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The power of poetic imagination: "waters and stream" in Amos 5:24

I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:21-24).

Amos uses his poetic imagination to challenge Israelites to live by justice and righteousness. Justice must run like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Justice must sound bigger than any other thing. The prophet says that God does not want festivals, burnt offerings, or noisy music. Rather, God wants to hear a big sound of justice rolling like a river. Justice must be heard everywhere and it requires a fair distribution of wealth, economic justice for all. Waters symbolizes the vibrant, dynamic power of justice effective to all.

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Jesus walking on the water: Isn't Peter reckless? (Matt 14:22-33)

Matt 14:22-23
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.
 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.
 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.
 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
 28 Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
 29 He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.
 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord,…

Letter to President Trump

Yung Suk Kim
Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity
Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology Virginia Union University, in Richmond, Virginia

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,
I love this country, my new home, and about a year ago all my family members became US citizens. That was our glad choice to join millions of immigrants who already became the citizens of this great country---the place of opportunities and cultural diversity as well as high moral values embodying more justice and freedom for all people. But recently, I and others feel uncertain about this joyful expectation about our country’s ideals and achievements. I see and hear that diversity and otherness are seen suspicious and checked at many corners of this country. Though there is a long way to go, our country has made conscious efforts to embrace more of diversity, free thought, and human dignity. There are many colors on earth, na…

What do I do in my biblical studies department?

The required core courses in biblical studies at my school are as follows: Introduction to biblical studies (BS500), Introduction to the Old Testament (OT501), Introduction to the New Testament (NT501). There are also other elective courses on various topics such as biblical languages, Paul’s letters, Gospels, parables of Jesus, and the historical Jesus and Gospels, and etc.
Overall, the purpose of biblical studies courses is to raise critical and self-critical awareness about biblical texts and help students to engage them critically and faithfully. Biblical texts are examined from their historical, literary context and interpreted variously through diverse critical methods. Nothing in the text is taken for granted. While some texts or abusive voices in them are named, other texts are appreciated in many ways.

In the end, it is the reader who has to say what the text means. They need to unlearn a lot of things about the Bible and relearn new things. From this critical yet faithful …

"Doctor, cure yourself" (Luke 4:23)

Sometimes students read a biblical text out of context. One case in point comes from Jesus's saying of a proverb, "Doctor, cure yourself" (Lk 4:23). They argue that the preacher who has all kinds of maladies/sins can use this text for preaching healing and self-care. But this text is about neither healing nor a sound doctor.

The meaning of Luke 4:23 or the whole passage can be decided at two levels which must be distinguished in a critical study: from the historical Jesus and the Jesus reflected in/by Luke (the Lukan Jesus). If Jesus told this saying (4:23), including all he said in this passage (4:16-30), we have to wonder about the possibilities of meaning he wanted to communicate. One possibility is that given his village people’s disbelief about him (“Is not this Joseph’s son?” 4.22), he retorts them and rejects their view that he is incompetent or inconsistent as a teacher, as a similar case can be made with a bad doctor. This is the context where Jesus uses this pr…

"Come on from down and under"

Seeing the world and humanity from the perspective of marginality: from down and underThe preacher this morning at our school chapel delivered a beautiful, powerful message that we have to stand strong. He emphasized that we have to rise up from down and under. When a person is overburdened by many difficult things, he/she may give up on faith. But the preacher says that God can refresh us if we turn to God. We may call upon God to renew us. The preacher shouted and hopped off the floor at one point like a young child to pour out his conviction that the children of God had to arise. He was almost an acrobatic at such a time. He performed his sermon and delivered it through his everything: voice, rhythm, body, and soul.

After the chapel service, I went to a local park and walkd a few miles of trails. It was a great time for me to refresh my body and soul. I saw the blooming trees and pastures wide open before my eyes. At the same time, I saw a grasslike ground filled with little wild f…

Joseph's dream represents a dominant, triumphant, imperial perspective

When we go out to a park and take a picture, we often choose a tall beautiful thing such as a big tree with flowers or a big standing rock which shows splendid colors.  Usually, we divide the world and nature into two binary things: between the good and the bad, high and low, up and under. The small or least is ignored. Means for success is rationalized and the only ethics is that the powerful rule the weak and the weak serve the strong. 

Joseph's dream and ordeal teach this kind of imperial culture. Namely, Joseph's dream is so naive and selfish. It represents a usual perspective of imperialism. His dream needs a new content. He has to be taught how to love and serve others, including his brothers and parents. He perseveres because of his self-centered dream to be a great person and makes a success in the end. He gains what he wants and rules others, as he wished. He becomes a model of success, but this model is ill-informed and ethically naive. Today I went out to a local par…