Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Daniel is Thrown into the Lectionary Lions' Den

Did anyone notice what the RCL does to All Saints' Day in Year C? Astute observers from the frozen tundra noticed and forwarded this alert to our southern clime. The O.T. reading gets chewed up and spat out as the dream of Daniel gets struck from Daniel 7:1-3,15-18 which in its edited version leaves us with the markedly shortened,
7 In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream:*
2 I,* Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea,
3 and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.
15 As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me,* and the visions of my head terrified me.
16 I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter:
17 ‘As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.’ Daniel 7:1-3,15-18
Is it something that Daniel did or said that irked the editors of the RCL? I reflected back on the decision of the editors of the NRSV (the version used in our Episcopal church) to change the language of Daniel's dream and visions from,
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!" (New KJV)
to the more gender neutral,
"As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being*
coming with the clouds of heaven."
The problem with the NRSV's attempt to force gender neutrality becomes apparent when the "Son of Man" turns up later in the Bible. When the NRSV does opt to retain a gender positive statement such as in Matthew 25:31–46, we lose the connection with the O. T. vision because of the attempt to be "inclusive".

The lectionary committee should have been okay with the gender neutrality, so there must have been some other reason for the edit.

It may be just as well that the NRSV version will not get heard this Friday, but it is a shame that folks will miss out on such wonderful visions as,
"As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One* took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgement,"
We have already learned what the RCL does to verses that speak of God's judgment (search these pages for "Missing verses"), and maybe it was that, or maybe the references to the Ancient One as male upset someone enough to remove them from the ear of the congregation.

This is one lions' den that Daniel couldn't escape without a scratch.

With all the attacks on him, is it any wonder that modern people can't dig the God of Daniel?



  1. Pewster,
    What churches use the RCL?

    1. Dale, the Consultation on Common Texts page ( says,
      "The following is a 1998 listing of those churches or ecclesial communities around the world that use (and in some cases have adapted) the Common Lectionary in its original (1983) or revised (1992) form. (Some information is also provided about churches using their own adaptation of the Roman Lectionary).

      Uniting Church
      Anglican Church
      Lutheran Church (uses an adapted version of Roman Lectionary)

      Anglican Church of Canada
      Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
      Presbyterian Church in Canada
      United Church of Canada

      Church of Denmark (Lutheran)

      Lutheran Church in Estonia

      Lutheran Church (under consideration)

      L'Englise Evangelique Lutherienne (adapted Roman Lectionary)

      Great Britain
      Church of England
      Church in Wales (Anglican) (used as an alternative lectionary)
      Church of Scotland (Presbyterian)
      Scottish Episcopal Church
      United Reformed Church
      Methodist Church
      Churches Together in England (CTE) (recommend usage)

      Church of Ireland (Anglican) (used as an experimental alternative)

      Anglican Church in Japan (uses adapted Roman Lectionary)

      Presbyterian Church in Korea (and is used widely in Korean Protestantism generally)

      Anglican Church

      Old Catholic Church
      Council of Churches in the Netherlands (in adapted form in parts of the Council's lectionary)

      New Zealand
      Anglican Church
      Methodist Church
      Presbyterian Church (also in cooperating parishes incorporating Anglican, Churches of Christ, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches)

      Papua New Guinea
      Anglican Church (uses an early adaptation of the Roman lectionary by the Australian Anglican Church)

      Anglican Church (The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia includes the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Marguesas Islands, Kiribati, Nuie, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Western and American Samoa)

      Southern Africa
      Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa (includes Angola, South Africa, Mozambique, St. Helena, Lesotho, Swaziland)
      Methodist Church of Southern Africa
      Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (includes Zimbabwe)

      Church of Sweden (Lutheran)

      United States
      Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
      Christian Fellowship of the Unitarian Universalist Association
      Christian Reformed Church in North America
      Episcopal Church (provisional use)
      Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
      Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
      Reformed Church in America
      United Church of Christ
      United Methodist Church

      Presbyterian Church of Venezuela"

  2. Pewster,
    Thanks for the work getting the list. Does this mean all these groups are getting a "little less" than they should? Answer, I think so.