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We moved our office this past week. It was only 15 blocks, and we had a lot of help. But a lot can accumulate in an office building that has been there since 1975. And those cupboards are remarkably deep. We recycled a lot, we threw out a lot, but still, we moved a lot. And now, in our new location (temporary, until we build the Synod House), we are surrounded by boxes, wondering where the post-it notes are, and when we will get phone service. We are grateful to the people of New Hope Lutheran Church who welcomed us into their space, put flowers in our offices, and gave us cake the day we moved. Still, we are feeling dislocated.
Several years ago I attended a Jewish-Christian conference in Maryland that included a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Aside from the impact the museum had on me (I slept for 12 hours), I cannot forget the Jewish woman who stood up and said: please tell your students the difference between being anti-Semitic and being anti-Jewish. Since then I have been teaching that Hitler was anti-Semitic, while Luther and other reformers were anti-Jewish, angry that the Jews would not or could not believe as Christians did.
By the time of the Reformation, most Jews had been chased out of Western Europe. Spain and Italy remained safe havens for Jewish scholars who were instrumental in bringing Hebrew studies to the North. Beginning with Petrarch in Italy, secular scholars called humanists called for a re-examination of texts, both classical and biblical, using primary sources, in an effort to correct faulty translations and misinterpretations. As Pastor Tom Lee explains in his article, the idea was to study a text in its original cultural context. This, of course, necessitated the study of ancient languages, including the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible.
Martin Luther was an Old Testament professor who knew the loving and merciful God through his study of the Psalms, the prophets, and the Book of Genesis. Christian humanists, especially, encouraged church leaders to take another look at Genesis with its emphasis on the goodness and beauty of all creation and human beings made in God’s image.
Pastor Lee points to the rise in popularity of studying Hebrew in order to uncover the same loving and forgiving God in the Old Testament that Christians continue to meet in the New Testament. This is an invitation to take another look at the Old Testament.
Pastor Judy Wozniak
Cochabamba and Futbol