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singing (and versing up) Jesus' words on God, "the fruits of/ the way of," and a kerygmatic message (note one)

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Hi Bob and all, As you start with the message of Peter in Acts, I want to write an addendum note about an important facet about how the kerygmatic message came
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2009
      Hi Bob and all,

      As you start with the message of Peter in Acts, I want to write an
      addendum note about an important facet about how the kerygmatic
      message came to be. My claim is not that this was all that was
      involved in producing what surely came to be later core messaging,
      but that it is an important part of what folded together to produce
      and share this messaging. This facet is singing (and poetic verse
      recitation.) In my paradigm I am focusing on this being one of the
      activities done "at table." My textual warrants for this come from
      the post War, deutero-Pauline letter of Colossians and that snippet
      that Jesus and friends are said to have sung after "the Last
      Supper." These are late, but I think very suggestive of what did go
      back to Jesus' time. As I want to address singing in response to
      Jesus' words, singing up the Kingdom Way early after he was gone, and
      then finally "singing and versing up" the kerygma, I'll send this in
      three separate notes for the sake of focus and brevity. The relevant
      texts that push me to write about this are these (with highlights):

      "And let the word ***of Christ*** dwell in you richly; teach and
      admonish one another ***in all wisdom***; and with gratitude in your
      hearts ***sing*** psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God." (Col.
      3:36)

      "When they had ***sung*** the hymn, they went out to the Mount of
      Olives." (Mark 14:26)

      My view is that singing is something that was a regular part of table
      fellowship. I think one thing that Jesus' own words evoked was
      singing about what his language was pointing to... the highlighted
      teaching and admonishment "in all wisdom." (so, note #1). I think
      that "the fruits of the Spirit"/ "way of wisdom from above"/ "way of
      Life" was shared by singing and poetic verse recitation. So to
      speak, singing arouses spirits. In other words, a sharing of the
      presence of being amidst God's rule as exemplified by the table
      fellowship was found in singing/ recitation. (so, note #2) And it is
      from the above practice and from the great song book of the Jewish
      tradition, the Psalms, that we can find the core language about
      celebrating God the Father, the Parabolic Christ (the messenger
      embodied as the message) and the Spirit. (so note, #3).

      So here goes and what I am going to provide are a few exemplars of
      what may have well have been sung and/or shared by poetic recitation:

      1. singing in response to Jesus' wisdom words about God and the
      nature of God's rule:

      Jesus asked this rhetorical question as a lead into a parable: "With
      what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use
      for it?" (Mark 4:30)

      Psalm 78:1-4 begins with a stanza about parabling and the nature of
      what is entailed in parabling. I will note the close of verse 4:
      "...we will tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the
      Lord, and his might, and the wonders he has done."

      Jesus' favored paradigm for speaking about God was in terms of God as
      king. Psalm 97 is but one short song that begins with the
      exclamation that: "The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice...."

      Jesus spoke this aphorism about the way of God's rule: "God makes
      his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the
      righteous and on the unrighteous."

      Psalm 29 is a lovely song of declaration about the universal power of
      God's ruling voice and one that closes with these words: "May the
      Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless us with peace!"

      Jesus spoke of God's care by posing this question and observation:
      "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is
      forgotten in God's sight." (Luke 12:6)

      In Psalm 84 which celebrates the joy of worship in the temple, verse
      3-4 notes the following: "Even the sparrow finds a home and the
      swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your
      altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who
      live in your house, ever singing your praise."

      Jesus spoke: "If two make peace in a single house, they will say to
      the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move." Again, see the
      close of Psalm 29. Note verses 11-14 in Psalm 34: "Come, O
      children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Which
      of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good? Keep your
      tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from
      evil, and do good: seek peace and pursue it." And then note
      especially the closing verses of Psalm 85:8 ff. "Let me hear what
      God will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his
      faithful, to those who turn their hearts to him... Steadfast love and
      faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each
      other...."

      An interesting coincidence: Martin Abegg and his co-authors note in
      their intro to their DSS Scrolls translation that the top 3 books
      cited/ referred to in the Canonical NT are Psalms (86 references),
      Isaiah (63 references) and Deuteronomy (39 references) and that this
      order parallels the numbers of copies of mss. found in the Dead Sea
      finds. We have those above mentioned citations about singing,
      inclusive that Jesus is said to have done it on at least one
      occasion. We do not have a list of songs sung and so we must guess.
      But considering that song singing and poetic verse saying is a
      primary oral art, (My young grand children can sing lots of songs
      they hear on the radio (and this includes my 3 1/2 year old
      granddaughter who does know at least some lines.) and that we have
      this whole great work of Psalms, I think such hymns/ verse that I
      cite above are both what stands behind these selected sayings and
      that most probably such Psalms were sung in response to the wisdom
      sharing Jesus did at table. The particular questions and aphorisms I
      chose for this note particularly "point" to God's Kingdom rule and
      the nature of that rule (most especially "the peace way" part). I
      think Jesus and friends were a singing bunch and that the direction
      we later find is that it is important to continue this. The shared
      event of singing "stirring songs" and listening to "stirring poetic
      verse" is profoundly "spiritual." Such stirs up spirits. So I offer
      these Psalms as suggestions for what may have indeed been sung by
      Jesus and friends at the table.

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
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