Yeshwanth Bakkavemana

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Jewish Concept of Eschatology

Introduction:

Philosophy raises questions about man’s existence and religion provides answers to these questions. However, not all religions provide a precise and decisive answer to these questions. Hinduism has circular view of life. So does Buddhism and Jainism. Islam presupposes a ‘sensual paradise.’ It is to be noted that all these religions present eschatology but a vague picture.

Now, coming to Jewish eschatology, one has to understand it as a ‘process.’ Jewish eschatology developed over the period of time giving more or less a concrete answer to the destiny of our creation but it forms a strong foundation for the Christian eschatology. In Christianity it is also called as “doctrine of last things.” It is viewed as history directed by God towards the end which in turn gives birth to a ‘new age.” Louis Berkhof states that “…the doctrine of the last things receives greater precision and carries with it an assurance that is divine.”[1]  Since ‘eschatology’ gives us an opportunity to reflect and act on the questions of human predicament and destiny, it becomes necessary and worthwhile to study about ‘eschatology.’ In this paper an attempt is made to understand Jewish eschatology as a “process” which is shaped by different expectations of Israelite traditions. It is worthwhile to know the definition of Eschatology before studying about Jewish eschatology.

Defining ‘Eschatology.’

The word ‘Eschatology”:

The word ‘eschatology’ is actually based on some of the texts like Isa. 2: 2 and Micah 4: 1- “בְּאַחְַרִית הַיָּמִים” which is translated as “in the end of days.” In Greek it is translated as “ejscavtaiz hJmevraiz” from which the word “ejscavtoz” is taken, which can be translated as “last.”

The word “Eschatology” has different connotations such as “farthest extent in space, final element of the time and last piece of money.”[2] When it comes to theology it is associated with the “last things” often understood in a “worldwide and historical sense.”[3] This is a “national”[4] understanding of eschatology. When it comes to individual ultimate fate, then it is related to “after life” aspect of eschatology.

 

 

Jewish eschatology and Ancient Near East:

Is Jewish eschatology uniquely Israelite in nature?  We already know that Israelite culture rose amidst of Ancient Near Eastern cultures. Greesman finds that the royal languages and ideology is very much present in ANE cultures. Gunkel finds eschatology in a larger context of ANE as Urzeit (Primal time) and Endzeit (endtime).[5] According to Gunkel eschatology is all about returning to Primal time from endtime. While Greesman and Gunkel baffling with this issue, Wellhausen narrowed Israel’s eschatology to “unfulfilled predictions of Israel’s prophets”[6] there by confining eschatology only to the Israelite frame work. This brings us to conclude that the ‘eschatological thoughts’ are not confined to Israelites. However, there are significant differences that we can spot. ANE religions present a vague picture of future whereas Jewish eschatology presents a concrete future. The other significant difference is the aspect of “progressive revelation”[7] in Jewish eschatology which we do not find in ANE religions. For our study purpose I would like to focus only on Jewish eschatology.

Apocalypticism and Eschatology:

The term “apocalyptic” is an adjective functioning as a noun, is synonymous with the noun “apocalypticism”, and both are transliterated forms of the Greek adjective ajpocaluvtico~ which means ‘revelatory and the term ‘apocalypse’ means unveiling, revelation.[8] The term ‘apocalyptic’ has now being used as a collective term, side by side with the generic term ‘apocalypse’.[9] The word “apocalyptic” can also be used as a “genre” of literature.

Eschatology is only an aspect of apocalypticism. It is often connected with apocalypticism but one has to be very precise in their approach when talking about “apocalyptic eschatology.” This is because of their respective chronological time frames in which both the concepts developed. Eschatology is not synonymous to apocalypticism but it acts as a compliment to the same. So, it becomes a characteristic of apocalypticism. Apocalypticism deals with the revelatory aspect of divine intervention and eschatology deals with the effects of this revelatory divine intervention through which God propels this history and transforms it into a new creation which is radically different from the “ordinary history.”[10] We cannot consider eschatology as a genre of a particular literature. This is because we find this both in prose and poetry.

 

The Concept of the Jewish Eschatology:

The concept of Jewish eschatology developed from different Israelite traditions. In other words it is a “progressive eschatology.” This is the reason why certain aspects connected to eschatology like death, resurrection and eternal life are very much vague but eventually developed over the period of different times. We have patriarchal tradition, Sinai tradition, Davidic or Zion tradition and Prophetic tradition. Jewish view of life is linear. Their existence in the present has expectations in the future. It is in this linear time line and out of different traditions; the Jewish eschatology has been developed.  In this paper I would like to present the factors that led to the development of Jewish eschatology from different Israelite traditions through different time-lines such as Pre-exilic, Exilic and Post-exilic.

Pre- exilic period:

Patriarchal tradition:
Pre-exilic period is characterized by Patriarchal traditions. The Jewish eschatology in fact starts in the pre-exilic period. If we observe the Abrahamic covenant/ promise, it is predominantly characterized by the promise of the land and progeny in the future. The promise that we find in Gen 12: 1-3 is progressive.

Here we see the patriarchs were looking ahead into the future as they were directed by Yahweh which is a significant characteristic of Jewish eschatology.  In Gen. 15: 18- 20, God states his promise in detail. The notion of land and progeny is one of the characters of Jewish eschatology where the people of Israel as a nation and land as inseparable.

It is this land which God has promised to Patriarchs was ruled by the monarchs of Israel. It is in the monarchial period Israel was constituted as a nation in Ancient Near East. The existence of Israel now is marked by their national identity under the monarchy. Eventually, this led Israel to anticipate a kingdom that lasts forever which is one of the factors that influenced in the development of Jewish eschatology.

Davidic/ Zion tradition:

Israel under David’s regime is secured. It is now identified as one of the nations in the ANE. Davidic promise assures a Davidic heir always on the throne (2 Sam 7). This promise supposes a ‘Just King’ and his rule would bring peace, fertility, righteousness and justice in the land in the future. So this expectation of Davidic promise is projected into the future which later becomes one of the characteristics of Jewish eschatology.

The second aspect of Davidic promise is the City of David/ Zion. It is both the divine residence of Yahweh (Ps. 46 and 48) and royal residence of Davidic heir. This gives a mythic outlook to the Davidic heir which is projected into the future. This tripartite composition of Monarchic tradition gives a symbiosis of a historical and mythical element. The phrase “Day of the Lord” culminates these two aspects which were emphasized by the prophets of exilic and as well as post-exilic periods. It has both positive and negative consequences. It is a “day of assault.”[11] It is an assault within and without of Israel (Amos 5: 18- 20; Isa. 2: 11- 17; Zeph. 1: 11- 2: 3; Joel 2: 1-2). This is something anticipated in the future which is phrased as “on that day” in post-exilic literature which is very much eschatological in nature.

Now during Exodus period Jewish eschatology appears with a different visage. During this time Jewish eschatology is conditioned by the Sinai covenant tradition. E. Sellin emphasizes the importance of Sinai covenant in the development of Old Testament eschatology. The general view of the future through eschatological perspective now becomes specific regarding their state of existence- a blessed nation or a cursed nation. In other words the obedience to the convent will assure an eschatological blessing otherwise an eschatological curse. This concretizes the future existence in terms of blessing and a curse.

 

Exilic period:

Prophetic tradition:

Let us discuss the development of Jewish eschatology in exilic period through prophetic traditions. Old Testament prophecy views eschatology in two ways- “this age and the coming age.”[12]  It is also to be noted that the prophets often applied their prophecies to their immediate time and contexts and may not necessarily related to the end.[13] However, the radical transformation of history by the divine intervention countered with different natural and supernatural events emerged.

Pre-exilic prophets or classical prophets were concerned about maintaining covenantal relationship. They have confronted the society to meet the covenantal requirements in order to have a blessed future. The message of these prophets was always in conflict with what Israel as a nation was expecting. The phrase “day of Yahweh”[14] has negative consequences. Prophets like Amos, Zephnaiah and Ezekial have foreseen a new age which would be encountered with “catastrophic punishment and a national annihilation.”[15]  Of course, the destruction of the temple, the defeat of Zion and downfall of monarchy is certainly not eschatological but it shaped the expectations of the Israel in future which is essentially eschatological.

However, we see another prophetic tradition conforming the possibility of a Davidic heir as we find in some of the texts in Jeremiah 21: 11- 22:30. Here we see an amalgamation of prophetic tradition and Davidic covenant tradition which gave rise to Messianic expectation.

So, before exile the prophets pronounced “eschatological doom.”[16] During the exile, they have been pronouncing “eschatological blessing”[17] in the future. This dualistic framework removed the delusion held by the people of Israel regarding their election at Mt. Siani as something that is permanent and secured but it is conditional.[18]  Of course this presupposes nation’s obedience. This requirement can be seen in Jer. 31; Ezek. 11. They call this as a “new covenant.” The three traditions including prophetic tradition gives rise to hope which is also a key factor in the development of Jewish eschatology.

Post Exilic period:

This period is very significant period in the history of Israel. The course of events that took place at this time completely changed Israel as a nation in terms of their religious, sociological, economical and political areas. During this time they were anticipating for a divine intervention that would bring out prosperity and peace to them and also would raise them up to their past glory. More specifically, this idea was prevalent in the early restoration period. They were looking forward to an eschatological blessing. This became an “early apocalypticism.” However, it did not happen as what was expected by the people of Israel. Their expectations were frustrated. If we compare the promise of blessing during exile in Isa. 54: 11 and also along with Hag. 2: 6 which was written in early restoration period to the course of events took place in 6th and 5th B.C; we see a conflict between the promises and what actually happened. The hope for the good future is linked with apocalypticism and doom is linked with eschatology. This aspect can be seen in Zechariah 9- 14.

A notion of new cosmic order with new kind of experience of time and nature which would transform the social and religious outlook of Israel from within and without was anticipated. So, there was a notion of a “new beginning.” This is apocalypticism where as eschatology deals with the “end.’’

To conclude, the development of Jewish eschatology has been shaped and influenced by Israelite traditions in pre-exilic and exilic periods and then found its way into Apocalypticism during post-exilic period. The events that are mentioned in the eschatological texts are the contents of eschatology.

 Implications:

By what we have discussed so far we can draw some implications from the Jewish eschatology. The first implication is that the message of eschatology is to prepare us for the “coming day of the Lord.” (Amos 4: 12). The second implication is regarding the immediate and the present time. How does the message of eschatology relevant to the present times? Does eschatology downplays the present time? The answer would be ‘no.’ As Herbert Lockyer states that eschatology has “immediate and most practical bearing on the present.”[19] It is relevant because it confronts our present state of living and thereby fashioning us in terms of conduct, spirituality to meet the requirements “eschatological blessings” and also convicts us of the obligation to serve God and our fellow human beings. There is always a sheer curiosity in man’s heart about the life after death. The third implication is that eschatology provides a concrete idea of “after life” of a man.

Jewish Eschatology and Missions:

How Jewish Eschatology does have its bearing on Missions? The Jewish eschatology ends with the anticipation of Messiah. This anticipation is still alive among the Jewish people today but in Christianity, this anticipation is fulfilled with the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus who inaugurated ‘the Kingdom of God’ in the here and now present. Humanity is heading towards to the final ‘eschaton (end).’ Missions is a preparation to meet this end. The eschatology convicts us in the present to act according to the requirements it poses in order to be the people of God in God’s “new Jerusalem.” God’s redemptive act doesn’t stop with an individual salvation. We are saved to serve God and to be his co-workers in his redemptive plan for humanity which culminates in his final intervention in history to “unveil” the curtain that separates our history in the here and now and the coming “new age.” So, what we need is “eschatological praxis” for missions which is directed towards future and at the same time “oriented to the here and now”[20] addressing the dichotomy between the history and God’s intervention, blessing and curse, evangelism and social obligation, the already and not. Therefore, Jewish eschatology does have its bearing on missions which finds its fulfillment in Christian faith.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

Jewish Eschatology progressively developed from the expectations of the promise of land and progeny in Gen. 12: 1-3. We can observe this progressive phenomenon through different events orchestrated by God to fulfill his divine purpose. Therefore, Jewish eschatology was shaped by the expectations rose from the course of events that has taken place in Israelite history. Since eschatology is closely connected with history it becomes very much relevant to study it, in order to understand the factors that influenced Jews to develop their eschatology. We can draw number of implications from our study. Jewish eschatology projects the sovereignty of God who is in control of our history ordering events in such a way that the present is confronted, convicted and consecrated in the light of his judgment that is yet to come. So, eschatology presents the “end” but it is also a starting point for the “new creation” in which the veil would be completely unveiled. This is “apocalypse.” In other words eschatology breaks into Apocalypse.

The other aspect of eschatology is “looking ahead” with hope. Hope for redemption from the oppressed structures. This hope gave rise to the expectations of a “God-King (Messiah)” who would come to redeem the people of Israel from the religious, economic and political oppression. However, Jews are still in this hope. Christianity presents a “complete eschatology” where this hope has already been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ and it consummates in his second coming.

What are the contributions of Jewish eschatology? Jewish eschatology is strong base for Christian eschatology. The other contribution is towards missions. We have to realize that Jewish eschatology was developed in the context of nations. Israel as a nation bears witness to God’s blessings by showing their loyalty to him and curses by breaching God’s law. Old Testament presents Jewish particularity of salvation and so also is their eschatology but in New Testament Jewish particularity develops into universality through Jesus. If ‘witnessing’ categorizes missions in Old Testament then it is ‘proclaiming and serving’ that categorizes missions in the New Testament. Eschatology creates urgency for missions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Aune, David E. Apocalypticism, Prophecy, and Magic in Early Christianity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2006.

Bauckham, R. J. “Eshatology.” New Bible Dictionary. Third ed. Hyderabad: Om-Authentic books, 1996.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1958.

“Eschatology.” New Bible Dictionary. Third ed. Hyderabad: Om-Authentic books.

Helyer, Larry R. Yesterday, Today And Forever the Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament. Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1996.

Koch, Klaus. The rediscovery of Apocalyptic. 22nd ed. London: SCM Press, 1970.

Lockyer, Herbert. All the Doctrines of the Bible. First Indian edition. Secundrabad: Om books, 2003.

Petersen, David L. “Eschatology (Old Testament).” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Schuster, Jürgen. Christian Mission in Eschatological Perspective Lesslie Newbigin’s Contribution. Edition afem-mission academics. Nürnberg, Germany: VTR Publications, 2009.

Zuck, Roby B., ed. Vital Old Testament Issues Examining Textual and Topical Questions. Vital Issues Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Resources, 1996.

 

 


[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1958), 662.

[2] David L Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament),” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (vol. 1; New York: Doubleday, 1992), 662.

[3] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[4] Larry R Helyer, Yesterday, Today And Forever the Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament (Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1996), 307.

[5] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[6] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[7] Helyer, Yesterday, Today And Forever the Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament.344

[8] David E. Aune, Apocalypticism, Prophecy, and Magic in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2006)., 1.

[9] Klaus Koch, The rediscovery of Apocalyptic (22nd ed.; London: SCM Press, 1970), 20.

[10] “Eschatology,” in New Bible Dictionary (Third ed.; Hyderabad: Om-Authentic books), 333.

[11] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[12] Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 666.

[13] R. J Bauckham, “Eshatology,” in New Bible Dictionary (Third ed.; Hyderabad: Om-Authentic books, 1996),333.

[14] For further study on “the day of the Lord” refer to Greg A. King, “The Day of the Lord in Zephnaiah,”  in Vital Old Testament Issues Examining Textual and Topical Questions, Roby B. Zuck ed.,(Vital Issues Series; Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Resources, 1996), 196-211

[15] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[16] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[17] Petersen, “Eschatology (Old Testament).”

[18] Helyer, Yesterday, Today And Forever the Continuing Relevance of the Old Testament, 309.

[19] Herbert Lockyer, All the Doctrines of the Bible (First Indian edition.; Secundrabad: Om books, 2003), 268.

[20] Jürgen Schuster, Christian Mission in Eschatological Perspective Lesslie Newbigin’s Contribution (edition afem-mission academics.; Nürnberg, Germany: VTR Publications, 2009), 180.

 

The Jewish Concept of Leadership

1. Introduction:

The word “Leadership” refers to a position or an office of any authority. The person who holds such positions of authority are called “Leaders.” When we talk about Jewish concept of Leadership, there were no offices in the beginning but they eventually evolved.[1] This is the reason the roles of the leaders are not defined. We see overlapping of functions. Jewish leadership is not just “out of the blue” leadership. It was incepted, delegated, constituted and regulated. The leadership that shaped out of these factors is very dynamic and transforming. It is because of such leadership the People of Israel were able to survive through their darkest days of their lives as a nation. In this paper, I would like to present some of the factors that shaped their leadership. Before examining the factors and principles that shaped their leadership, it is necessity for us to study the word “leader” in Hebrew so that we get a comprehensive idea about the way they used the word “leader.” Once the meaning of the word is established we can further probe into the different factors like the divine initiation of leadership in the context of theophany, Stewardship and its role and covenant and its role. This gives us a substantial idea about the development of Jewish leadership based on these factors, thereby giving us lot of insights to apply in the Church today.

1.1. The variants of the word “Leader” in Hebrew:

Let us observe some of the Hebrew variants for the word “Leader.” Here are some of the words in Hebrew and their meanings:

1. רֹאשׁ – Head

2. רַב – Royal official, military commander, professional supervisor

3. נָגִיד – Prince, ruler, leader

4. נָשִׂיא – Cheif

5. קָצִיד – Leader, Commander

6. אָדוֹן –master, Lord

7. מֶלֶךְ –King

8. עֶהדֹ –Shepherd

9. זָקֵן –Elder

10.כֹּהֵן  -Priest

11. שֹׁפֶט –Judge

12. נָבִיא –Prophet

13. מָשִׁיחַ –Anointed one/ Messiah

14. פָּקִיד –Officer, appointed official

15. סָדִיס –Enuch, a court official

If we observe these words we can imply that anyone who is in a responsible position is a “Leader.” Therefore, we see the need of leadership in all most in every field. Though the roles and functions are not defined the basic principle is same for an responsible leadership. Let us examine the underlying principles and factors for a responsible leadership which influenced Jewish leadership.

1.1.2. Divine Initiation of Leadership in the context of Theophany:

Before discussing this topic let me explain in brief about “Theophany.” The word theophony does not occur in the Bible. It is a theological construct. It is taken from two Greek words “θεοζ” (god) and “φεινειν” (to appear). It is the appearance of God. The Hebrew word used for the word “appear” is taken from the root word “ראה” which means “to see or appear.” The Niphal of this verb is used frequently in the context of God’s appearance. The Niphal root signifies “self-motivation” of the actor. Therefore, by this we can imply that God caused himself to appear to man.[2]

In the Old Testament, it is at the creation we see the first theophany that created the creation. It is in this context man was given “dominion” to rule the creation. In Genesis 1: 26, we see God giving “dominion” to man. It is a delegated authority. From patriarchs to heads of the clans, from the heads of the clans to elders of Israel, from the elders of Israel to the Kings, priests and prophets were always aware of their identity and responsibility under the leadership of Yahweh. However, this principle was grossly neglected time and time and again. Therefore, God used to raise leaders among them to make them realize who they are and what they are required to do.

The other principle of Jewish leadership is being “a blessing to the nations.” This principal can be seen in the patriarchal traditions. I would like to substantiate this by exegeting Gen 12: 3 which say, “They shall bless themselves in you all the clans of the earth…”

The parsing of the verb “וְנִבְרְכוּ” is Niphal w/c pft 3 com plural “to be blessed.” The root word for this verb is ברך. A niphal verb is the passive or middle voice of Qal.[3] It is reflexive. Here this word is used in the blessing and curse context. It is also related to the covenantal terms in the Old Testament.  “The niphal of “ברך” occurs only three times in OT (18: 18, 28: 14).”[4] Some English translations translate this word in a passive sense as “be blessed, find blessing and bless themselves.” The niphal stem reflects reflexive sense. This is the rarest usage in the Bible and therefore is difficult to extract the precise meaning of the verb.[5]

C. A. Keller states that, “an action completed on the subj., without viewing the subj. itself (hitp.) Or another person (pu.) as the author of the action.”[6] Therefore, the clans of the earth who are at the receiving end can experience and participate in the blessedness of Abraham who in turn was blessed by Yahweh.[7] This “blessedness” is not something that is inherent to Abraham but is a delegated one. It is in the context of God’s theophany Abraham received the promise of progeny and land. God calls him “Abraham” which means the father of the nations. His leadership was initiated by God. His leadership should be a blessing to those who know him and also who do not know him.

1.1.3. Stewardship and its role:

Stewardship is an attitude. To define ‘Stewardship’ it is necessary for us to examine the Hebrew and Greek words for ‘Steward or stewardship’ in order to understand it more precisely. I would like to investigate the meaning of this term and its practical usage that influenced Jewish Leadership.  In Gen. 43: 19, the Hebrew phrase, “אֶל־הָאִישׁ אְַשׁר עַל־בֵּיתו” means “the man who is over a house (literal translation).” This is translated as “steward.” The other variant in Hebrew is “עַל־בֵּית” which is also translated as “who is over a house” (literal translation). In other English translations this word is translated as “steward.” As stated earlier that stewardship is an outcome of God’s deliberate delegation of power and authority to man. It is worthwhile to study the word “dominion” to understand the role of man as a Steward. What does the word “dominion” means in Gen. 1: 28? Is it suppressive authority that God bestowed?

It is necessary to understand the meaning of “dominion” to define the word Stewardship and to understand the role of a steward. The Hebrew word that is used for the word “dominion” is “רָדָה” (rdh) which is a common Semitic word.[8] It occurs 27 times approximately in the Hebrew Old Testament. The Lexical data presents two different meaning. One is “rule”[9] occurring 24 times and the other one is “take, seize”[10] occurring 3 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.[11]

Keeping the above data in mind let us explore its varied meanings. This word is basically used for a human action in which humans are objects.[12] We also see its usage to represent the dominion of a king as we see in Ps. 72: 8. There are only two texts which diverge from the usage of this word which presents humans as objects. They are Joel 4: 13 (3: 13) and Gen. 1: 26, 28. In the former the object is winepress and in the later it is the earth and the whole animal kingdom.[13] In Joel 4: 13 (3: 13) the word used is “treading” which means “trampling under the feet” which in turn projects the image of tyranny.

Authority in itself is not a primary concern but it exists in relationship with others. As Lofink points out that dominion is secondary to relationship.[14] It is very obvious in Gen. 1: 26 where we see God facilitating man to have relationship with his environment through his dominance which is a delegated one. The word “כבשׁ” which is translated as “subdue” is almost synonymous as Westerman points out. [15] Subduing is a blessing and so also dominion. It simply means putting something to be used. I agree with Gross who says, “…human dominion is a power bestowed by God and must serve to maintain God’s order.”[16]

a) Definition of Stewardship:

So far we have studied the etymology of the “stewardship.” Now let us see how this word has been defined in the 21st century. Webester’s third New International dictionary in 1962 defined stewardship as:

“the aspect of the religious life and Church administration dealing with the individual’s responsibility for sharing systematically and proportionately his time, talent, and material possessions in the service of God and for the benefit of all mankind.”[17]

This definition is formulated under the influence of the statement formulated by The United Council of the Churches of Christ. Out of 150 that were suggested, they have adopted the following definition:

“The practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities, and material possessions, based on the conviction that these are trusts from God to be used in his service for the benefit of all mankind in grateful acknowledgment of Christ’s redeeming love.”[18]

If we carefully observe above two definitions we can identify two characters of stewardship- Individual and corporate. Both of these characters are not to be understood differently but they are inherently intertwined together in stewardship. Hegel uses “corner stone”[19] as a metaphor to explain this phenomenon. The individual character of a “corner stone” deals with the maintaining one’s place in the wall. In order to maintain our place in the wall, first we need to be faithful to God and should be having constant relationship with him. The second one is wisdom to use God-given abilities, resources and opportunities to make ourselves strong.

The Corporate character of a “corner stone” deals with “bearing one’s burden.” The strength to bear one’s burden comes out from the strength that is acquired individually by maintaining his place. The strength that comes out of one’s personal integrity will eventually strengthen others as he bears their burden. Bearing one’s burden involves “giving ourselves” to others as 2 Cor. 8: 5 says. Jesus Christ has already established a “paradigm for true stewardship.” Christ’s life, death and resurrection is the “nerve of our stewardship,”[20] so, it is in this paradigm we see a full culmination of individual and corporate character of stewardship. The task of a steward is to consciously aware of this phenomenon and he should be mindful of divine sovereign will and his responsibility. T. A. Kantonen authenticates this by saying, “nothing is more important to stewardship than to grasp clearly and retain firmly this profound casual relation between sovereignty and human responsibility.”[21]

b) Theology of Stewardship:

The Household connotation of the word “Stewardship/ steward.”

So far we have studied Semitic usage of the word Stewardship. Let us turn our attention to its theology. In order to have a complete comprehensive idea about “stewardship” we have to consider New Testament usage of the word “stewardship/ steward.” In doing so we would be able to understand theology of stewardship. The Greek word for “steward” is ‘‘ὀικονόμος.” The Greek word for “stewardship” is “ὀκονόμια.” These both terms comes from the Greek noun “ὀικος” which means house.[22] Interestingly there is no particular word for family.[23]Therefore we can probably say that Stewardship is not based on biological relationship. It is based on mutual service.

c) Christology of Stewardship:

Our stewardship in God’s household in not ultimate in itself. It falls under the overarching stewardship of Christ. Christ as God’s son exercises his authority on the household to which we are appointed as stewards. This exactly what Eph. 3: 1-6 says.
It speaks about the overarching stewardship of Christ. There is a significant difference between our stewardship and Christ’s stewardship. We are as servants were given the responsibility of stewardship and Christ, as a son was given responsibility to oversee the God’s household. [24]

Phil. 2: 5-8 portrays a true picture of Stewardship. It is Christological in its content. It speaks about how Christ fulfilled the role of a steward. He has set an example for us to imitate him. In other words our stewardship should reflect Christ in our content and action. Our stewardship should have “Christological content.”[25] Now, let us carefully examine Phil. 2: 5. This particular passage projects a “paradox.” The meaning out of this paradox is very rich and profound. The paradox here is bring equal to God and not considering himself to be equal to God, but considered himself to be slave in human form to the extent of death in obedience to God’s will. In other words Christ’s stewardship is the center of the God’s “ὀκονόμια” (economy).[26]

d) Stewardship in God’s economy:

From the Christological perspective we have observed the overarching stewardship of Christ, the paradigm of true stewardship and the place of Christ’s stewardship in God’s economy. Now, let us consider God’s economy. What is God’s economy? What is significance of stewardship and purpose in God’s economy? What is base for stewardship in God’s economy?

God’s economy is God’s plan of salvation. It is his dealings with his creation for reconciliation. What God does is the base for stewardship. The act of God involves creation and redemption which is an ongoing effect.[27] We will observe Stewardship and God’s economy keeping in the mind the initial questions – election, redemption, consummation (eschatology).

e) Stewardship and election:

The doctrine of election is biblical according to Hedlund.[28] This is purely by the grace. We can see this aspect in the calling of Abraham in Gen. 12: 1-3 and then God fulfilled his promise of making Abraham’s seed “a great nation”. This great nation is people of Israel to whom God reaffirmed his purpose of choosing them and also his free and gracious choice in electing them as his people.  Here, in this election, people are set apart from the other nations and they are the “showcase”[29] God’s redemptive act and also his grace in the midst of nations.

This election by God is not without responsibility but it is with a responsibility of a service. This where stewardship steps in.  Blauw was quoted by Hedlund rightly said that election of Israel is not so much the object of the divine but as subject of service asked for by God…”[30] Of course Israelites are the objects of God’s election but they are selected in order to carry out God’s purpose. Our election calls for accountable responsibility[31] and responsible accountability through our living and practices. Stewardship is not only marked by service but also by blessing.

The call of Abraham involves three great themes that we see them recurring in the Bible after Abraham- descendents, covenant relationship, and the land. Professor Buck Hatch of Columbia views this promise as of something in progress. He calls this as “the progress of doctrine” which is stated in Gen. 12: 1-3 and he calls this as “the seedbed of all scriptures.”[32] The election of Abraham is only a starting point to impart blessings upon the nations by his seed. Blauw a quoted by Hedlund says that “the election of Abraham (and implicitly of Israel) coincides with the promise or prospect of blessings for the nations.”[33] The promise given to Abraham is passed on to Isaac, Jacob and to his 12 sons and now to all the nations. God affirmed and reaffirmed his promise to the patriarchs. It is through Israel God Chose to bring salvation to the nations. “Ultimately Israel’s election would be extended to the whole world by the suffering servant.”[34] Through these elected people God has involved one kind of cross-cultural missions. As these people were asked to come out of their places their missionary work has extended to all families of the earth overcoming cultural barriers.

The missional perspective which we have observed above presents an obligation and responsibility to act. Since we were elected by grace and blessed in order to be a blessing, the purpose of stewardship has humanitarian and spiritual dimensions. Election helps us to realize our worthlessness and God’s grace thereby helping us to be sensitive towards the suffering of the others. Blessing helps us to realize that our blessings are not confined to individual prosperity but also to be a channel of blessing to the others. The realization of these two dimensions encompasses the true meaning of stewardship. Therefore election is the first base for Stewardship.

 

 

f) Stewardship and redemption:

In God’s economy redemption plays a very significant role. It is God’s active dealing with his creation in order to redeem it from its own predicament. Redemption is also the second base for stewardship. Redemption in Exodus is central to OT. This one was constantly referred back by the prophets on and on and again. This is like Christ’s redemptive act on the cross in NT. God, through Moses disciplined them, and organized them in and through their forty year journey in the desert. Many scholars see this redemptive act with missiological purpose like distinction, display, deliverance and distinguishing.[35]  God who redeemed this insignificant people wanted to show other nations that these insignificant people are significant (Ex. 8: 22-23), he showed his display of power to Egypt and plagued their gods and proved them “his power is far greater than any other power”, he delivered them as it is central focus of his redemptive act to show the nations these people are witness to his glory. We are redeemed to serve. Our redemption is to serve God through our witnessing him to the people around us in practice, word and deed. Therefore, redemption is the second base for Stewardship.

g) Stewardship and covenant:

In the broader view of covenant what is the significance of stewardship? The Hebrew word for “covenant” is “ברית.” This word connotes a meaning of a treaty, an alliance of friendship, a pledge or agreement between the individuals, a constitutional relationship between a monarch and his subjects, between God and man accompanied with signs and symbols, a solemn oath that is sealed with stipulated rules with blessings and curses. In all these different meanings we see a common streak i.e., “relationship.” So, therefore “covenant” means “entering into an agreed relationship.” The functionality of the covenant depends upon the stipulations that were constituted. Stewardship to the covenant is expected by God.

God has already entered into a covenant with Abraham in Gen. 12: 1-3. The progressive nature of God’s economy becomes very much obvious. After Israelites were redeemed from the bondage of slavery, they were directed towards a “ re-affirmed covenant relationship”. This relationship is so unique that it binds them together. Covenant is so significant it “personalized Israel’s election” in their mission to the nations as directed by God. The people of Israel became a theocratic nation.  Now, Israel is a representative of God to other nations.”[36] They are now a witnessing nation which would attract people to their own fold. The mission motif is a centripetal theme. Those who are convicted in their heart to follow the covenant of the Lord, they are free to come and be a part of Israel. There is no going out here in this model. “The demands of covenant are holiness, loyalty, and service.”[37] God made Israel as a priest to the nations. They are the missionary force of the nations. This missionary force is nothing but Israel’s reflection to the covenant and their obedience. Blessing and curse are implications of this covenant. The nations around them would eventually see the effects of this covenant and they get convicted. Missionary visage of Israel powered by their “covenant” with God is nothing but delegated responsibility which is the third base for stewardship.

h) Stewardship and consummation (eschatological):

The economy of God is progressing towards the final consummation. In this process “stewardship” enables us to act according to the expectation of God. The final consummation calls for an “accountable responsibility”[38] through our living and practice. If eschatology is preparation to face the final consummation then stewardship is a means to prepare. Stewardship and eschatology should go hand-in-hand. Eschatology convicts us in the present to act according to its requirements in order to be a “citizen” in God’s New Jerusalem. God’s redemptive act doesn’t stop with an individual salvation. We are saved to serve God and to be his co-workers in his redemptive plan for humanity which culminates in his final intervention in history to “unveil” the curtain that separates our history in the here and now and the coming “new age.” The urgency which is felt in the light of eschatological realization is met with stewardship to meet the final end. Hence, eschatological consummation becomes the fourth base for Stewardship.

1.1.4. Covenant and its role:

The other factor that needs to be analyzed and studied would be Covenant and its role in constituting and regulating the leadership of Israel. In order to investigate this aspect we have to study of the word “Covenant” and it’s meaning in Ancient Near Eastern culture and also in ancient Israel should be researched and should be able to bring out the uniqueness of “Covenant” in Israelite leadership. After defining the role of
Covenant in constituting and regulating the powers bestowed to the polity of Israel we have to consider its role played in Nohadic, Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic traditions. While studying Davidic covenant, it is necessary for us understand the tension between Theocratic and monarchic covenants. The result of this research would be that we would be able to comprehend its role in shaping the leadership of Israel which acts a bridge between God and his people.

 

a) The word “Covenant:”

The word in Hebrew for “Covenant” is “בְּריִת” which is used differently with regard to the subject and object associated with this word. It is used to describe the nature of relationship between two human parties. The nature of their relationship would be of a treaty, alliance or a league (Gen. 14:13; Ob 7; Gen. 21: 27 & 31 etc…).[39] It is also used to describe the nature of relationship between God and Man. It would be of “alliance of friendship, as a divine constitution or ordinances with signs or pledges (Ps. 25: 14, Gen. 9: 9-17; Isa. 54: 10; Gen 15: 18; 17: 2-21, Ex 24; 6: 4-5; Ex. 19: 5; 24: 7-8; 34: 10, 27, 28; Lev. 2: 13; Nu. 25: 12-13; Jos. 24: 25; Ps. 89: 4, 29, 34, 39; 132: 12; Jer. 33: 21; Jer. 31: 31; Isa. 42: 6, 49: 8, 55: 3; Ezek.16: 60, 62, 20: 37, 34: 25; Hos. 2: 20).”[40]In contrast to the word “Covenant” which is a modern translation for the Heb. Word “בְּריִת” Kutsch uses the word “obligation.”[41] He further substantiates by studying its etymology. Etymologically this word comes from Akkadian subst. which literally means “fetter,” figuratively “binding agreement.”[42] In order to have an agreement there must be two parities with a common consent and obligation to “make” a covenant and “keep” the covenant. The common technical phrase used for “making a covenant” is “כָּרַת בְּריִת” which is generally accepted one[43] and it is between two equal parties.[44] In this context, I go in line with Martin Noth’s assumption that “בְּריִת” is derived from Akkadian preposition (birit) which means “between.”[45] This is used in the context where there are two equal parties.

The other known phrase is “כָּרַת בְּריִת לָ־” which is translated as “covenant with/ for” indicates “covenant granted by a superior”[46] and received by an inferior. From the form analysis we call this as a “Suzerian type” of covenant. This type of covenant is very common in ANE region. In this we can observe that the covenant is made by the superior king with a vassal king. In this type of covenant the ideal structure as observed by Mendenhall is[47]:

a) Identification of the deity who is giving the covenant

b) Historical prologue- the past deeds of the deity

c) Stipulations[48]

d) Provisions for deposit and periodic public reading

e) List of witnesses to the treaty

f) Blessings and curses

g) The ratification ceremony[49]

By considering the above analysis of the meaning of the word “covenant” I would like to define it as an “’self-imposed obligation’[50] on the deity who makes the covenant with humanity, thereby humans have an “responsive obligation” to perpetuate their relationship with the deity enjoying the intended blessings and curses in case of breaching it.” Therefore, the people of Israel are religiously in “bilateral relationship”[51] with Yahweh.

b) The role “covenant” in different Israelite traditions:

As we have established the meaning of “covenant” we have to observe its role played in different traditions in shaping Israelite leadership. This study is very complex as it poses textual, structural and exegetical problems. This is mainly because of the tension between patriarchal and monarchial covenants. This does not mean that they are contradicting each other but it shows difficulty in accommodating each other. Let us now study the role of “covenant” in different traditions in shaping of the leadership in the Ancient Israelites.

       I.            Noahic Covenant:             

We cannot say Noahic covenant is “suzerain type” of covenant. However, it has some features attached to it. To enter into in to a covenant it is prerequisite to be in relationship with the covenant giver prior to the enforcement of the covenant. In this regard I would like to disagree with Mendenhall who opines that covenants create relationships that are not in existence before.[52]The reason is that we cannot establish a covenant without some kind of relationship. We can observe Noah was in relationship with God prior to the making of the covenant by God (Gen. 6: 9c). This is a predominant feature in any ANE covenants. So also in Suzerian type of covenant.

This is a covenant between God and man. It is one sided. God covenanted with Noah promising that he would never flood the earth. We need to observe that this covenant is made in the context of “natural relationship.”[53] According to Goldingay, there was no need of covenant between God and man before the fall as they are already in perfect relationship with each other. After the fall this perfect will has been distorted but man retained some capacity to enter in to relationship with God. After the fall what Covenant did was, it concretized man’s relationship with God.

In order to understand the role of covenant we have to analyze the stipulations imposed on the human subject by the deity. By a superficial look at the Noahic Covenant we do not see any stipulations being imposed on Noah by God. Obedience is the implied “responsive obligation” by Noah to God’s establishment of Covenant with him. The very fact of the deluge is because of disobedience and rebellion of the people. Therefore, it can be easily implied by Noah that obedience to the covenant will ensure him the reception of blessings by God (Gen. 9: 1-17). It is this obedience as a “responsive obligatory” shaped Noah’s leadership in his family to enter and meet the expectations of God. The seal of this covenant is a rainbow.

    II.            Abrahamic Covenant:

Abrahamic covenant is predominantly identified with the promise of land and progeny. It is as simple as Noahic covenant. We can identify some features of Suzerian type of covenant. In Gen. 15: 1-21, God identifies himself with what he did (identification and historical prologue). God “makes” covenant with Abraham. The technical phrase for this kind of covenant making is “כָּרַת בְּריִת לָ־” which speaks of the deity who causes himself to enter into covenant with human subject who by no means has a capacity to enter into covenant with the deity. This “making” of covenant is illustrated in Gen. 15: 7- 11. The aspect of “cutting” covenant is later on incorporated in sacrificial rituals. This act is used as a sign by God who passes between dismembered animals. It means that if God fails to keep his covenant the same fate as that of the dismembered animals be fall on him.[54]

If there are no explicit stipulations then how can we understand the role of covenant in the Abrahamic tradition that shaped their leadership? With a dexterous observation of the text Gen. 15: 12-16, it speaks about God’s plan of leading the offspring of Abraham into the Promised Land in relation with the judgment on Amorites (v.16). In this regard it is implied that Abraham and his offspring should not walk in the ways of Amorites or any other Ancient near eastern kingdoms that God is going to judge. This “implicit expectation” has shaped Abraham to lead his clan according to the will of God. It is a “responsive obligation” which was externally projected by a sign of circumcision. In the midst of the blessings pronounced by God, Abraham was never ignorant of God’s expectation which is obedience. This “obligatory obedience” was practiced later by his offspring.

 III.            Mosaic covenant/ Sinai covenant:

Sinai Covenant is of “suzerain type” of covenant. It is an enactment between two parties which is based on relationship. A superior king makes covenant with a vassal king. So, there are certain stipulations for the vassal king to follow in order to meet the expectations of the superior king.[55] The stipulations are “regulatory or conditioning factor” of Ancient Israel’s social and religious dimensions. This type of Covenant has provided a framework of “apodictic type” of laws in the Old Testament.[56] In order to understand the role of Sinai covenant in shaping the leadership of Ancient Israel it is necessary for us to study briefly about the form of laws and its differences with ANE law codes. We have to keep in mind these written law codes are the content of the covenant.

 

  1.        I.            Difference in form[57]:

There are two types of forms in which the Laws were written in Ancient Near East including the Biblical authors. They are apodictic laws and Casuistic laws. Apodictic laws are general in nature and mostly imperative. Alt looks this form uniquely Israelite.[58] The other form is also called as ‘Case law.’ It is a conditional sentence with ‘if-then’ form. Almost all the Ancient near East law codes are of this form.  However some scholars disagree with Alt because we can find “second person imperative statements”[59] in the Hittite vassal treaties. However, it is important to note that the majority of ancient near east law codes are of casuistic form and apodictic usage is very limited.[60] Scholars like John H. Walton and Finkelstein agree with this aspect. Now the second aspect is regarding the casuistic usage by Biblical authors. Walton points out that though the Biblical authors used casuistic form in writing down the laws in which we have observed a strong “prohibitive apodictic”[61] in its function.

In the first place we have to distinguish between the functions of law collections and the law in general. However, both law and the law collections are very much interrelated. The difference is all law collections does not include the total meaning of the “Law.” John H. Walton agrees to this asked by saying, “…but the legal collections cannot be synonymous with the “law,” for not all of the “law,” is covered by the legal collection.”[62]

As we have analyzed some of the law collections we have come across some significant differences and also some striking similarities.[63] In the light of this study when compared with the content of ANE law codes and Biblical law codes they both differ in their emphasis. While the later emphasis on Civil laws and the later on religious laws. When compared according to their respective forms, the former emphasis on casuistic form and the later on apodictic form and its influence on its casuistic formation of laws. Due to this we found differences in their functions. Cuneiform law codes are descriptive and often the king who is responsible for well-fare of the society and its well-being by making use of these laws where as Biblical law codes is of ‘covenantal.’[64] Biblical law codes are mainly to maintain relationship with Yahweh. This is the reason why Biblical law codes function as an “admonitory.”[65] They function as warnings and cautions regarding on how to maintain a right relationship with Yahweh and also with the community. However, we see this function in Cuneiform laws but what distinguishes Biblical law codes and its functions with that of Cuneiform is ‘Holiness of Yahweh.’ To maintain holiness was always expected from the people of Israel as their standard of being holy is Yahweh. This aspect is uniquely Israelite in nature as we do not see this aspect in Cuneiform law codes.

The apodictic laws in the Pentateuch reflect Ancient near eastern type of treaty form such as Decalouge. They function as absolutes by which an Israelite should practice as it is rooted in the holiness of Yahweh which demands holiness and a standard moral and ethical behavior individually and also relationally in the community. Now, the casuistic laws are “community’s fulfillment of its contractual obligations.”[66] These laws are also connected with the Covenant. We see a spiritual aspect in the function of Biblical law codes and the “Law” which is absent in the Cuneiform law codes and in their functions.[67] We can arrive to a conclusion that Sinai covenant indeed is instrumental in shaping Israel into a nation and also its political, economical, religious and household leadership functions.

 

  1. IV.            Davidic Covenant:

Mendenhall uses the word “charter” for covenant.[68] It is defined as “written grant of rights by a sovereign.”[69] According to him there are three different charters. 1) Covenant of Noah (Gen. 9: 1- 17) – A promise to never deluge the earth, 2) Covenant of Abraham (Gen. 15) – Promise of Land and progeny, 3) Covenant of David (2 Sam. 7) – promise of rule.[70] He opines that Sinai Covenant is only an “ideological legitimization of the existing status quo.”[71] In other words nothing new has been created. It is also a “suzerain type” of covenant where Yahweh is the deity establishes covenant with David.

Deut. 17: 14- 20 presents the limitations of a King, who ought to rule the people of Israel. These stipulations which acts as a “regulatory or conditioning” of the power bestowed in the hands of the rulers points out the “loving devotion” of the vassal king towards his deity. This is Dtr main feature to “love” Yahweh through “obedience and fidelity.”[72] We can conclusively say that Davidic Covenant ensures a Davidic king as a Vassal to Yahweh who would be instrumental in channelling covenant blessings to the people of Israel.[73] The protection and blessings of Yahweh on Davidic Vassal depends upon his fidelity. Unlike the covenant before Davidic Covenant, the covenant is not only for David but also it extended to the people as well (2 Sam. 7). However, this leads us to the tension between Covenant and monarchy. We should see the different aspects of this issue in order to understand how this tension shaped the leadership of Ancient Israel.

 

a)      The tension between the Sinai covenant (theocratic leadership) and Davidic covenant (Monarchic leadership):

The question that arises out of this tension is whether the concept of monarchy is in line with Sinai Covenant. We have to examine this aspect dexterously as it has the potential to lead us to two extreme view points. We have to keep the complexity involved in this issue as we further our analysis. Based on our detailed analysis we need to observe how this tension shaped the leadership of Israel.

It is necessary for us to understand this tension from an historical perspective. In an attempt to understand this I would like to consider four texts  that echoes this tension in the Old Testament. The first one is the limitations and requirements for a King in the Law thus providing a platform for the possibility of a King (Deut. 17: 14-20). The second one Gideon’s denial of being a king in Judges (Jud. 8: 22 -23) which complimented with one more narration of Abimelech futile attempts establish monarchy (Jud. 9). The fourth one is Israel’s request for a king (1 Sam. 8: 1-22). Once we analyse four incidents then we would be able to understand what are the factors out of these incidents shaped the leadership of Israel.

The two incidents in Judges, i.e., Gideon’s denial of becoming king over Israel (Jud. 8: 22-23) and Abimelech’s brutal attempt in becoming a king (Jud. 9) presents a common conviction of most of the Israelites have. The common thought of rejection of monarchy is carried out through out Judges. Elazar also opines the same in this regard.[74] However, we still observe other set of people who are in favour of monarchy (Jud. 8: 22). Abimelech’s attempt of establishing monarchy is a non-ratified and forceful act which ends with his downfall with three years of his monarchy by God’s intervention. Now, coming to 1 Sam. 8 presents Samuel’s unpleasantness over Israel request for a king and also the need for monarchy arising out of the crisis around them. It is only a “response to necessity”[75] stemming out of the insecurity caused by the threatening powers around them, apostasy of the priestly office of Eli and Samuel’s son’s unfaithful attitude. All these incidents substantiated the need for having a stronger leadership. It doesn’t mean that Israelites completely rejected Yahweh’s kingship but they needed some human agency under Yahweh’s leadership to lead them. This analysis gives us enough details to integrate Sinai covenant and Davidic covenant which are in no way in contradiction with each other.

 

b)     The Integration of Davidic covenant into Sinai covenant:

This attempt to integrate Davidic covenant into Sinai covenant will throw light into the role played by the covenant in regulating the monarchical leadership under Theocratic leadership. We have already discussed about Sinai Covenant. It is of “suzerain type” of Covenant which is established by the superior king with the Vassal king. There are some expectations that a Vassal king has to meet in order to maintain his relationship with the superior King who provides protection and blessings to the Vassal. In Davidic Covenant, the promise of Davidic ruler (human agency) is given by Yahweh to David. This human agency is a main feature of monarchy as a result of God’s promise to David.[76] This treaty provides a space for blessing and curse attached to the expectations that ought to be met by the king. This dimension is often echoed by Prophets. C. Schedl integrates kingship to this prophecy.[77] Deut. 17: 14- 20 presents the limits of a King[78]. This shows that a Davidic king is not absolute in his authority but his authority is under the divine leadership of Yahweh. This shaped the monarchical leadership.

 

 

 

1.1.5. Implication:

            Jewish leadership was shaped and regulated by Covenant to which they are supposed carry out their “responsible obligation” as Stewards. Their leadership was initiated and later constituted by God which was predominantly characterized by his theophanic manifestations and private revelations (in case of Davidic leadership). In order to arrive to this conclusion we have started out by analysing how the word “leader” is used in Ancient Israel. We have observed that this word is used differently according to the context and the responsible position of a person in Ancient Israel. The purpose of the Jewish leadership is to be “a blessing to the nations” which is a result of God’s inception of leadership in different contexts of his manifestation.

As Israelites were set apart to be “a blessing to the nations,” they were also obligated to serve God in order to be a blessing. This service dimension substantiates their relationship with God. In other words it is stewardship to oneself and stewardship to God’s calling. In order to arrive to this conclusion we have discussed the role of Stewardship in shaping Jewish leadership in Stewardship through their election, redemption and their role in God’s economy of salvation. This leads to conclude that Stewardship is theo-centric in Jewish leadership which finds its fullness by incorporating Christo-centric praxis (Christian leadership).

If Stewardship is service then Covenant is a “conditioning” factor of Jewish leadership. As stewardship provides proper understanding of “domain” as a “delegated authority” in the context of blessing, Covenant regulates this authority through its stipulations. In order to maintain their identity as people of God, they have to stewards of “covenantal expectations.” Kings, priests and prophets are called to be guardians of Covenant. The guardians of Covenant are not above the covenant. Covenant limits their power.[79] This dimension is something to be seen in “self-limiting” power of Omniscient God. In order to arrive to this conclusion we have started out by studying the etymology of the word thereby establishing its meaning in ANE region. After which we have studied the ideal structure of “Suzerian type” covenants which parallels Biblical covenantal forms. After understanding the broader meaning and structure of the Covenant we have analysed its role through four different traditions. The common streak that unites all these tradition is the aspect of “responsive obligation.” We have seen how each of the covenants of different traditions shaped their leadership according to their situation, context, need and found fulfilment in the other. We also have discussed the tension between the ideology of Theocracy and the monarchy by observing the historical profile of Gideon and Abimelech. Keeping this as our historical context we have analysed two texts Deut. 17: 14-20 (thesis), Judg. 8: 22-23 (antithesis) and 1 Sam. 8: 1-22 (synthesis). We have arrived to a conclusion that within the covenant we have a provision to accommodate Kingship ideology. This drove us to integrate Davidic Covenant into Sinai covenant to show that the ideology of kingship is not in contradiction to the Covenant (theocratic) but it is only “second-best” option as a “response to the need” of the insecure federal league of Israel.

a) Application: Church context

What are the insights that we can draw from these factors that shaped Jewish leadership? In what way we can address the leadership crisis in our Church today? The dynamism of Jewish leadership presents us with rich insights to address the crisis of leadership in Churches as well para-church organizations. The fact that our leadership in churches and para-churches is the inceptive work of divine will of God should convict us to be stewards of God’s “delegated authority” to us. Our dominion should be a blessing to others. If we fail, our authority leads us to tyranny. To carry out a successful stewardship we need to be aware of God’s Lordship over us and expectations that ought to be met individually as a leader and corporately as a Church or as an organization.  Therefore, the factors that shaped Jewish leadership provide us with an appropriate pragmatic approach to address the crisis of leadership in our Church.

 

b) Outline of the rest of the research paper:

The rest of the research paper deals with the dynamism of Old Testament leadership by applying these factors by observing some historical profiles and relevant texts. As we progress our research we will encounter different conflicts between the Old Testament leadership offices. The purpose of our research is providing some probable solution. Therefore, we will look for solutions that can accommodate the tension between the Old Testament offices and also bringing out coherence and consistency in their functions and as well in relation with each other. We also investigate whether the proposed solution reflects any theological model. As we arrive to this point we would be then left with rich insights and applications to address the crisis of leadership in our Churches today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brown, S. R, S. R Driver, and G. A Briggs, eds. “בְּריִת.” Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Corrected impression. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952.

Elazar, Daniel J. “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions.” The Covenant Tradition in Politics. New Brunswick (U. S. A), London (U. K): Transaction Publishers, 1995.

Finkelstein, J. J. “The Ox That Gored.” Transactions of the American Philosophical society 71: 2. Philadelphia, 1981.

Fox, Frampton F. Down to Earth A Biblical Theology of Missions. Revised Edition. Chennai: Mission Educational Books, 2008.

Goldingay, John. “Covenant, OT And NT.” The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.  Edited by Katherine Doob Sakenfeld. Vol. 1. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006.

Greengus, Samuel. “Bible and ANE Law.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 4. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

—. “Law.” Pages 250-251 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 4. New York: A B D Doubleday, 1992.

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Harrison, R. K. “Law in the OT.” Pages 77-84 in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.  Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Vol. 3. 4 vols. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986.

Hedlund, Roger E. God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context. Delhi: ISPCK, 2008.

Kantonen, T. A. Stewardship and Christian Doctrine.  Edited by T. K Thompson. Stewardship In Contemporary Theology. NY: Association Press, 1960.

Keller, C. A. “ברך brk Pi. to bless.” Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament.  Edited by Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann,  Translated by Mark E. Biddle. Vol. 1. First printing. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

Kutsch, E. “בְּריִת.” Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament.  Edited by Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann,  Translated by Mark E. Biddle. Vol. 1. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Martin, Lee Roy. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew. Cleveland, Tennessee: Biblical Studies Insititutes, 2005.

McCarthy, D. J. Old Testament Covenant A Survey of Current Opinions. Growing Points in Theology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1972.

Mendenhall, George E. “Covenant.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 1. NY: Doubleday, 1992.

Nicholson, Ernest W. God And His People Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament. Repr. New York: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Pritchard, James B., ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating The Old Testament. Second Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955.

Reumann, John. Stewardship & the Economy of God. Grand Rapids, MI: WM. Eerdmans Publishing company, 1992.

Rooker, M. F. “Theophany.” Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentatuech.  Edited by T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker. First Indian edition. Secundrabad: Om-Authentic books, 2007.

Sonsino, Rifat. “Forms of Biblical Law.” The Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 4. New York: A B D Doubleday, 1992.

Walton, John H. Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context. Second edition. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990.

Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis. Vol. 1. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: Word Books, Publisher, 1987.

Zobel, H. J. “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad.” Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] The evolution of Leadership offices in the Old Testament is all together different area of research which falls outside the perimeter of this research.

[2] For a detailed study refer to M. F Rooker, “Theophany,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentatuech (ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker; first Indian edition.; Secundrabad: Om-Authentic books, 2007), 859- 864.

[3] Lee Roy Martin, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (Cleveland, Tennessee: Biblical Studies Institutes, 2005), 77.

[4] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis (vol. 1; Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas, TX: Word Books, Publisher, 1987).

[5] Wenham, Genesis, vol. 1.

[6] C. A Keller, “ברך brk Pi. to bless,” in Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (ed. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann; trans. Mark E. Biddle; vol. 1, First printing.; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), 274.

[7] Keller, “ברך brk Pi. to bless.”274.

[8] H. J Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 331.

[9] The refrences for this word in Hebrew Old Testament are: Gen. 2, Lev. 4, Num & Deut, 1 Ki. 3, Is. 3, Ez. 2, Joel 1: 1, Ps. 4, Lam, Neh, 2 Chronicles.

[10] The refrences for this word in Hebrew Old Testament are: Jud 2, Jer. 1

[11] Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 331.

[12] Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 331.

[13] Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 331.

[14] Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 334.

[15] Zobel, “רָדָה rāda; רָדָה rāda; רָדַד rādad,” (ed. Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry), 335.

[16] H. Gross, “מָשַׁל masal; מֹשֶׁל mosel; מִמְשָׁל mimsal; מֶמְשָׁלָה memsala,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Ringgren Helmer, and Fabry Heinx- Josef; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 71.

[17] John Reumann, Stewardship & the Economy of God (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. Eerdmans Publishing company, 1992), 4.

[18] Helge Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship (trans. Gene J. Lund; Minneapolis, Minn: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), 5 as quoted by  John Reumann, Stewardship & the Economy of God (Grand Rapids, MI: WM. Eerdmans Publishing company, 1992), 4.

[19] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 190.

[20] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 190.

[21] T. A Kantonen, Stewardship and Christian Doctrine (ed. T. K Thompson; Stewardship In Contemporary Theology; NY: Association Press, 1960), 160.

[22] In Hebrew it is “בית.”

[23] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 22.

[24] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 55.

[25] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 53.

[26] Brattgård, God’s Steward A Theological Study of the Principles And Practices of Stewardship, 54.

[27] Reumann, Stewardship & the Economy of God, 117.

[28] Roger E. Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context. (Delhi: ISPCK, 2008)., 24,

[29] Frampton F. Fox, Down to Earth A Biblical Theology of Missions (Revised Edition.; Chennai: Mission Educational Books, 2008)., 41.

[30] Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context., 25.

[31] Reumann, Stewardship & the Economy of God, 117.

[32] Fox, Down to Earth A Biblical Theology of Missions., 43

[33] Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context., 25.

[34] Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context., 27.

[35] Fox, Down to Earth A Biblical Theology of Missions.,62-63.

[36] Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context., 55.

[37] Hedlund, God and the Nations A Biblical and Theology of Mission in The Asian context.,57.

[38] Reumann, Stewardship & the Economy of God, 117.

[39] S. R Brown, S. R Driver, and G. A Briggs, eds., “בְּריִת,” in Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (corrected impression.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), 136.

[40] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “בְּריִת,” 136.

[41] E. Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” in Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (ed. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann; trans. Mark E. Biddle; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers), 256.

[42] Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” in בְּריִת (ed. Jenni and Westermann; trans. E. Biddle), 257.

[43] Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” in בְּריִת (ed. Jenni and Westermann; trans. E. Biddle), 257.

[44] D. J. McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant A Survey of Current Opinions (Growing Points in Theology; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1972), 3.

[45] Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” in בְּריִת (ed. Jenni and Westermann; trans. E. Biddle), 257.

[46] Ernest W. Nicholson, God And His People Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament (Repr.; New York: Clarendon Press, 1988), 3.

[47] George E. Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ed. David Noel Freedman; NY: Doubleday, 1992), in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1180-81.

[48] For detailed study on the form of “Law” codes see Samuel Greengus, “Bible and ANE Law,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), in Bible and ANE Law, 250-251.

[49] Ratification ceremony means a procedure of authorizing the “covenant that has been made” before it is enforced. Often it is accompanied by a ceremony.

[50] Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” (ed. Jenni and Westermann; trans. E. Biddle), 258.

[51] Kutsch, “בְּריִת,” (ed. Jenni and Westermann; trans. E. Biddle), 257.

[52] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1179.

[53] John Goldingay, “Covenant, OT And NT,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (ed. Katherine Doob Sakenfeld; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006),768.

[54] Goldingay, “Covenant, OT And NT,” in Covenant, OT And NT (ed. Doob Sakenfeld), 1:768.

[55] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1180.

[56] For the detailed study on the form of laws see Greengus, “Bible and ANE Law,” in Bible and ANE Law, 250-251.

[57] For detailed study read Rifat Sonsino, “Forms of Biblical Law,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ed. David Noel Freedman; vol. 4; New York: A B D Doubleday, 1992)., 252- 254.

[58] Samuel Greengus, “Law,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ed. David Noel Freedman; vol. 4; New York: A B D Doubleday, 1992), 250-251., 245.

[59] Greengus, “Law.”, 245.

[60] John H. Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context (Second edition.; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990)., 81.

[61] Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context., 81.

[62] Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context., 83.

[63] For detailed study on the Ancient Near East law codes consult. James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating The Old Testament (Second Edition.; Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1955)., 159-197.

[64] J. J Finkelstein, “The Ox That Gored,” in Transactions of the American Philosophical society 71: 2 (Philadelphia, 1981)., 5. As quoted by  Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context.,89.

[65] Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context., 89.

[66] Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Context., 89.

[67] R. K Harrison, “Law in the OT,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley; vol. 34 vols.; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986), 77-84.

[68] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1188.

[69] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1188.

[70] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1188.

[71] Mendenhall, “Covenant,” in Covenant (ed. Noel Freedman), 1:1188.

[72] McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant A Survey of Current Opinions, 15.

[73] McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant A Survey of Current Opinions, 50.

[74] Daniel J. Elazar, “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions,” in  (The Covenant Tradition in Politics; New Brunswick (U. S. A), London (U. K): Transaction Publishers, 1995), 322.

[75] Elazar, “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions,” 323.

[76]K Elazar, “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions,” 323.

[77] McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant A Survey of Current Opinions, 49.

[78] Kingship as second-best alternative see Elazar, “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions,” 324.

[79] Elazar, “Covenant & Polity in Biblical Israel Biblical Foundations & Jewish Expressions,” 1.

A Transforming and Dynamic Spirituality

A man of God once said, “The question of my bread is the question of materialism and the question of my neighbor’s bread would be of spiritual question.”  Spirituality is not confined only to the four-wall structures but it has to penetrate the thickest perverted layers of this society. In other words, Spirituality is not only a private matter but also it is a public matter. We have to pause and ask ourselves a question- What is spirituality? Is Spirituality confined only to meditating scriptures and prayer? Is it related to the number of days that we boast about fasting? Is it about the quantity of time that we spend in prayer? My answer would be ‘NO.’ Spirituality is not a static power. I cannot comply with anyone who regards spirituality as something confined only to the ‘four-walls.” What we need is a “Praxis spirituality” which is transformational and dynamic. Keeping this in view, I would like to entitle my sermon as “A Transforming and Dynamic Spirituality.”

A Transforming and Dynamic Spirituality:

I would like to talk this topic by interpreting three different texts from the Bible in order to substantiate my stand.

1. Spirituality is relational: God is the basis for ethical and moral aspect of Spirituality

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” John 15: 4

Spirituality is our relationship with God. It is a communion with God. We can sense the meaning and purpose of our existence in reference to God. This is not an absorption into the divine as Hindu Spirituality views. It is an ethical relationship with the Divine which is a true Christian Spirituality. Let me explain this more vividly. Mystical type of Christianity is only centered around the religious experience but the ethical type of Christianity is living rightly which is the outcome of the personal relationship with Christ. This is what exactly it means by the phrase “Abide in me as I abide in you.” John 15: 4. David Boyd in his book “Indian Christian Theology” says that “Abide in me” is the “chief end of man.”

Mother Terresa was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast held on Feb 3rd, 1994 at the White House, United States. All the participants who were assigned to speak were given strict instructions as of not to speak anything controversial. There were many heavy hitters like Algore and his family alongside the President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton. However, Mother did not get that notice. Particularly on that day she spoke against ‘abortion’ which strongly sounded controversial. In her speech, there were many issues which are in disagreement with Clinton’s view on abortion. One of the reporters asked him to comment on her and here is what he said, “How can anyone argue with a life so well-lived?”

Her life speaks about how she translated her spirituality to transform the society. It is only because she “abides” with Christ and Christ “abides” in her. We can see the fruits of her spiritual life. Therefore, our spirituality should be grounded in God and thereby transforming the society around us.

2. Pseudo- Spirituality: A Hypocritical Spirituality

V3. While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.

V4. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of the summer.

Ps. 32: 3-4

These two verses speak about David’s failure to confess his sin that he has committed with Bethsheba. He not only failed to confess but also he pretended everything is alright. This is what it means when he says “while I Kept silence…” This is called Pseudo-spirituality.

Four-walled Spirituality:

          A man’s true character is not what he is from outside but what he is behind the closed doors where no eye is watching him. Our relationship with Christ should confront us when we are vulnerable. Sometimes, it so happens we tend to give a deaf ear to the sweet gentle voice of the Holy Spirit and try to live a pretentious life.

“Holier than thou” Spirituality:

For some it is “holier than thou” attitude. They ostracize others thinking that they are more spiritually matured than the others. As men and women of God there is always a danger of falling into this trap. Our hearts become hard because of our failure to confess and start decaying spiritually. This is what the phrase “…my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” means. The consequence of being in this state is explained in V. 4- “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of the summer.”

Evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart was an icon in 1970’s and 80’s. He is thought to be one of the pioneers of televangelism in America. He rose to such a height. He preached powerfully. He brought a fresh air to evangelism. However, he had led double-lives. He was involved in adultery. In 1988, in front of his congregation and family he confessed. However, he was again caught with a prostitute in 1991. Here is a man of God who is into God’s service; a spokes-person for God led a double-life. He led pseudo- spirituality and a hypocritical spirituality. The worst part of it is that during the time of his hideous sin he preached great sermons. Be Watchful. Be careful. Look out for traps.

What is Spirituality then?

          In the light of what has been said, let me explain what is spirituality? In Luke 20: 21- 26, we see the cunning motif of Scribes and Chief priests to trap Jesus in his own words and how Jesus responded making them speechless. In verse 22, they ask Jesus whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Ceaser. Jesus knows their cruel intentions and he shows them a coin and asks them “whose image is on it?” They answered “Ceasor’s.” Then Jesus replies by asking them them to give to ceaser what is ceasor’s. Dr. Ravi Zacharias in one of his seminars talks about this by saying that if he had been in that place with Scribes and Chief Priests he would have asked them “what belongs to God?” Jesus might have answered by saying, “whose is image is on you?” It is God’s image and give that to God because it belongs to God. Therefore spirituality is all about giving ourselves to God.

Spirituality and Social responsibility:

          As I have explained the basis for a transforming and dynamic spirituality, now let us see what the Scripture says about being spiritual. This is to answer the question that was posed in the beginning- Is Spirituality confined only to meditating scriptures and prayer? In Luke 25: 31- 46, we come across Jesus talking about the judgment of the nations. We see a king who comes to judge two different groups- righteous and the accursed metaphorically represented as sheep and goats. The righteous were rewarded because they translated their spirituality to transform the society. The other group was doomed to have eternal punishment because they failed to translate their spirituality to transform the society. The punch line of this passage would be “‘truly I tell you, Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” There is one classic quotation by Mother Terresa. When one reporter asked her that what she would see in a destitute? She answered him with a smile saying, “the face my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.” I think this quotation sums up everything that I am trying to say.

Conclusion:

          To conclude, I would say that this is a wake up call for us today. If we think we rooted in Christ then we have responsibility to take the love of Christ to those who are weary, needy, people suffering from sickness, drug addicts, homosexuals, AIDS victims, gangsters, prostitutes, Naxals, terrorists and last but not the least to your neighbor. Are we doing this so far? Or are we just comfortable in these confines of Church and meditating only the word of God neglecting the moral and ethical implications that it carries? We emphasize on the structures and polity of the Church. We allow the structures to dictate theology. Let us break these bonds that are binding us from doing what the Word of God convicting us to do. Let us be a “light” for this world, “salt” to this world. We are God’s ambassadors in this world. Therefore what we need is “a transforming and dynamic spirituality.” For this cause God has called us to do. When God calls us, it is not a mere abstract concept that we can play with in our mind but it is the sum and substance of our whole existence. So, let us wake up my friends, fellow-missionaries, fellow-ambassadors.