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Embodiment and the Prophetic Message in Isaiah’s Memoir

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SPS Presidential Address 2017

image of Pneuma

In the Isaiah memoir, the prophet refers to three children that function as signs that embody his message. The signs of all three children are connected to the political situation of the Syro-Ephraimite Crisis preoccupying Judah at that time. The physical presence of Shear-Jashub (Isa 7:1–9) emphasized the immanence of the prophetic word. It highlights a value of the prophetic community of Isaiah: that a prophetic word, like embodiment, is present. The second child, Immanuel (Isa 7:10–16), highlights the importance of the physical presence of bearers of the prophetic message as imperative to the prophetic message. That is, the message of Isaiah relied upon the prophet and those that embodied his signs to be visible in the community, even when their presence was uncomfortable and unwanted. The third sign (Isa 8:1–4) is produced by the collaboration of Isaiah and the woman-prophet. This highlights the prophetic community of Isaiah as a discerning community that emphasized inclusivity as imperative. Like Isaiah’s community, the pentecostal family both historically and today identifies itself as a prophetic community. Isaiah’s memoir reminds us that prophetic communication should be relevant and immediate. A prophetic community addresses real-world problems and offers solutions that promote the holistic well-being of people and creation in their context. A prophetic community is committed to embodying its message. Yet, while this community is embodied and located in a culture, it needs to see beyond its own culture and the political challenges of its location. While it is important to identify and address the theological and social issues of each location, however, this should not be the sole lens through which we envision the future of Pentecostalism and the future of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.

Affiliations: 1: Alphacrucis College, Parramatta, Australia


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