By Jim Heffernan
Back on April Fool’s Day we bought a greeting card with a religious inscription (AFD and Easter came close together this year) that I initially mistook for an April Fool’s joke.
The inscription was attributed to the book of “Zephaniah” in the Bible.
“What is this, some kind of April Fool’s joke? There ain’t no book of Zephaniah,” I bellowed.
First chance I got I rushed to one of the several family Bibles we have around the house. Bibles are often given to families of loved-ones who have passed on by morticians who appreciate the business, so they start to accumulate as the years go by.
Now I’m no Bible expert by any means, but I’ve had the usual exposure through Sunday school as a child, and confirmation as a Lutheran. A couple of times as a youth I went to “Bible camp.”
I saw the movies “Samson and Delilah” and “David and Bathsheba” and “Sodom and Gomorrah” and “Solomon and Sheba,” Bible stories they forgot to mention at Bible camp.
But still, you’d think with such a rich religious background I could at least recognize the names of the books of the Bible when I see them.
Hastily I flipped to a handy Bible’s table of contents. My eyes rapidly scanned the Old Testament first, sure I had caught some greeting card company (it wasn’t a Hallmark because we don’t care enough to send the very best) in a major religious gaffe.
“Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers…” the usual suspects and on down through familiar-sounding books like Lamentations and Ecclesiastes and there, fourth from the bottom, was Zephaniah. He’s located right between Habakkuk and Haggai, two fellows whose names I actually was familiar with. Especially Habakkuk.
Well, of course. How could I have forgotten about good old Zephaniah. As every Sunday school child knows, he was the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah. Hard for a layman like myself to figure if he had a lot of fathers or they’re listing his paternal relatives down through great-grandfather.
So I stand corrected and humbled. It’s not the first time. Several years ago I had to publicly admit (I needed a newspaper column that day) that I didn’t know that Bartholomew was a disciple. We all know Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, even Judas and Thomas, but Bartholomew? I thought he was the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty.