Robert Ellsberg


Times of social turbulence make good times to revisit the Hebrew prophets. They were not prognosticators, except in the sense of understanding the moral law of cause and effect. The prophets read their historical situation through the lens of God’s covenant—and in that light measured their nation’s “greatness”—or its dereliction—in terms of such values as mercy, justice, and care for those on the margins.

Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev provides a fresh and inspiring review of this tradition in The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets: Then and Now. The prophetic journey, he shows, is rooted in the original Creation narrative and shaped by the story of the Exodus and the Deuteronomic covenant. But he goes beyond scripture to show how that liberating journey continues in the work of such contemporary figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Heschel, and bell hooks. In his Foreword, Walter Brueggemann, one of the foremost scholars on the prophets, writes, “I finished this book with waves of wonder and gratitude.”

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