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Sing out for Justice: the poetry and passion of the Hebrew Prophets 

A good start for anyone wanting to explore for themselves just why we have prophets in our Bible, or to find afresh inspiration from them

Ray VincentSing out for Justice: the poetry and passion of the Hebrew Prophets
By Ray Vincent
Christian Alternative
ISBN: 978-1-78099-923-4
Reviewed by Stephen Copson

Ray Vincent approves of the poetry and the passion of the prophets. The poetry because it informed a tradition of speaking God’s truth into contemporary situations, not as doom-laden factsheets but as creative exercises in listening to God. The prophets breathed the air of poetic imagery and imagination, using story and metaphor and dramatic, even fantastical, imagery to make their point.

Equally he approves the passion of the prophets in their desire for the people to live up to their covenant relationship and work for peace, justice and the exercise of compassionate godly living.

The author describes how prophets functioned in the Hebrew scriptures: some as court officials, others in recognised schools and yet others lone outsiders crying against the encroaching darkness. He introduces us to Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and to the “Minor Prophets” (so-called by us and not them) and he alludes to the little known world of women prophets, Deborah and Miriam being the best-known and actually named.

The prophets spoke in a world of political expediency, of religious power and often communal amnesia about the expectations of Israel’s God to the poor, marginal and vulnerable. The future was not fixed because people could attend to God and change.

There are words shouted in times of war and in times of peace and plenty; there are enacted parables and sharp political comment, there are challenges to express the righteous dealings expected of those called by the covenant-making God to be his people, and an encouragement to resilience when opposition is overwhelming. Small wonder then that these books have provided inspiration for people down the generations, and for the contemporary preacher challenging material for her to wrestle with.

That they made a mark may be discerned because someone took care to preserve and present sayings for subsequent generations, sometimes drawing fresh meaning from old sayings in new contexts as the books were shaped into the form we have them. How many more spoke and have become invisible in the passage of time?

This short book would be a good start for anyone wanting to explore for themselves just why we have prophets in our Bible, or to find afresh inspiration from them.

Stephen Copson is a Regional Minister, Central Baptist Association

Baptist Times, 13/04/2018
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