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Exegeting a stop sign

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Sep 22, 2003.

  1. Helen

    Helen <img src =/Helen2.gif>

    Aug 29, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I could have put this in humor, but I figured more of the 'right' people would see it here...


    Hermeneutics in Everyday Life
    by Tim Perry
    Suppose you're traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do?
    That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

    1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car),
    ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

    2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict.
    He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the
    progress of the workers on the east-west road.

    3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the
    stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing
    that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel
    obligated to take it too seriously either.

    4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or
    Presbyterian or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign but he'll stop if the
    car in front of him does.

    5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign
    and waits for it to tell him to go.

    6. A preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discover
    that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a
    drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a
    train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following
    Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic
    is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your

    7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:
    1) Take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he
    doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.
    2) Stop at the stop sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the
    universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop," wait 3 seconds according
    to his watch, and then proceed.
    Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: R[abbi]
    Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is
    he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says:
    Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets,
    and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda
    says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says: "Be still, and know
    that I am God." R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the
    Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the
    house and overtake his daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign,
    and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his
    daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop
    sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word,
    though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a
    scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the
    sign. Young Hillel called out: "Stop, father!" In this way, he began reading and
    speaking at the same time. Thus it is written: "Out of the mouth of babes." R.
    ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is
    written: "Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens." R. ben Nathan
    says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: "let
    them serve as signs." R. Yeshuah says: ... [continues for three more pages]

    8. A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10
    seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt
    searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the
    brake pedal.

    9. A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage "STOP" undoubtedly
    was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the
    gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its
    parking lot.

    10. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there
    is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and
    Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street
    called "Q". There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the
    origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on
    Matthew and Luke street in the scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an
    unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to
    explain what the text means.

    11. An OT scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences
    between the first and second half of the passage "STOP". For example, "ST"
    contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas "OP" contains two
    enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the
    second part is different from the author for the first part and probably lived
    hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is
    itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic
    differences between the "O" and the "P".

    12. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign
    would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he
    neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present
    location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the
    stop sign were not there.

    13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar emends
    the text, changing "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to understand in context
    than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual
    corruption probably occurred because "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign
    several streets back that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus
    the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area.

    14. A "prophetic" preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the
    numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in the Greek
    alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by four (the
    number of the world--north, south, east, and west), equals 666. Therefore, he
    concludes that stop signs are the dreaded "mark of the beast," a harbinger of
    divine judgment upon the world, and must be avoided at all costs.

    [15. The chicken didn't see the stop sign, and crossed the road.]
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
    Site Supporter

    May 4, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Very funny .. well placed as well. In a very humorous way, it shows the fallacy of some of the hermeneutics out there.
  3. donnA

    donnA New Member

    Aug 10, 2000
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  4. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator

    Jun 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Two thumbs up for that list! [​IMG]
  5. Jim1999

    Jim1999 <img src =/Jim1999.jpg>

    Aug 10, 2002
    Likes Received:
    And wot you do with that stop sign might determine how empty your pocket book might be. There is little room for error.


  6. DCK

    DCK New Member

    Jul 12, 2003
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    Great list. I especially like #10 & #11.
  7. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24 Active Member

    Jan 2, 2003
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    Great post Helen! [​IMG]

    Ain't it the truth! [​IMG]
  8. Refreshed

    Refreshed Member
    Site Supporter

    Dec 3, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Very funny list, Helen. Thanks!

    Jason :D
  9. Gwyneth

    Gwyneth <img src=/gwyneth.gif>

    Feb 21, 2002
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    The list is very funny [​IMG] - but also, sadly :( very true regarding the way some regard Gods`
    STOP SIGNS which are written down for us clearly.
    Gwyneth [​IMG]
  10. Dan Todd

    Dan Todd Active Member

    Mar 13, 2003
    Likes Received:
    The only thing missing is some reference to a stop sign dated 1611!!!

    Funny - very Funny!!! [​IMG]
  11. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24 Active Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Since I have gone back to being a School Crossing Guard (and carrying a stop sign) I am amazed at the people who cannot read the word "S T O P"! :mad:
  12. mark brandwein

    mark brandwein New Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Great List, I always thought that the white border around the STOP sign means " optional ".