When people have asked me what I am reading about, or which course I am teaching this fall, or what my most recent book is about, and my answer is the “history of interpretation,” I have noticed a facial expression that, as a historical theologian, I have become accustomed to seeing. Their look, or sometimes their accompanying explanation of it, conveys the message that both history and interpretation are sufficiently boring on their own, and the combination of the two must be dreadful.
To ask about the history of biblical interpretation, however, is to ponder very important questions for our own day.
In order to grasp the deep roots of "the Way" in Israel’s past, I will ask you to sequentially follow a series of clues in Scripture. By following these hints and allusions, we will peel back the temporal onion to reveal the core significance of the early Christian’s self-description as "the Way." So, returning to Paul’s words in Acts 24:14–16, we find the language of ancient philosophic practice overlapping with unmistakably Hebraic emphases.
This is the fourth in the series of stories behind some of the songs from Timeless: Ancient Psalms for the Church Today Psalter/Commentary. Ruth Ann Somervell describes in some detail the process she goes through in composing and the inspiration she felt from psalm 61 and Sarah Shipp’s lyrics.
Timeless is a commentary set of all new translations and commentaries on the psalms by established Old Testament scholars for the layperson. Timeless also includes 2–3 new musical settings following each psalm to enhance worship and reflection, study and devotion. Timeless books may be purchased through acupressbooks.com, Amazon.com, or timelesspsalter.com. Professionally recorded CDs and booklets of the music may be purchased through CDBaby.com and timelesspsalter.com.
Back in January, I had the privilege of speaking at the Northwest Expositor’s Seminar just outside of Portland, Oregon. In addition to the main topic that I was invited to address, I was also asked to be prepared to recommend and briefly summarize a few books that are outside my field of scholarship. In reality, almost nothing that is non-fiction is really irrelevant to a historical theologian. But I get the idea—something not directly about church history or Christian theology.
In fact, I quite enjoyed the preparation and came ready to talk about some of my favorite books. Sadly, and for no apparent reason, I became violently ill and was prevented from speaking for only that one session. The next day, after my recovery, I even offered to abbreviate my final session in order to make room for some book recommendations, but no one took me up on the offer. So here I provide something that I would not have done in the limited time I had there—a selective summary of and then brief riff on themes related to Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business(1985).
(If you have never read this book, please, don’t delay, open a new browser window right now and go purchase this book. Then come back and continue reading.)