Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Encountering the Mystery of God: Reading Stephen Cook's, "Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah"

One of the brilliant teachers I was blessed to have in seminary was Dr. Stephen Cook, who is a wonderful Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) scholar, as well as a great teacher and writer (also, check out his blog HERE). He published "Conversations with Scripture: 2 Isaiah" this year and I have browsed it just a bit until this point. Being the final day of the year (at least in the Julian Calendar), and being that this is a day "off" (though occupied with watching children, cleaning the house, etc), I picked it up again. This book has a wonderful discussion and exposition of 2 Isaiah, the 2nd part of the book of Isaiah, a book of the Old Testament that (along with the Psalms) is quoted the most in the New Testament, and one that we hear often in the Christmas season. It is a good read, and Cook is brilliant in helping us to see this book with new eyes, not making the complex overly simple, but giving some "onramps" into this incredible text.

The "mystery" of God is central to 2 Isaiah, and Cook has helped me to encounter this "awe-ful" aspect of God in new ways, here is just an excerpt from the Introduction:

"Awe before Isaiah's God refreshes our reverence. It submerges the ego, paving the way for owning up to our frailty. It turns us outward from concern with self to the need and suffering for others, especially the poor and peripheral. As we repose ever more deeply in God's mystery, the Lord who is absolutely sufficient for our succor increasingly works through us to relieve others' brokenness. Simultaneously, the Holy transforms us into ever more reverent advocates of the natural world."

Just brilliant, thank you Dr. Cook!

~ Rev. Peter M. Carey

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