‘Targum’ (plural is ‘targumim’) is a literary genre in which parts of the Hebrew Bible are ‘modernised’ and/or re-interpreted for the current time (specifically, it means an Aramaic translation.). This genre has been around for at least 2000 years, because some of the writings from the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls‘ consist of ‘targumim’ fragments. Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, in their book ‘Colossians Remixed: Subverting The Empire‘ use this genre quite well – I think – to suggest how the message of certain parts of Paul’s letter to the Colossians might be heard in modern, western culture.
Anyway, our church is almost finished teaching through the book of Amos, (I’ve just recently finished a course called ‘Prophets in Context’ by Tim Bulkeley at Carey Baptist College and his Amos commentary is – in my humble opinion! – the best fully-online commentary on this book.) and I recently preached on the text of 5:18 – 7:17. Here, for your enjoyment, discomfort (or both!?) is my ‘targum’ of this passage…
(Judgment against hollow worship – 5:18-27)
“You are so comfortable, so ‘spiritual’ and so ‘successful’. You’re RICH as well! Your ridiculous obsession with video games, new clothing and entertainment and eating â€“ YUCK!
Second, God showed me a Smith & Caughey’s Christmas display â€“with Carols echoing ‘God and sinners reconciled’ -but next to it was a sexual advert objectifying men and women made in God’s image! God said this was exactly like the mixed message that comfortable, affluent Christians are sending to the world, and therefore our influence will perish. I prayed, ‘No! Please! We’re weak!’ He again had mercyâ€¦
Lastly, God showed me a funeral service. He asked me, ‘What do you see?’ I said, ‘People weeping and mourning.’ Then He said, ‘See, I’m causing my people to weep and howl and mourn, because I am incensed at their hypocrisy! I will not stay silent. I will show them that their lack of works means their faith is DEAD!!!’(The brief encounter narrative – 7:10-17) Now, the most ‘spiritual’ and ‘successful’ Christian in Auckland complained to his pastor, saying “This guy is preaching against us and we can’t stand his muttering. He says we’re missing the point of the Gospel.” So he went to me and said, “Your so divisive! Spare us your theological musings! Save it for your dead spirit-less church! Don’t quench what the Spirit is doing with us!” And I said, “Hey, I’m not saying anything that you need a Masters in Divinity to understand! I saw hypocrisy, and God compelled me to call it what it is. I cannot BUT speak! You say, ‘Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed’, therefore God says, ‘You will be seen to be hypocrites by the entire world. Your self-serving hollow worship and your romanticised moment-spirituality will leave you dry, naked and poor! Your sons and daughters will reject the faith you’ve taught them because they will see how shallow it really is!’ “
Do compare it with the original, and if you can/want to, do comment with thoughts (positive or negative) that come to mind!