Friday, December 5, 2008

The Corinthian Epiphany

Apparently, someone over at the RCL committee loved 1st Corinthians. A lot. So much so, that whether you've known it or not, every year, running from Epiphany 2 through Epiphany 8 (6 in Year B, after which it goes to 2nd Corinthians), we have a month and a half of readings from 1st Corinthians.

It seems noteworthy that they didn't want to extend this all the way through Epiphany 9 - the longest Epiphany can go for. My guess is that they wanted to protect their beloved book being read on the Sunday least common in the Church calendar, so they made sure that Epiphany 9 was full of 2nd Readings that weren't significant to this project of theirs.

So, what texts are actually being read?
Year A: 1:1-9; 1:10-18; 1:18-31; 3:1-9; 3:10-11, 16-23; 4:1-5
Year B: 6:12-20; 7:29-31; 8:1-13; 9:24-27; [2 Cor 1:18-22; 3:1-6; 4:5-12]
Year C: 12:1-11; 12:12-31a; 13:1-13; 15:1-11; 15:12-20; 15:35-38,42-50; 15:51-58

Let me just ask: does this catch any of you off guard? That you've been preaching or hearing 1st Corinthains so regularly, but never noticed it?

Now, what is being omitted? That is almost more interesting to me than what is being read. Well, all of chapter 2; 3:12-15; 4:6-21; Chapter 5; 6:1-11; 7:1-28, 32-40; 9:1-23; Chapter 10 and 11; 12:31b; Chapter 14; 15:21-34, 39-41, and Chapter 16. Another day I'll provide my own analysis of this choice. Today, it'll have to wait. For the curious, links to all the texts have been provided.

I'm not sure what logic can be ascribed to this choice. I have some ideas and some issues with such logic. However, again, more on that for another post.

Ultimately, use the lectionary the way it's meant to be used: A guide through the whole story of Scripture in Sunday worship. Use your best judgment. Maybe simply making people aware of what's going on will increase their interest in and retention of the reading at hand - a brief word on the relationship between the 2nd Lesson of this and preceeding and following weeks from the lector of the day. Just an idea.

Substantive analysis of the lectionary from a week to week basis is difficult, if not impossible. This kind of analysis is the kind I've been working on. For more, first tell me you're interested (this takes work, and I won't do it if it's not interesting), and then, stay tuned.

Soli Deo Gloria

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