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2.17.2006 

little credo

After meeting with my ind. study prof today, I think we're moving toward having a more definite idea of what my thesis will be. The broad question that I'd like to ask is how OT narrative works on us/is authoritative for us (us being the church) in non-propositional ways--especially employing Polanyi's ideas regarding tacit knowledge and Wright's play/act idea of Scripture that he discusses in New Testament People of God. The problem is, that question is potentially too broad, given that the paper is only 30 pages, and my own propensity to overstate my "insights" and deal too much with abstractions.

The tack that we came up with together is examining how the Genesis/Exodus narrative (primarily Exodus) is used in Deuteronomy to shape Israel in preparation for their life in the promised land and then build toward implications for the church today (hopefully bringing in Polanyi and Wright at that point). One of the texts that I'd like to look at in that study is Deut. 26:5-9, what some scholars call the "little credo".

Here the text in the ESV (with 26:1-4 added for context):

26:1 “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, 2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. 3 And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4 Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.

5 “And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7 Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, [1] with signs and wonders. 9 And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.'"

What I find interesting about this passage is not only how the Exodus story is so concisely told, but also Yahweh's intention in creating this ritual of story recital for the Israelites to participate in. In a sense, this is what we do in worship when we as the church recite the nicene or apostle's creed.

A couple quick comments about Yahweh's potential intent with this ritual:

1) To remind the later generations of Israelites that these events actually did happen--that is to name and uphold the reality of the exodus story

2) To place the Israelite himself in the stream of that story--to self-consciously "inherit" the exodus narrative and see himself as intrinsically related to it.

3) To link that story with worship--in a sense, the worship ritual interprets the story (and the story contextualizes the ritual).

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