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"This is a book about getting, and staying, involved with God--what it takes, what it costs, what it looks and feels like, why anyone would want to do it anyway. It is at the same time a book about reading the Old Testament as a source of Good News and guidance for our life with God. The key piece of Good News that the Old Testament communicates over and over again is that"This is a book about getting, and staying, involved with God--what it takes, what it costs, what it looks and feels like, why anyone would want to do it anyway. It is at the same time a book about reading the Old Testament as a source of Good News and guidance for our life with God. The key piece of Good News that the Old Testament communicates over and over again is that God is involved with us, deeply and irrevocably so." --from the Introduction With sound scholarship and her own vivid translations from the Hebrew, Old Testament professor Ellen Davis teaches us a spiritually engaged method of reading scripture. Beginning with the psalms, whose frank prayers can be a model for our own, Davis reflects on the stories of the patriarchs and the pastoral wisdom of the book of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs in helping us cultivate those habits of the heart that lead to a rich relationship with God....

Title : Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament
Author :
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ISBN : 9781561011971
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament Reviews

  • Emily
    2018-09-30 20:42

    Books like these "keep me alive in famine." There are so many gems in this book, so much insight and wisdom. Ellen Davis has been studying the wisdom literature of the Bible for years and walking with God for a long time. It is a great kindness that she shares what she has learned with her readers. She studies texts which are often marginalized or flat out avoided in the church today: The Psalms of Lament, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Job chief among them. Reading Davis reminds me that I have a place in this world and a place before God. This is so needful in a world where I do not fit well and in which I often feel useless. Without Old Testament theology and especially the neglected portions aforementioned, the church is as she terms it, "impoverished". I could not agree more. A few quotes that I really appreciated: “Does this book [Job] teach us sympathy for the sufferer? I don’t know. Surely it means to breed in us humility before the one who is suffering. Job instructs us perhaps more about respect than about compassion; if we read this book well, then it enables us to honor the sufferer as a teacher, a theological resource for the community.” 123 “Because our life is now securely hidden in God, we can relax in God’s service. We are free to serve God with whatever skills we have. And when those skills fail (as they will), then we may go on serving through our willingness to share God’s own abiding grief and endless love for the world.” 181

  • Amy
    2018-09-25 19:26

    Highly recommend, even if you only read one section or one chapter, it's worth getting. I read it during a time where I felt really far from God and pretty depressed, and some chapters really helped; it wasn't cheesy, or a cheer up pal, God's got Your back (which I mean He totally does, but sometimes it can come off sounding cliche) type of comfort,but real stuff. It gave me a different perspective on the Psalms and the book of Job too. It was a good mix of scholastic-ness and devotional/feels. There was a few chapters that I found just okay, but overall an excellent read.

  • Kelley
    2018-09-27 02:54

    I was wonderfully surprised by how much I was captivated by the author's unpacking of the Hebrew Bible (OT)! Since it was recommended by Walter Brueggemann, I should have guessed as much! But wonderful introduction to themes in the OT, insightful and accessible commentary on Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Job, Isaiah and more.

  • Bryant Cornett
    2018-10-13 00:54

    Every Christian should read this book.I've been called an Old Testament Christian before, so it's not likely a surprise that I would like this book. But Ellen Davis does something special and unexpected here, because I don't agree with her on a number of points. Still, this book gave me a view of a facet of the diamond that is the Gospel that, frankly, I'd never seen.The book is divided into five sections: the Psalms, Love, Wisdom, Disciplines of the Heart and Ecotheology.Here are some things that opened Scripture up for me through this book: 1. How can we reconcile those hard Psalms--the ones that pray for the destruction of our enemies? Davis reminds us that the Psalms "are undisgussedly human utterances (pg. 9)." While the rest of the Bible is formatted as God's Word/message to us, the Psalms are our imperfect prayer to God--God's Word THROUGH us. And as imperfect beings, harshness shows through. When pressure from the outside mounts, then the Psalmist leans in with "cries of anguish and rage [that] would seem to violate all the rules for Christian prayer." (pg. 14) Davis points out that this truth of heart to God is the first step toward praise. The answer I loved here is this idea that these Psalms show real-time conversion back to the heart and mindset of God. The Psalmist almost always comes out a different door than he went in. "The point of the shocking psalms is not to sanctify what is shameful (for example, the desire for sweet revenge) or to make us feel better about parts of ourselves that stand in need of change. Rather, the Psalms teach us that profound change happens always in the presence of God. " (pg. 5)"So the Psalms call for honest speech, but honesty is not everything in an intimate relationship. We must also speak wisely, at least some of the time." (pg. 9) 2. OK, I get that, but how do we reconcile the seemingly totally wrong, disrespectful and accusatory prayers? Don't they pray for others destruction? Who is that God? Davis points out that Psalms 1-72 are dominated by a focus on self. They are full of "I" and "me" and and accuse God of all sorts of terrible deeds. They push and prod. They tell God to leave well enough alone and pray down destruction on the heads of their enemies and even children. "These cries of anguish and rage would seem to violate all the rules of Christian prayer." (pg. 14)Davis helped to sharpen my focus on these prayers by pointing out "When you lament in good faith, opening yourself to God honestly and fully-no matter what you have to say-then you are beginning to clear the way for praise. . . . When you lament, you are asking God to create the conditions in which it will become possible for you to offer praise-conditions, it turns out, that are mainly within your own heart." (pg. 15)These psalms begin with God and mark the beginning of our journey, but also with acknowledgement, from the Psalmist, that the God who created the heavens actually cares about us. Davis points out what a remarkable assumption that actually is, but that "the lament psalms regularly trace a movement from complaint to confidence in God, from desperate petition to anticipatory praise. ... The fact that the Psalms never clearly report a change in external circumstances is one mark of the Bible's persistent realisim. ... One further mark of the realism of the Psalter is the fact that it includes two psalms-Psalms 38 and 88-that make no turn toward praise." (pg. 21) This real time turning of men in the midst of terrible circumstances shows us how we can begin and move through tragedy. Lastly, Davis reminded me, when considering the hurt experienced by the Psalter, to ask, "Is there anyone in the community of God's people who might want to say this to God about me-or maybe, about us?" (pg. 28) Putting ourselves on the pointed end of the Psalter's prayer gives a new perspective to this challenging text. This is getting a little long, so I'll wrap up. I love this book. I don't align with everything Davis says (especially the way Davis seems to limit the power of God in Chapter 6 and the power within Ecclesiastes in Chapter 9), and felt that such a great book was lessened by what seemed like a thrown together fifth section-devoid of the critical eye and research that I appreciated throughout the rest of the book. Despite those weaknesses, this book helped me with the above and Chapter 7, on the Song of Solomon should be required reading for all Christians. It opened in me a view of the love of Christ that has me as the pursued. I learned more from this book that I' could possibly share here, and I pray that others will search for the wisdom contained here. Here's SOME THINGS I UNDERLINED: "If God has a best friend (and why not?), then surely it is Moses." (pg. 46) "God accommodates [Moses'] complaints and makes in-course corrections. God does not take a human being so fully into the divine confidence--you might say, God does not depend on a human being so fully--until Mary conceives by the Holy Spirit." (pg. 16) "The Song [of Solomon] captures the ecstatic aspect of love that is the main subject of the whole Bible." (pg. 67) "That the Old Testament represents God chiefly as angry Judge and vicious Warrior is a false stereotype. While these images are not absent, they are more than balanced by striking portrayals of God as Lover or Husband, infatuated with Israel beyond all reason or deserving. God is not too proud to grieve terribly over Israel's unfaithfulness, nor to be giddy over her return home. ... [This covenant's] primary quality is love at the highest pitch of intensity." (pg. 77) "The very idea of wisdom, as the Bible understands it, challenges the mind-set of our society and the view of knowledge that all of us have to some extent internalized." (pg. 94) "...consider how [the Proverbs] define success: the establishment of righteousness, justice and equity." (pg. 95) "But 'true wisdom is such that no evil use can ever be made of it.' That is worth our pondering because we, more than any previous generation, are witnessing the evil effects of perverted knowledge, knowledge not essentially connected to goodness. ... No other generation has been so successful at using its technological knowledge in order to manipulate the world and satisfy its own appetites." (pg. 96) "The sufferer who keeps looking for God has, in the end, privileged knowledge. ... She passes through a door that only pain will open, and is thus qualified to speak of God in a way that others, whom we generally call more fortunate, cannot speak." (pg. 122) "The fourth-century Greek theologian St. John Chrysostom said that Job's greatest trial was that his wife was not taken." (pg. 125) "...our role as comforters is not to solve the problem of pain; even less is it to stick up for God. Trying to vindicate God to a person in agonizing pain is like explaining to a crying infant that Mommy is really a well-intentioned person. ... While [Job's friends] remain mired in their convictions, Job is moving." (pg. 130) "...Job rails against God, not as a skeptic, not as a stranger to God's justice, but precisely as a believer. It is the very depth of Job's commitment to God's ethical vision that makes his rage so fierce, and that will finally compel an answer from God." (pg. 133) "The Garden of Eden was the place where the first human creatures might have acquired wisdom: Eden was the place for total intimacy with God, and that is the sole condition fur becoming wise. Day by day they might have grown in wisdom and stature, taking those strolls with God in 'the breezy time of day" (Genesis 3:8). But they could not wait to get smart, so they chose the quick and dirty method..." (pg. 149) "For us the true measure of our wisdom will never be the grade point average we covet, a degree or rank, the right job, the book accepted by a prestigious press. No, we will be wise when we desire with heart, soul, mind, and strength only the things that God also desires for us--and nothing else compels us, or ever catches our wandering eye." (pg. 151) "Worship is a vigorous act of reordering our desires in the light of God's burning desire for the wellness of all creation." (pg. 152) "And there we recognize that our frailty is not meant to cause us anxiety and sorrow. Rather, God means it to be a source of confidence, and even, as it was for Etty [the Dutch Jew previously mentioned that died in Auschwitz], a source of joy. For it is exactly that frailty--the strict limits to our powers, their inevitable failure, the certainty of death--that creates the need and the desire to see God's power at work..." (pg. 167) "Contrition means finding the courage to let your heart break over sin. Willfully letting your heart break and then offering the pieces to God is a radically counter cultural idea in our society" (pg. 168)There are so many other things I underlined here, but for now, I'LL END WITH A PRAYER: Lord of all, Creator of the universe, Motivator of all that is Good, Thank you. Thank you for the beauty that is Wisdom visited on this person, Ellen Davis, and the expression of her love that is this wonderful book. I don't question Your great motives and You don't owe me anything, but there is excellence here in tiny corners of smallish books and forgotten lectures that could change everything. Release this wisdom. Release this love and let us, let every man that has thought he checked the box on the Gospel, and let every woman who purchased a neat little bowl to put on a very special shelf to hold the Gospel--let each and every one of us know that within You, within your Word, there is something beyond all value. Let us see that men gladly gave their lives so that we could just experience this moment and decide. Nudge us toward the Light, Lord, and bless the nudgers, like Davis, who carry the water for tens of years so that one or two or ten thousand may drink. We sow and water, Lord. You provide the increase. I love You. Amen.

  • River Lewis
    2018-09-23 20:47

    Isn't it amazing what can get published?

  • Amy
    2018-10-06 18:51

    Exceptional!!!!! One of the best books I have ever read. I am changed, moved, challenged...will be returning to this work often.

  • Linda Owen
    2018-10-18 00:31

    Heavy duty Biblical study. Not a quick read; needs meditative/contemplative work.

  • Ashley
    2018-10-06 18:26

    A beautifully written and thought provoking look at the parts of the Old Testament that make many modern readers most uncomfortable. Davis shows us how those very passages that make us cringe for the people involved are meant to demonstrate the breadth of God's love and encourage us to break down our own walls that prevent us from honesty with God and one another. She concludes with a very brief section on ecology that was equally insightful and convicting. I'll be teaching this one in Sunday School this year.Favorite passages:“This is perhaps the area where Kohelet can be most helpful to modern westerners, for he reflects more carefully on the nature of work than does any other biblical writer. Therefore he can help us with our own pressing need to develop a sane theology of work. For we are, on the whole, a people who work very hard and get too little pleasure from our work. Kohelet could be speaking directly to us: This is what I myself have seen to be good, yes beautiful: to eat and drink and take pleasure in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the number of days of life which God has given one … [T]o accept one’s lot and to rejoice in one’s toil—this, it is the gift of God. (5: 17-18) Kohelet is not idealistic about work. Hard work is a necessity, and the gift of joy that may come from it can only be received; it cannot be coerced. Moreover, Kohelet harbors no illusions about why most of us work as hard as we do: we do it to beat out the competition. ‘I myself have seen all the toil and the skill in doing that is envy, one person of another. This, too, is hevel and chasing after wind” (4:4). We do not know any work that is not affected, you might say, by our fallen condition; pride and jealousy are powerful motivating factors for excellence. Yet insofar as we strive to best our neighbor, to that extent we are chasing after wind. Chasing after wind—the Hebrew phrase may convey a sense that is not obvious in translation. As is well known, the Hebrew word ruaḥ means ‘wind,’ but also ‘spirit’; so it is possible to see some deflating of our spiritual pretensions here. Work is for many people a matter of ‘chasing after spirit.’ Probably this is more true in our society than it was in the ancient world, so Kohelet himself may not intend a pun. But I do see here a play on meanings that reflects our modern context. This is our own peculiar form of hevel, absurdity: we overwork, looking not for pleasure, which work can give, but for something it cannot, something that we vaguely term ‘spiritual satisfaction.’ Professional commitment is one of the primary forms of idolatry among white-collar Americans—and here I include clergy collars. Looking for ultimate meaning in any form of work, including church work, inevitably leads to deep disappointment and bitterness. When one does not get the desired promotion; when one’s own vision for the program, the institution, the community does not prevail; or perhaps when one just burns out from too much effort expended, too little pleasure received as a gift from God—all this is hevel and chasing after wind” (114-115)."It shows us why we recite the creed at all: because ancient faith gives power of resistance against the tyranny of our own immediate experience...Israel endures as YHWH's people because we are able to lean on the faith of our ancestors, when our own experience will not support us in faith" (164).

  • Jenny
    2018-10-16 23:51

    Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament is a series of essays and sermons that takes a look at the Old Testament with a critical lens, all the while finding the good news of how God wants to be involved with us through the stories, poems and wisdom it shares. I was assigned this book for my Old Testament 101 class in seminary and didn't read it. With 500+ pages per week (!) that we had to read in another book (plus the readings for other classes), I simply did not have time. Might I mention that I also didn't appreciate too much that particular class because it was very challenging (and not lovey-dovey: look at the Bible, isn't it so wonderful). Years later (I forget if I was still in seminary at this point or not...the date when I last read it, below, is honestly a guess), I think I picked it up because I had nothing to read and was really surprised how wonderful this book was. I sincerely think it would have helped me have a better perspective in the OT101 class, had I actually read it with the assignments. This last week I picked it up again to "rediscover" anew Davis' take on the Old Testament. I love how she thoughtfully approaches the scriptures, takes into account the critical scholarly writing on the Old Testament, and then puts together an informed, scholarly, yet tender and devotional look at how God desires to be involved with us. ----Simply amazing. - read in July 2005 - 5 stars

  • Rebecca
    2018-09-26 00:27

    Ms Davis' book is a true treasure! She opens with a rich discussion of the Psalms, beginning with the seldom-used psalms of lament (yes, she really starts there), seeking to show the breadth of conversation God desires with us. For, as she continues, God's love for us expects, demands, anticipates full candor. If you don't believe that, then her chapter on the Song of Songs is for you. My favorite of all the discussions is that of the Book of Job. Ms Davis shows a side of Job that I've never considered before - the transformation of Job into one more after God's own heart happens not just because God speaks out of the whirlwind in a booming voice and puts the aggravated Job in his place, but because God shows Job what living really is.The closing chapters of Ms Davis' book have given me food for thought for years to come. Her discussion of Habits of the Heart will renew my vigor for spiritual practices, and her thoughts about at Torah of the earth are energizing and sadly prophetic at the same time.A thoroughly enjoyable read... and re-read!

  • Ann Foust
    2018-09-26 18:28

    This book was a spur of the moment purchase; I think the title caught my attention. It took me a while to get through it, though, because I didn't find it to be a book I could read a few pages, put it aside for a few days and then come back to it. It is a very thoughtful treatment of the Old Testament, and I found the writing scholarly yet accessible to a non-scholar like me. I especially liked her chapter on the book of Job. I didn't know that Job, after the tragic loss of his first family, named the daughters of his new family Dove, Cinnamon, and Horn of Eye Shadow. Why did Job choose such unusual names? According to the author, Job was beyond just following rules. He did it "just for kicks." The author, Ellen F. Davis, combined the scholarly aspects with just the right amount of earthiness for this book.

  • Sarah
    2018-09-19 22:46

    Beautiful. Insightful. Thought-provoking. I feel like I should buy a copy and give it as a gift to someone (I read a library copy) but there are too many people I want to give it to! I copied so many quotes out into my journal. Here is one of my favorite quotes:"What we must face is the fact that God's vulnerability to sin is total, even unto death on a cross. That is what it means to say that God is love. For every human lover knows that the downside of love is vulnerability to pain. Therefore perfect love is at the same time perfect vulnerability. The message of the cross is that God's love is indeed powerful to overcome sin, but Love conquers only by relaxing all defenses against sin. Christ conquers only by receiving all the wounds sin has to inflict." (Page 172 in Chapter 14: Voluntary Heartbreak: Psalm 51)

  • Lydia
    2018-10-18 21:47

    Per Lauren Winner, more about the place of metaphor in the spiritual life:If you are not sure what to make of the Old Testament - if it feels alien, or confusing, or dull, or too long, or if you are always starting out with good intentions but getting bogged down somewhere in the Leviticus - read this book. It is the single best book I know for Christians entering the Old Testament. Davis goes many places in this book, but she always circles back to the theme that her title suggests: The Old Testament is the lively record of Israel's efforts to get involved, and stay involved, with God.

  • Theron
    2018-09-30 19:55

    Ellen F. Davis' "Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament," published in 2001, was a good read covering the Psalms and wisdom literature, some significant stories about the cost of love (the binding of Isaac, chapter 6, is worth the purchase of the book alone), Old Testament habits of the heart (e.g. lamenting in Psalm 51), and a theology of ecology (yep the Old Testament has something to say about that). I highly recommend this book.

  • LeighKramer
    2018-09-24 21:25

    I usually stay far away from theology books but I'm glad we read this one for The Red Couch (SheLoves Magazine's book club). Every time I sat down to read Ellen Davis’s words, I walked away with a new insight. It’s accessible, it’s fresh, it’s compelling. Anyone who advocates for the cursing psalms and makes space for lament is fine by me. Her take on Song of Songs made me sit up straight. It turns out she's my kind of theologian.

  • Alison Kuhlman
    2018-10-04 01:29

    Wow. Davis did an amazing job bringing life and understanding into the Old Testament. This was definitely a slow read book only because it was so full of insight and new ideas for me as someone who tends to stick to the New Testament. It helped greatly to bridge the Old Testament New Testament God gap. Will definitely be keeping it close to reference and retread. Simply lovely.

  • Robin
    2018-10-11 00:49

    I LOVED this book. E. Davis writes about several books in the Old testament with unique perspectives and an evident love for God and His word. It was refreshing to read a current author who did not try and fit her writing in the mold to "catch" the reader, but was more interested in uncovering some gold truths from the Old Testament.

  • Alanna
    2018-09-26 00:53

    Davis rightly calls us to a deeper understanding of our relationship to the earth and its non-human inhabitants as a reflection of our relationship to God and His Law. Furthermore, she provides a moving picture of God's interactions with various figures in the Bible and the intimacy of relationship with God which the prophets call us toward.

  • Libby
    2018-10-17 01:35

    Excellent. I really enjoyed the author's approach to the Old Testament, and her chapters about different sections were both reflective and insightful--she often explained the meaning of Hebrew words in her exegesis. Her emphasis on the relational and "real-life" aspects of Old Testament Scripture made it a refreshing read.

  • Keith Wilson
    2018-09-23 21:46

    Davis' fresh interpretations of segments of the Hebrew Bible really bring those stories to life (or re-birth) I especially liked the chapter on Job and will never be able to look at the natural world the same way again.

  • Megan
    2018-10-15 20:26

    A lot of information in this book was really confusing. I need to read more of the Old Testament. However, this book gave me new insight of Old Testament books I have read. Reading this book taught me that there is so much to learn about Scripture and God.

  • Sheridan
    2018-09-20 20:47

    Ellen Davis does a marvellous job of examining the Old Testament in a way that is scholarly and intelligent while also being accessible and applicable. I frequently return to it for insight and inspiration.

  • Allison
    2018-09-28 19:36

    This book is a lovely, lyrical weave of Dr. Davis' teaching and preaching styles. Read it to be challenged, encouraged, and gain a deeper appreciation for the Old Testament and some of the most difficult passages within it.

  • Liz
    2018-10-14 23:26

    Getting Involved with God was a collection of essays on Old Testament Scripture, with each taking its own chapter. I especially liked the commentary on Job and the extensive look at the Psalms. Recommended for anyone who wants a closer look at the Old Testament.

  • Peggy L. Cromwell
    2018-10-11 19:29

    Great read.As a diaconal student, I found this book both informative & inspiring. If you spend time visiting people in hospitals or nursing homes, it contains many valuable nuggets for that ministry.

  • Judy
    2018-09-26 23:39

    If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. If you are looking to understand and appreciate the Old Testament and draw into a much deeper and more intimate relationship with God, then run (don't walk) out and get this book

  • Pastor Ben
    2018-10-08 21:49

    This was a good, solid book. It caused me to reflect and underline some things. I wouldn't call it a fascinating or enthralling book. It's like a good avocado.

  • Maria J.
    2018-09-28 23:42

    The best book I've had to read for school thus far! I can't wait to find more books that offer true (Biblical) insight into the mysteries of the Old Testament!

  • Matthew
    2018-09-29 20:39

    Not quite as amazing as her commentary on the wisdom texts but still very good, thoughtful and intellectual yet practical.

  • Julia Matallana
    2018-10-01 21:25

    I want to be her!