Identity in the Old Testament

Added about 2 months ago by Jock Stein

GUEST BLOG: Jock Stein, author of From Cosmos to Canaan, explores the theme of identity in the Old Testament.

I am sitting in Buda beside the Danube, looking across to the Hungarian house of Parliament while writing political poetry about Macbeth and how a party attempts to tweak what it is to be Hungarian.

What constitutes a nation, and how Israel took the shape it did, is only one of the many themes I tackle in my new book, From Cosmos to Canaan. National identity is just one branch of the tree whose trunk is human identity, a theme which emerges in the Bible as early as Genesis 1. In the ancient Middle East, temples were supposed to be a microcosm of the universe, and so naturally they would contain an image of the god who was worshipped as Creator.

For the Jews, the Creator could have no image except the human being, and so men and women are made in God's image and given a god-like responsibility to look after the world, as well as the freedom to explore it, a freedom wonderfully hinted at in Psalm 27:4:

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

When I realise that the temple of the Lord is the Cosmos as well as the sanctuary, so that the whole of life may be spent discovering the secrets of God in unexpected places, it gives me a great incentive to write poems making all sorts of connections between scripture and everything else. I have included some of them in the book, and I hope you enjoy them too.

From Cosmos to Canaan is an unusual book, offering a way in to the Bible which has probably never been attempted before... It introduces the first six books of the Bible through a combination of poetry, conversation and commentary. The poems are written in a variety of styles, from sonnet to Haiku, reflecting the variety of writing in the Bible, and simply to enjoy the art of poetry as one of God’s gifts to humankind. Sometimes humorous, often challenging, and always accessible, this is a book for anyone who doesn’t know where to start with the Old Testament.

Intrigued? You can order your copy today...

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