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Storm Predictors

September 12, 2014

There is a tropical storm way out in the Atlantic.  They’ve named it Edouard.  I’m always glad that my name is well down the alphabet so there are rarely storms with my name.  I’d hate to share a name with a killer storm.

In any event, nobody seems worried about this one at all.  I saw an “ensemble model” of 20 hurricane trackers and they all project the storm to turn north way out in the central Atlantic, hitting no land.  The tracking map online showed a tightly bunched group of predicted paths so it seems they are all sure we can ignore poor Edouard.

It isn’t always like that.  Sometimes the lines for the 20 predictors look more like a plate of spaghetti, twisting all over the map.  In cases like that tiny variations in the algorithm formulas can produce chaotic results.

Put another way, sometimes the predictors agree, sometimes they don’t.

I’ve been preparing for the last few days to lead my church’s adult Sunday School class in a study on Hosea, one of the so-called “Minor Prophets.”  As part of this preparation I’ve been looking at a variety of commentaries from several well-respected Bible scholars.

The exercise has yielded an interesting parallel to storm predictors.  There are passages in the Bible where these scholars bunch together just like the storm predictors do.  But there are other passages, including several in Hosea, where these same scholars gallop off in all directions, also like the storm predictors.

While I find this quite amusing, and am hoping the class does too, there is one thing that bothers me.  A good number of these commentaries are in study Bibles or published commentaries.  You can shell out a lot of bucks for almost all of them.  When you read these commentaries they have one thing in common; none of them ever say “19 other scholars think I am all wet on this.” or “This is just one of 20 possible ways to read this passage.”  They all sound as if they are certain they are right.

I suppose they have to.  Who would buy a study Bible where the author repeatedly says “I’m not exactly sure what they passage means but here is my best guess.” 

Come to think of it, maybe I would.  I think I would appreciate a study Bible where the author of the notes is both humble and honest.

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