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The bulk of the Bible, with the exception of its Wisdom literature, is the presentation of history told through the lens of faith, a sacred history.  It is

The bulk of the Bible, with the exception of its Wisdom literature, is the presentation of history told through the lens of faith, a sacred history.  It is a ‘great story’ of many smaller stories, each offering something to the overall plot. As we have it today, it is the compendium of stories and books that narrate events centuries after their purported historical occurrences, and these accounts are informed and shaped by various ideological currents, religious/theological ideas, ideals, issues and concerns, questions, and expressions that spanned five centuries in the making.  When these “historical and prophetic” books were gradually collected into a sacred national story, they became, together with the “oral Torah”, the basis for Jewish self-understanding and identity, faith, and life.  Its contents are filled with what concerns nations: wars and survival, empires and politics, laws and social ethics, religion, and education.

In contrast, the New Testament collection reflects the concerns of communities: unity vs. division, virtues and morality, identity and mission, and authenticity and coherence.  For Christians, it is instructive, therefore, to approach the Hebrew Bible with an awareness and appreciation of its overall national character and, therefore with greater sensitivity for how Israel envisioned God and how it depended on God for its survival.  This week’s discussions highlight just some of those components.     

The extent (brevity or development) of your responses can vary as you choose.

  1. How did the Israelite idea and ideal of kingship reflect that of other nations, and how did it differ, particularly in how kings like David and Solomon are portrayed in the biblical text?
  2. Describe the societal and political situation of the northern and southern kingdoms and how the prophets’ mission is interconnected.  What do you understand to be the role of the biblical prophets in relation to the socio-political and economic, religious and socio-ethical situations of the kingdoms?  What difference does it make to know the prophets within their historical contexts?
  3. List the qualities that mostly come to your mind when you think about prophets.  What were the main concerns of the prophets? Based on the short reading from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s classic The Prophets, which qualities do of the biblical prophets (or of being a prophetic person) do you find most significant, most consequential?
  4. How do institutions/establishments/governments and ‘prophets’ most commonly relate?
  5. Often the prophets have been described as “the conscience of Israel” and that prophets “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”, and often suffered for it.  Offer an example of a prophet’s words or actions that live up to this description – you could choose from any of the prophets, including Amos.
  6. After listening to the interview with biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann on “The Prophetic Imagination,” describes new insights gleaned into the meaning of the prophetic books and their message for today.
  7. Where do you see prophetic people in our times (who do you regard as prophets today)?  How are communities of faith called to be prophetic in our times? How do you see yourself in your life, ministry and mission, thinking, speaking, and acting prophetically?
  8. As a result of your studies this week, how have your views of the prophets changed from your earlier understanding?

Submission Instructions:

  • Your initial post should be at least 250-300 words for each discussion post, formatted and cited in the current APA style.
  • Provide support for your work from at least two academic sources less than five years old.

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