Telling the Story 2008: Beginning the Old Testament
Participants of all religious affiliations, or none, who wanted to become more familiar with the first books of the Old Testament were welcomed to this engaging new series that blended storytelling, lectures, and music.
Joanne Davies, Ecumenical Chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital, told stories from the Book of Genesis. Insights were shared by biblical scholar Judith Newman, who teaches courses in Old Testament at Emmanuel College and early Judaism in the University of Toronto's Department for the Study of Religion. To view/download a copy of Judith Newman's remarks, please click here.
“Exodus is the book on which all Hebrew scripture hangs,” said Andrew Asbil, Incumbent at the Church of the Redeemer. “There is no freedom without courage, no life without wilderness and no promised land without God.”
Jean Bubba made the words from Exodus come alive through her passion and attention to the message. Andrew Asbil shared insights as teacher for the evening.
Guitarist Mike Daley and his band of faithful musicians played reggae for the night.
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, director and founding rabbi of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning, commented, “Leviticus is perhaps the most perplexing book of the Bible for modern readers. Is it all about blood and water, sacrifices and leprosy, or is there a drama and a meaning we don’t see unless we dig deeper? Leviticus speaks to us of connection, calling, cleansing, closeness and creation.”
Rabbi Goldstein focused on three passages from Leviticus, a biblical book of moral and civil law and rituals and celebrations. Judy Maddren, host of CBC Radio’s World Report, presented selections from Leviticus. Complementing the readings and discussion was contemporary music for piano, saxophone, drums and vocals, led by Redeemer musician Scott Christian.
Assistant Curate Andrew Federle was the teacher for the evening, sharing insights about the Book of Numbers. He said, “The Book of Numbers retraces the wilderness wanderings of the people of God – a people trusting in a promise of home. But after your family and people have dwelt in the Promised Land, how do you make sense of being in the wilderness again? How does God still exist when you’re strung out in exile? What do you do when the cornerstone of your religious understanding has been toppled? Numbers helps us remember.” Jack Howard and Catherine Emerson read passages from Numbers, and Mike Daley, on solo guitar, featured the music of Gillian Welch.
For over 20 years, Abigail Young has led a small-group Bible Study at Redeemer. She used her extensive experience to help us understand Deuteronomy, the fifth book in the Old Testament.
Dr. Young said, "Deuteronomy is an acquired taste -- it has no exciting stories or miraculous signs to move us as Exodus does. But in its representing of the Law it makes a vital connection with social justice that has resonance for us today -- a communal experience of injustice in captivity becomes the reason why we should seek justice for others through following God's law."
Storyteller Jean Bubba made the words from Deuteronomy come alive. Music for the evening was provided by The Yiddish Swingtet:
Jordan Klapman, Piano
To view Abigail Young's remarks, please click here.
As a follow up to 2008’s Telling the Story, the Bible Study Working Group offered After the Story, a six-part Bible study on themes of the first five books of the Old Testament. The goal of the series was to explore the books of Moses in detail and in an informal setting. The close reading of key passages and the opportunity for discussion provided the participants with tools for a deeper understanding of Torah.
After the Story with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, who spoke brilliantly about Leviticus during Telling the Story, led a discussion addressing two themes:
Called into Relationship I: A Covenant with God
Called into Relationship II: Building a Covenant Community
Please click here for the texts and questions used for discussion.
After the Story with Dr. Abigail Young
After the Story continued with Abigail Young leading a discussion on the theme Journeys and Resting Places.
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