The Bible: Genesis Chapters 12 – 25 ~ The Abraham Cycle

While we have a genealogical continuity between Noah and Abram, Abram’s family did not worship God and were in fact polytheistic, residing in the city of Ur.  God appeared to Abram and commanded him to leave his country for a new land.  God’s encounter with Abram was unexpected and now signifies a personal relationship with man. Initially, He instructs Abram and offers him blessings for his obedience, and a convenant between the two is later established.

Genesis 12 – 26 (The Abraham cycle)

Abraham’s Departure (1850)
József Molnár
source Wikipedia


Chapter 12

……. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land I will show you.”

On the Lord’s command, at seventy-five years old Abram left Haran for the land of Canaan with his nephew Lot and their families and possessions.  In Canaan at Shechem near the oak of Moreh they built an altar and then, because of a famine, continued into Egypt where Abram convinced Sarai to lie and say she was his sister as, because of her beauty, he was worried the Egyptians would steal her and put him to death.  But the Lord visited a plague on the Egyptians and pharoah deduced Sarai was Abram’s wife and after a scolding, sent him away.

Seperación de Abraham y Lot
Pedro Orrente
source Wikimedia Commons



Chapter 13


Abram returned to Bethel.  Both he and Lot were so rich in possessions that they decided to part, Lot choosing the plain of Jordan near Sodom and Abram going to Canaan.  The Lord declared He would give Abram all the land and Abram settled near the oak of Mamre in Hebron, building an altar to the Lord.

Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek (1464-67)
Dieric Bouts the Elder
source Wikipedia



Chapter 14

A number of kings in the area were fighting against other kings and Lot was taken by the aggressors.  Abram armed his servants and defeated the kings, not only rescuing Lot, but bringing back the calvary of Sodom.  The king of Sodom came out to meet Abram and the priest, Melchizedek, blessed him and the Lord who delivered the enemies into his hands.  The king offered Abram his calvary but Abram refused to be beholden to him.

Chapter 15

The Lord made a covenant with Abram, promising that although he was childless, his heir would be his own son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.  “And Abram believed God, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”  The Lord revealed that his descendants would be in a foreign land for 400 years but He would judge that nation and Abram’s people would return to this land.  Then, as the sun went down, a flame appeared with a smoking oven and lamps of fire.  Then the Lord made a covenant with Abram telling him of the land he would be given.

Hagar and the Angel in the Wilderness (1665)
Francesco Cozza
source Wikipedia

Chapter 16


Frustrated with her lack of children, Sarai sent her maidservant, Hagar, to Abram, telling him to sleep with her and Abram “obeys”.  Hagar conceived but Sarai despised her and treated her harshly so the maidservant fled to the wilderness.  By a spring of water near Shur, an angel of the Lord spoke to her promising that if she returned to Sarai, she would have many descendants.  So Hagar obeyed and bore a son to Abram whom he named Ishmael.


Chapter 17

God came to Abram at ninety-nine, informing him that he would be the father of many nations.  No longer was he to be called Abram, but Abraham, and God would establish an everlasting covenant with him and future generations to be their God.  The covenant required that all males be circumcised.  Sarai was now called Sarah and she would bear a son.  Abraham laughed at the thought of a hundred year old man having a child and tried to present Ishmael to the Lord but the Lord was adamant that Sarah would bear a child, Isaac.  Ishmael was blessed with begetting 12 nations but Isaac would have the covenant.  That day, all males in Abraham’s household were circumcised.

Abraham and the Three Angels (1865)
Gustave Doré
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 18

Three men appeared to Abraham as he sat outside his tent in Mamre and Abraham recognized them as God (I think God and two angels).  He gave them hospitality, and fed them choice food.  God then asked for Sarah, promising them a son and saying, “Is anything impossible with God?”  The Lord then revealed that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were great against Him.  The (two?) men went towards Sodom but Abraham stayed with the Lord, pleading for leniency for these cities asking if there were fifty righteous men, would the Lord destroy the city?  The figure gradually reduced to ten where the Lord agreed if that many righteous men could be found, He would not destroy the city.  The Lord left and Abraham returned to his place.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1852)
John Martin
source Wikipedia



Chapter 19

Two angels appeared to Lot in Sodom who took them in, and gave them hospitality.  But the men of Sodom surrounded the house asking to have relations with the men, yet Lot forestalled their wickedness by offering them his two daughters.  However the men tried to seize Lot and the men (angels) pulled him inside, striking the men outside with blindness.  They then revealed to Lot that they were going to destroy the city and that he should take his relations and leave.  In the morning they led Lot and his family out of the city, cautioning them not to look back, and telling them to flee to the mountains, but Lot pleaded to be able to go to the city of Zoar.  And as Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained down fire and brimstone over the cities but Lot’s wife did not heed the instructions of the angels, looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.  Abraham looked towards Sodom and Gomorrah and saw their destruction.

Chapter 20

Abraham journeyed to the south between Kadesh and Shur and attempted to pull the same trick on Abimelech, king of Gerar, saying that Sarah was his sister.  But God came to Abimelech in a dream, even as he had taken Sarah, and warned him.  Abimelech professed his ignorance and pleaded with God not to destroy him.  When he returned Sarah, he chastized Abraham but the prophet said that he feared he would be killed.  Abimelech gave Abraham goods and land, whereupon Abraham prayed to God and Abimelech and his household were healed from afflictions.

Hagar and the Angel (1780)
Cecco Bravo
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 21

Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son, Isaac, and Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day as God commanded.  When Sarah saw Isaac playing with Ishmael, she demanded that Abraham send him away and while Abraham was uncomfortable with this request, at God’s word he heeded his wife as God promised that Ishmael too would be a father of nations.  Hagar and Ismael set out but when their water was exhausted, Hagar feared death for her son, but an Angel of God arrived with God’s promise and a well appeared before them.  Ishmael became an archer, lived in the wilderness of Paran and his mother took a wife for him from Egypt.  Knowing that God favoured Abraham, Abimelech, with his friend Ochozath and his commander-in-chief of his army, Phichol, made a covenant with Abraham that Abraham would never be an aggressor towards him or his offspring and that they would live in peace.  They called the well at this place the Well of Oath and Abraham remained in the land of the Philistines.

Sacrifice of Isaac (1603)
Caravaggio
source Wikipedia

Chapter 22

God decided to test Abraham and commanded him to go to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  Abraham immediately set off.  When they reached Moriah, Isaac innocently asked where was the offering and Abraham replied:

“My son, God will provide for Himself the sheep for a whole burnt offering.”

He laid Isaac on the altar and prepared to kill him but the Lord called to him, staying his hand.  God now knew Abraham’s fear and obedience was true, and a ram was provided for the sacrifice.  God promised Abraham that because of his faithfulness and obedience that He would multiply his seed and he would conquer the cities of his enemies.  Abraham returned home.  We then learn of the children born to Abraham’s brother, Nahor.

Isaac Embraces his Father Abraham
early 1900 Bible illustration
source Wikipedia


Chapter 23

Sarah died at 127 years of age in Hebron (Mamre).  Abraham asked for a place to bury her and was granted by Ephron, the son of Heth, a cave and field in Machpelah, opposite Mamre.

Chapter 24

Abraham ordered his servant to travel to the land of his tribes to get a wife for his son, Isaac, being very clear he did not want him to choose from the Canaanites.  The servant was worried that the woman would not be willing to come, but Abraham said an angel would go before him and if she would not come, he would be released from his oath.  The servant placed his hand under Abraham’s thigh and swore to carry out the task.  Stopping by a well in Nahor, he prayed to God and asked that the woman who offered him a drink would be the future wife of Isaac and behold, Rebekah, the beautiful granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor fulfilled this request.  Both Rebekah and her brother, Laban invited him to their house.  The man explained his quest and Laban and Bethuel, his father, agree to him taking Rebekah, and she agrees to go.  Isaac went out to the Well of Vision and saw the camels approaching.  When Sarah realized he was her betrothed, she veiled herself and Isaac took her into Sarah’s tent to be his wife and was comforted from the loss of his mother.

Jacob offering a dish of lentils to Esau for his birthright (1799)
Zacarias Gonzalez Velasquez
source Wikipedia



Chapter 25

Abraham took a second wife called Keturah and she bore him many sons.  He gave all his possessions to Isaac and gifts to his concubines as he sent them away.  He died at the good age of 175 and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the cave with Sarah.  Isaac continued to dwell at the Well of Vision.  Ishmael had many sons but Rebekah was barren.  Isaac pleaded with the Lord and she conceived twins but they struggled within her.  The Lord revealed that two nations were in her womb, one stronger and the older would serve the younger.  The firstborn was red and hairy and called Esau and the second, with his hand holding his brother’s heel, Jacob.  Esau became a hunter, a favourite of Isaac, but Jacob was a simple tent-dweller, beloved of Rebekah.  Jacob cooked a stew and Esau requested some as he was dying of hunger, but Jacob convinced him to sell his birthright for it.






The Bible : Genesis Chapters 1 – 11 ~ Primeval History

Initially I was going to use either my New King James or ESV translation for this read-along, but I recently acquired an Orthodox study bible so I thought it might be interesting to read it.  There are extra books included in the Old Testament accepted by the Orthodox church that I’ve always wanted to read and what better time than this read-along?  So here we go ……..

Source Wikimedia Commons

The name Pentateuch is used to refer to the first five books of the old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  A Greek word meaning “five scrolls”, it was popularized during the first century, however the Hebrew speaking Jewish people called these five books the Torah or “instruction”.  It is best read as a five-book volume.
Genesis begins with the breaking of the relationship between God and man and continues with the restoration of it through his convenant with Abraham.
The author of Genesis is unknown.  There is no evidence to connect anyone to it, however as the other books of the Torah are connected to Moses and most of biblical literature treats the Torah as a unit, a sensible guess would label Moses as the author, although at least some of the material would have existed before his time.

Presentation of the Torah (1860)
Edouard Moyse
source Wikipedia
Genesis 1-11 (Primeval History)
Chapter 1

……. In the beginning God made heaven and earth.

Chapter 1 takes us from the beginning of creation to the end of the sixth day.
In the beginning, the earth was “invisible and unfinished”. …
  • Day 1:  God made light and divided it from the darkness.
  • Day 2:  God divided the waters from the “firmament” and made Heaven
  • Day 3:  God gathered the waters together and called the waters, “Sea” and the land, “Earth”  The Earth bore grasses and (fruit) trees each according to their seed.
  • Day 4:  God made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, dividing light from darkness, as well as signs for seasons, days and years.
  • Day 5:  God made creatures of the sea and birds of the air.
  • Day 6:  God had the Earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind. He made man in His image, giving him dominion over living things, then he created woman.  Everything the plants and trees produce are food for man and the animals.

The Garden of Eden (copy of Jan Brueghel 1661)
Frederik Bouttats the elder
source Art UK

Chapter 2
  • Day 7:  God rested, and blessed this day, sanctifying it.

There had been no rain and when God made Man; a huge fountain came out of the Earth, watering it and God made man from the dust.
God made a garden (The Garden of Eden) where every beautiful tree grew including the tree of “learning the knowledge of good and evil”.  A river with four heads flowed through the garden, Pishon circling the land of Havilah, Gihon which circles Ethiopia, the Tigris near the Assyrians and the Euphrates.  
God placed man in the garden, commanding him not to eat of the tree of good and evil, then decided,

“It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Although God brought all the animals and birds, as none were comparable to Adam, God put him to sleep, removed a rib and turned it into “woman”.  She was “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone” and they were one.  
They were naked and unashamed.

Adam and Eve chased out of theTerrestrial Paradise (1841)
Jean-Achille Benouville
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 3
The serpent tempted the woman, promising she’d be like God if she ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  She complied and convinced Adam to eat as well, but when they heard God, they hid.  Their sin was revealed whereupon Adam blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent. As punishment, God declared the serpent would crawl on its belly and would have enmity with man and vice versa, women would have pains at childbirth and be subject to their husbands, and men would toil the earth for survival.  And finally the woman was named: “So Adam called his wife’s name Life, because she was the mother of all living.”  
Because God was concerned that the pair would also eat of the tree of life and live forever, he clothed them and cast them out of the garden, stationing a cherubim with a fiery sword at the door.
Rather than literally die, Adam and Eve’s (Life’s) old paradisical life died to them and they entered a new harsher one.

Cain and Abel (1542-44)
Titian
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 4
Eve gives birth to a son called Cain and next, a brother, Abel is born.  Abel was a shepherd and Cain a tiller (farmer); both brothers bring sacrifices to God but while God “respected” Abel’s offering, he did not “respect” Cain’s.

“… Did you not sin, even though you brought it rightly, but did not divide it rightly?”

Cain in his anger and jealousy rose up and killed his brother.  When God asked where Abel was, Cain gives the famous response:

“I do not know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”

However, God knows his sin and curses him from the earth which will no longer give him sustenance but He also forbids anyone to kill Cain who goes to dwell in the land of Nod, opposite Eden.
Cain has a son, Enoch, whom he names the city he builds after, then proceeds a genealogical list of Cain’s family.
Adam and Eve have another son, Seth.
The Building of Noah’s Ark (c.1675)
a French master
source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 5
We have a list of the descendents of Adam, beginning with Seth.  Some live 700 or even 900 years, others in the hundreds.  The list ends with Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Noah’s Ark (1846)
Edward Hicks
Source Wikimedia Commons

Chapter 6
Men began to exist in great numbers on the Earth and the sons of God began to marry the daughters of men (I’m puzzled by the distinction between the two).  God was grieved at men’s wickedness on earth as “every intent of the thoughts within his heart was only evil continually.”  He planned to destroy all he had created but Noah “found grace in the presence of Lord God.”  He commanded Noah to build an ark.

“And behold, I am bringing a flood of water on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life. Whatever is on the earth shall die.  But I will establish My covenant with you: and you shall go into the ark — you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.  From every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you …”


Noah and his Ark (1819)
Charles Willson Peale
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 7
Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came. It rained forty days and nights. Water covered the highest mountains and all mankind was blotted out.  The waters stayed for 150 days.

The Deluge (1834)
John Martin
source Wikipedia

Chapter 8
The rains ceased and God sent a wind to help the water subside.  On the seventh month and the seventeenth day the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat.  On the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains could be seen.  Noah sent out a raven and a dove but neither could find a resting place. Seven days later, after being sent out, the dove returned with an olive leaf.  The waters had receeded!  Seven days later the dove returned not and Noah left the ark, building an altar to sacrifice to the Lord.  The Lord promised never again to send a flood to destroy man even though man’s inclination was to do evil.

Dankgebet nach Verlassen der Arche Noah (1901)
Domenico Morelli
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 9
God now appears to give Noah a new authority over the animals and says that “every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” (assuming because of the flood there will not be enough vegetation and man will now have to eat meat to survive?) God makes a covenant with Noah never to destroy the earth again and sets a rainbow in the sky as a sign.  Noah becomes a husbandman and plants a vineyard but becomes drunk and naked.  Ham tells his brothers of his father’s indiscretion but Shem and Japheth cover their father without looking at him.  Noah later curses Ham and blesses his other two sons.  Noah died at 950 years of age.
Noah and his Sons (17th century)
Andrea Sacchi
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 10
We receive the geneology of Noah through his three sons, mentioning Nimrod who was a descendent of Ham and became giant-like and built cities.  
The Tower of Babel (1563)
Peter Brueghel the Elder
source Wikimedia Commons
Chapter 11
Mankind has one language and speech and decides to build a city and temple to hold themselves in unity and power, but God descends and confuses their language so they were unintelligible to each other.  He then scattered the people over the earth and the city and tower were called Babel because of it.

Now follows a geneology of Shem to Terah (most people are only living 100-300 years now), the father of Abram.  Terah also had sons named Nahor and Haran, who begot Lot.  Terah led his family out of Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan and when they reached Haran, they dwelt there.

The Bible As Literature Read-Along                      Genesis Chapters 12 – 25 →

The Bible As Literature Read-Along

At the beginning of this year Adam at Roof Beam Reader hosted a Bible as Literature event that I wanted to participate in so badly.  But knowing my overloaded schedule as late and knowing I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace, I unhappily decided to pass.  Yet how excited I was to see O’s recently announced the Bible As Literature read-along which will take just over two years.  It may seem long, but the pace is perfect for me and having other readers to push me along will be just what I need.  I can’t wait to start!

The schedule will be as follows:
The Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses


Genesis: 1st October – 22nd October 2018.
1st October 2018: 1–11. Primeval History.
8th October 2018: 12–25. The Abraham Cycle.
15th October 2018: 26-36. The Jacob-Esau Cycle.
22nd October 2018: 37–50. The Joseph Story.
Exodus: 29th October – 5th November 2018.

29th October 2018: 1–18. History of Egypt, the Exodus from Egypt, 
and the Journey to Mount Sinai.
5th November 2018: 19–40. The Covenant and Laws.
Leviticus: 12th November 2018 – 17th December 2018.

12th November 2018: 1:1 7:38. Laws on sacrifice.
19th November 2018: 8:1–10:20. Institution of the priesthood.
26th November 2018: 11:1–15:33. Uncleanliness and its treatment.
3rd December 2018: 16. Day of Atonement.
10th December 2018: 17–26. The Holiness Code.
17th December 2018: 27. Redemption of votive gifts.
Numbers: 7th January – 21st January 2019.

7th January 2019: 1:1–10:10. At Sinai.
14th January 2019: 10:11– 20:29. At Kadesh-Barnea.
21st January 2019: 21–36. The Wilderness, to Moab, and on the Plains of Moab.
Deuteronomy: 28th January – 18th February 2019.
28th January 2019: 1:1-4:43. Sermon I of Moses.
4th February 2019: 4:44-11:32. Sermon II of Moses.
11th February 2019: 11:32-33:29. Sermon III of Moses.
18th February 2019: 31–34. The Song of Moses, the Blessing of Moses, the Death of Moses.
The Historical Books
Joshua: 25th February – 4th March 2019.

25th February 2019: 1:1–12:24. The transfer from Moses Leadership to Joshua, 
and the entrance into and conquest of Canaan.
4th March 2019: 13:1–22:34. Division of the land among the tribes.
4th March 2019: 23:1–24:33. Covenant at Shechem and the deaths of Joshua and Eleazar.
Judges: 11th March – 18th March 2019.

11th March 2019: 1–3. Prologue; 3:9–11. Othniel and Chushan-Rishathaim; 3:11–29. Ehud and Eglon of Moab; 4–5. Deborah and Barak, and Jabin of Hazor and Sisera; 6–8. Gideon, Midian, Amalek, and the Children of the East; 9–10. Abimelech and all the Israelites in opposition.
18th March 2019: 11–12:7. Jephthah and the Ammonites; 13–16. Samson and the Philistines; 17–18. Micah’s Idol; 19–21. Battle of Gibeah.
Ruth: 25th March 2019.

1:1–22. Prologue and Problem; 2:1–23. Ruth Meets Boaz;
3:1–18. Naomi Sends Ruth to Boaz; 4:1–22. Resolution and Epilogue.
1 Samuel: 1st – 8th April 2019.

1st April 2019: 1–15. Samuel and Saul.
8th April 2019: 16–31. Saul and David.
2 Samuel: 15th – 29th April 2019.

15th April 2019: 1–8. David’s rise to power.
22nd April 2019: 9–20. David’s reign.
29th April 2019: 21–24. Narratives, psalms, and lists.
1 Kings: 6th May – 20th May 2019.

6th May 2019: 1:1–2:46. The Davidic Succession; 3:1–11:43. Solomon.
13th May 2019: 12:1–13:34. The political and religious schism;
14:1–16:34. The two kingdoms until Elijah.
20th May 2019: 17:1–2 Kings 1:18. The Elijah cycle.

2 Kings: 27th May 2019 – 10th June 2019.

27th May 2019: 2:1–13:25. The Elisha cycle.
3rd June 2019: 14:1–17:41. The two kingdoms to the fall of Samaria.
10th June 2019: 18:1–25:30. The last years of the kingdom of Judah.

1 Chronicles: 17th June – 24th June 2019.

17th June 2019: 1–9:34. Genealogies from Adam.
24th June 2019: 10–29. The reign of David.

2 Chronicles: 1st July 2019 – 8th July 2019.

1st July 2019: 1–9. The reign of Solomon.
8th July 2019: 10–36. The kingdom of Judah, its destruction by the Babylonians,
and its restoration under Cyrus the Persian.

Ezra: 15th July 2019.

1–6. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem (c. 539 B.C.);
7–10. The return of Ezra and a group of Jews to Judah.

Nehemiah: 22nd July – 29th July 2019.
22nd July 2019: 1–6. The return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem.
29th July 2019: 7–10. The Feast of Tabernacles and the events after;
11–13. Repopulating Jerusalem and Nehemiah’s return to Susa.
Esther: 5th August 2019.

1–2. Exposition: Life in the Persian Palace; Esther becomes Queen;
3–8:14. Haman’s plot to kill Mordecai and the Jews; 8:15–10. The resolution and the results: the Jewish victory.

The Wisdom Books
Job: 12th August 2019 – 2nd September 2019.

12th August 2019: 1–2. Prologue on Earth and Heaven; 3. Job’s prologue.
19th August 2019: 4–27. The three cycles of dialogues between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.
26th August 2019: 28. A Poem to Wisdom; 29–31. Job’s closing monologue; 32–37. Elihu’s speeches.
2nd September 2019: 38–42:7–8. Two speeches by God and Job’s response; 42:9–17. Job’s restoration.

Psalms: 9th September – 7th October 2019.

9th September 2019: 1–41. Book I.
16th September 2019: 42–72. Book II.
23rd September 2019: 73–89. Book III.
30th September 2019: 90–106. Book IV.
7th October 2019: 107–150. Book V.

Proverbs: 14th October 2019 – 4th November 2019.

14th October 2019:1–9. Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel.
21st October 2019: 10–22:16. More Proverbs of Solomon.
28th October 2019: 22:17–24:22. The Sayings of the Wise; 24:23–34. More Sayings of the Wise; 25–29. Other Proverbs of Solomon.
4th November 2019: 30. The Words of Agur; 31:1–9. The Words of King Lemuel of Massa; 31:10–31. The Woman of Substance.

Ecclesiastes: 11th November 2019 – 18th November 2019.

11th November 2019: 1:1–1:2–11. Title and Initial poem; 1:12–6:9. Kohelet’s investigation of life; 6:10–11:6.Kohelet’s conclusions.
18th November 2019: 11:7–12:8. Concluding poem; 12:9–14. Epilogue.

Song of Solomon: 25th November 2019.

1:1–6. Introduction; 1:7–2:7. Dialogue between the lovers; 2:8–17. The woman recalls a visit from her lover; 3:1–5. The woman addresses the daughters of Zion; 3:6–11. Sighting a royal wedding procession; 4:1–5:1. The man describes his lover’s beauty; 5:2–6:4. The woman addresses the daughters of Jerusalem; 6:5–12. The man describes his lover, who visits him; 6:13–8:4. Observers describe the woman’s beauty; 8:5–14. Conclusion.

The Major Prophets
Isaiah: 6th January 2020 – 27th January 2020.

6th January – 13th January 2020: 1–39. Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the original Isaiah.
20th January 2020: 40–55. Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous Exilic author.
27th January 2020: 56–66. Trito-Isaiah, an anthology of about twelve passages.

Jeremiah: 3rd February 2020 – 9th March 2020.

3rd – 10th February 2020: 1–25. The earliest and main core of Jeremiah’s message.
17th February 2020: 26–29. Biographic material and interaction with other prophets.
24th February 2020: 30–33. God’s promise of restoration including Jeremiah’s new covenant.
2nd March 2020: 34–45. Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem.
9th March 2020: 46–51. Divine punishment to the nations surrounding Israel; 52. Retelling of 2 Kings 24.18–25.30.

Lamentations: 16th March 2020.

1. Jeremiah mourns for Jerusalem and Judea; 2. The anger of the Lord;
3. Jeremiah’s suffering; 4–5. The Justice of God.

Ezekiel: 23rd March – 13th April 2020.

23rd March – 30th March 2020: 1–29. Prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem.
6th April 2020: 25–32. Prophecies against the foreign nations.
13th April 2020: 33–48. Prophecies of hope and salvation.

Daniel: 20th April 2020.

20th April 2020: 1. Daniel and friends at the tale of the king; 2. Daniel interprets the king’s dream.
3. The fiery furnace; 4. Nebuchadnezzar’s madness 5. The handwriting on the wall.
6. The lion’s den; 7. The vision of the son of man; 8. The vision of the ram and the he-goat.
9. Daniel’s prayer and the seventy years of the devastation of Jerusalem; 10. The final vision and promise of resurrection.

The Twelve Minor Prophets
Hosea: 27th April 2020.

1–2. Hosea’s marriage with Gomer (biographical).
3. Hosea’s marriage (autobiographical).
4–14:10. Oracle judging Israel.

Joel: 27th April 2020.

1:1–2:17. Lament over drought and plague of locusts.
2:18–32. Promise of future blessings.
3:1–21. The coming judgement.

Amos: 4th May 2020.

1.3–2.6. Oracles against the nations.
4.1–8.8. Addresses to groups in Israel.
7.10–9:8. Five symbolic visions of God’s judgement.
9:8–15. Epilogue.

Obadiah: 11th May 2020.

The vision of the fall of Edom.

Jonah: 11th May 2020.

1–2. Jonah flees his mission.
3–4. Jonah fulfils his mission.

Micah: 11th May 2020.

1–3. Judgement.
4–5. Restoration of Zion.
6–7. God’s judgement against Israel.

Nahum: 18th May 2020.

1. The majesty of God.
2–3. The fall of Nineveh.

Habakkuk: 18th May 2020.

1. A discussion between God and Habakkuk.
2. An Oracle of Woe.
3. A Psalm.

Zephaniah: 18th May 2020.

1:1. Superscription.
1:2–13. The Coming Judgement on Judah.
1:14–18. The Great Day of the Lord.
2:1–15. Judgement on Israel’s Enemies.
3:1–7. The Wickedness of Jerusalem.
3:8–13. Punishment and Conversion of the Nations.
3:14–20. Song of Joy.

Haggai: 25th May 2020.

1:1–15. The first prophecy.
2:1–23. The second, third, and fourth prophecy.

Zechariah: 25th May 2020.

1–8. The teachings of Zechariah.
9–10. The first and second oracle.

Malachi: 25th May 2020.

1–2:9. Israel preferred to Edom.
2:10–17. The Covenant Profaned by Judah.
3:1–7. The Coming Messenger.
3:8–15. Do Not Rob God.
4:1–5. The Great Day of the Lord.

The Gospels

Matthew: 1st June 2020 – 15th June 2020.

1st June 2020: 1:1–2:23. Birth and Childhood of Jesus; 3–4. Baptism and early ministry.
5–7. Sermon on the Mount; 8–9. Healing and miracles; 10:1–11:1. Mission Discourse / Little Commission.
8th June 2020: 11:2–13:52. Responses to Jesus; 13:53–17. Conflicts, rejections, and conferences with disciples; 18. Life in the Christian community; 19–20. Journey to Jerusalem.
15th June 2020: 21–22. Jerusalem; 23. Woes of the Pharisees; 24–25. Judgement day;
26–28. Death and Resurrection.

Mark: 22nd June 2020.

1–9. Galilean ministry; 10. Journey to Jerusalem; 11–16. Events in Jerusalem.

Luke: 29th June – 6th July 2020.

29th June 2020: 1:1–4. Introduction to Theophilus; 1:5–4. Jesus’ birth and boyhood;
3:1–4:13. Jesus’ baptism and temptation; 4:14–9:50. Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.
6th July 2020: 9:51– 19:27. Jesus’ teaching on the journey to Jerusalem;
19:28–24. Jesus’ Jerusalem conflicts, crucifixion, and resurrection.

John: 13th July – 20th July 2020.

13th July 2020: 1:10-18. Introduction; 1:19-12:50. The Book of Signs.
20th July 2020: 13:1-20:31. The Book of Glory; 21. Epilogue

Acts

Acts of the Apostles: 27th July 2020 – 3rd August 2020.

27th July 2020:1. Preface to Theophilus; 2:1–12:25. From Jerusalem to Antioch (Petrine Christianity).
3rd August 2020: 13:1–28:21. From Antioch to Rome (Pauline Christianity).

Epistles

Romans: 10th August 2020.

1:1–15. Prologue; 1:16 –8:39. Salvation in the Christ;
12 –15:13. Transformation of believers; 15:1 –16:23. Epilogue .

1 Corinthians: 17th August 2020.

1:1–3. Salutation.
1:4–9. Thanksgiving.
1:10–4:21. Division in Corinth.
5:1–6:20. Immorality in Corinth.
7:1–14:40. Difficulties in Corinth.
15:1–58. Doctrine of Resurrection.
16:1–24. Closing.

2 Corinthians: 24th August 2020.

1:1–11: Greeting.
1:12–7:16. Paul defends his actions and apostleship.
8:1–9:15. Instructions for the collection for the poor in the Jerusalem church.
10:1 – 13:10. A polemic defence of his apostleship.
13:11–13. Closing greetings.

Galatians: 31st August 2020.

1–2. Paul’s testimony on the gospels; 3–5:12. On faith and the commandments;
5:13–6. Fruits of the Spirit, the Law of Christ, and final warning.

Ephesians: 31st August 2020.

1:1–2. The greeting; 1:3–2:10. On the blessings that the gospel reveals;
2:11–3:21. On the Gentiles; 4:1–16. On unity;
4:17–6:9. Instructions about ordinary life and different relationships;
6:10–24. On imagery of spiritual warfare.

Philippians: 7th September 2020.

1:1–11. Preface; 1:12–26. Paul describes his present life; 1:27–2:30. Practical Instructions in Sanctification; 3:1–4:1. Polemical Doctrinal Issues; 4:2–23. Epilogue.

Colossians: 7th September 2020.

1:1–14. Introduction; 1:15–23. The Supremacy of Christ.
1:24–2:7. Paul’s work for the church; 2:8–23. Freedom from Human Regulations through Life with Christ; 3:1–4:6. Rules for Holy Living; 4:7–18. Final Greetings.

1 Thessalonians: 14th September 2020.

1:1–10. Greeting; 2:1–20. Past interactions with the church;
3:1–13. On Timothy’s visit; 4:1–5:25. Specific issues;
4:1–12. Relationships among Christians; 4:13–18. Mourning those who have died;
5:1–11. Preparing for God’s arrival; 5:12–25. On proper Christian behaviour;
5:26–28. Final greetings.

2 Thessalonians: 14th September 2020.

1. On the return of Jesus and the persecution of the Thessalonians;
2–3. On the Holy Spirit and the Antichrist.

1 Timothy: 21st September 2020.

1:1–2. Greeting; 1:3–20. Negative Instructions: Stop the False Teachers;
2:1–6:10. Positive Instructions; 6:11–21. Personal Instructions.

2 Timothy: 21st September 2020.

1–2. Paul in prison; 3–4. Paul urges Timothy to be faithful and asks for some personal effects.

Titus: 28th September 2020.

1. On choosing church leaders; 2–3. On Christian living.

Philemon: 28th September 2020.

1–3. Introduction; 4–7. Thanksgiving and intercession;
8–20. Paul’s plea for Onesimus; 21–25. Conclusion.

Hebrews: 28th September 2020.

1–10:18. The sovereignty of Jesus over the angels and on the New Covenant.
10:19–13. On faith and the Old Covenant.

James: 5th October 2020.

1. Putting faith into action; 2–3. On faith and deeds;
4–5. Instruction and the importance of prayer.

1 Peter: 5th October 2020.

1:1–2. Greeting; 1:3–12. Praise to God; 1:13–2:10. God’s Holy People.
2:11–4:11. Life in Exile; 4:12–5:11. Steadfast in Faith; 5:12–14. Final Greeting.

2 Peter: 5th October 2020.

1–2. Guidance to churches; 3. Day of Judgement.

1 John: 12th October 2020.

1–2. Reassuring believers; 3–4. On the love of God;
5. The importance of faith.

2 John: 12th October 2020.

1. On love.

3 John: 12th October 2020.

1. On truth.

Jude: 12th October 2020.

1. Warning against false teachers.

Apocalypse

Revelation: 19th October 2020 – 2nd November 2020.

19th October 2020: 1–3. Seven letters warning against deception and lawlessness; 
4–7. Seven seals on a heavenly scroll opened by the Lamb.
26th October 2020: 8–14. Seven trumpets of warning.
2nd November 2020: 15–22. Seven bowls of God’s final wrath.

If you’re intrigued, please feel free to join us.  Head over to O’s post for all the details!

The Pickwick Papers or The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club by Charles Dickens

“The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brillancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.”

It’s hardly believable but O’s 2 year read-along of the Pickwick Papers has finally come to a close and I have her to thank for finally being able to finish this 800-page marvel.  We read it in installments mirroring its original release which was an enlightening experience in itself. Looking back, I enjoyed reading only 2 to 3 chapters at a time, but the space between them, for me, was too long.  It’s not that I necessarily forgot what had happened, but I found that when I picked it up again, I was somewhat disengaged with the characters.  It was almost like starting a book over and over again and never really getting traction.  If I was to do it over, I’d read a chapter per week instead of three at once and that way hopefully remain more present in the story.

Mr. Pickwick slides on the ice
source Wikimedia Commons

And the book itself ….. ?  I quite enjoyed Mr. Pickwick and his marvellous, and at times unbelievable, adventures.  At the beginning of the book, Mr. Pickwick, founder and president of the Pickwick Club, decides that he and fellow members, Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman, will leave London and travel the countryside to discover the wonderful qualities of life, each reporting to the others what they find. Their adventures lead them to saving ladies in distress, getting embroiled in circumstances they only want to avoid, courting offers of marriage, unwanted offers of marriage, interaction with criminals, jail and even love itself. Dickens imbues this novel with his own brand of humour by having an old confirmed bachelor find himself in all sorts of uncomfortable circumstances.  From finding himself unexpectedly sleeping in a lady’s bed, to being sued for breach of promise of marriage, poor Pickwick finds his dignified sensibilities tried by unexpected challenges yet he always manages to respond in a measured and honourable manner that increased our respect for this lovable character.

Mr. Pickwick’s first interview
with Sergeant Snubbin
source Wikimedia Commons

In Chapter XVI, Pickwick attempts to catch a swindler, Jingle, who is slipperier than an eel.  Jingle plans to run away with an heires and by hiding in the bushes outside the girls’ boarding school, Pickwick attempts to subvert the scheme and expose the criminal.  But through various misadventures and bumbles, he manages to find himself locked in a cupboard by the headmistress and the ladies of the establishment. Rescued by Sam Weller, his valet, and his friend, Mr. Wardle, Pickwick rains imprecations upon the head of the absent Jingle.

Even more amusing, was the incident of the mistaken beds.  Late at night at an inn, Pickwick returns downstairs to retrieve his watch and upon returning, enters the wrong room!  He is just settled into bed when a lady enters and begins her own toilette. Horrified, Pickwick reveals his presence and attempts to assure her of his mistake and innocence, but the woman is frightened senseless, and Pickwick makes a quick exit. Not wanting another repeat of the disturbing and undignified experience, Pickwick plans to sleep in the hall, but is once again rescued by Sam.  The novel has so many amusing anecdotes, that is has to be read to enjoy them all.  And I finally managed it!

Mr. Pickwick, picnics
source Wikimedia Commons

At the time of the writing of this first novel, Dickens was working as a roving journalist and a reporter of Parlimentary news.  After his successful Sketches by Boz, Dickens was called in to write copy for certain illustrated sporting plates created by illustrator Robert Seymour.  Dickens soon began to write the instalments before the plates were produced, therefore changing the illustrative focus of the project to storytelling and he never looked back.  We all know of his illustrious writing career following The Pickwick Papers and I still have to read quite a few Dickens’ novels yet, as I’ve only completed The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, A Tale of Two Cities, Dombey and Son, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and, a long time ago, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  So many great novels of his still to go.  Perhaps a project for 2018 ……???

 

 

Classic Children’s Literature Event

Amanda @ Simpler Pastimes is hosting the 5th Annual Classic Children’s Literature Event and I am all in!  I love this event and will have participated in four of the five years. It has encouraged me to read such books as Emil and the Detectives, The Forgotten Daughter (an unbelievably good story), The Cabin Faced West, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Wizard of Oz.

Event Basics

  • During the month of April, read as many Children’s Classics as you wish and post about them on your blog and/or leave a comment on the event page on this blog. I will have a link page starting the first of April to gather posts so that we may share as we go.
  • The optional RAL title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. (Optional: also read Through the Looking-Glass. I’m guessing I won’t get through both.) I plan on discussion the weekend of April 21-23.
  • I’m not going to be the “children’s classics” police. Use your own judgement for what fits the category but if you want some guidelines, these are what I’m going by:
  • I think many of us have read more recent children’s books that we may already deem “classics” (for example, many people feel that way about the Harry Potter books), but for this event, I’d prefer if we read books that were written prior to 1967. This will still allow a lot of options, and will hopefully avoid the “but what is a classic” dilemma! (And yes, 1967 is rather arbitrary. Rebel if you wish, but 50 years old seems a good age).
  • Defining “children’s,” especially prior to 1900 or so can be a challenge as some books we think of as “children’s” today may not have been intended that way at the time. Personally, I’d say books appropriate for approximately an elementary-school aged child or preteen (to read or to have read to them) should be fine. I’d personally also count the various fairy tales, even though some of the earliest versions were not exactly family friendly.
  • Feel free to include books from any country, in translation or not. I have limited exposure to non-American children’s lit, so I’d love to learn about books from other countries myself.
  • Feel free to double up with other events or challenges if you wish.
  • And if you need ideas I posted
  • A suggestion list in 2013
  • Some more ideas in 2014
  •  There is no deadline for joining or participating (other than, of course, the end of April).

Most important: Have fun!


This year’s read-along will be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of my favourites. As for other books I might choose, I’m still mulling over the possibilities.  Some titles might include:

  • My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Finn Family Moomintroll – Tove Jansson
  • A Triumph for Flavius – Caroline Dale Snedeker
  • Red Sails to Capri – Ann Weil
  • Roman Ransom – Henry Winterfeld
  • The Princess and Curdie – George MacDonald

Please join us for the month of April if you feel so inclined!

Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII & XXXVIII

Chapter XXXV

St John makes Jane pay for her unpopular decision to reject his marriage offer with a cold aloofness and a determined effort to display his displeasure.  Jane declares he does not act maliciously, but this reader must disagree with her assessment of his actions.  His sisters are at first pleased that he has offered for Jane, then appalled at his lack of emotion with regard to the attachment, and his efforts to take her to India where they are certain she’ll die.  St John attempts once again to change her mind and she is firm, yet after his reading from Revelation one night and his entreaties after, she finds her will bending to his until she hears a voice calling her:  “Jane, Jane, Jane.”  She is as certain of it being the voice of Mr. Rochester, as she is certain of her actions the next day and, brushing off St John, retires to her room to await the morning.

The Proposal (1825)
Thomas Clater
source ArtUK

Chapter XXXVI

St John has left for Cambridge for a fortnight when Jane awakens the next morning but has left her a note almost demanding her reconsideration.  Jane gives it little thought, taking leave of Diana and Mary and setting out in a coach for Thornfield.  She stays at the Rochester Arms, and the next morning walks to the great hall with an impatient anticipation.  However, upon setting eyes on Thornfield she is given a great shock; the house is burned to the ground and with a heavy heart she returns to the inn to ask the cause of the blaze.  It was set one night by a lunatic who was kept in the house.  She escaped from her keeper, Mrs. Poole, who liked to tipple, and Rochester, distraught after the disappearance of the governess he loved and longed to marry, was at Thornfield alone.  He tried to save the lunatic, his wife, but she threw herself from the battlements.  While trying to save the other occupants of the house, the staircase he was on collapsed, and the result was that he is now stone blind.  He lives at Ferndean manor house presently and Jane immediately hires a conveyance to take her there.

Manor House, Ilkley
John F. Greenwood
source ArtUK

Chapter XXXVII

Jane arrives at Ferndean just before dark.  Buried deep in a wood, the building is modest and unpretentious.  As she approaches the desolate spot, she spies a figure on the step and knows at once that it is her own Rochester.  His movements are heartbreaking as he struggles to find his blind way to the grass plot in front.  John, the servant, draws near, offering him his arm, which he ungraciously refuses.  After he re-enters the house, Jane knocks and reveals herself to an astonished Mary, then after requesting accommodation, goes into the sitting room to face Rochester.  Carrying in a tray, she offers him a glass of water while an excited Pilot dances around her. Immediately Rochester senses all is not right; he questions her identity while claiming that he is under a delusion.  While he explores her with his hands, he rambles on like a man in a dream.  Is this really his love come back to him again?  When he finally acknowledges that it is she, he questions her rapidly, finding out that she is rich, who she has been with, and that she has had a marriage proposal.  At first he is irritated and self-deprecating, but finally he rises from his funk and asks for her to be his wife, to which she readily agrees.  Eventually, Rochester speaks of a night of longing for her, where he prayed to God and called her name.  Jane discovers it is the same night that she’d heard his voice but doesn’t reveal the fact, deciding he has already enough burden and does not need that of the supernatural.

First Born (1881)
Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans
source ArtUK

Chapter XXXVIII

“Reader, I married him.”

And thus ends this wonderful novel.  The wedding was a quiet one with only the parson and clerk present with the couple.  John and Mary are informed; St John is written to but does not respond until six months later; Diana and Mary approve and wish to visit; Adèle is brought home then sent to school again.  Two years later Rochester partially recovers his sight enough to see his first-born son put into his arms.  Diana and Mary both marry and St John becomes an indefatigable and zealous missionary in India.  The last letter Jane receives indicates that he is dying and she feels compassion for this stern but dedicated man whose passion for Christ is unwavering.

A Wooded Walk (1650)
Jan Lievens
source ArtUK

I simply cannot have the same admiration that Jane has for St John’s Christian zeal. Regardless of his dedication, the lack of understanding and harsh condemnation he shows towards her for her decision must naturally carry into his dealings with others and the representation of his faith is injurious instead of edifying.

I’m still somewhat puzzled as to why Jane did not want to tell Rochester about her premonition.  Given that they later become inseparable and tell each other everything, why would she withhold this information from him?  The supernatural occurrence brought her to him and it’s revelation should be uplifting.  Why such reticence?

I also found the ending to the novel curious.  Why end with an observation on St John? His character was interesting as a contrast, but on its own was rather one-dimensional. Was it an indication that his forceful character still had even a tenuous hold over her?  A commentary to stress the importance of his perseverance for spreading the gospel?  I’m not sure …..

What I am sure of is that this read-along has come to an end, and a thoroughly enjoyable read-along it was!  Thanks to Hamlette for another meander through a classic favourite.  I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV

Chapter XXXII

Although Jane assiduously performs her tasks as schoolteacher at the poor school, she still dreams (literally) of Rochester and spending her life by his side.  Rosamond Oliver visits the school and Jane observes the emotionally charged exchanges between her and St John, but the latter’s heart is guarded by his determination and ambition.  She is commission to sketch Miss Rosamond, and one evening when St John sees the portrait by accident, Jane takes the initiative to question him with a startlingly frank audacity.  He admits that while he loves Rosamond, he is convinced that she is not the partner for him and that they would make each other unhappy.  She is not set to be a missionary’s wife, and he refuses Jane’s offer to paint him a copy of the lovely girl.  As he moves to draw a blank sheet of paper over the portrait, he tears a tiny section from it and slips it into this glove.  Jane is puzzled by his actions but soon dismisses and forgets them.

A Young Woman in a Blue Dress Sketching (19th C.)
British (English) School
source ArtUK

Chapter XXXIII

In the midst of days of snowstorms, St John visits Jane at her cottage while she reads his gift to her, Marmion, a recently published poem by Walter Scott.  At first, he behaves with an unusual, almost secretive demeanour, but soon Jane learns his errand.  The paper he ripped from her page previously, was a section where she had doodled her real name, Jane Eyre.  From this, he began inquiries and has now not only learned her story, but aspects of it of which Jane herself was not aware.  Jane, however, is only concerned of his inquiries of Thornfield and asks for news of Mr. Rochester.  Nothing is forthcoming though, and St John informs her that now that her uncle is dead, she has inherited all of his property and is now a rich woman.  Jane is suspicious of his means of discovery and when she presses further, finds out that her uncle was also the uncle of St John, Diana and Mary, and that they are all cousins.  With this in mind, she refuses the large fortune and instead intends to split it equally between the four of them.  She states her intention to remain at the school until a new mistress can be found, and soon the inheritance is divided between them.

Arts, Wealth, Pleasure and Philosophy (1800)
Pierre-Paul Prud’hon
source Wikiart

Chapter XXXIV

As the Christmas season comes, Jane closes Morton school and expresses her desire to clean and do some Christmas baking, for which she earns displeasure from St John and an entreaty not to become slothful.  His dour disapproval of anything easy and entertaining begins to show her his faults and unsuitability as a husband.  Diana and Mary arrive and their gay festive spirit further oppresses St John.  News is given that Rosamond is about to be wed and St John congratulates himself over the conquering of his emotions.  He convinces Jane to learn Hindustani, as a help to him as he prepares for his missionary work and proves himself a stern and unyielding taskmaster.  Jane’s will to please him, begins to hold her in thrall to his desires, but she has not forgotten Rochester, yet her letters to Mrs. Fairfax to inquire about his well-being remain unanswered.

To Jane’s surprise, six weeks before his departure, St John asks her to accompany him as his wife and although Jane agrees to go as a sister, he is implacable in his demands. She begins to see his many, many flaws and thus, is able to deal with him easier as he is brought to her level.  St John continues to punish her with his disapproving silence and even when they try to reconcile, nothing but her complete obedience to his wishes and will would satisfy him:

“As I walked by his side homeward, I read well in his iron silence all he felt towards me: the disappointment of an austere and expected submission — the disapprobation of a cool, inflexible judgement, which has detected in another feelings and views in which it has no power to sympathize: in short, as a man, he would have wished to coerce me into obedience: it was only as a sincere Christian he bore so patiently with my perversity, and allowed so long a space for reflection and repentance ……..


…. He was deeply displeased by what had occurred that day; cordiality would not warm, nor tears move him.  No happy reconciliation was to be had with him — no cheering smile or generous word: but still the Christian was patient and placid; and when I asked him if he forgave me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing the remembrance of vexation; that he had nothing to forgive, not having been offended.
 


And with that answer he left me.  I would much rather he had knocked me down.”


The Christmas Tree
John Henry Twachtman
source Wikiart

Jane reveals more and more of her character.  I’ve discovered that what she says about herself is much more important than her outward actions.

She acts with firm resolution in drawing people out of themselves, a unique trait for a woman of her time.

“For me, I felt at home in this sort of discourse.  I could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or female, till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and won a place by their heart’s very hearth-stone.”

Her “gift” is instrumental in helping the person to know himself better and this quality of hers is invaluable to those around her.

The character of St John is well-crafted.  I had always thought that his Christianity was the catalyst for his dour character and stringent and unyielding expectations, but Jane often alludes to these characteristics as being outside of his faith and, in fact, it’s his faith that holds them in check.  It’s not because of his faith that he is this way, rather he uses his faith simply as a vehicle to act out his convictions.  Very interesting.

Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXIX, XXX, XXXI


Chapter XXIX

While three days and nights pass, Jane continues in a stupor, confined to a bed in the Rivers’ household.  We learn of her impressions of the family, the sisters being warm and inviting, but their brother St John, displays a different character.  His reserve, quick judgements, distrust and attention to outward appearance are readily obvious.  When feeling a little better, Jane makes her way to the kitchen, where she meets Hannah.  All Hannah’s prejudices against Jane are aired and cleared, encouraged by Jane’s firm resolution and straightforward honesty.  They become fast friends.  At tea with St John and his sisters, he attempts to learn more about Jane, while she examines him.  His features are described as very handsome and harmonious, but underneath she senses a negative energy about him.

“….. (he) scarcely impressed one with the idea of a gentle, a yielding, an impressible, or even of a placid nature.  Quiescent as he now sat, there was something about his nostril, his mouth, his brow, which, to my perceptions, indicated elements within either restless, or hard, or eager …….

Had he been a statue instead of a man, he could not have been easier…..”

Jane gives an alias of Elliot, tells them about Lowood school but refuses to reveal anything about Thornfield Hall or the happenings there.  St. John relents in his questioning, promising to find her employment.
The Kitchenmaid (1712)
Guiseppe Maria Crespi
source Wikiart
Chapter XXX
Jane begins to develop an intimacy with Diana and Mary, but with St John any deeper connection seems impossible and she has many observations why this is so, including his frequent absences from home, his reserved nature, his lack of interaction with nature, his uncommunicativeness and his lack of peace.

“But besides his frequent absences, there was another barrier to friendship with him: he seemed of a reserved, an abstracted, and even of a brooding nature.  Zealous in his ministerial labours, blameless in life and habits, he yet did not appear to enjoy that mental serenity, that inward content, which should be the reward of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist ……”

Yet while Jane criticizes her benefactor, she also sees parallels in their situations:

“….I was sure St John Rivers — pure-lived, conscientious, zealous as he was — had not yet found that peace of God which passeth all understanding: he had no more found it, I thought, than had I, with my concealed and racking regrets for my broken idol and lost Elysium — regrets to which I have latterly avoided referring, but which possessed me and tyrannized over me ruthlessly.”

Finally she is offered employment by St John as a schoolteacher at a girls’ school he established for the poor in the village of Morton.  As the sisters must make their own way in the world since their father’s death and are soon to leave for B—-, Jane accepts.  The death of the Rivers’ uncle for a moment gives them new hope for their prospects but his mean spirit leaves them little in his will and they all leave for their respective posts.  Jane’s new life begins.
A Dame’s School (1845)
Thomas George Webster
source ArtUK
Chapter XXXI
Jane’s new home is a little cottage in Morton, set aside for the schoolteacher.  As she takes up her new task, she thinks of her old life and begins to come to terms with her decision to leave Thornfield, realizing that if she had succumbed to her sentiments and passions, her inner soul would have been damaged, and for a short time of bliss, she would have paid with a lifetime of regret. 

St John visits one day and while revealing his past struggles and his plans for his future, a girl appears, causing him to blanch.  She is more beautiful than description, and while she attempts to establish an intimacy with St John, he is rather implacable and refuses her invitation to see her father.  It is the heiress. Rosamund Oliver of Vale Hall, but St John seems impervious to her charms.  Jane is intrigued by the exchange.
The Cottage Door (1825)
William Collins
source Wikiart
Initially I wasn’t really looking forward to this part of the book, but I’m finding it compelling this time.  I’m quite loving the contrast between St John and Rochester, and appearance and character.  Rochester’s looks are not outwardly pleasing and his behaviour is not always what would be considered socially pleasing, yet Jane senses that there is a hidden part of his nature that is constant and earnest and has great depth, only it has been corrupted by his life circumstances.  With St John, however, although he is pleasing to look at, and his behaviour is outwardly acceptable, there is a hardness and lack of empathy to him, that does not bode well for any sort of formed intimacy or deep relationship. 

I also like how Jane, while seeing faults in others, also sees them in herself.  While she recognizes that St John has not found peace in his faith or life, she knows that she struggles in this area too and why. 

Since Tom’s comments in my last post about seeing Jane as an unreliable narrator, I have been trying to, but failing miserably.  She simply seems too insightful and too willing to criticize herself for her own failings to be unreliable, or at least from the view of a conscious authorial unreliability.  I’ll keep trying though.

Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXVI, XXVII & XXVIII


Chapter XXVI

Jane’s wedding day arrives but there is not much joy in the beginning and the bridegroom appears rather grim.

“I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did — so bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute: or who, under such steadfast brows ever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes.”

Rochester nearly drags her to the church, where the priest begins the ceremony but, lo, a man arrives claiming an impediment to the union.  It is the solicitor of Mr. Mason, accompanied by said fellow, who claims that Rochester has a wife yet living.  At the declaration, Rochester at first challenges the claim, then appears to accept the accusation.  He leads them all to a room in Thornfield where a wild woman resides and tells the story of being tricked into marriage with her while her family hid her mental disorder.  Jane discovers that her uncle had learned of her impending marriage and Mr. Mason happened to be there at the time, setting out soon after to prevent it.  She retreats to her room and proceeds to examine her predicament with a heartbreaking earnestness.  She sends a prayer to God in her desolation.

The Wedding Morning
John Henry Frederick Bacon
source ArtUK

Chapter XXVII

After agonizing over the morning, Jane finally leaves her room to find Rochester in a chair outside waiting for her.  He carries her downstairs, gives her food and wine to revive her and then begins to tell of his plans for their future life.  When Jane appears to resist, he realizes that he has not explained how he arrived at his predicament and tells her the story of his marriage —- how he was tricked by his father, older brother and Bertha Mason’s family into making her his bride.  Blinded by her looks, he agreed to the union, only to find her insane and after four years had to lock her up.  Returning to England, she became the inmate of Thornfield and he regrets that he did not appeal to Jane’s magnanimity and tell her the truth earlier.  He seems to think that they will still be married but Jane disavows him of that notion right away, even though her heart is in conflict while it is being torn asunder.  In spite of, first his anger, and then his tormented pain, Jane resists his entreaties.  That night, she leaves, walking for miles alone and then finally gets a ride in a coach to the farthest town she is able.

“Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt!  May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine.  May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.”

Lover’s Walk, Dolgelly (1867)
Thomas Stuart Smith
source ArtUK

Chapter XXVIII

The coach takes Jane as far as Whitcross which is really only a marker in the road.  She begins to wander, coming to a town where at first she is too reticent to beg, then as hunger begins to gnaw at her, she asks for food, all while she still aches for Rochester.

“My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad heart broke it.  It plained of its gaping wounds, its inward bleeding, its riven chords.  It trembled for Mr. Rochester and his doom; it bemoaned him with bitter pity; it demanded him with ceaseless longing; and, impotent as a bird with both winds broken, it still quivered its shattered pinions in vain attempts to seek him.”

Inquiring about work, no one seems to help her and she resigns herself to a fate of death from hunger and cold.  Yet at the last moment she is drawn to a little cottage where she sees a servant and two young women inside.  Attracted by their calm, pleasant demeanours, she knocks on the door but to her despair, the servant Hannah, refuses her admittance.  She is only saved by a young man, St. John, who returns and takes her inside, feeding her and giving her a bed for the night.

Cottage
Charles Mahoney
source ArtUK

Ah, here is the ripping, the tearing away of Jane and Rochester.  Brontë does an excellent job in conveying Jane’s anguish but in a way that is very in tune with her character.  Her quiet suffering is almost more effective than any outward display.  For a rather practical man, Rochester is in the grip of delusion, which communicates the love he has for her.  He still believes that she will agree to marry him, and one wonders how much he really knows Jane.  Yet his actions display a rather passionate desperation which made me pity him and feel impatience with him all at the same time.  Hopefully Jane’s actions will model a deeper love to him and eventually he’ll respect her decisions. I must say this is one of my favourite parts in the book, despite the sadness and drama.

Her wandering aimlessly around the countryside is certainly not riveting, but it does illustrate the lack of compassion people seem to have for each other.  The fact that she’s a young homeless girl does not seem to touch anyone’s heartstrings.  I wonder if this is an accurate portrayal of human attitudes or simply a device to move the story along.

The weakest part of the book is in this section.  What a coincidence that her uncle just happened to live on this particular Caribbean island, and what a coincidence that he just happens to run into Mr. Mason, who just happens to have the marriage revealed to him so he can stop it and THEN even more manipulation of the uncle by making him so sick that Jane cannot go to him, nor he to her.  Not the best plot crafting by Brontë.

I didn’t know until my fourth or fifth reading of this book that St. John is pronounced, “Sin-jun”.  Do any of my British blog followers, or anyone else for that matter, know the reasoning behind this creative British pronunciation?

Jane Eyre ~ Chapters XXIII, XXIV & XXV

Chapter XXIII

Midsummer arrives with a radiance that is breathtaking.  Jane is out walking and spies Rochester, but in spite to trying to avoid his notice, he spots her and asks her to accompany him.  The conversation begins with his alluding to her departure from Thornfield, which she takes to mean that he is referring to his impending marriage. With a playful cruelty, he teases her, until he reveals that she is his only love and therefore, his only bride.  At first, she shows disbelief, but finally is swept away by his emotion.  Yet there are hints of foreboding:

“…. And if I had loved him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage; but, sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting —- called to the paradise of union —- I thought only of the bliss given to me to drink in so abundant a flow ……”

And although the summer skies had been kissed by the rays of the sun, suddenly a torrential rain begins to fall, hurrying them both inside where Mrs. Fairfax observes them and looks upon their new-found intimacy with a jaundiced eye.

Garden in Summer (1924)
Theo van Rysselberghe
source Wikiart

Chapter XXIV

Jane awakens to sunny skies once more and searches for her errant bridegroom, guided by a rather grave Mrs. Fairfax.  Here, their relationship begins a dance of power, as Rochester’s commanding temperament jumps to the forefront as he reveals his plans for their marriage, however Jane pushes back with a quiet persistence but also an almost jaunty playfulness.  He admits that he “feigned courtship of Miss Ingram to render you as madly in love with me as I was with you; and I knew jealousy would be the best ally I could call in for furtherance of that end.”  Jane admonishes his conduct strongly but softens at his pleas.

“I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder.  I loved him very much —- more than I could trust myself to say —- more than words had power to express.”

As he prepares to take her to Millcote for her wedding trousseau, Jane converses with Mrs. Fairfax who gives mysterious warnings about Rochester’s intentions and counsels caution.  More light battles are waged between them as Rochester attempts to get his way and Jane attempts to reign in and tame his impetuosity and imperiousness.  Jane appears to triumph, but a rather somber and shocking confession by her ends the chapter.

“Yet after all my task was not an easy one; often I would rather have pleased than teased him.  My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world; almost my hope of heaven.  He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun.  I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.”

Village Street
T. Campbell
source ArtUK

Wow, what a powerful last paragraph!  It’s delightful to see the interplay between Jane and Rochester, and see her beginning to shape his character for the better, yet those last words indicate that there is something more powerful at work there.  I don’t remember this dilemma from my last reading, and I’ll be interested to see how Jane reconciles her love of Rochester and her love of God in the coming chapters.

It’s strange how this courtship scene, while resonating with deep passionate love between the two characters, can also arouse waves of profound foreboding.

Oh, and one word about Rochester’s cruel teasing of Jane, as it is often an action that colours the reader’s opinion of him:  he does admit that “his principles have gone awry from lack of attention.”  His confession indicates two things: 1) he recognizes his bad behaviour and 2) he is willing to change.  So hopefully this honest declaration will mitigate some of the animosity a reader might feel towards him.

Man With a Horse and a Greyhound (1819)
John Nost Satorius
source ArtUK

Chapter XXV

Oh my!  More and more dark dreams and visions invade the happy pair’s thoughts.  One night whilst Rochester is away from home, Jane has dreams, first of carrying a burden of a small child, having Rochester in front of her on a road yet not being able to stop him nor have him hear her cries; next that Thornfield Hall was a ruin, she still carried the child yet saw him riding on horseback away from the destruction; and lastly that a ghastly savage vision of a big woman with curly hair came into her room and rent her veil.  When she relates her experiences to Rochester, one can see he is horrified at the latter and Jane believes that it, unlike the others, was not a dream.  She does not sleep that night but prepares to face her wedding day with an unsettled and anguished spirit.

The Veil (1898)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
source Wikiart

This part is where I lose some of my respect for Rochester.  He lies when he should have told the truth.  Up until now, I could understand him pushing his secret out of his mind, to try to find happiness from a situation that must be a torment to him.  So far he has prevaricated, but now, when faced with a blatant action by his wife, that not only threatens his wedding, but perhaps Jane’s life, the fact that he does not finally confess places him in a very unfavourable light.  I only hope that he can explain himself in the proceeding chapters.