Lectionary Reflection on the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Deuteronomy (BTCB) by Telford Work, commenting on Deuteronomy 6:1-9:

The greatest danger to God’s words is not that anything superior would overpower them but that careless trustees would lose or corrupt them. So Israel is called not to shout, force, or defend them with any power of its own, but simply to keep the commandments of God and so persevere (Rev. 14:9-12).

As Moses commends God’s words to Israel on the border of the promised land to honor God’s deeds on both sides of the Jordan, so Israel is to inscribe God’s words along the thresholds of its homes and cities. No boundary restricts or delimits the scope of God’s economy. Mezuzot turn the potential distracts of landed prosperity (–>6:10-12) into occasions to remember and reflect on the future as well as the past.

Oral and written tradition are one while remaining distinct: Moses’s words are written and recited, but talked about in every setting of everyday life. Oral Torah is interpretive, interactive, and expansive written Torah. Both are God’s instruction through Moses. Each is the life of the other, and neither the stable written and memorized forms nor the changing conversational and inculturated forms are redundant or dispensable.


©2009 by Telford Work. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.