Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Calling of Abraham


Morning Reading - Genesis 12-14
Evening Reading - Matthew 5:1-26

In our morning reading from Genesis, we begin the "patriarchal" history, which recounts the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These stories are full of human drama and tragedy; we witness God working through imperfect men and women to bring about the fulfillment of his promise.

The calling of Abram (later renamed Abraham) is sudden and unexpected. We don't know anything about Abram before his encounter with the Lord and we have no indication why the Lord selected Abram as the one through whom he would establish his covenant. Nevertheless, chapter 12 of Genesis sets the course for the entire history of salvation. You may recall that Matthew's genealogy that we read last Saturday traces the lineage of Jesus back to Abraham. The promises that were given to Abram and his descendants were ultimately fulfilled through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The challenge before Abram was to leave behind all the normal sources of identity, his family and land, in order to go to a land that the Lord would reveal in the future. In other words, Abram did not have a clear picture of where he was going before he began his journey, but rather stepped out in radical faith and dependence on God. As we continue to read the story of Abram and his descendants, we will witness the steadfast faithfulness of God even in the face of human disobedience.


  1. I meant to ask this before, but is there a preferred version of the Bible I should be using. I know translations vary widely, so I was wondering if there is a version the Episcopal Church recommends or considers official. Is there a standard for scholars?

  2. I know things were different then and I have a way of taking things very literally and never deep and profound but I think it is very LAME the way Abram treated his WIFE to avoid trouble!

  3. Over the past several decades various translations of the bible have been produced. In the academic world, the standard version that most scholars use today is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). All of our liturgical readings on Sunday are taken from this translation. Before the NRSV, there was the Revised Standerd Version, which some scholars still use. During this period, the evangelical branch of the church produced the New International Version, which is also a good translation, although some of Paul's language is not as accurate. Personally, I use the English Standard Version (ESV). It is along the same lines as the NRSV, but from a more conservative theological point of view.

    Also, the Message Bible, which is a contemporary paraphrase of the bible can also be helpful. It was written by a New Testament scholar named Eugene Peterson, so it attempts to be true to the substance of the original Hebrew and Greek.