Gospel

The Redeemer of mankind

Rescue the Perishing

The Prince of PEACE

The Life, ministry, and death of Jesus, consummated in his exaltation / resurrection, were the incarnation, in a unique and definitive way, of God’s saving purposes for all creation. Through the particular and individual, God did something that brought to a climax what God had been doing from the beginning of history: communicating God’s self to and in history in a process that itself was a history. The Christ-event, considered as the foundational event of the Church in history, was a beginning as well as a climax. Since the outpouring of the Spirit and the emergence of the Church, there has been a divinely originated witness to Christ’s eschatological victory over the power of sin and a divinely originated continuation of Christ’s saving presence in history.

What do you think?

Character in Crisis

BOOK REVIEWWilliam P. BrownCHARACTER IN CRISIS: A Fresh approach to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament 

William Brown in this work, tried to combine different ideas found in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament through the lens of character formation. According to Brown, this part of the Bible has been abandoned in various pulpits. On the other side Brown lamented on how scholars have failed to come out with the theological significance and the foundational theme of wisdom literature. This approach helps to solve the theological dilemma facing scholars of wisdom Literature as to the center of wisdom thought. At this point the question which comes in mind is; should wisdom be judged according to human perceptions, values, and experiences? Brown in simple terms declared that, the bridge between human and God’s perception of wisdom is character formation.

 The first chapter is crucial to understanding Brown’s view of character or virtue. He traces the concept of character both from a narrative and nature of life and reality standpoint under the ideas of descriptive and prescriptive character. Wisdom literature emphasizes both types of character through a dynamic interchange. Flat characters (descriptive) such as the parental guide in Proverbs affirm the normative values of the community, but the more complex characters (prescriptive) of Job challenge the status and reform character. Therefore, the wisdom books do not give a homogeneous picture of a normative character. Instead, it provides a paradigm for avoiding moral fascism, as well as anarchy. The remaining chapters of the book explore the changing normative character in wisdom literature.  The book of Proverbs provides the basic formation of character. The focus of the chapter is primarily on Proverbs 1-9 and 31. Beginning with the various virtues found in Proverbs 1:2-7, which are constructed as a chiasm, the moral virtues of righteousness, justice and equity are central. In his view Brown said, instructions filled with admonitions, commands, warnings and reproofs from Fathers highlights the hierarchical relationship between them and their sons. Also the father compels the son to take a step back from his peers’ enticing invitation which will save him from violence against the community and himself.  Brown also gave some attention to two other equally important characters, Wisdom and Matriarch. He said, wisdom form the core of the first nine chapters in the Proverbs which deals with virtue whiles matriarch represents the community. Therefore, Brown maintains that the book of Proverbs is not simply concerned with intellectual virtue, but also deals with moral issues in the community.  

As one might guess, the book of Job is focused on the deformation and reformation of character (Job 1-31). Brown made some efforts to define the profound nature of this book which to me was very crucial. He said: “the book of Job is not simply satisfied with the dismantling of conventional models of wisdom and morality but poses unspeakable questions and also broadens the horizons of traditional model of character.” Brown further confirmed this by saying that Job’s character is reshaped from the prologue, through the dialogues, up to the oath of innocence in Job 29-31. In other words Job’s integrity remains, but it has moved from quiet piety to anger to courageous confrontation with God.

Brown commented on the role of Job’s friends in his suffering. He said, though not all the advices Job received from them were healthy but it brought some sort of relieve. He concluded this book by citing Job’s case as reference and model of normative Character which might receive a consideration for generations to come.

 

Finally, the book of Ecclesiastes is an example of character reconstructed. Qoheleth’s confessions suggest that the one who pursues wisdom will be empty-handed at the end of his life. Therefore, Qoheleth challenges traditional wisdom by raising issues such as a static cosmos, youth and the family. While I agree with Brown regarding a static cosmos, I am not convinced that the challenge of wisdom’s teachings is linked to the family. Qoheleth is not actively undermining the family. Rather, he is simply describing examples of lone individuals, who are denied the pleasures of home.

Indeed, there are other examples of Qoheleth’s challenge of wisdom in the book, e.g. time, success and death. Ultimately, Brown sees Qoheleth as “stepping out of character” and becoming a detached observer of life. Brown proceeded by stating that, Qoheleth appears to grant some measure of well-being to those who fear God but how fearing God fits in the context of God’s mysterious involvement in history is not clearly specified.

Finally, Brown stated that, the book of Ecclesiastes is not an optimistic book, but rather a treatise on joyful perseverance.

  Conclusion

Brown concluded by stating that, wisdom is demonstrated throughout this book. As a matter of fact he made it clear that, the fear of Yahweh is true wisdom. Brown touched on the three important things: formation of character in Proverbs, the road to the formation of character which is marked by trials and testing as found in the book of Job. And finally, character reconstruction in Ecclesiastes. Brown in my opinion has raised an excellent platform for analyzing the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. He has unveiled a hidden treasure that is the emphasis on character formation, which is indeed at the heart of wisdom instruction. This is crucial to understanding wisdom literature.

Paul and the Church

Biography of Paul

Twenty (20) books on the Wisdom Tradition

Book review – A. Glasser – Announcing the Kingdom

Romans 11:33-36

Romans 3:21-31

Exergeses – Romans 14

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