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Riddle Me This Timothy Gray

How Riddles can Relate to Obtaining Wisdom and Thinking in Different Ways to Find God

Finding God in all things is one the basic principles of Jesuit tradition. Trying to pay more attention to God, leads to the careful examination of one’s day. It teaches attention to detail and introduces new schools of thought. Trying to find God throughout the day causes the individual to see things differently. A random act of kindness or a relaxing run through the park, are ways to find God during daily activities. It all depends on how the individual perceives the situation. With attentive observations and opening the mind to the task at hand, the individual will be able to Find God in all things. Riddles are an excellent example as a way to see things differently. Jesus used riddles in his parables to teach others and open minds to seeing the world differently. Riddles can be seen in different ways throughout the world today and inspire people to take a new perspective in hoping to Finding God.

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Riddles are an excellent example as a way to see things differently. Jesus used riddles in his parables to teach others and open minds to seeing the world differently. Riddles can be seen in different ways throughout the world today and inspire people to take a new perspective in hoping to Finding God.

They can be found in movies, books, poems and other works or art. Metaphors cause different ways of thinking as well, as it is up to the individual to draw comparisons between two things and figure out how they are similar. Jesus used parables to teach lessons that required a distinct approach to figuring out the message. Riddles are more present than people think, and can serve as a way to teach and learn.

Definition of Riddle

Webster’s dictionary defines riddles as, ”A mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as problem to be solved or guessed.” Riddles are meant to be seemed difficult at first, but trick the individual into doing more work than what was needed. Riddles can come in all shapes and sizes. Riddles include world problems, puzzles, codes, and visuals. Riddles have caused individuals to suffer through the torment of their rhetoric and play on words in search of a solution. Since the dawn of time riddles have been used to celebrate good times and sharpen the minds of people everywhere.

Passion for Puzzles

My Love for Riddles

Riddles were a great way to kill time, whether it be as a study break or on a long car ride. My friends and I loved to do riddles and used them as way to outsmart each other trick each other. We did them all over the country as seen below.

1. The People who showed me my love for riddles. 2. The organization we worked for out in Colorado. 3. Playing a game of riddles.

We learned that puzzles, brainteasers, and mysteries are all examples of riddles, which require deep thought and mindful analysis of words and pictures. Riddles cause the individual to think in a different way. Riddles try to confuse the individual and steer them away from the solution to the problem, but with delicate thinking and attention to detail, the answer is easy to find. The following Spark Page explains how riddles can inspire people to see the world from a different angle and how Jesus' parables were actually riddles used to inspire citizens. But first, where did riddles come from?

Riddles date back as far as 3100 B.C. The first was found near Sumer region in Mesopotamia, located near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, similarly where modern day Iraq and Kuwait are located. Sumerians were known to be the creators of the worlds oldest known writing system, cuneiform. Sumer culture valued education as a necessity for civilization. The Sumerians are credited with the creation of the first riddle, which is listed below, that showed the cultures dedication to education.

Greek and Roman cultures used riddles as a way to continue the festivities at social gatherings. After participants had eaten and drank, riddles were used to keep entertaining guests. Even today, riddles are used for the amusement of others.

Sumerian and Greek Culture

Sumer was the Southern most region in Mesopotamia (Modern day Iraq and Kuwait). The society highly valued education is known for creating Cuneiform, which is the oldest known writing method in the entire world. The sumerians used cuneiform and markings known as pictographs for means of communication. The tablet below was translated in 1960 from linguistic scholar E. I. Gordon.The tablet is known to contain the first riddle ever. The riddle reads, "A man entered a building blind and left with vision." The answer was decided to be a school, due to their emphasis on education.Teachers were high valued members of society. Throughout this page, it is discussed that Jesus is the ultimate teacher and is the true source of wisdom and how He used His parables as riddles to spread his teachings.

Sumerian Cuneiform Tablet
  • Sophocles, the famous greek poet, is known for creating one of the most famous riddles of all time. The riddle of the sphynx was was put into his play, Oedipus Rex. Riddles were also used during times of celebration. At greek weddings, symposiums, and festivals they were used as a way to keep the celebration going.
Riddle of the Sphinx

Riddles Today

However, riddles do not necessarily have to be word puzzles. Riddles can be found in movies, books, poems and other works or art. Metaphors cause different ways of thinking as well, as it is up to the individual to draw comparisons between two things and figure out how they are similar. Jesus used parables to teach lessons that required a distinct approach to figuring out the message. Riddles are more present than people think, and can serve as a way to teach and learn.

Popular Culture

Riddles in Movies!

Riddles serve as a great tool to develop the plot while also keeping the audience engaged. Puzzles and riddles may serve as the basis of some movies. Today, Riddles have not ceased to exist in the entertainment business. Currently, popular culture is filled with movies and literature that use riddles and puzzles to create a story. . Riddles serve as a great tool to develop the plot while also keeping the audience engaged. Riddles draw interest from the crowds today just as they did during Greek ceremonies. Everyone wants to be the first one to figure out the riddle. Many movies today have used riddles as a major part of the plot. For example, in the movie, National Treasure, historian and treasure hunter Benjamin Gates embarks on a treasure where he is required to decipher a number of codes and find solutions to many puzzles. Each solution he finds leads to him the next clue of the treasure hunt. The clues keep the audience guessing as to where Ben Gates will go next in pursuit of the treasure. Riddles may not play a major role in movies, but they can certainly apply some suspense to the plot line. In the movie Die Hard with Vengeance, the two main characters must out smart a terrorist who is wreaking havoc on New York City. In order to save the city, the two heroes are required to answer a series of riddles, in a certain amount of time, to stay one step ahead of the villain. These movies, and those listed below, show riddles continue to keep people entertained and force the characters to think in a different way.

Top left: Die Hard With Vengeance. Top Center: Angels and Demons. Top Right: Alice in Wonderland Bottom left: National Treasure. Bottom Center: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Bottom Right: The Princess Bride

Riddles in Literature!

Poems and books are great literature examples of how riddles come in the form of metaphors. Most poets set out to imply a certain message in their poems, but it is up to the reader to figure out what the poet is trying to say.The metaphor requires people to draw comparisons and think outside the box. Metaphors are just another example of riddles that get people interested in how to interpret what the author is trying to say. All of the writers below have used metaphors as means of sending a message. Maya Angelou uses a comparison between a free bird and a caged bird to highlight the everlasting racism against African American citizens. The caged bird has had its wings clipped and feet tied. These both serve as symbols of oppression (Corfman 2016).Langston Hughes uses a staircase as a metaphor for life in his poem, “Mother to Son.” The poet uses a number of symbols, such as stains and cracks, to show the difficulties the mother had to go through. These poems show how metaphors, like riddles, cause people to think about how things may seem different than they appear.

Top Left: Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven). Top Center: Maya Angelou (Caged Bird). Top Right: William Shakespeare. Bottom left: Langston Hughes (Mother to Son). Bottom Right: Stephen King (The Dark Tower Series).

In the link above, Maya Angelous recites here poem, as her metaphor comes to life.

Riddles in the Bible

Doctrine Dilemmas

Riddles even exist in the bible. Whether it be the Parables of Jesus, or literal riddles.Questiosn were posed to citizens either as a method of teaching, which Jesus chose to do. In the bible, riddles also served as a method of entertainment during times celebration. As shown below, Samson poses a riddle at his own wedding. Not only is this an example of a literal riddle in the bible, it also draws comparison between two different objects.

Samson's Riddle- Samson celebrates his wedding with a riddle that he poses to the philistines at the reception. The riddle is listed below. Later in the bible, the same message comes up again, which brings out a common theme. Samson describes something as sweet as honey in his riddle. And later, in the book of Pslam, the word of the Lord is described as sweet. A connection was drawn between Samson's riddle and another verse in the bible. This creativity and open-mindedness, is what riddles strive to create. Riddles and metaphors cause the mind to draw connections and think in different ways to figure out their true meaning or solution (Tatimu 2003).

Judges 14:14- "Out of the eater, something to eat, out of the strong, something sweet." Samson was forced to wrestle with a lion, and after proving victorious, he noticed a bee hive in the lion stomach. This is where Samson got the idea for his riddle.

Judges 14:18- "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?"

Psalm-119:103- "How sweet are your words to my tase, sweeter than honey to my mouth."This verse shows the reoccurring theme of the word of the Lord described as sweet, which comes from the honey of the bee in Samson's riddle.

Interpreting Dreams is the Same as Figuring out a Riddle

Interpretation is a key factor in trying to resolve a riddle. Metaphors are not the only situations that require interpretation. Dreams require careful examination to uncover their meaning, just like riddles. Great examples of interpreting dreams come from the bible

The Pharaoh

In the book of Genesis, the Pharaoh awakes from a dream and demands to know its meaning. “Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men and Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh,” (Genesis 41: 1-8). There was nobody in all of Egypt that could assist the Pharaoh in understanding the reason for his dream. It was not until Joseph came to the aid of the Pharaoh, that the Pharaoh understood his dream. Seeing that the dream involved unhealthy cows and ears of grain, Joseph advised the Pharaoh that this was a message from God. The dream called for seven years of a fruitful harvest, but it would be followed by seven years of famine across the land. Joseph told the Pharaoh the reason he nor his wise men could not understood the dream, was because they had not truly accepted God (Thomas 2011) .

King Nebuchadnezzar

A similar situation happened to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. In the book of Daniel, the king has dreams on two different occasions in which he requires to discover their meaning. In Daniel 2, the king dreams of a statue, that Daniel informs the king is a symbol of all the different kingdoms on earth, competing for domination. But Daniel continues to say that only one kingdom will rule in the end, the Kingdom of God. “At the time of those kings, the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed. No other people will be permitted to rule. It will smash all the others and put an end to them. But it will be established forever,” (Daniel 2:41). The king recognizes this dream as a message from God, and in Daniel’s footsteps learns to accept God (Deffinbaugh 2004). “Your God is truly the greatest of Gods, the Lord over kings. He can reveal secrets because you were able to reveal this secret,” (Daniel 2:46).

The dreams were not able to be fully understood until the Pharaoh and Nebuchednezzar had learned to accept and worship only one true God. They were both advised, by Joseph and Daniel, that these dreams were messages from God that served as warnings. After seeing their visions come true, the two learned to trust God as the source of faith and Wisdom.

The Pharaoh dreaming of the unhealthy harvest.

This message relates back to a theme discussed in class that comes from the book, The Power of Parable, by John Dominick Crossan. Crossan mentions that Jesus used riddle parables as a method of teaching his disciples. The parables seemed difficult to understand at first and could not be interpreted by the individual alone. Crossan says, “Jesus’ parables were intended to be incomprehensible to outsiders, but comprehensible-with special interpretation from Jesus- to insiders,” (Crossan 21). The only way the disciples could pick up on Jesus’ message, was through further teaching from Jesus

Riddles in Class

Crossan on Riddles

The only way the disciples could pick up on Jesus’ message, was through further teaching from Jesus. To understand Jesus’ “metaphor,” full acceptance of Jesus was required. Recognizing Jesus as the ultimate teacher relates back to the interpretation of dreams in the bible. The only way to discover the meaning of the dreams to was to recognize God as the Almighty and the only one who can give the meaning of the dreams. This relates back to the interpretation of the dreams. The only way the king and Pharaoh could fully understand their dreams was to accept Jesus.

Example Parables

Crossan states that example parables are, "Moral Models for future implications and applications," (Crossan 30). By understanding these example parables, the individual now has wisdom when it pertains what is moral and what is immoral. Crossan brings up the parable of the blind man and lazy man when confronted by the king for stealing fruit. Both blame each other for stealing the fruit, and the king chooses to punish both. "It is quite clear, that in this parable, what the human ruler did is a metaphorical, microcosmic, and illustrative example of what the divine ruler will do," (Crossan 31). This is yet another example of metaphors are present in the bible and how it causes the individual to think a in a different way to uncover the hidden message.

Challenge Parables

Crossan argues that they are ways that Jesus’ challenges citizens to act in certain situations. In the Good Samaritan parable, a traveler is left for dead after he has been beaten and stripped of his clothes. People pass him by, on the side of the road, and no decides to help the man until a Samaritan does so. The challenge parables are another method of teaching for Jesus. These parables push followers of Jesus to think and act differently from others, just like riddles. The main point of these parables is that they are hidden messages but become clear to those who follow Jesus Christ.

The Good Samaritan Parable

Kierkegaard

Nebuchadnezzar- No one could help him understand his Dreams. "I will not envy Him his power" (Kierkegaard 102)The king recognizes this dream as a message from God, and in Daniel’s footsteps learns to accept God. “Your God is truly the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings. He can reveal secrets because you were able to reveal this secret, “ (Daniel 2:46) God used Jesus to relay his message and the only way people could receive the message was to open up to Jesus. The thought of this was preposterous to most of the time, but just as riddles require thinking in different ways, it opened the minds of many to learn to love Jesus.

Fiddes on Riddles

"Who can count the sand of the sea, the drops of rain, or the days of unending time? Who can trace out the height of the sky, the breadth of earth, or the depth of the abyss?" (Fiddes 243) All wisdom and strength comes from God. Human beings do not know Wisdom without God. "Wisdom has been given to plenty, to those who love Him" (Fiddes 245). Finding the message of the parables is the same as figuring out the solutions to riddles. Each of require wisdom. The parables were essentially riddles that required the guidance of Jesus to figure out.

Fiddes also says, "Immersion into the contingent details of the world-how seeing the world is knowing God." (Fiddes 83). Taking the time to perform some reflecting and observing helps people to practice the Jesuit tradition of finding God in all Things. Riddles can show taking time to reflect and think in a different way can lead to finding solution.

How the Parables of Jesus are Similar to Riddles

Jesus used parables as a way to make sure that his followers truly understood what he was trying to say. Just like riddles, the parables were meant to inspire people to draw connections to find meaning. The next step was to apply the hidden message in their everyday life. By listening to the word of Jesus, people were able to find out how to live for and with Jesus. In What Jesus Demands of the World, the author looks to inspire others to listen to the teaching of Jesus and see how they can do onto others what Jesus has done for them. The author, Thomas Piper, writes that finding meaning in the Gospel is all that’s needed to be saved and welcomed into the Kingdom of God. He writes, “Jesus sees his word as the key to believing and being saved. If the word is taken away, there will be no faith in Jesus,” (Piper 59). The author argues that reading the word and understanding the word are very different. The goal of the parables was to get to realize that the only way they could understand the parables was to grow closer to Jesus, most evident in Jesus’ parable about the sower. Four seeds were thrown on four different types of soil. The first three were sown into bad soil with different rocks and thorns. The fourth seed was sown into good, clean soil that allowed the seed to grow. This parable sends the message of seeing Jesus as the good soil, and surrounding one’s self in the love and teachings of Jesus Christ allows for growth and knowledge. Jesus used these parables, as riddles and metaphors, to help people see this message.

Riddles can train the mind to see things differently which is just how Jesus would teach the disciples to understand his parables. Understanding the parables was a way to be accepted into the Kingdom of God. Once the messages was understood, the disciples could than spread Jesus’ teachings and share the good news. In The Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus, the authors focus on how meaning becomes different in the eyes of God. Something so simple can have much more meaning, and that’s what Jesus sets out to do in his parables. The authors write, “The Kingdom of God may be defined as a community of knowledge, that a group of people who were able to answer and apply Jesus’ ambiguous statements,” (Holeman & Porter 3,371). When Jesus first told the parables, it did not make sense to most people, but after helping people and opening their eyes to hidden messages, it helped to create credibility for him as a teacher and for riddles an impactful method of teaching.

As Told by Mr. Keating

Mr. Keating inspires the class to look at things from different perspective. Riddles are tools that inspire people to look from a different perspective. Once a new perspective is taken, it becomes easier to find solutions for the riddle itself, and the problems of the real world.

A Creative Conclusion

The Parables that Jesus used were essentially riddles that taught important life lessons and how to grow closer to Jesus. For the Greater and Glory of God, is another principle of the Jesuit tradition. Listening to the parables of Jesus and incorporating the lessons into everyday life, is an excellent way to live for the greater and glory of God. The solution to finding the message of the parables was to listen and accept Jesus. The solution to all riddles depends on the individual’s abilities to see the things in a different way. Riddles are tools that inspire people to look from a different perspective. Once a new perspective is taken, it becomes easier to find solutions for the riddle itself, and the problems of the real world.

If you take the last in whaT, the second and third in wHEre, the third and fourth in whEN, and the first in Done. What do you get?

THE END

References

Angelou, M. (1983). Caged Bird.

Bradesca, K. (n.d.). What Is the Meaning of the Staircase Used in the Poem "Mother to Son"? Retrieved July 21, 2017, from Pen and the Pad website: https://penandthepad.com/meaning-staircase-used-poem-mother-son-2194.html

Crossan, J. D. (2006). The power of parable. HarperCollins.

Corfman, A. (2016, June 19). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Retrieved from Poem Analysis website: https://poemanalysis.com/i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-maya-angelou-analysis/

Dead Poets Society [Motion picture]. (1989). Touchstone Pictures.

Deffinbaugh, B. (2004, May 26). The Dream Which Nearly Became a Nightmare(Daniel 2:1-49). Retrieved from Bible.org website: https://bible.org/seriespage/3-dream-which-nearly-became-nightmare-daniel-21-49

Falleto, J. (2017, November 16). This ancient sumerian logic puzzle is believed to be one of the first riddles ever written. Retrieved from Curiosity website: https://curiosity.com/topics/this-ancient-sumerian-logic-puzzle-is-believed-to-be-one-of-the-first-riddles-ever-written-curiosity/

Fiddes, P. S. (2013). Seeing the world & Knowing god hebrew wisdom & Christian doctrine in a late-modern context. Oxford, England: Oxford.

Holeman, T., & Porter, S. E. (2011). Handbook for the study of the historical jesus (Vol. 4). Danvers, Massachusetts: Koninklijke Brill. https://doi.org/9789004163720

Hughes, L. (1922). Mother to Son.

National Treasure [Motion picture]. (2004). Walt Disney Pictures.

Oden, T. C. (Ed.). (1989). Parables of Kierkegaard.

Peppicello, W. J., & Green, T. A. (1984). The language of riddles. The Ohio State University.

Piper, J. (2006). What jesus demands from the world. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. https://doi.org/10:1-58134-845-2

Potamiti, A. (n.d.). Playing at Riddles in Greek. University of Patras. Retrieved from http://grbs.library.duke.edu/article/viewFile/15219/6555

Riddle. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster website: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/riddle?src=search-dict-box

Tatimu, D. (n.d.). Samson's Riddle. Retrieved February, 2003, from SermonCentral website: https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/samson-s-riddle-donny-tatimu-sermon-on-samson-55566

Thomas, G. (2011, June 5). 41:17Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dreams. Retrieved from Alfred.PlaceChurchwebsite:http://www.alfredplacechurch.org.uk/index.php/sermons/the-life-of-joseph/joseph-interprets-pharaoh39s-dreams/

Tolkien, J. R.R. (1937). The Hobbit. Allen & Unwin.

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