By Penny Mulvey
New Testament scholar, prolific author and former Bishop of Durham, Professor NT Wright (pictured), presented the JD Northey Lectures at Wisdom’s Feast last month.
More than 80 Uniting Church members, both lay and ordained, gathered at the Centre for Theology and Ministry for the annual four day program of teaching, creative reflection, worship and fellowship.
In his first lecture Prof Wright provided his audience with an overview of the Old Testament. His focus on Exodus demonstrated that without the narrative of God’s chosen people, as captured in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament cannot be fully understood.
The second lecture looked at Paul’s letters in the context of the Old Testament, reminding the listeners that Exodus language lies at the heart of Pauline language.
“If we want to be a Gospel people into the future we need to be Scripture people too,” Prof Wright enthusiastically told Wisdom’s Feast,
“otherwise our work is likely to be in vain.”
The second keynote speaker, Dr Elizabeth Boase, director of studies and lecturer in Old Testament studies at Adelaide College of Divinity, challenged the feasters with two lectures focusing on Lamentations and community in trauma. There is nothing easy, pleasant, or joyous in the book of Lamentations. It is a story of pain, horror, violence and suffering inflicted on the people of Israel after their exile from Babylon.
Dr Boase believes these texts help a community construct meaning, as it is written in a time of crisis and trauma. It tells of deep humanity and, if understood, can help church communities live with trauma.
“A lament text is a text which says God can and will act,” Dr Boase explained. “God, in the end, is the solution to the problem. Only time is the hope for the future.
“Lament provides space for our hardest emotions, our anguish, our pain. It is a long way from normal praise, but it is honest. It affirms the reality of our suffering.”