Old Testament Words: Reflections for Preaching
Reconsider or discover for the first time the richness of the Old Testament and the God it profiles.
At times when the sheer beauty of the words has thrilled me or comforted me. I have often been, perhaps like you, puzzled or perplexed. And yet I am convinced that this collection of books from Genesis to Malachi is worthy of more than a glimpse or moment of our time. Locked away in the world of Hebrew thought and language we will find the God we worship come to life in some surprising and challenging ways. We will find this God's nostrils flaring with anger at the injustice done to small, vulnerable children. And we will find this same God bending down and, with love like the most nurturing and caring parent among us, refusing to let us go. There is no discerning with certainty or total clarity who this God is. Even the names of this God are slippery and ambiguous. . . What we thought we knew perhaps will be challenged. What we did not know will, I hope, be brought forth in a way that will educate and also inspire.
-from the Introduction of Old Testament Words
"Mary Donovan Turner takes 38 Hebrew words from the Old Testament and reflects on their meaning. Turner draws from both the early Christian tradition as well as the rabbinical writings. The book offers some interesting insights and observations on some important Old Testament terms."
"Mary Donovan Turner has written a book that bridges disciplines. The title and subtitle together indicate her intent. The study of 'Old Testament Words' considers some of the primal theological vocabulary in the Old Testament. 'Reflections for Preaching' indicates that this is neither a technical linguistic study nor an exhaustive wordbook. It is, rather, a probe that sends out imaginative connections and lines of possibility for homiletical extrapolation."
—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
“With the wit and energy that make her one of America’s great preachers, Mary Donovan Turner reflects on thirty-eight important Old Testament words. Combining first-rate biblical scholarship and the surprising, profound insights of ancient rabbinical commentators, Turner traces each word through various biblical traditions and reevaluates its meaning in light of the historical experiences of faith communities, ancient and modern. Readers will appreciate her delightful reflections on familiar words of comfort and hope. But she makes an even more important contribution in her decision to address the troubling words of scripture—words such as ‘enemy,’ ‘anger,’ and ‘death.’ Turner lays out the problem and wisely resists the temptation to rescue the biblical image from the quandary posed for it by historical experience. Preachers and laypeople interested in a deeper understanding of important biblical concepts will find this an enormously helpful resource. Each section begins with the word written in Hebrew, followed by a phonetic transliteration to assist in pronunciation. This book is an outstanding resource, accessible, well written, and interesting. Preachers, teachers, and lovers of scripture will find it useful for sermon preparation, religious education, and personal devotion.”
—Richard H. Lowery, Phillips Theological Seminary