Here are some starting places for study at ATLA this week. If you are the graduate of an accredited U.S. theological school, you may have free access to these articles through your school. Check ATLAS access options. You can find full lists of ATLAS recommended articles for this week at The Text This Week's page for this week's texts.
An Interpretation “Between Text and Sermon” article from 1997. “This picture of shalom painted by Isaiah 2:2-5 (and it is a picture, not a program) has the same ideal quality that characterizes the teaching of Jesus (cf. Matt. 5-6). Both point us beyond what we think is possible; both envision what could happen if people acted as God's partners in redemption. Isaiah attempts to enliven the imagination so that Israelites could believe even in bad times that with God as partner ‘something like this could happen.’”
“I believe that Isaiah's vision as seen in Jesus Christ calls the church constantly to be living and witnessing for peace. It begins with an inward peace with God, but does not stop there. It constantly learns the way of the Lord and works daily for the things that make for peace. When the whole nation is caught up in a passion for violence, the church's mission is to remind people that arbitration and justice are the will of God, not vengeance. The call for peace is an essential part of the gospel message, not an optional add-on.”
“Rarely is the church called upon to be more countercultural than during Advent. Rarely is there a greater disconnect between the church's hopes and secular sentiments, as people step from the surrounding cacophonies into quiet sanctuaries that display the hues of purple or deep blue rather than red and green and are invited (somewhat grudgingly) to mark time—carefully and deliberately—toward a destination, finally, that is on a horizon more distant than December 25…”
Yoder, Christine Roy, "Hope that Walks: An Interpretation of Isaiah for Advent Preachers," Journal for Preachers, 2001.
“As we wait and watch, the prophet Isaiah, whose oracles dominate the Advent Old Testament lectionary, rekindles our hope in the "not yet" and reminds us that embracing that hope has implications for our lives now. Pointing us ahead to a towering mountain, to a solitary shoot from a stump, to the cries of a newborn named Immanuel, Isaiah captivates our imaginations about the coming of God. He draws us into a world transformed, a future marked by divine justice, restoration of the whole creation, and universal peace.”
“The texts this year make wonderful guides through Advent. The prophet Isaiah provides glorious visions week after week. These visions are full of life: high mountains with people streaming up the ascent toward peace; a green shoot sprouting from a stump—an early sign that life will flourish among the most unlikely pairings; a desert blooming no less than blind eyes opening to sight; and a young woman is pregnant with a child. But, lest we soar too high to these mountainous visions of glory, Matthew is our gospel guide through Advent and Matthew keeps us close to the ground.”
The section on Psalm 122 begins on page 11. “What it means to enter Jerusalem, to live eschatologically, to live under God's reign, is illustrated powerfully by one of Walker Percy's characters in The Second Coming…”
Abstract: “This article explores the possibility that Paul was using irony in his commendation of the state in Romans 13. It is proposed that the original audience of the letter shared with Paul a common experience of oppression at the hands of the authorities and were aware of the abuses that took place in the opening years of Nero's reign. The consequent implausibility of Paul's language would have alerted his readers to the presence of irony. They would have been able to set aside the surface meaning of the discourse and to recognise that Paul was using the established rhetorical technique of censuring with counterfeit praise. While the passage can be read as a straightforward injunction to submit to the authorities, an ironic reading of the text results in a subversion of the very authorities it appears to commend.”
The section n this text begins on page 26. “God-with-us is currently hidden under imperfection and strife. The presence of the new creation is known only amidst the old, where our sight is blurred and our experiences are highly ambiguous. But we anticipate a time when God will reveal the new humanity as it was intended to be, when no one can deny the gracious lordship of Christ, and when creation will be thoroughly renewed—a good reason to hope.”
“The irony is that Augustine was responding to words that were not intended for an indecisive seeker like him; they were words written for a community of committed, if not perfectly formed, believers. As Augustine himself says, however, his conversion through these words mirrors the unexpected conversions of others through the divine power of unexpected texts. From the human side, like all good preaching, Paul's words in Rom 13:8-14 can jar both the uncommitted and the committed; they are inherently both evangelistic and pastoral words.”
“Jesus points it out very clearly: there is no human criterion at all that is capable of knowing how the Creators design to fulfill creation is going to look. Majority expectations are not safe, like those of Noah's contemporaries…”
Long, Thomas G., "Imagine There's No Heaven: The Loss of Eschatology in American Preaching," Journal for Preachers, 2006.
EBSCO ATLASerials, Religion Collection
EBSCO ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
“How today's pulpit grew reticent about eschatology, about the classic "last things," is a complex story, but it is also a remarkable story, because we who preach today are the heirs of preachers in a not-too-distant past who spoke often, clearly, and confidently of the Christian hope for people and for of all of creation…”