Help me interpret cryptic Bible verse references.
March 16, 2004 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Any biblical scholars out there? I got spooked out this morning by a suspicious person. More inside!

This morning I went to the beach (in New Hampshire, USA- it was cold and windy) before work to take pictures and wander around. I eventually walked to a sandy beach where I could see a man frantically pacing around. When I got to the breaker wall, I saw him standing in his sneakers in ankle-deep water and bowing and speaking to the ocean with his arms outstretched. I thought it was strange so I watched out of the corner of my eye. Shortly thereafter, he noticed me and hurried off the beach and into a car and sped away.

I thought it was strange, and then I saw that he had written a LOT of stuff below the high-tide mark on the beach with a small plastic fork. A lot of what he wrote was in code or had scrambled letters and words and upside down characters and strange notations. Basically, though, he quoted Luke 4:12 "Thy shalt not tempt thy Lord God" as well as Luke 17:1 which reads "but woe unto him, through whom they come!" He drew a circle with the words "I am" in it and around that circle wrote "woe woe weo." He also drew a big "X" near the word "job" and a line to the word "DOG."

I got the impression that something wasn't quite right, but I don't know. Anybody have any ideas?
posted by crazy finger to Religion & Philosophy (22 answers total)
 
Sounds like he is distraught. Dogs are not beloved animals in some cultures.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:18 PM on March 16, 2004


To clarify, the word "DOG" was near a lot of backwards and upside-down words so I assumed it was "GOD" backwards.
posted by crazy finger at 4:19 PM on March 16, 2004


I guess he thinks he's a Profit, being tested by God, is a bit like Job. etc. Basically Bonkers. Plant a dry bush near his words, and set it up with a walkie talkie, some mild incendiary device and hope that he comes back...
posted by seanyboy at 4:26 PM on March 16, 2004


A Biblical scholar would help you in what way in this situation? It seems you stumbled upon a person who might have mental issues. Perhaps a psychologist would be more helpful. Or pepper spray (in case he attacked you with the plastic fork).
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:27 PM on March 16, 2004


Well, a biblical scholar would help in the way that they might give context to the message. For instance, the second verse that he quoted, the one about the "woe unto him," is immediately followed by a verse about tying a millstone around his neck and being thrown into the sea. I thought maybe the man was trying to allude to suicide by ocean.
posted by crazy finger at 4:30 PM on March 16, 2004


Why are you guys supposing he's insane, instead of an actual prophet?
posted by signal at 5:06 PM on March 16, 2004


As a Discordian I tend to think he was just messing with you. Sounds silly, but look at the amount of time you've wasted due to his dumb prank. This is great fun to do to random strangers, and takes much less effort than rearranging elevator buttons.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:11 PM on March 16, 2004


Why are you guys supposing he's insane, instead of an actual prophet?

Quite the opposite, in fact. So spake Jesus:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good forks, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14
posted by Danelope at 5:18 PM on March 16, 2004


I have not contacted this man.
posted by God at 5:33 PM on March 16, 2004


What signal said. I find it ironic that the same Christians who supposedly believe all of the miracles in the Bible and in the 2nd coming of Jesus would never believe anyone who claimed to be a prophet, or the Son of God himself.
posted by banished at 6:04 PM on March 16, 2004


banished, I'm not religious but even religious people have skepticism. If they didn't the bible would take up the entire library of congress as various people decided that they were channeling the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God and company due to mental illness, perverse pleasure or financial gain.

I suppose that if I were to take anything from the bible the most important thing would be this: Each and every prophet, saint and even the son of God was just an ordinary bloke to the folks who knew him. Just in case maybe it's a good idea to be excellent to each other.
posted by substrate at 6:17 PM on March 16, 2004


Just in case maybe it's a good idea to be excellent to each other.

Amen, brother.
posted by jaronson at 8:04 PM on March 16, 2004


This sounds more like he had mental issues to me.
posted by konolia at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2004


What signal said. I find it ironic that the same Christians who supposedly believe all of the miracles in the Bible and in the 2nd coming of Jesus would never believe anyone who claimed to be a prophet, or the Son of God himself.

So now you're assuming we're all Christians? Nobody prior to your comment implied anything about their religious affiliations. And for the record, I don't believe the man on the beach to be a prophet, although he did catch a fish and then turned it into two fish so that we could both eat...
posted by crazy finger at 8:47 PM on March 16, 2004


I am not much of a biblical scholar, but boy do I like passing unfair judgments on people! So here's my attempt:

Luke 4.12 is a repetition of Deut. 6.16, which my NRSV translates as "Do not put the Lord your God to the test," meaning, do not ask for miracles.

Combined with Luke 17.1, my dangerously amateurish analysis of the guy's motives would be that he has been tempted, felt guilty, questioned his faith, felt even guiltier, and has come to see Satan as the source of his temptation.

Also:

"I AM" was the name God referred to himself as in, I believe, Exodus. Sort of. You know what I mean.

The only time Jesus is ever reported to have written anything was when he scribbled something in the sand that nobody read.
posted by Hildago at 9:25 PM on March 16, 2004


Oh, and the reference to Job (unless he just means his job) just makes it seem even more like he thinks Satan is testing his faith.

But yeah, one way or the other, he's crazy.
posted by Hildago at 9:27 PM on March 16, 2004


I wouldn't say he's crazy. There are a lot of religious circles that encourage epiphanies and other behavior like this. So if he was "inspired" to do this, perhaps not as a ritual but as a religious experience, then he's not necessarily crazy (or rather, it falls under a specially permitted kind of mental illness labelled as "spirituality").
posted by abcde at 12:02 AM on March 17, 2004


MetaFilter: I like passing unfair judgments on people

heh
posted by gen at 12:18 AM on March 17, 2004


Back when I was religious, we would frequently pray out loud as a spiritual exercise. It was not uncommon for a troubled brother to go out to a lonely place and pray at the top of his lungs, both to vent emotion and focus himself spiritually. Such prayers were often conducted early in the morning, before going off to the day job. It sounds like you stumbled on someone in the midst of a lonely out-loud conversation with God, embarrassed him and sent him scurrying off to find a more private spot.

I wouldn't say he's crazy based on what you saw, since I've seen plenty of zealous, sane men do similar things. After all, it was the right to talk the ocean and write with plastic forks that brought Europeans to colonize this continent in the first place.

So, what hidalgo and abcde said. Yeah.
posted by Jonasio at 2:39 AM on March 17, 2004


Can we get the name of the beach so I can avoid it?
posted by yerfatma at 4:52 AM on March 17, 2004


Perhaps he's travelling through the dark night of the soul, and trying to deal with the things confronting him.

Shall we see how much space we can fill with idle speculation?
posted by Blue Stone at 8:22 AM on March 17, 2004


New Hampshire has a beach?
posted by goethean at 9:13 AM on March 17, 2004


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