1662 Book of Common Prayer Lectionary Omissions

I have been using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer’s morning and evening prayer services for personal devotions for some time now. (I particularly recommend the 1662 BCP International Edition.) I have found these services to be a great benefit to myself in maintaining my own habits of prayer and Bible reading. Last year I did veer from them in one respect, though: instead of following the 1662 lectionary readings I would substitute the morning and evening prayer readings from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan. I did this because I was bothered by how the 1662 lectionary omits large parts of the Old Testament and most of the book of Revelation, while including over a hundred chapters from the Apocrypha. I wanted my Bible reading plan to take me through the entirety of the Scriptures.

It may seem odd for a Bible reading plan to omit parts of the Bible. But the omissions make more sense when you realize that these readings originally took place not in the context of personal devotions but in the context of public worship. Morning and evening prayer were public services offered in the church twice daily, in the morning and evening. Within these services the lessons were read, not preached. The lessons, therefore, needed to be sufficiently clear and edifying to the congregation simply upon being publicly read and without any explanation from the minister. Passages which were difficult to understand or contained technical material (e.g., genealogies) or “redundant” material (e.g., 1–2 Kings and 1–2 Chronicles cover many of the same events) were therefore left out. After all, morning and evening prayer services were not intended to be the only context in which ministers or congregants would encounter Scripture. The private study and reading of Scripture was enjoined on clergy and congregants by the first homily in the Book of Homilies.

This reasoning makes sense, though we might quibble with a decision here or there. The 2019 ACNA lectionary agreed with the underlying motivation but made different decisions on what to include and exclude, largely based on how nowadays the services of morning and evening prayer—along with the lectionary readings—largely take place in the context of personal devotions rather than public worship.

Not being Anglican, I have no obligation to follow either the 1662 lectionary or the 2019 ACNA lectionary (or morning and evening prayer services for that matter), and so I feel free to mix things up a bit. I did the 2019 ACNA lectionary a couple years ago. Last year I did the M’Cheyne plan (which I had also done in previous years). This year I wanted to give the 1662 lectionary a try.

With that said, I do still want to read through the entirety of the Scriptures in 2022, so I have made a list of omissions. I am creating a pinned note on my iPhone that has these listed out just as they are below, and I will put an “x” by each chapter as I read through it on my own time. By my count there are roughly 204 chapters omitted in the Old and New Testaments, so if you read through 4 of these chapters a week, you’ll get through all of the omissions in a year. Note, however, that a number of these chapters can be combined together and more or less “skimmed,” such as the first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles which almost entirely consist of genealogies, or Joshua 11–21, which consist largely of land allotments (both of which I have decided to group together in the list below). I will also note here (as I again note below) that Esther 10 is a mere 3 verses which serve as the conclusion to the book of Esther, so I would highly recommend simply appending it to Esther 9 when you come to it in the lectionary.

A portion of Scripture only qualifies as an omission if it is missing from the lectionary and is also not found in the proper lessons for holy days or in the epistle and gospel readings. Some portions of Scripture are omitted in the lectionary but are still read as proper lessons or are appointed as an epistle or gospel reading—these I have not listed below.

I hope others may find this useful. If you notice any mistakes, let me know and I will make corrections.

Without further ado, here is the list of omissions from the 1662 BCP lectionary:

  • Genesis: 10, 11:10–32, 36
  • Exodus: 6:14–30, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40
  • Leviticus: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27
  • Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 18, 19, 26, 28, 29, 33, 34
  • Deuteronomy: 23
  • Joshua: 11–21, 22
  • 1 Chronciles: 1–9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29
  • 2 Chronicles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36
  • Ezra: 2, 8, 10
  • Nehemiah: 3, 7, 11, 12
  • Esther: 10 (only 3 verses—simply add this to ch. 9 when it comes in the lectionary)
  • Proverbs: 30
  • Ezekiel: 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
  • Revelation: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7:1, 7:13–17, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12:1–6, 12:13–17, 13, 14:6-20, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

“The Light of Nature” in the Westminster Standards

Last week I wrote a piece for Ad Fontes on what the Westminster Standards have to say about natural reason, natural theology, and natural law through their teaching on the “light of nature”:

It is sometimes said that general revelation (or the light of nature, to keep Westminster’s wording) is not sufficient to save, only to condemn. Without desiring to be pedantic, I would note that while it is true that it is insufficient to save, it is not the case that its only function is to condemn. The light of nature has other uses beyond saving or condemning, some of which are attested to within the Standards

Read the rest here.

My Kingdom Is Not of This World

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

– John 18:36 (NKJV)

John Calvin comments:

My kingdom is not of this world. By these words he acknowledges that he is a king, but, so far as was necessary to prove his innocence, he clears himself of the calumny; for he declares, that there is no disagreement between his kingdom and political government or order; as if he had said, “I am falsely accused, as if I had attempted to produce a disturbance, or to make a revolution in public affairs. I have preached about the kingdom of God; but that is spiritual, and, therefore, you have no right to suspect me of aspiring to kingly power.” This defense was made by Christ before Pilate, but the same doctrine is useful to believers to the end of the world; for if the kingdom of Christ were earthly, it would be frail and changeable, because “the fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Corinthians 7:31); but now, since it is pronounced to be heavenly, this assures us of its perpetuity. Thus, should it happen, that the whole world were overturned, provided that our consciences are always directed to the kingdom of Christ, they will, nevertheless, remain firm, not only amidst shakings and convulsions, but even amidst dreadful ruin and destruction. If we are cruelly treated by wicked men, still our salvation is secured by the kingdom of Christ, which is not subject to the caprice of men. In short, though there are innumerable storms by which the world is continually agitated, the kingdom of Christ, in which we ought to seek tranquility, is separated from the world.

We are taught, also, what is the nature of this kingdom; for if it made us happy according to the flesh, and brought us riches, luxuries, and all that is desirable for the use of the present life, it would smell of the earth and of the world; but now, though our condition be apparently wretched, still our true happiness remains unimpaired. We learn from it, also, who they are that belong to this kingdom; those who, having been renewed by the Spirit of God, contemplate the heavenly life in holiness and righteousness. Yet it deserves our attention, likewise, that it is not said, that the kingdom of Christ is not in this world; for we know that it has its seat in our hearts, as also Christ says elsewhere, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). But, strictly speaking, the kingdom of God, while it dwells in us, is a stranger to the world, because its condition is totally different.

My servants would strive. He proves that he did not aim at an earthly kingdom, because no one moves, no one takes arms in his support; for if a private individual lay claim to royal authority, he must gain power by means of seditious men. Nothing of this kind is seen in Christ; and, therefore, it follows that he is not an earthly king.

But here a question arises, Is it not lawful to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God (Psalm 2:10-12), not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness. I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him. Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms.

Notes on First Principles

I am slowly working through Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. As I do so, I will share quotes that I find intriguing and may want to reference later. I am reading this Latin edition and using Alfred J. Freddoso’s new English translation as needed.

In I, Q1, A6, Aquinas addresses the question of whether sacred doctrine is wisdom–utrum sit sapientia. Thomas affirms, but my interest is less in that as in the statements he makes regarding first principles:

Continue reading Notes on First Principles

Disagreement

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Disagreements are no more unnegotiable natural forces than deliveries of the mistaken conscience are. They are openings for those who share a common faith to explore and resolve important tensions within the context of communion.

This kind of proposal is, of course, easy to mishear. It can be taken to mean that parties to disagreements must be less than wholly convinced of their position, ready to make room for possible accommodation. When really serious issues are at stake and talk of a status stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae begins to rumble like thunder, urging the search for resolution can seem like an invitation to capitulate, to concede essential points before beginning. It can seem as though Scripture is deemed to be inconclusive and ambiguous, so that either side is free to concede the possible right of the other’s interpretation. It can seem as though what is needed is an indefinite irresolution about everything important, in which there is no need for, and no possibility of, a decisive closure. But that is all a trick of the light. None of this is implied in the search for agreement. The only thing I concede in committing myself to such a process is that if I could discuss the matter through with an opponent sincerely committed to the church’s authorities, Scripture chief among them, the Holy Spirit would open up perspectives that are not immediately apparent, and that patient and scrupulous pursuit of these could lead at least to giving the problem a different shape—a shape I presume will be compatible with, though not precisely identical to, the views I now hold, but which may also be compatible with some of the views my opponent now holds, even if I cannot yet see how. I do not have to think I may be mistaken about the cardinal points of which I am convinced. The only thing I have to think … is that there are things still to be learned by one who is determined to be taught by Scripture how to read the age in which we live.

– Oliver O’Donovan, A Conversation Waiting to Begin, 32–33. Thanks to a friend for pointing out this quote to me.

Or as Jordan Peterson has put it, more succinctly:

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Nadab and Abihu, Sons of Moses

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Rabbi David Fohrman gives an intriguing interpretation of Numbers 3:1–4. The text runs as follows (KJV):

These also are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day that the Lord spake with Moses in mount Sinai. And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office. And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron their father.

Rabbi Fohrman asks a number of questions that draw attention to some peculiarities of the text, such as:

Continue reading Nadab and Abihu, Sons of Moses

Back to Blogging

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It’s been a long time, but I am going to try to blog again with some level of regularity. I purged some posts from long ago that I don’t like anymore, updated the name and design, and have been thinking through how I want to use this space. For now the plan is to post about whatever I want, however I want, and see what happens.

Continue reading Back to Blogging

It’s Hard to Be Good

And so it is hard to be good: for surely hard it is in each instance to find the mean, just as to find the mean point or centre of a circle is not what any man can do, but only he who knows how: just so to be angry, to give money, and be expensive, is what any man can do, and easy: but to do these to the right person, in due proportion, at the right time, with a right object, and in the right manner, this is not as before what any man can do, nor is it easy; and for this cause goodness is rare, and praiseworthy, and noble.

– Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 2.9, https://bit.ly/3ipS0qd

On Baptizing Babies

In a previous post, I explained how I came to change my mind on infant baptism. That post was semi-autobiographical, attempting not so much to persuade others as to indicate some of my own thought-processes. I originally intended it just for friends and family members who may have heard that I became Presbyterian and wondered what that was all about. Unforeseen to me, it ended up having a much wider audience than I had originally envisioned. To date it is my most read blog post. No other posts even come close.

In it, I promised a future post in which I would “more directly explain my views on infant baptism, address some related issues, and share a fuller, annotated bibliography of resources I found helpful.” This is that post. Again, this is not my Treatise on Infant Baptism. I am not going to say everything that can be said. I wouldn’t even say that I am writing this with the primary intent of persuading others or making a full-fledged case. My goals are more modest. This will primarily be informative, aimed at helping interested readers understand how I view infant baptism, what I think it does, and what further resources may be consulted on this matter. Continue reading On Baptizing Babies