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Tell It Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in His Stories and Prayers
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2008 / Hardcover
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2009 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit in Spirituality
Just as God used words both to create the world and to give us commandments, we too use words for many different purposes. In fact, we use the same language to talk to each other and to talk to God. Can our everyday speech, then, be just as important as the words and prayers we hear from the pulpit? Eugene Peterson unequivocally says "Yes!"
Tell It Slant explores how Jesus used language---he was earthy, not abstract; metaphorical, not dogmatic. His was not a direct language of information or instruction but an indirect, oblique language requiring a participating imagination---"slant" language. In order to witness and teach accurately in Jesus' name, then, it is important for us to use language the way he did.
Part 1 focuses on Jesus' words in everyday contexts---his teachings to the crowds, the stories he told, his conversations with his disciples. Part 2 shifts the focus to Jesus' prayers---the words he spoke to God the Father.
Peterson's Tell It Slant promises to deepen our understanding of Jesus' words, strengthen our awareness of language as a gift of God, and nurture our efforts to make all of our speech convey a blessing to others.
"Language---given to us to glorify God, to receive the revelation of God, to witness to the truth of God, to offer praise to God---is constantly at risk. Too often the living word is desiccated into propositional cadavers, then sorted into exegetical specimens in bottles of formaldehyde. We end up with godtalk. . . . My concern is that we use God's gift of language in consonance with the God who speaks. Jesus is the primary person with whom we have to do in this business. Jesus most of all. Jesus, the Word made flesh. . . . I want to nurture an awareness of the sanctity of words, the holy gift of language whether it is directed vertically or horizontally. Just as Jesus did."- from the introduction
In this work, Peterson explores how Jesus used language--he was earthy, not abstract; metaphorical, not dogmatic. "Tell It Slant" promises to deepen Christians' understanding of Jesus' words, strengthen their awareness, and nurture their efforts to make all speech a blessing.
Continuing his series of "conversations" in spiritual theology, prolific author, pastor and theologian Eugene H. Peterson (most familiar for his Bible paraphrase The Message) provides an intimate look at Jesus' words. Arguing that the Fall created a "language catastrophe," Peterson contends that people of faith need to "eliminate the bilingualism" they use to talk about religion and everyday life: "There is no 'Holy Ghost' language used for matters of God and salvation and then a separate secular language for buying cabbages and cars." To this end, the author explores Jesus' prayers across the Gospels and parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke. Using poet Emily Dickinson's dictum to "tell it slant," Peterson ably shows that "personal, metaphorical, particular, relational, local" language can convey profound religious ideas. His meditations on prayer ask universal questions about its efficacy; most moving are reflections on Jesus' last brief words, which form a "prayer mosaic from the cross." Peterson's greatest gift is his ability to write about such ideas as sin, repentance, grace and glory in masterfully simpleand concreteways. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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