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The 'Word of God' as Used in the Old Testament

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When exploring the word of God in the Old Testament (OT), it is important to locate the texts into a social and historical context. It is in this context that the word of God is mediated by human expression. To deny the human expression is effectively to place a barrier between the word of God and it’s invitation to revelation. The OT can be seen as a “record of people’s experience of God’s self-revelation” (Rohr & Martos, 2011, p. 22). Thus the theology underpinning the OT meaning and understanding of the “word” is deep and rooted in “a Semitic conviction of the power of the spoken word” (Gimpel, 2011, p. 21). The OT is based upon oral tradition. In oral traditions, the reliability of a story, message or tale rested solely upon the…show more content…
To deny the human expression of the word of God is to deny its very nature as an expression of dialogue and of its clear invitation to a closer relationship with the Creator. Harrington points out that what becomes important is grappling with the meaning of the phrase “word of God”, comprehending the nature of revelation within the OT and essentially accepting that “revelation by word of God means divine revelation which has been given human expression by humans” (Harrington, 2011, p. 32). It is this way that modern scriptural scholars have also identified a “close connection between the Word of God and divine Wisdom” (Gimpel, 2011, p. 21).

Wisdom derives from the insightful words of wise people, but its ultimate origin is the Word of God. (Gimpel, 2011, p. 21)

Harrington argues that “the truth of the Bible, God’s word in words of men, is human” (Harrington, 2011, p. 36) but this must be coupled with an understanding that in the “words of men” is found the Word of God and divine Wisdom. As such, in the OT to an “extraordinary extent”, it is important to acknowledge that “there is something ‘of God’ in the words” of the OT (Harrington, 2011, p. 32).

In order to unlock the true Wisdom and word of God in the OT texts, it becomes important therefore to meet the word in the text. This is to say that a modern reader must engage with the scriptural works of the “sacred writers” (as they are called by Vatican II in the document Dei Verbum[2]). Rohr and
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