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Prophetic Rhetoric and Preaching

Various Brethren Press PDF

Chapter 7:Layout 15/21/101:18 PMPage 151Prophetic Rhetoric and PreachingChristopher D. Bowman“Who in their right mind would presume to speak theWord of God week in and week out?”—Waltersdorff 12Displayed in the Juniata College library is a striking sculpture of the prophet Jeremiah. The pockmarks of decay and damage found throughout the piece are not there by accident nor have they been artificially created. They are there because the sculptor purposefully chose a damaged cherry tree, aged and filled with buckshot, from which to hew the aged and wounded prophet Jeremiah. Describing his work, sculptor Dean Egge emphasized the importance of paying attention to both his audience and the prophet. Once he understood the old subject and the new recipient, the sculptor says,“The search then began for the right log.”1In preaching today, this combination of listening to the original message and knowing the new recipient is essential to finding the right log. This essay pays attention to the rhetoric of the Hebrew

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Love and Desire in the Song of Songs

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Chapter 10:Layout 15/21/101:23 PMPage 213Love and Desire in the Song of SongsChristina BucherPeople often ask me why I chose to study the Old Testament, rather than the New, when I did my doctoral work. Perhaps viewing “new” as better than “old,” some cannot understand why anyone would want to study the Old Testament. Others will ask why a member of the Church of the Brethren would opt to study the Old Testament.(An oft-repeated claim among Brethren is that “we have no creed but the New Testament.”) I reply that the Christian canon includes two testaments, not one; Jesus’ Scripture was something close to what Christians today call the “Old Testament”; and the New Testament writers presuppose the writings of the Old Testament. In order to really understand Jesus, the New Testament, and Christian history and tradition, one needs a deep understanding of theOld Testament, the collection of books that I prefer to call “FirstTestament,” “Hebrew Scriptures,” or “Tanakh.”I clearly remember what first attracted me to the Hebrew

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Will We Listen? Attending to the Shema in Christian Educations

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Chapter 4:Layout 15/21/101:11 PMPage 79Will We Listen?Attending to the Shema in Christian EducationJohn David BowmanPerhaps I was an atypical seven-year-old, but I have a vague recollection of a conversation with one of my parents. The haunting words of “Johnny, will you listen to me?” reverberate deep within, triggering a sense that the question was not really a question but rather a statement of exasperation tinged with demand. I seem to recall the sentence was followed by another, “Johnny, didn’t you hear me?” I’m quite confident my parent was not concerned with the function of my auditory nerves. It was a direct reference to something I did not do. I can’t recall the provoking issues aside from my assumption that I was reluctant to provide a parent’s wish fulfillment. I also suspect it was a repeated offense.“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”1 These are the opening words of an ancient recitation found in the Hebrew Scriptures. You’ll probably recall much of this familiar recitation taken from Deuteronomy 6. Within Judaism, the recitation repeated thrice daily is known as the Shema. The full Shema is comprised of three scriptures (Hertz 769). It is so named because the Hebrew word shema‘, meaning “hear” or “hearken,” begins the first of its three parts.

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Jonah the Christian

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Chapter 8:Layout 15/21/101:19 PMPage 173Jonah the ChristianG r a y d o n F. S n y d e rIf you attend a worship service at any Christian church anywhere in the world, there’s a good chance you’ll see a cross displayed somewhere in a prominent place. Many probably assume the same was true for the first Christians. They might be surprised to discover, however, that the cross does not appear in Christian artwork for around four hundred years. And, they might be surprised to find out that the Jonah story appears far more frequently in earlyChristian art than the cross.So, why was the story of Jonah so important? In early Christian catacomb art no other picture appears as often as that of Jonah.Since no writing reflects what early Christians believed, we accept the art as an indication of what the average believer saw in the story of Jonah. We speak of this as the understanding of local people. For the most part it showed the Christian Jonah absorbed by a pagan society, but then regurgitated into a redeemed Christian existence.

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Christians Reading the Old Testament

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Beg+Chapter 1:Layout 15/21/101:06 PMPage 15Christians Reading the Old TestamentRobert C. BowmanThe ProblemChristians who consider themselves New Testament people often have great difficulties with the Old Testament. What is one to do with that book—or, rather, with that part of the Book?Many elements combine to make the Old Testament difficult.In the first place, parts of it are simply boring. Richard Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible? once said that if he ever got to the point where he could read the detailed instructions for building the tabernacle in Exodus without being incredibly bored, he would know that he had finally become a biblical scholar (176).If not boring, at least great chunks of the Old Testament seem irrelevant to Christians. It seems to belong to a world that makes no sense to us. Deuteronomy 22:10 warns, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.” Frankly, most of us cannot remember ever being tempted to disobey this commandment.It does, perhaps, give one a sense of relief to know that there are at least some of God’s commandments that we have not broken.

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