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Entering an Ancient Text

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Our small group is reading an ancient text together. It’s reproduced in a contemporary volume and to my eye looks like the same English words and punctuation I might find in today’s StarTribune. But the prophet Amos is writing from a very different time and place. He was a shepherd back in the B.C.’s when kings ruled the peoples. And though he was (again) just a shepherd, he spoke a message that came from the God whose roar could wither a mountaintop and drop a pasture into mourning.

The text works on the reader

John Walton, in his introduction to “The Lost World of Genesis One” (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009) writes that understanding an ancient text is not a matter of translating the culture but entering that ancient culture—as much as possible. I picked up Walton’s book because I am fascinated by the huge task taken on by the writer of Genesis 1 and mirrored in John’s Gospel (John 1). Who doesn’t wonder how everything began? And this: what do those deep roots say about life today?

Entering into Amos’ ancient culture will be our task. We’ll do it as a group. We’ll bring supporting sources and texts that point us toward that ancient culture as we walk through those nine chapters. We’ll look at how the author uses his words, what he repeats, what he emphasizes. How he frames his argument. We’ll take a bunch of conversational stabs at understanding the text and I expect to be deeply challenged about the ephemerals I fixate on.

And…I’m expecting God to show up. I’m listening for that roar.


Written by kirkistan

January 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Not long ago a few of us talked our way through the ancient text of Amos, a minor prophet in the Old Testament. We had a rich conversation as we tried to enter the text and the ancient culture. […]

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