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Berit Olam: Psalms

Konrad Schaefer, OSB

The psalms are masterful poems that echo the tenors of community life and worship as they project the scope of the human drama from lament to praise. They chart a profound and vital relationship with God, with all the ups and downs that this relationship implies. Konrad Schaefer's concise commentary on the psalms relates their poetic elements while respecting their historical context and traditional use in the liturgy and, more importantly, their ultimate value as a springboard to private and communal prayer. In Psalms, Schaefer focuses on the structure of each psalm, its dramatic plot, the modes of discourse, the rhetorical features, and the effective use of imagery to portray theology and the spiritual life. Schaefer portrays each poem's inner dynamic to acquaint readers with the poet and the community which prayed and preserved the composition, allowing the believer to transpose it in the contemporary situation. Psalms is for those who would like to pray the psalms with more intensity of meaning; for those willing to touch the biblical world and taste of its fruit in the Word of God; and for devoted readers of the Bible to become more expert as it helps experts become more devoted. Chapters are "Introduction," "Book One (Psalms 1-41)," "Book Two (Psalms 42-72)," "Book Three (Psalms 73-89)," "Book Four (Psalms 90-106)," and "Book Five (Psalms 107-150)." Konrad Schaefer, OSB, SSD, is a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, Oregon. He currently teaches at Our Lady of Angels in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

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Berit Olam: Judges

Tammi J. Schneider

The biblical book of Judges contains culturally familiar stories such as that of Samson and Delilah and Deborah and Baraq. But despite the popularity of these stories, other important stories in Judges such as that of Achsah, the raped pilegesh, and the final civil war are virtually unknown to the average reader. Approaching Judges as a unified literary document, Tammi Schneider shows that the unity of the narrative reveals that when the Israelites adhere to the covenant established with their deity they prosper, but when they stray from it disaster follows. This is true not only in the Deuteronomistic refrains, as is recognized by many scholars, but in the whole book, and is reflected in Israel's worsening situation throughout its narrative time. Schneider also highlights the unifying themes in Judges. She emphasizes the role of gender, family relations, and theology expressed in the biblical narrative, and uses intertextuality to better understand the text of Judges and its context in the Deuteronomistic history and the Hebrew Bible. Tammi J. Schneider is assistant professor in the religion department at Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California. She received her BA in Hebrew language and literature from the University of Minnesota, and a PhD in ancient history from the University of Pennsylvania. She has excavated at a number of archaeological sites in Israel and is co-director of the excavation of Tel el-Fara' South in Israel. She is project director at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont and area editor for Ancient Near East for Religious Studies Review. Her publications cover topics in Assyriology, ancient Near Eastern history, archaeology, and biblical studies.

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Berit Olam: 1 Samuel

David Jobling

1 Samuel is a national autobiography of the Hebrew people. David Jobling reads 1 Samuel as a story that is complete in itself, although it is part of a much larger narrative. He examines it as a historical document in a double sense: (1) as a document originating from ancient Israel and (2) as a telling of the past. Organizing the text through the three interlocking themes of class, race, and gender, Jobling asks how this historical—and canonical—story relates to a modern world in which these themes continue to be of crucial importance. While drawing on the resources of biblical "narratology," Jobling deviates from mainstream methodology. He adopts a "critical narratology" informed by such cultural practices as feminism and psychoanalysis. He follows a structuralist tradition which finds meaning more in the text's large-scale mythic patterns than in close reading of particular passages, and seeks methods specific to 1 Samuel rather than ones applicable to biblical narrative in general. David Jobling, PhD, is a professor of Old Testament language and literature at St. Andrews College in Saskatoon. He is a co-chair of the Ideological Criticism section of the Society of Biblical Literature and a member of The Bible and Culture Collective.

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Berit Olam: Isaiah 56-66

Berit Olam: Isaiah 56-66

Paul V. NiskanenChris Frank, Editor

The last chapters of the book of Isaiah offer a vision of new hope at the dawn of the postexilic period. The dense and complex imagery of light, espousal, and victory gives expression to the joyful reality of a return to Jerusalem and to the as-yet-unrealized dreams of rebuilding and repopulating what has been laid to waste.Trito-Isaiah's proclamation of God's salvation or victory appears both as a brilliant light and a terrible darkness in these chapters. For while Yahweh's triumph means rejoicing for his righteous servants, it portends unspeakable horror for those who rebel against him.Far from a remotely related appendix tacked on to the prophetic text, Niskanen examines Isaiah 56–66 within the broader context of the entire book of Isaiah, revealing the stylistic and thematic connections between these and earlier chapters and the significance of the poetical structures and imagery employed in Isaiah 56–66.Paul V. Niskanen teaches Old Testament at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. His interests include an exploration of Hebrew poetry, along with prophetic and apocalyptic imagery. He has written a monograph and a commentary on the book of Daniel as well as articles on Daniel, Isaiah, and Genesis for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and the Journal of Biblical Literature.

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Berit Olam: 2 Samuel

Craig E. Morrison, OCarm

King David ranks among the most intriguing persons in the Hebrew Bible. The Second Book of Samuel tells the story of David's kingship-his public successes and his private foibles. The narrator's rehearsal of this story, as questioning as it is vivid, glimpses the secrets of David's heart. In this commentary, Craig E. Morrison focuses on the aesthetics of the "art of the telling": how does the narrator succeed in breathing life into his portrait of David? How does he draw the reader into his story? This commentary is intended to accompany the reader's encounter with this ancient masterpiece so that one might cheer with David as he dances before the ark of God and weep with him as he grieves the death of his rebel son Absalom. Morrison's careful reading of 2 Samuel brings the reader face-to-face with David, whose multifaceted character eludes facile labels. Craig E. Morrison, OCarm, teaches Aramaic and biblical exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Among his interests are an appreciation of the art of Hebrew narrative and lectio divina. He has written for The Bible Today, Word Among Us, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and other scholarly journals.

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Berit Olam: Isaiah 56-66

Paul V. NiskanenChris Franke, Editor

The last chapters of the book of Isaiah offer a vision of new hope at the dawn of the postexilic period. The dense and complex imagery of light, espousal, and victory gives expression to the joyful reality of a return to Jerusalem and to the as-yet-unrealized dreams of rebuilding and repopulating what has been laid to waste.Trito-Isaiah's proclamation of God's salvation or victory appears both as a brilliant light and a terrible darkness in these chapters. For while Yahweh's triumph means rejoicing for his righteous servants, it portends unspeakable horror for those who rebel against him.Far from a remotely related appendix tacked on to the prophetic text, Niskanen examines Isaiah 56–66 within the broader context of the entire book of Isaiah, revealing the stylistic and thematic connections between these and earlier chapters and the significance of the poetical structures and imagery employed in Isaiah 56–66.Paul V. Niskanen teaches Old Testament at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. His interests include an exploration of Hebrew poetry, along with prophetic and apocalyptic imagery. He has written a monograph and a commentary on the book of Daniel as well as articles on Daniel, Isaiah, and Genesis for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and the Journal of Biblical Literature.

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Berit Olam: Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Stephen K. Sherwood, CMF

Many good intentions to read the entire Bible have foundered on the rocks of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Do these books have literary qualities? How does the storyteller tell the story? In Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Stephen Sherwood, C.M.F., applies the tools of narrative criticism to look for the literary qualities of these three biblical books. Sherwood identifies the narrative art of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy not only in such colorful stories as the Sabbath breaker, the threat from Sihon and Og, the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, the story of Balaam, the bronze serpent, Aaron's rod, Miriam’s leprosy, and the water from the rock, but also through the extended discourses made by characters in the story. Sherwood studies the voices of several of these characters: the narrator, the Lord, Moses, Aaron, the Israelites, Balaam and Barak, and others, to see how each is "characterized" by their words and actions. In Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Sherwood also shows how each of the three books has its own characteristics as part of a larger story. Leviticus deals mainly with divine speech. Numbers also contains divine speech but the voices of Moses and the narrator are more recurrent. Deuteronomy is presented in the form of a farewell speech of Moses before his death. The story is then retold from Moses’ point of view, with different emphases and even some changes. Chapters are “General Introduction,” “Leviticus,” “Numbers,” and “Deuteronomy.” Each chapter contains a general introduction to a biblical book which is followed by notes which make observations on the literary qualities of smaller units of each book. Stephen K. Sherwood, C.M.F., S.T.D., teaches at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

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Berit Olam: Joshua

L. Daniel Hawk

What does Joshua hold to be the essential marks of Israelite identity? What distinguishes "Israel" from all other peoples? In tracking these themes, L. Daniel Hawk reveals in Joshua a profound struggle to define the people of the God of Israel. Hawk shows that the themes surrounding Joshua express fundamental markers of national identity: religious practice (obedience to the commandments of Moses), ethnic separation (extermination of the peoples of Canaan), and possession of land ("the land that YHWH gives"). Through the medium of narrative, Joshua tests each of these markers and demonstrates that none clearly characterize the people of God. Instead, Joshua presents Israel as a nation fundamentally constituted by choosing: YHWH's choosing of Israel and Israel's choosing of YHWH. In the present day in which ideologies of religion, race, and territorial possession have given rise to countless expressions of violence, Hawk expresses the particular value of reading Joshua. The Joshua story holds a mirror up to all who regard themselves as the people of God. The reflection is both repelling and inspiring but until we confront it, what it truly means to be the chosen people of God will remain elusive. Chapters are "Rights of Passage (1:1-18)," "Who's Who in the Promised Land? (2:1-12:24)," "Strangers in the Night (2:1-24)," "Changing State (3:1-4:24)," "First Things First (5:1-15)," "Going in Circles (6:1-27)," "Ai Spy (7:1-8:35)," "Foiled Again (9:1-10:27)," "Conquering Canaanites (10:28-12:24)," "Organizing Israel (13:1-21:45)," "Altar Egos (22:1-34)," "Unfinished Business (23:1-18)," and "Decisions, Decisions (24:1-33)." Includes twelve charts that lay out structural features of the book. L. Daniel Hawk, Ph.D., is professor of Old Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary.

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Berit Olam: 2 Samuel

Craig E. Morrison, OCarm

King David ranks among the most intriguing persons in the Hebrew Bible. The Second Book of Samuel tells the story of David's kingship-his public successes and his private foibles. The narrator's rehearsal of this story, as questioning as it is vivid, glimpses the secrets of David's heart. In this commentary, Craig E. Morrison focuses on the aesthetics of the "art of the telling": how does the narrator succeed in breathing life into his portrait of David? How does he draw the reader into his story? This commentary is intended to accompany the reader's encounter with this ancient masterpiece so that one might cheer with David as he dances before the ark of God and weep with him as he grieves the death of his rebel son Absalom. Morrison's careful reading of 2 Samuel brings the reader face-to-face with David, whose multifaceted character eludes facile labels. Craig E. Morrison, OCarm, teaches Aramaic and biblical exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Among his interests are an appreciation of the art of Hebrew narrative and lectio divina. He has written for The Bible Today, Word Among Us, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and other scholarly journals.

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Berit Olam: Ezra and Nehemiah

Gordon F. Davies

Ezra-Nehemiah has been neglected in biblical studies, but it is important as one of the few windows into the Persian period of Israel's history, the setting for so much of the final shape of the Hebrew Bible. To know this period is to know what influenced these redactors. In Ezra and Nehemiah Gordon Davies provides that knowledge using rhetorical criticism, a methodology that reveals the full range and progress of the book's ideas without hiding its rough seams and untidy edges. The purpose of rhetorical criticism is to explain not the source but the power of the text as a unitary message. This approach does not look at plot development, characterization, or other elements whose roughness makes Ezra-Nehemiah frustrating to read. Instead, it examines the three parts of the relationship—the strategies, the situations, and the effects—between the speaker and the audience. Rhetorical criticism's scrutiny of the audience in context favors the search for the ideas and structures that are indigenous to the culture of the text. Rhetorical criticism is interested in figures of speech as means of persuasion. Therefore, to apply it to Ezra-Nehemiah, Davies concentrates on the public discourse—the orations, letters, and prayers—throughout its text. In each chapter he follows a procedure that: (1) where it is unclear, identifies the rhetorical unit in which the discourse is set; (2) identifies the audiences of the discourse and the rhetorical situation; (3) studies the arrangement of the material; (4) studies the effect on the various audiences; (5) reviews the passage as a whole and judges its success. In the conclusion, Davies explains that Ezra-Nehemiah makes theological sense on its own terms, by forming a single work in which a range of ideas is argued. Biblical scholars as well as those interested in literary criticism, communication studies, rhetorical studies, ecclesiology, and homiletics will find Ezra and Nehemiah enlightening. Chapters are "Ezra 1:1-6," "Ezra 4:1-24," "Ezra 5:1-6: 15," "Ezra 7," "Ezra 9-10," "Nehemiah 1- 2," "Nehemiah 3-7," and "Nehemiah 8-10." Gordon F. Davies is associate professor of Old Testament and dean of students at St. Augustine's Seminary of Toronto.

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Berit Olam: 1 Kings

Jerome T. Walsh

The narratives of Solomon and Jeroboam, of Elijah and Ahab, have fascinated readers for millennia. Even apart from questions of historical authenticity, they are gripping stories of richly drawn characters caught up in the complex tale of God's dealings with Israel. This study explores the narrative world created by 1 Kings' ancient Israelite author: the people who inhabit it, the lives they live, the deeds they do, and the face of God who is revealed in their stories. An introduction explains the significance of 1 Kings as a historical narrative. Originally intended as a literal history, after centuries of writing and rewriting it is now as much a literary work as a historical one: The views of those who formed it can be discerned and studied. Walsh also explains how the rich traditions of Hebrew prose narrative and the Hebrew language itself affect our reading of 1 Kings.

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Showing 16 to 26 (of 26 products)