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Thinking About The Cup (March 2016)


by Wye Huxford

During the season of Lent we are encouraged to do the kind of self-reflection that compels us to focus on our own spiritual maturity – or sometimes immaturity! While that can sometimes be a very sobering period in life, few would deny its importance if we are truly to spend these forty days in a productive fashion.

Reading the gospel accounts of Jesus' life is one of the ways that can be helpful to us in creating the kind of stage in our lives where we can play out the role of growing spiritually. The lectionary readings for this year are from the Gospel of Luke, but I would encourage all of us to read all four!

One of the images that almost always attracts my attention when I read the gospels is what I call "the image of the cup." The Greek word behind our English word "cup" is pretty basic Greek vocabulary. It simply means "cup," as in something from which you drink. Yet as Flannery O'Conner once said of characters in a story, sometimes words carry much more meaning than their mere meaning.

In Mark and Matthew, we meet the word "cup" in that rather infamous story of James and John wanting to have chief seats in the kingdom. They were, perhaps, overly influenced by an aggressive mother who wanted the best for her sons. Whatever the case, Jesus asks them, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:38). With a bit of overconfidence, they reply, "Yes, we are." But they were hardly thinking of "cup" as Jesus was.

In the Synoptic accounts of the Lord's Supper, as well as in 1 Corinthians 11, we are told that Jesus "took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it." That is a pretty powerful image to associate with the word "cup."

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, "remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done." The imagery in these accounts, as well as in John 17, is one of a great struggle regarding the looming cross before Jesus. I wonder if, upon hearing the prayer, James and John would still have answered "Yes, we are."

In the original building for Cherry Log Christian Church, the chancel area behind the pulpit was built from beautiful stones from the North Georgia mountains. I still remember the first time I was sitting in the building at a preaching seminar led by the late Dr. Fred Craddock. All of a sudden, out of nowhere it seemed, I noticed that outlined in the stones was the image of a chalice – a cup. It took me a while to see it, but once I saw it I kept looking at the stone wall to make sure it was there! It kept grabbing my attention – a simple cup.

I'm hoping that during this season of Lent the "cup" keeps drawing me back into focus on what being Christian is all about. Our faith, in signficant ways, is a "faith of the cup." As was Jesus, may we willingly bear whatever that "cup" may be in our service to Him who bore it for us.


by Beth Langstaff

In its new location in the centre of Tübingen, the Institute now has a guest room for visiting scholars. During the winter semester, we were excited to welcome our first guests. 

At the beginning of December, Maria Sokolskaya from the Institut für Judaistik in Bern was the first guest to stay overnight at the Institute.  She was visiting Tübingen to read a paper at the German-English Colloquium on "Philo's Bible: The Septuagint?"

Another Colloquium presenter, Beatrice Wyss, was in town at the beginning of February, and she too stayed overnight in the guest room.  She also read a paper on Philo of Alexandria's Interpretation of Genesis 1, in particular, the fifth and sixth days of creation (interesting that the animals that live on the earth and human beings, male and female, were all created on the sixth day).

Finally, in the second week of February, we were very pleased to welcome Loren, Lois, and Nathan Stuckenbruck to the Institute for a few days. Loren is Professor at the Protestant Faculty of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. He is also a member of the EES Board of Directors. During their visit, Loren and I were able to meet with Professor Michael Tilly to start planning for the next symposium here in Tübingen, planned for October 2018. This symposium will focus on the Lord's Prayer.