By Peter Byrne, Leslie Houlden, Rev Prof Leslie Houlden

This precise new reference is a entire advisor to trendy theological inspiration. In forty eight self-contained articles, a global staff of theologians and practitioners of the Christian and Jewish faiths examine and view points of theology. The try to be functional, yet no longer partisan as they discover the functions of contemporary theology within the gentle of Christianity's position within the glossy international. The significant other Encyclopedia of Theology is split into six components. the 1st 3 take care of significant foundational points of Western theological mirrored image: the Hebrew and Christian Bible, the culture, and the contribution of Philosophy. the second one half the significant other is anxious with purposes when it comes to spirituality, modern ethics, and problems with present-day theological development. The forty eight essays are descriptive, informative, and analytical. They hide quite a lot of modern themes together with Feminism within the Philosophy of faith, the assumption of

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Nevertheless the diverse origins of these texts need to be kept in mind, if they are not to be seen in a rather two-dimensional way as parts of an undifferentiated ‘Holy Scripture’. The texts in the Hebrew Bible are rooted not only in worship (in Temple or synagogue), but also in day-today social life; not only in piety, but in the conduct of business, commercial and legal. This makes these books a very different kind of foundation document from the New Testament, which is a far more narrowly ‘religious’ work.

Israel did not acknowledge (at least not officially) the pattern of thought common in other ancient cultures, where there were ‘guardian’ gods for the individual who were distinct from, and could act as intercessors with, the greater gods of the pantheon. From at least the time of the great prophets (eighth century BCE) it was claimed that one and the same God was both ruler of the universe, rightly worshipped in hymns and liturgies, and the friend of the individual—especially the afflicted or persecuted individual.

They characteristically express either praise or lament/petition, much as do the prayers of many religions. But some may also have been used in private devotion—even those couched in ‘corporate’ language. The Psalter is rather like a Christian hymn book: the poems may have originated as hymns, or as private lyric poems, but in their present context all are meant for public worship. Yet an individual may well use any or all of them for private prayer. The actual formation of the Psalter as a fixed collection may owe something to both motives, the desire to collect together common liturgical texts and the desire to produce a book for private devotion—though the latter term might imply a more widespread literacy than it is reasonable to assume for the pre- and early post-exilic periods.

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