Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jack Bauer is a Judge?

In the Old Testament book of Judges, the judges aren’t judicial law-deciders like Judge Judy or John Paul Stevens. Rather, they are more like charismatic grassroots leaders, bringers of justice, or tribal chieftains. Some commentators have referred to them as being like tricksters or social bandits—figures like Robin Hood or Anansi the Spider.

In her commentary of Judges, Susan Niditch draws heavily on studies in folklore and storytelling. She describes judges as social bandits: “They are often marginal figures in their own societies, sometimes victims of injustice, and are characteristically rebels. They kill in just vengeance or self-deception” (4).

It seems like this describes Jack Bauer from 24.

On the show, Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is an adventurous operative who gets information, but often uses violence and deception. He plays by his own rules. He reminds me of many of the Judges. For example, Ehud solved the problem of Moabite rule by assassinating King Eglon, but he did it in a tricky and creative way by using a sword with his left hand and hiding the body in the bathroom so the guards would think the odor were just regular nasty bathroom stench.

Judges is a pretty violent book, just like 24 is a pretty violent television show. In Judges, a king’s toes and fingers get cut off in the first chapter, just before a woman is given as a battle trophy. Six hundred Phillistines get slaughtered with an oxgoad. Somebody gets stabbed in the temple with a tent stake.

All this is in the Bible. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it gets middle school boys to read the Bible. It also reminds us of the world as it is and our way to keep messing things up. Violence in the Bible, like violence on television, also calls us to be more aware of the very real violence in our world. We remember our need for grace.

1 comment:

  1. I think the stories we read last night also provide a great example of why we need to read the Bible in the context in which they were written. We need to ask whether the stories were written purely as "history" or whether they had political or spiritual intent behind them.

    The stories definitely are challenging for what they could imply for our understanding of God and for guidance in how we should approach life today.

    Is God a vengeful God as he is portrayed in some stories in Judges?

    Should we accept the view of some that you deserve whatever calamity hits you if you have been unfaithful to God as a people?

    Regardless of how you understand the stories, they certainly are entertaining and great examples of how life can be really messy, and how we as humans haven't really changed at all in the last couple thousand years.