as the earth moves on and on and on. However, it is not even easy to survive these days, and sometimes it feels like getting wiser and more prosperous is too far away from us.

On every new year’s day, I look back at my “performances” or “achievements” of the last year and think, “what have I done?” And I also think, “what should I achieve this year?” There is not much to say. As long as anti-intellectualism disguised as “faith” prevails in Korean Christianity, rational theological ideas have little space in religious communities. As a scholar, I feel my hands are tied, but I am expected to achieve something big as the earth moves around the sun. As the pattern repeats, the new year’s day melancholy grows and presses me harder.

Jehovah, Yahweh

Jehovah, Yahweh

For the Korean version, see this. (Reposted in 2022; originally posted bilingually in Korean and English in 2019)

In Christianity, the God of Israel in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) is known as Jehovah. As the title of the article suggests, however, Yahweh is also the name of Israel’s God. Assuming that most Christians are unaware of how these two names became in use interchangeably, I will explain the names Jehovah and Yahweh.

Continue reading “Jehovah, Yahweh”

Isaiah (2)

*This post was originally published bilingually in English as well as Korean back in 2018. Now the post is separated in each language. For the Korean version, see this.

The Tripartite Division of Isaiah and the Problem of the Authorship of the Book of Isaiah (2)

#1. Second Isaiah has been traditionally regarded to be chs. 40-55. As mentioned in the previous post, however, chs. 34-35, which originally was deemed to belong to First Isaiah, is these days viewed as Second Isaiah. Second Isaiah mainly prophesizes the restoration of Judah from the Babylonian destruction (the judgment of God), and its geographical backdrop is primarily Babylon. Second Isaiah even talks about the return from the Babylonian deportation:

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it forth to the end of the earth;
say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!” (Is 48:20, NRSV)

Continue reading “Isaiah (2)”

Isaiah (1)

*This post was originally published bilingually in English as well as Korean back in 2018. Now the post is separated in each language. For the English version, see this.

The Tripartite Division of Isaiah and the Problem of the Authorship of the Book of Isaiah (1)

Have you ever heard of the terms, such as Second Isaiah (or Deutero-Isaiah) and Third Isaiah (or Trito-Isaiah)? These are quite common terms for Hebrew Bible scholars but, I guess, not for most lay Christians. If you have a good sense of intuition, you would know that these words have something to do with the author of the book of Isaiah. If you have a little better sense of intuition, then you may even notice that these words suggest that the historical Isaiah is not the only one who is responsible for the composition of the book of Isaiah.

Continue reading “Isaiah (1)”

Lamentations

Lamentations

*This post was originally published bilingually in English as well as Korean back in 2018. Now the post is separated in each language. For the Korean version, see this.

What is the matter?

Many Christians assume that the prophet Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations in the Hebrew Bible. But Hebrew Bible scholars came up with some ideas that significantly challenge such an assumption. Why have people been assuming that Jeremiah is the author of the book of Lamentations? And what is the evidence that Jeremiah is not the author of that book?

Continue reading “Lamentations”