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Leap Over a Wall is Eugene H. Peterson’s vibrant, insightful, and heartfelt exploration of one of the Bible’s most controversial figures: King David. Peterson beautifully elucidates the Old Testament’s rich depictions of David's failures and victories, recapturing their excitement and immediacy to reveal David himself as a crucially human example of how we relate to God. A vision brought to life by one of the world’s most respected and influential theologians, the author of The Pastor, The Jesus Way, Practice Resurrection, and The Message—a bestselling contemporary translation of the Bible—Leap Over a Wall is a unique opportunity to reconnect with David, a man simultaneously admirable, soulful, and dark, and one of the most complex and vital characters of the greatest story ever written.
|Product dimensions:||7.80(w) x 5.28(h) x 0.61(d)|
About the Author
Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, a bestselling translation of the Bible, is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College, British Columbia, and the author of over thirty books. He and his wife, Jan, live in Montana.
Read an Excerpt
David And Jesus
I Samuel 16 to I Kings 2
All Jesus did that day was tell stories -- a long storytelling
afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy:
I will open my mouth and tell stories;
I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.
-- Matthew 13:34-35
I Had A Storytelling Mother and heard these David stories first from her. I usually heard them at bedtime, but there were other occasions also that provided containers for story: thunderstorms in the summer and blizzards in the winter were storytelling times. To this day, winter and summer storms and the darkness that nudges toward sleep are redolent with story. My mother was good with words; she was also good with tones. In her storytelling I not only saw whole worlds come into being, I felt them within me through the timbre of her voice.
She told stories of her parents, who had brought eleven children from Norway to the sparsely populated but promised land of Montana to begin a new life. In the first few years after their settling in, she and her sister were born, making thirteen in all. By the time I was born, her parents and some of her brothers and sisters were dead; but they never seemed dead -- the stories kept them alive in me. Norwegian trolls and giants got mixed into the storytelling as well. There were times when I wasn't sure where the trolls left off and my uncles began. The whole enterprise took on a huge mythologicalgrandeur.
Mostly, though, she told Bible stories. And among Bible stories, the David stories took pride of place -- not to the exclusion of Moses and Elijah and Jesus, but something in her narrative imagination kicked in with extra energy in the David stories. The David stories formed the basic groundplan for learning about and understanding what it meant to grow up human and Christian. In those stories, the two words -- human and Christian -- became synonyms.When I was older and reading the Bible for myself, I was surprised, but also a little disappointed, to find that some of the details that I loved most were extracanonical. She didn't scruple, I realized, to considerably improve the biblical version when she felt like it. But I also realized, in my adult assessment of her narrative practice, that she rarely, if ever, violated or distorted the story itself. She held the entire Story, from Genesis to Revelation, in her believing imagination, with Jesus as the central and controlling presence throughout. However many details she got wrong (or invented), she never got the Story wrong -- she knew it inside and out, knew Jesus obediently, the Holy Spirit reliving these texts in her as she prayed her way through the years in our Montana valley.In later life I realized how fortunate I had been under this tutelage, for the David stories have been used in exactly such ways throughout much of our Christian past: training the believing imagination to think narratively, immersing the praying imagination in earthiness.
The David Story
Story is the primary way in which the revelation of God is given to us. The Holy Spirit's literary genre of choice is story. Story isn't a simple or naive form of speech from which we graduate to the more sophisticated, "higher" languages of philosophy or mathematics, leaving the stories behind for children and the less educated. From beginning to end, our Scriptures are primarily written in the form of story. The biblical story comprises other literary forms -- sermons and genealogies, prayers and letters, poems and proverbs-but story carries them all in its capacious and organically intricate plot. Moses told stories; Jesus told stories; the four Gospel writers presented their good news in the form of stories. And the Holy Spirit weaves all this storytelling into the vast and holy literary architecture that reveals God to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the way that he chooses to make himself known. Story. To get this revelation right, we enter the story.
The David story is the most extensively narrated single story in thislarge story. We know more about David than any other person in Holy Scripture. As we tell and listen to the David story, we're at the same time being trained in the nature of story itself as the primary literary form for, receiving God's revelation. The reason that story is so basic to us is that life itself has a narrative shape -- a beginning and end, plot and characters, conflict and resolution. Life isn't an accumulation of abstractions such as love and truth, sin and salvation, atonement and holiness; life is the realization of details that all connect organically, personally, specifically: names and fingerprints, street numbers and local weather, lamb for supper and a flat tire in the rain, God reveals himself to us not in a metaphysical formulation or a cosmic fireworks display but in the kind of stories that we use to tell our children who they are and how to grow up as human beings, tell our friends who we are and what it's like to be human. Story is the most adequate way we have of accounting for our lives, noticing the obscure details that turn out to be pivotal, appreciating the subtle accents of color and form and scent that give texture to our actions and feelings, giving coherence to our meetings and relationships in work and family, finding our precise place in the neighborhood and in history. Story relishes sharp-edged, fresh-minted details; but story also discovers and reveals the substrata of meaning and purpose and design implicit in all the details. Small and large are accorded equal dignity and linked together in an easy camaraderie by means of story.
Because the David story takes up so much space in our Scriptures, giving sustained attention to one person, we find ourselves becoming accustomed to and unobtrusively trained in this skillful, revealing, dignifying storytelling. Somewhere along the way, most of us pick up bad habits of extracting from the Bible what we pretentiously call "spiritual principles," or "moral guidelines,- or "theological truths," and then corseting ourselves in them in order to force a godly shape on our lives. That's a mighty uncomfortable way to go about improving our condition. And it's not the gospel way. Story is the gospel way. Story isn't imposed on our lives;' it invites us into its life. As we enter and imaginatively participate, we find ourselves in a more spacious, freer, and more coherent world. We didn't know all this was going on! We had never noticed all this significance!Leap Over a Wall. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
What People are Saying About This
“Leap Over A Wall brings King David’s life so close to us, each event a devotional experience, each application an experience that walks us step by step to David’s God and ours.”
“Eugene H. Peterson skillfully uses the David story to talk not about David, but about you and me. Leap Over A Wall is the human story in all its wonder and terror and pity.”