"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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A Voice in the Wilderness
John 1:19-34 Commentary
by Thomas B. Slater
We often refer to John the Baptizer as a voice crying in the wilderness.
John’s message of the need for repentance and righteousness as well as his rather unorthodox appearance brought to mind the prophets of old in Israel’s history (see 1 Kings 1:8; Isaiah 40:3; Zechariah 13:4; Malachi 3:1 and 4:5). John stood out from the crowd. People wondered if he was sent to prepare people for the Messiah or if he might be the Messiah himself or if he might be another messianic pretender. And so they asked, “Who are you?” (John 1:19)
This question belies the quest for a savior or deliverer which recurs throughout human history. Joseph Campbell calls it the quest for “the hero.” Campbell studied religious stories around the world and found a recurring pattern in human society, the hero. The hero was born and raised in obscurity. Normally, the heroine/hero is unaware of her/his destiny until a crisis arises which requires the skills peculiar to her/him. The hero/heroine faces insurmountable odds, comes close to failure, but finally overcomes ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL299: A Voice in the Wilderness
December 31, 2017
This is the podcast for John 1:19-34, the Narrative Lectionary reading for Dec. 31, 2017, featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Karoline Lewis. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.