Archives For Context


Samuel Taylor ColeridgeTo A Critic
Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Who extracted a passage from a poem without
adding a word respecting the
and  then derided it as unintelligible.

Most candid critic, what if I,
By way of joke, pull out your eye,
And holding up the fragment, cry,
‘Ha! ha! that men such fools should be!
Behold this shapeless Dab!–and he
Who own’d it, fancied it could see!’
The joke were mighty analytic,
But should you like it, candid critic?
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“The Kingdom Has Come and Is Among Us

A review of
The Gospel in Solentiname.
By Ernesto Cardenal

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

The Gospel in Solentiname.
By Ernesto Cardenal
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

The Gospel of  Solentiname - Ernesto CardenalBecause the word made the world
we can communicate in the world.


I am yes. I am Yes to a you, to a you for me,
to a you for me.
People are dialogue, I say,
if not their words would touch nothing
like waves in the cosmos picked up by no radio
like messages to uninhabited planets,
or a bellowing in the lunar void
or a telephone call to an empty house.
(A person alone does not exist.)

Ernesto Cardenal,
from “Cosmic Canticle”

Nicaraguan poet, priest, and Sandinista revolutionary Ernesto Cardenal lived for ten years on the archipelago of Solentiname, in Lake Nicaragua; the Sunday gatherings of the campesinos had at its heart a conversation based on the day’s Gospel reading. Cardenal recorded, transcribed, and edited these conversations into The Gospel in Solentiname, just republished all together in a new edition from Orbis Books.

The ongoing conversation, situated in a particular people and place, reflects the sensibilities contained in Cardenal’s poetry; his poetry, likewise, can be instructive as to the context in which the Gospel is shared. The Word of God, as expressed by Cardenal and by those at Solentiname, is at its heart communal, that is to say, without a word, without a sharing of life together, there can be no love, there can be no Kingdom of God. The radicality of the Gospel is that it comes to earth, to the oppressed, in Christ, and then in a people, and that it is predicated on love – as an economy, a politics, a comprehensive ordering of all life. And furthermore, it is particularizing, dwelling in a people and in a place.

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A Brief Review of the
First Two Books in the “Ancient Context, Ancient Faith” Series

The Bible and The Land.
( Ancient Context, Ancient Faith #1)
Gary Burge.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
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Jesus, The Middle Eastern Storyteller
( Ancient Context, Ancient Faith #2)
Gary Burge.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now: [ ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The first two books, both by Gary Burge, in the “Ancient Context, Ancient Faith” series have just been released by Zondervan.  Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, does a fine job at setting an introductory historical — and to a lesser extent theological — context for certain biblical texts.  The first book in this series is THE BIBLE AND THE LAND, and it provides a basic contextual explanations for essential biblical elements like Land, Wilderness, rock, water and bread.  Burge’s work, albeit rather elementary in content, serves as a good introduction and the book itself is a really nice piece of work with glossy pages and relevant color photography supplementing the text on almost every page. Unfortunately, this first volume in its broadness — covering a specific set of terms across the whole of Scripture — does not cohere as well as the second one.  This second volume, JESUS, THE MIDDLE EASTERN STORYTELLER, is a lot more focused, namely on the parables of Jesus, and I imagine will prove to be a more useful text.  Similar in style and layout to the first volume, it begins with a brief introduction on the world in which these stories were told.  Burge writes in a super accesible style, occasionally weaving in a story from his own experience that sheds light on a particular topic.  He does a fine job at making sense of biblical texts, especially the parables of Jesus in volume two, in which the story’s significance has been obscured by our historical distance from the culture into which the story was originally told.  Either book would be appropriate for use in a Sunday School class or Bible Study group, but I believe that readers will find the second volume, on Jesus’ parables to be clearer and more helpful.