Sunday, October 18, 2009

Biblical Poetry

I am so excited! I think that, after all these years, I've figured out a portion of what God wants me to do with my life. For those of you who know me well, this has been an issue that has plagued me on and off for the past twenty years. I've felt the tug of God upon my heart, but I've never really known what the tug meant. Now, it's somewhat coming together for me in the clear and concise way that I've wanted.

I could write a book about this journey of mine, but I don't think that's appropriate right now. After all, we've all got things that we need to do tomorrow, and I wouldn't want anyone riveted down in their seats for too long! But to say the least, I've always wondered why I was led to go to bible college for three years, only to leave there and then go to a public university. I've questioned why God led me away from protestantism and into the Catholic Church. I've been curious as to why I've loved ancient poetry and writing enough to get a Master's in Rhetoric along with an almost MFA in Creative Writing.

To the outsider, all this looks like a bad case of Attention Deficit Disorder. To me, I knew that it was part of some greater plan. Well, I'm back at it again. Back into my Bible, back into trying to find out my purpose in life. This time, though, my journeys and readings have opened a few doors that were never revealed to me in the past. I've hit on some wonderful truths in the Old Testament that have forever changed how I view the Bible, the authors of the books of the Bible, God's place in writing the Bible, and the message being delivered.

Today, I'm not going to go in depth on anything. I'll break this all apart and will focus on each little section as I go forward with my posts. Needless to say, though, it's all going to be very interesting for those who are interested in the Bible and God's message to us.

If you look at it all like I do, it all fits together reasonably well, and I am in a unique position to interpret the Bible in a way that many theologians cannot because of my background in rhetoric and creative writing.

Where am I going with all of this? Read the book of Lamentations. It's a short book of four or five pages, and it won't take you long. Twenty years ago, I read it and came away with a totally different interpretation. In fact, we really didn't spend much time on it in Church and bible college because it didn't really make sense as to its purpose in the Bible.

Now, however, read it as if it were written by a poet. Read each chapter as an individual poem. It's a shame that all English translations can't do it much justice, but I'll explain the book in my next posts. I'll explain what makes this book so special in the ancient Hebrew that it was written in. I'll talk about why this is both a work of art and a theological treatise. I'll talk about what message God is sending us about how we should deal with tragedy in our own lives.

What I want to leave you with today, though, are a couple of things. Hebrew poets were some of the greatest poets of their day. They were better than the Greeks and all other poets of other kingdoms. Secondly, the ancient Hebrews believed that God's language was a language of poetry, so they prayed in poetry, and that's what made them develop this art form to its highest potential.

Finally, however, I also want you to understand that God inspired poets to write part of the Bible. He gave them the gift of writing poetry, He laid a message on their hearts, and He let them write. These books of the Bible are the poets' words as inspired by God, so they must be interpreted as poetry first and the rhetorical message secondly. If you don't do this, you'll miss much of the meaning of the Old Testament.

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