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Conflict Transformation and the Jacob Saga

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Chapter2:Layout 15/21/101:07 PMPage 33Conflict Transformation and the Jacob SagaE u g e n e F. R o o pGenesis 12–50 features some of the best-known and well-loved narratives in the Old Testament. These stories do not portray the lives of our biblical ancestors as pious and peaceful. Quite the opposite, these ancestral sagas tell us about lives painfully punctuated by crisis and conflict. To be sure, their parched and rocky land often provided a match that ignited disputes between and within families. Along with the environment, cultural patterns and family structures also served as catalysts generating episodes of conflict.The cultural importance of offspring intensified Abraham andSarah’s struggle with infertility. This provided a catalyst for conflict between husband and wife, and with others in their community.The leadership role of the firstborn inflamed conflict between the twins, Esau and Jacob. According to the narrative, their battle began in the womb and gained steam as the years went by. Each twin sought to be recognized as the most important man in the family. The arrogant-sounding words directed by the younger

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Justice Talk in the Tanakh (Old Testament)

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Chapter 5:Layout 15/21/101:13 PMPage 103Justice-Talk in the Tanakh(Old Testament)Stephen Breck ReidThe contemporary convention in biblical studies is to identify the first testament of the Bible as the Hebrew Bible. This is an interesting case study in matters of power and justice. Professional societies of biblical scholars dominated by Gentiles recognized that the term “Old Testament” was a confessional category. A group of progressive Protestant biblical scholars started to use the term “Hebrew Bible” or “Hebrew Scriptures” to supplant the term Old Testament. This new language was meant to be more inclusive and acceptable to Jewish scholars in the guild. Another group of scholars maintained that the confessional language of the Old Testament was not only tradition but appropriate, if for no other reason because it was the familiar language of “regular readers.”The result from the debate is the hybridized term HebrewBible/Old Testament currently used in scholarly circles. However, this nod to inclusiveness overlooked the recognition that the Jewish community refers to these same books as the Tanakh. Therefore, in addition to the scholarly societies that created the designation

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Is There Peace in the Old Testament?

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Chapter 6:Layout 15/21/101:15 PMPage 125Is There Peace in the Old Testament?David A. LeiterDuring the last decade or so, I have engaged numerous people in conversation regarding the topic of peace in the Old Testament.Although many people of faith acknowledge the connection between peace and the Bible, there is a strong tendency by such persons to see this connection as one that relates primarily to the NewTestament, thus leaving the Old Testament out of the discussion.In personal conversations and in teaching and seminar events,I have received three common responses when talking about peace and the Old Testament. The first response is simply a blank stare.Some people cannot see even the slightest connection between peace and the Old Testament. Using the two in the same sentence does not register to them. Either they have not read the Old Testament carefully or they have been taught and indoctrinated to believe that peace in the Old Testament does not exist. As a result, there is an inability to have even a surface conversation about the notion of peace in the Old Testament.

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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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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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