deuteronomy ! and ?

Finding ways to engage meaningfully with the Bible in the midst of traversing time zones is one of life's challenges. In 2012 I decided to focus on one biblical book for the entire year: Revelation. I blogged about the experience here and here. It was so worthwhile I've decided to do it all again in 2013.

Deuteronomy is the book I've chosen. I've always loved the tender verses in this book - like Deut 4.32-40 and Deut 30.11-20, just for starters. Exclamation marks fill my life as I read these verses. I want to get much closer to that tenderness and soak in it. But then as I've started reading the book, there is some anguish as well. For some reason, this time around I am deeply troubled by the tough verses - like the way God chucks people out of their own country so that the people of Israel can have it. It is not a good look. Question marks fill my life as I read these verses. I want to get much closer to that toughness and resolve it.

So I've set myself a schedule for the year.
There are three layers to that schedule.

The first is a more devotional reading of the book. I want to read through it twice. On the first occasion, my companion will be John Goldingay (Numbers and Deuteronomy for Everyone). On the second time through the book, I will keep the company of Ajith Fernando (who actually had the publishers send me my very own copy of his Deuteronomy: Loving Obedience to a Loving God!). The former is 100 pages, while the latter is 700 pages.

The second layer is focused on reading commentaries on Deuteronomy. Initially, I want to read my Langham colleague's (Paul Barker) little The God Who Keeps His Promises ... and then I have selected J. G. McConville's Deuteronomy as a follow-up.

The third layer will engage with some of the deeper hermeneutical-theological issues which the book raises. And so I am going to start with Chris Wright's The God I Don't Understand, before coming back to David Firth & Philip Johnston (ed), Interpreting Deuteronomy: Issues and Approaches.

As with Revelation in 2012, I want this reflection to feed into preaching from Deuteronomy. Last year it was Revelation 7.9-17 - and this year I want to prepare, at the very least, a message on Deut 28.65-67 which God is using to open up my heart to the possibility of leaving family and the familiar here in NZ - to go and live with Barby in Asia. It speaks of how different parts of the body are impacted by a life of disobedience. My hope and prayer is that the life of obedience might experience the polar opposite.

nice chatting



Almanac said…
That sounds an ambitious plan Paul. looking forward to your posts on the tough passages. They have always made me wonder. Are the books suited for the layman?
All the best
Paul said…
Yes, I think you'd find Chris Wright's book, The God I Don't Understand, pitched at a thoughtful lay readership level. It has had some excellent reviews.

The Goldingay Old Testament series - which matches the NT Wright New Testament series - is designed 'for everyone' ... and it is. They are small books divided into short, heavily illustrated and applied sections. Very accessible. Almost like William Barclay for the 21st century - but better.

The 'sleeper' for me in this bunch is the one I am not sure how to source for you - Paul Barker's The God Who Keeps His Promises. Crystal-clear, 80 pages, and wades into both the tender and the tough passages.

Hope that helps


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