When a seventeen year old student of mine threw out the expression, “What you talking about Willis?” to a good friend a few years ago, it begged the question – Did she have any idea where the expression came from?
She had the tone of voice right, but she had absolutely no idea how an expression from a classic seventies sitcom had transcended time and culture to become a part of twenty first century teen slang.
Her example serves as a starting point in understanding a problem that I, as a member of western society, have every time I open up and read my Bible. I read expressions like “the blood of the lamb” and have an understanding of the concept of a sacrifice that has saved me from my sins, but having not been raised in a society where animal sacrifice is a part of the very fabric of every day life, I can only acknowledge that my understanding lacks a depth that resonates to the core of my being.
And then there is the curious term Abba. A Hebrew word that first century Jews used to talk affectionately about their earthly fathers, Jesus shocked his contemporaries by using it as a term of endearment for the great “I Am”, God himself. I am told by preachers that it was scandalous to followers of Judaism who saw God as so holy that they would leave out the middle letter of G_d, lest they somehow mispronounce it and offend.
Having no Jewish roots, I have to believe that once again, I am missing the magnitude of this shift from a God no one felt comfortable addressing to the loving, father God, Abba. How can I ever understand Abba?
Chaim Potok, the Jewish author of The Chosen, gave me my first real insight into understanding this shift. A story of two boys, brought together in the classic playground brawl and reconciled to best friends, The Chosen takes the reader into the heart of the Jewish communities of Brooklyn, New York during the final days of World War II and the genesis of the new Israel.
It is in this setting that Revuen Malter and Danny Sunders explore friendship, faith, Freud and fathers, and while the story centers on the first three, it is the latter, fathers, that seems most important.
Throughout the novel, the boys’ fathers play like background music at a department store. Slowly, patiently though, Potok turns up the volume until in the end, the reader wonders if the story wasn’t so much about two sons after all.
Perhaps The Chosen is a novel about two fathers; Abba and G_d.
The story has done much to help me understand the magnitude of the endearing Abba that Jesus chose to call his father as well as appreciate anew the G_d we are called upon to revere and fear.
So if you too have a deep desire to grow in your understanding of the God of the Old Testament and the Abba father of the New, pick up The Chosen and listen for the heartbeat of the love of the father, God.
- Ages: 14-99
- Awards: National Book Award Finalist
- Pages: 272 Pages
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
by Aaron Myers