Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Corporate Solidarity

Confession of sin in ancient Israel did not mean unravelling a lengthy laundry-list of personal peccadilloes, with the result that worship of God was turned into a narcissistic reflection on the self. Confession of sin in ancient Israel was a God-centred act of worship that included praise and thanksgiving. Confession of sin often meant recalling God’s gracious deeds for an ungrateful Israel, a humble admission that one was a member of this sinful people, a recounting of the infidelities and apostasies of Israel from early on down to one’s own day, and a final resolve to change and be different from one’s ancestors. Even apart from the question of one’s particular personal sins, one was part of this history of sin simply because one was part of this people.

In some cases, the great prayers confessing apostasy in the Old Testament are uttered by religious individuals who actually have taken no personal part in the nation’s apostasy, though they deeply feel their involvement in the deeds and fate of the people of Israel, from whom they draw their identity. This is the case, for example, with the deeply moving confessional prayers of Ezra [Ezra 9:6-15; Neh 9:6-37].[1]

[1] Meier, Marginal Jew II, 113–14

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