Bible and biology agree: Human beings cast the biggest shadow over the future of nature. At the end of the millennium we face a choice: We can continue to overuse and exploit our ecosphere or we can exercise tender “dominion” in the world, as God's agents here.
The church looks with great anticipation to the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter as opportunities for reflection on powerful passages of Scripture recalling the major events in our Christian story. In every liturgical year, however, there are 33 or 34 Sundays known as Ordinary Time that fall between those seasons. Must they be “ordinary”?
This article highlights three moments in the teaching of Church History in American Protestant seminaries: the early 19th century, the early 20th century, and the present. In each, the interaction between Church History and the pastoral needs of the church is highlighted.
The shape of Christian Education in the United States has shifted as new communication media have come to the fore, interacting with the overarching purposes and content of Christian Education. As we begin to ask how computer technologies and the Internet may affect Christian Education, it is helpful to look back at the ways communication media have affected Christian Education over the past 200 years.
The positive attitude toward outsiders which emerged from Israel's experience of suffering and deprivation, and of which the attitude to proselytism is symptomatic, was always balanced by the need to resist assimilation.
While history is important to Luke as he writes his “orderly account,” history here is the vehicle of kerygmatic art, not art in its modern expression—the chic pastime of a jaded bourgeoisie—but art in service of the conversion and sanctification of the church.
If the death of Jesus is nothing less than God's Christ hanging on a cross, we cannot speak about God—and ourselves—in any customary way. How do we preach this word of the cross as the word of life? Our answer points toward an apocalyptic homiletic.
In the Hebrew Bible, food assumes a sacramental dimension as the physical manifestation of God’s grace and blessing. YHWH requires Israel to eat responsibly according to the rules of YHWH’s fief, acknowledging YHWH’s provision with gratitude, abstaining from prohibited food, and distributing the bounty of the earth equitably.
This essay aims to challenge the standard [North] American diet’s (SAD) default status in church and among North American Christians generally. It attempts to allay some common concerns about the suitability of food ethics as a topic for serious Christian discernment, and argues that SAD is not spiritually beneficial, drawing support from five traditional sources for Christian moral deliberation, including and especially general revelation and discernment of the fruits of the spirit.
This essay offers a snapshot of the some of the challenges facing seminary education, specifically teaching the Bible, in the late 19th century that have proved to be fruitful opportunities to recast biblical hermeneutics and, more broadly, theological education in new ways. It examines the way the Bible is handled today in the seminary classroom and charts how we got here theologically and pedagogically as a result of these challenges.
From 1933 through 1945, the Hebrew Bible was under attack in Nazi Germany. Indeed, the entire notion that Christianity had any connection to Judaism was systematically denied. Even within the Church, the long-standing tradition of “Old Testament“ studies was marginalized. This paper studies the heroic struggles of Gerhard von Rad. It tells the story of how von Rad, long before he became a famous Protestant theologian, fought in near isolation to defend the Old Testament. Much of the gripping story has not been widely known, and has only recently become available.
Jesus' healing, preaching, and death are not about abstractions like “patriarchal system,” but seek to establish new patterns of personal relationship and human solidarity among all women and men, bringing liberation and healing even to those at the margins of society.
It is now time! Time to stop worrying about the Bible and to start worrying about ourselves. Time to stop using the Bible and to start living with it. And time to stop telling the Bible what it means and to let its mythological character restore imagination to our thought and praise.
A depiction of the ancient Hebrew understanding of the human being must take into account the fact that the Bible does not contain a systematic anthropology, but unfolds the multiplicity of human existence inductively, aspectively, and in narrative fashion. In comparison to Greek body/soul dualism, but also in the context of body-(de-)construction and gender debates, this circumstance makes it a treasure trove of interesting, often contrasting recollections and insights with liberating potential. This assertion will be illustrated concretely in terms of the nexus points of the human body (throat, heart, and womb), the relationship of humans to animals and angels, and the questions of the power and value of a human being.
As we conceived of Interpretation, we had no interest in merely launching another journal; in providing another channel of literary expression; or in creating another public relations medium for the purpose of making Union Theological Seminary more widely known. No, we designed Interpretation to have a mission. Our aim was to create a medium through which the church would understand more fully its nature as the body of Christ giving expression to the will of its head.
Through the sixteenth century, the Christian tradition upheld the biblical denunciation of usury as the oppression of the poor and the neighbor. The church should critically retrieve this understanding as a contribution to the public discourse about the oppressive use of interest and debt in the current worldwide fiscal crises.
Traditionally, “the body of Christ” has been read through an organism metaphor that emphasizes unity of the community in Christ. The weakness of this reading is that there is no clear articulation of how members of the community are united with Christ. The body language in Paul’s letters can be best understood when read through a metaphor for a way of living that emphasizes Christ’s embodiment of God’s gospel. The body of Christ in Paul’s letters is, first of all, his physical body that represents his life and death. Then, derivatively, it is also associated with Christian living—for example, “You are Christ-like body” (1 Cor 12:27).
Throughout history, the city has measured our capacity to live together and create a just way of life. The church in the city today is faced with enormous challenges and opportunities in its ministry to persons in need, from finding new sources of funding to responding to tectonic shifts in the urban social landscape.
Atmospheric physicists show us that rising concentrations of certain greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere should raise the temperature of the planet at rates, times, and places that are consistent with recent observations of ongoing climate change—that is, global warming. The unfolding impacts of this climate change will affect human habitation, health, and economics, and the persistence of various species in natural ecosystems during the course of this century. Much debate stems from what to do about these impacts, focusing on the cost of changing our energy infrastructure that is now dominated by fossil fuels. Alternative futures exist, but it will take great leadership to guide us to a sustainable future before we experience huge destructive impacts on the environment of our only planetary home.
The lesson to be learned here is the principle of allowing the Bible to say what it wants to say and not impose our imperialistic agendas onto it; our exegesis ought to let the text speak and the chips fall where they may.
It is at the juncture between human imagination and textual interpretation that the volatile environment of contemporary biblical hermeneutics becomes the true friend of the one who must proclaim what is found in the text.
The horror described in the Book of Lamentations engenders terror-fraught cries from those entrapped by them. The laments that comprise the book plumb the depths of human tragedy and desperation without rushing prematurely into consolation and relief.
Despite much misunderstanding among modern readers and preachers, Jesus' saying in Matthew 5:13 (“You are the salt of the earth”) concerns sacrificing one's life to follow Christ. Moreover, this high cost of discipleship has cosmic significance.
The story of theology and ethics at Union Seminary from 1812 to the present illustrates the critical relationship between theology, ethics, and historical circumstances. In a distinctive fashion, it also reflects both the wider story and current challenges of theology and ethics in American Protestantism.
More than in other Hebrew writings, the enigmatic queries for origin, use, and theology of the small Book of Lamentations cannot easily be appeased. There are too many discrepancies in our literary, historical, and theological data of these five chapters of literature. Affinities with ancient Sumerian city laments as well as echoes of analogous experiences in modern experience open up new dimensions in the interpretation of Lamentations.
This essay seeks to demonstrate how ministers and others can enhance attentiveness to God in a culture that does much to distract us. Through such practices as fasting from technological distractions and retreating, we can open ourselves to God’s transforming love and allow that love to flow through us in our everyday lives and ministries.
This essay examines what it means to be embodied members of the Body of Christ, exploring the metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12–27 in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, variant embodiment, abused bodies, and sexual bodies.
While we may use the Gospels and Paul’s letters to justify eating with wild abandon and enjoying every bite, we should revisit the greater principle in the New Testament: to feed others to the point of self-sacrifice in order to honor the integrity of the community.
In this essay, I present eating as a vital theological concern and an integral part of the church’s ministries and mission in the world. I argue that food is not reducible to the status of a commodity but is instead God’s love made delectable. The production and the sharing of good food is a witness to God’s presence among us.
Seeking justice, as Christians, means seriously reconsidering our food consumption in light of multiple instances of injustice: maltreatment of workers, animals, and the environment; and misdistribution of food both globally and domestically. A variety of solutions—including boycotts, labeling, local consumption, generous donations, and Food Sovereignty—would lead to a more just food system.
Hosea-Zephaniah so closely conform to Zechariah's description of the “former prophets” that these books may have been written or edited as a prelude to Zechariah. Recognizing that Zechariah constructed a picture of earlier prophets that would support his own message in the Persian period invites modern readers to reflect on the promise and the dangers of engaging in a similar process of reshaping the past in the interests of the present.
In the book of Hosea the prophet of Israel is depicted in a remarkably theomorphic fashion in that his life story as a man becomes, at least partially, a representation of God by participation in God's condition. Human life is consequently understood as an image of God which in turn presupposes a concept of the divine in which Yahweh is so essentially God for and with Israel that the human is lodged in him.
Presently, there are two views of human history vying for our allegiance. The one is grounded in the Enlightenment and insists that history is a closed process whose course is determined by the dictum that “might makes right.” The other view is that of supernaturalism, which regards every event in history as a direct act of God. Challenging both of these views is the prophetic construal of history. This construal dares to identify extraordinary human events—the promise of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, the exodus, the pronouncements of Israel's great prophets, and the ministry of Jesus—as acts of God. Such extraordinary events have the power to free us to speak of God as enacting “newness” also in our time.