Corporate and Individual

sheepIn biblical studies these days, you can’t get very far before you bump into the truism that while Western culture is individualistic through and through, ancient cultures are family- and tribal-oriented. Concepts that stand out as conundrums to us, like the “we were in Egypt” of the Passover Sedar, seem unremarkable to them.

But the other day in a little talk he gave, my colleague William Atkinson pointed out something that seemed unremarkable to individualistic me, but that must have sounded quite odd to ancient ears: Psalm 23. Even though he comes from a corporate-culture mentality, and is comparing God to a shepherd, this is a shepherd who is not portrayed with a whole flock. Instead, “the Lord is my shepherd, shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me …” etc.

Fascinating.

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