Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ritual and the Prophets

“Jeremiah’s critique [in Jeremiah 7] is not inherently against ritual space or the temple in particular. Rather, it (as was already done by earlier prophets) connects a responsible and consecrated life-style to the consecrated space, which suggests divine presence. “A place”—suggests the prophet—“even if it has been divinely chosen (Ps 132:13–14, 2 Sam 7:12–13) will not automatically protect you from the coming doom. You need to turn around and change your life-style.” This is followed by precise indications of how this lifestyle reform is to be undertaken, involving acting justly; not oppressing the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow; not shedding innocent blood; and not running after other gods ( Jer 7:6). This has been interpreted as part of a major reformulation of the theology of the Hebrew Bible. Keep in mind, however, that earlier prophets had already voiced similar reprimands. The changed historical situation and the impending doom of Judah seem to have required an even stronger message, including the very foundations of sacred ritual space.”—Bridging the Gap, page 77

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