Category: Literary Analysis


Scripture

Colossians 3:17,23-24 (NIV)

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Observation

As I read through this text today it struck me as odd that Paul would say the same thing in verses 17 and 23-24, so I have stopped to review these verses and see what it is I might be missing.

Colossians 3 starts with, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (v 1-2). The word “since” here is being used as a conjunction between Colossians 3:1 and the preceding text. Therefore, let’s take a look at the preceding text.

In Colossians 2 Paul is telling the people of Colossus that they no longer have to follow Jewish traditions such as circumcision, special days, and mandates regarding what to eat or drink because Christ has freed them from these laws that only have an appearance of wisdom and cannot grant any eternal freedom. Furthermore, they need to be alert to anyone who would try and teach this doctrine as if it were true. They now have freedom in Christ.

Having established that there is freedom in Christ, Paul exhorts the Colossians to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2 NIV). I expect anyone suddenly freed from any matter of prison might run amok thinking they can do whatever they want to do. There are all sorts of manners of “captivity” that we go through in our lives. From childhood into our teenage years, most people are in a state of following the laws laid down by their parents or guardians. Hence, the expressions of “freedom” we see when people leave home to go to college or other pursuits.

When I entered the military, shortly after graduating from High School, I remember feeling like I had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Basic training was just that bad. After Basic, the USAF had a “phase” system in place at my technical school. The military had realized that people “freed” from captivity behaved in out sorts of outlandish ways and need to gradually be “phased” back into mainstream living.

I believe that there’s more to this freedom in Christ than not having to adhere to Old Testament Jewish law. Whether or not one was a Jew who was now a Christian, they, the Colossians, as we once did, lived under the bondage of death. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” is a sentiment that comes to mind in the face of death (Isaiah 22:13). However, for those who are alive in Christ, and have been raised to live with Christ, that’s you and me, Believer, we need to change our way of thinking.

To one degree or another, every one of us was in the World and behaved as “worldly” people before we gave our lives to Christ. Hence, the beginning statement of Colossians 3. Now we can see how Colossians 3:17 is set up. Paul reminds the people of Colossus, and subsequently, us, how we once lived before coming to Jesus. As liars, adulterers, murderers, full of anger, rage, malice, spewing obscenities and giving into all manners of lust and sexual immoralities. We once saw everyone with the labels that the world had placed on them. Now, however, as Children of God, saved by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we “must clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. [Bearing] with each other and [forgiving] one another…as the Lord forgave [us]” (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV). We are to do everything in love that will bring us together in perfect peace for we were called by God, as one body of Christ, to live in peace. Therefore, we need to allow the peace of God to be dominant in our hearts (Colossians 3:14-15 NIV).

Finally, with the peace of God ruling in our hearts we are to ruminate on “the message of Christ” as we share it “through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in [our] hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV). Now, I think I have a much better grasp of Colossians 3:17.

As I examine Colossians 3:23-34, I can see that Paul goes from speaking to the people of Colossus, in general, to the specific roles of husband, wife, children, father, and servants (household) and we can see that, this, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” is directed at the servants. When we get to Colossians 4, we can see evidence that this is the case because Paul is now telling Masters how to behave toward their servants. “Masters, practice equality and justice with your Servants and be aware that you also have a Master in Heaven” (Aramaic Bible).

Having examined these two passages and their context I think it’s a good idea for us, as Christians, today, to put both of them into practice for whatever we do, when we do it with gladness in our hearts, it will make our day and those around us, a brighter one.

Do you know God? He loves you. He wants you to know Him. He already knows you and He would rather die than not have you in His family. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

Scripture

2 Samuel 24:3 (NIV)

But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

Observation

Joab isn’t usually portrayed as a “Godly” person. Even when it comes to being loyal to David, what we see is a man who didn’t appear to be concerned with how God saw him. He murdered Abner despite Abner being on a mission of peace during peace talks (2 Samuel 3:27), colluded with David, and murdered Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:14-21). Furthermore, he kills Absalom despite the king’s orders and murdered Amasa (2 Samuel 20:7-10). Of these despicable deeds, only the killing of Absalom was done during war-time and was in the best interest of Israel. Indeed, David, instructs his son, Solomon, to “not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:9 NIV)” as punishment for his crimes.


However, in this verse we see Joab reminding David of God’s faithfulness. Something that David isn’t seeing at the moment. Joab, as the commander of the army, intimately knows how God has brought victory to Israel and David.

Joab is a shrewd man. His murder of Abner wasn’t just an expression of revenge but a strategic move against one who could become the next commander of the king’s army. King David had told Amasa that he would be the commander of his army (2 Samuel 19:13) over Joab. One could stipulate that Joab’s murder of Amasa was in the best interest of Israel, given that Amasa, as commander of Absalom’s army, effectively failed Absalom by allowing him to be caught away from the protection of the army. Furthermore, Amasa delayed in fulfilling the king’s orders to summon the men of Judah and bring them to him in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 20:4-5). A commander who can’t marshal troops effectively and get them to where they need to be isn’t the best choice to command one’s army. Finally, the allies of the king, who had supported him when Absalom revolted, likely would have preferred to have had Joab, a commander with a successful track record, guarding the king and all of Israel. I believe, however, that Joab’s principal motive in killing Amasa was out of self-preservation.

Joab’s question to David, “why does the lord the king want to do such a thing?” suggests that Joab saw the prideful motive behind David’s desire to count the troops. David had been a successful ruler over Israel for quite some time. While David could look to the lands that he controlled, the size of his army was one way that he could see how great he had become. In addition, if David were looking to expand his kingdom, he’d want to know how many troops he had.

I see Joab, here, in this instance, as being a messenger of God. We are familiar with the prophets, such as Samuel, Nathan, and Gad, bringing the word of the Lord to David. We know that Joab isn’t the first person to give a warning to David before he sinned against God. David’s wife, Abigail, interceded on the behalf of the males of Nabal’s household when he sought to avenge himself against Nabal for his rude and disrespectful behavior (1 Samuel 25:25). When we look to David’s pride, as a motivation for his desire to count the troops, we see the same David, from so many years before, with his pride hurt, bent on his desire to avenge himself with his own hands, turn from evil and do the right thing. Abigail’s plea to David rings with a heart-wrenching prophetic utterance when we realize that the 70,000 men who die from this prideful sin of counting the troops, could have been spared if he listened to Joab, the unlikely reminder of God’s faithfulness.

“Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” (1 Samuel 25:28-31 NIV)

I think that we could accept David’s pride as the primary reason behind him ignoring Joab’s warning. However, to do so would have us miss out on, what I believe, is a lesson to be learned here from this situation. We have already noted that David was aware of Joab’s wickedness (1 Kings 2:9). I think that this fall of David, in counting the troops, was a one-two punch. The first punch was David’s pride which led him to validate “his” greatness by looking at the size of his army. The second punch was only seeing Joab as the evil man he knew him to be.
It was easy for David to see Abigail, bowing down before him in humility, as a messenger of God. “David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me.'”(1 Samuel 25:32 NIV). However, David’s eyes were surely blinded by Joab’s past misdeeds.

While the text doesn’t say, “the Lord said,” to Joab. We can look to the truth in what was said and know that it a “truth” of God.

“‘May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it'” (v 3).

The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43), speaks of the Lord’s power that allows “one man to chase a thousand or two to put ten thousand to flight.” (Deuteronomy 32:30 NIV) The Song of Moses was given to Moses by God as a witness against the Israelites for the time when God brought them into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:19-20). They, with their bellies full and their heart’s content, would turn away and follow other gods. It was the responsibility of the Israelites to know this song. As the king, David would have heard this at some point in his life. Beyond the song, however, is the work that God had done in David’s life. David, the boy who faced Goliath, knew the power of his God but didn’t recognize the truth in Joab’s words. There can be no doubt that David was fully aware of the power of God in his own life. He writes in Psalms 34:7, “the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them,” (NIV) when he was fleeing from Saul.

The Truth of God never changes. This is why Paul, in Philippians 1:15-18, say’s, “what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.” As followers of Christ, we need to be attentive and discerning to God’s voice. He speaks to us in myriad ways, from his word in the Holy Bible, through the Holy Spirit and circumstances in our lives. He can speak to us through the people in our lives. Those who know Him and those who do not. If He can open up the mouth of a donkey (Numbers 22:21-39) to get someone’s attention, then surely He can speak to us through another person. We need to be discerning and align what we have heard with the character of God and His word.

Application

How can I apply what I have learned today?

The best way to know God’s Word is to read my Bible and then study it.

Prayer

Father, I praise you and I thank you for who you are. I thank you, Father, for the gift of your Holy Spirit which allows me to be guided into all truth. Thank you for speaking to me today, through your Word. Father, I pray, in the name of Jesus, that I would be attentive and discerning to your still small voice that speaks to me. Open the eyes of my heart, that I may know you better. Please forgive me for when I have not listened to your voice and done as you have wanted me to do, or even worse when I have heard your voice and followed my path. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Viddying this post moodge subject and A Clockwork Orange odin can’t help but viddy the govoreet of the rabbit and think that this construction of a govoreet is a means of constructing the self.  The idea of choice surfaces in the gulliver reflecting the text that declares “when a [moodge] cannot choose he ceases to be a [moodge]” (93) and odin thinks that Malenky Alex was more of a moodge when he chose to conform in govoreet and dress than when the orange was broken and put back together as it once was.  When Malenky Alex chose to rape and pillage he was making a choice between dobby and evil but when his mozg was put back there just didn’t seem to be any choice in the matter.  And then? And then? And then? Malenky Alex suddenly has the impulse to shive out a picture of a baby and “realize” that he’s growing up and that everything he did his malenky malchick will do. And then, all horrorshow like, the messel of Burgess’ high golossing on the moral lesson of the text and it being “too didactic to be artistic” (XIV) gets odin thinking this Clockwork Orange could be a Bildungsroman.  Between Burgess’ goloss and showing off his twenty-first chapter, our hero Alex travels through elements of the Bildungsroman but misses a klootch point of the genre and that point is self-growth.  A Clockwork Orange may appear to meet the criteria of the Bildungsroman as outlined by Jerome Buckley in his book Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding but an essential quality is missing in Alex, regret.  While it’s healthy to live a jeezny and smot back upon it without regret Alex does not regret his actions as a malchick, he viddies them as ordinary nadsat behavior that he expects his own malenky malchick to repeat.  Being molodoy and foolish is odin veshch but murdering and raping and smottovat back on his raz as a nadsat with like nostalgia is not a demonstration that the subject has intellectually grown in character.  Alex’s growth from a nadsat to an adult who no longer desires to itty out late at nochy oobivatting, crasting and raping is no more zammechat than the raskazz of a dog that can no longer retrieve because its legs are full of arthritis.  Consequently, A Clockwork Orange is no more a Bildungsroman than it is a tale of a molodoy moodge growing up and growing out of a phase of his jeezny.

The govoreet of A Clockwork Orange and the creation of the self might appear to lend creditability to Alex being a creature in the process of a Bildungsroman if nadsat is interpreted as an artistic expression of sensibility.  However, nadsat is not a govoreet created by Alex. Nadsat is the govoreet of nadsats within A Clockwork Orange and therefore falls into a category of being nothing more than an adolescent “phase” that every generation itties through.  If odin wrote a novel about a molodoy moodge growing up between 1970 and 1980 and included dialogue such as, “I kopat that groovy funk” the govoreet of the novel, as used by the molodoy moodge, would not meet the criteria of a Bildungsroman nor the reveal the molodoy moodge as being particularly artistic.  In fact, Alex’s use of nadsat mestoes him in the role of a conformist to his generation rather than setting him apart as odin attempting to create himself through govoreet.  Malenky Alex’s love of classical music, his shilarny with like smot and his desire to educate, albeit through ultra-violence establish him as a sensitive malchick and could mesto him into the category of the hero within the Bildungsroman.

Malenky Alex’s journey through the characteristics of the Bildungsroman are metaphorical rather than literal such as in a text like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.  The city that he grows up in doesn’t appear to be a large city and because the country is so close a yeckate it’s likely that it would fit the “provincial town” description set forth by Buckley. Alex does not find “constraints, social and intellectual, placed upon the free imagination” as described by Buckley, in the town in which he jeeznies but rather these elements enter into Alex’s jeezny when he is itties to prison and it is the prison that serves as Alex’s “city” to which he escapes and is “educated.” Alex’s initial experience of urban jeezny is as odin who makes the rules, as a predator, only after he is modified does he experience urban jeezny differently and then, although he is a victim, he is a victim as a result of his previous behavior. His experience in prison is a substitute for the “urban jeezny” experience because prison has its own society that is made up of chellovecks like Alex and it is within prison that Alex learns the art of deception in order to facilitate his skorry release from prison as horrorshow as lighten his rabbit load within prison and bring pleasure to himself, in the form of classical music (Burgess 88-90).

The critical failing within A Clockwork Orange that reveals that the novel is not a Bildungsroman is the lack of psychological and moral development of Malenky Alex.  Prior to prison Alex’s narrative tone is odin of nostalgia and his reference to the reader is typically odin in which he refers to the reader as his droog, bratty or comrade of sorts.  However, narrative tone aside, malenky Alex damns himself as not being reformed when his narrative presence changes from telling his raskazz to commenting, as the narrator, on the past from his present, “I couldn’t help a bit of disappointment at things as they were those days. Nothing to fight against really. Everything as easy as kiss-my-sharries.” (15)  Alex, as narrator, is not expressing to the reader his feelings at the raz of the raskazz but is smottovat back on that raz as the narrator lamenting the ease at which he was able to commit his crimes and nazz the police.  His statement that there was “nothing to drat against” is a comment that reflects that period of raz in his jeezny in addition to his present situation, ookadetted unknown to the reader.  As a nadsat malenky Alex had nothing to drat against which would have made his jeezny more interessovatting and as an older moodge “he has nothing to drat against” because he has grown up, he has matured in age but he has not developed morally or psychologically.  Furthermore, when malenky Alex enters prison the narrator declares, “this is the real weepy and like tragic part of the raskazz nachinatovat, my bratties and only droogs, in Staja” (85) revealing that the narrator does not recognize his previous behavior to be wrong or tragic but his incarceration he deems tragic as it is the nachinatovat of the end of his nadsat and “innocence.”  Additionally, malenky Alex’s declaration that all of his murdering, crasting and raping was because “[he] was molodoy” (212) reveals that he believes his condition was a matter of nadsat and nothing more than a phase that his own malenky malchick will itty through (211) just as he had.  Finally, the narrator’s last comment to the reader to “remember sometimes thy little Alex that was” (212) reveals that the narrator longs for the days of when he was a nadsat and that his jeezny now as an older chelloveck is not the jeezny that he would like to remember.

A Clockwork Orange is a book that tells the raskazz of a ultra-violence “inherent” in nadsat and it is this ultra-violence in nadsat that is:

[odin] of these malenky toys you viddy being sold in the streets, like malenky chellovecks made out of tin and with like a spring inside and then a winding handle on the outside and you wind it up grrr grrr grrr and off it itties, like goolying, O my bratties. But it itties in a straight line and bangs straight into veshches bang bang and it cannot help what it is doing. Being molodoy is like being like odin of these malenky machines. (211)

Burgess claims, in his introduction to A Clockwork Orange, “people [prefer] the film [to the book] because they are scared…of language.”  (XIV) I choose to write this analysis utilizing Nadsat first and foremost because Burgess created this language to “get in the way” and “muffle…the raw response…we [get] from pornography.”  In other words, as Burgess confesses in his introduction, he did not have the courage to write the scenes depicting rape and murder without a buffer that could distort the reader’s understanding of the events that were taking place within the novel.  Through the use of Nadsat within an analytical work I hoped to break the barrier that Burgess established when he created the language.  The process of writing an analytical piece that would translate into Nadsat while still maintaining the structure of analysis involved an approach to writing that required an understanding of Nadsat, that is, which words in English would translate into Nadsat and then composing the text in such a way as to lose a minimal amount of critical understanding.  In order to have reached the aforementioned approach I first experimented with writing in a slightly more poetic style similar to prose poetry but this style did not suit an analytical work.  My second approach to writing this analysis involved a combination of prose poetry surrounding analytical ideas and this morphed into the approach I finally decided upon.  The “rough draft” translation of this analysis was done using a Nadsat translator found in my works cited list.  However, I quickly discovered the limits of the translator and finalized the analysis through my own manual translation using a Nadsat glossary.  The second reason why I choose to write this analysis in Nadsat was to reflect the post human context of the novel with an analytical approach. Finally I choose to write this analysis in Nadsat because of the challenge.

 

Works Cited

Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1986.

Nadsat translator http://members.tripod.com/fugilyfred/oldnadsat/nadsat.html