I confess that I’ve not finished Ellen Davis’ book, Preaching the Luminous Word. I set it aside in favor of some research, writing and home improvement projects. But I returned to it today and, as usual, her writing about preaching is almost as good as a fine sermon. In her essay, “Preaching in Witness to the Triune God,” she reminds us that our romanticized version of “biblical times” often overlooks a reality very similar to our own.
“It was a violent, highly militarized world in which human life and labor were often held to be cheap; an increasingly urbanized society with huge and growing economic disparities, instability, and collapse in many local communities; a culture that held the faith of Jews and Christians to be contemptible if not illegal and worked actively to eradicate it,” she writes.
That’s something to think about as we try to grasp the radical thinking of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus. Context is not a magic key to opening up scripture, but it’s one number in the necessary combination.