In challenging times, how do we to respond with courage, wisdom, and vision? Nahum Ward-Lev wrote The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets: Then and Now to address that need. In the lineage of liberation theology, this book presents the liberating message of the Hebrew Bible, speaking directly to our lived experience.
The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets shows that exodus, the on-going journey out of oppression and toward human flourishing, is the true heart of the Biblical story. Biblical liberation themes continue to inspire countless modern prophets and writers including Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Buber, Paulo Freire, Gustavo Guttiérez, Martin Luther King, Beverly Harrison, James Cone, James and Grace Lee Boggs and bell hooks.
Two powerful principles emerge from this exploration of liberation themes: 1) Life is a liberation journey; 2) The journey’s destination is reciprocal relationship. Citing ancient prophets and contemporary writers, Ward-Lev develops these twin principles and draws practical guidance for confronting current challenges. Societal problems must be addressed at the level of cultural evolution, a sea-change toward a more relational society. Essential activities on this liberation path include venturing into the unknown, prioritizing reciprocal relationships, engaging in dialogue, exercising social and artistic imagination, and nurturing a love ethic in public life. The explication of these principles and activities offers every reader immediately actionable ways to live into them.
The prophetic critique of oppressive institutions and practices is well known This work brings forward a less well-known and urgently needed side of the prophetic testimony: the prophets’ witness to God’s love. God’s love and concern strengthen us to transcend our present brokenness and pursue a more loving and life-giving future. Ward-Lev illuminates God’s love moving within contemporary liberation efforts. His book empowers readers of all faiths and backgrounds to understand current challenges through a prophetic lens and to take their own prophetic action.
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All of the author’s profits from the sale of the book will go to the Prophetic Action Fund. The mission of the Prophetic Action Fund is to support social justice initiatives that are in alignment with the principles in this book.
I finished this book with waves of wonder and gratitude. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus Columbia Theological Seminary
We live in an era that is desperate for the voices of the Hebrew prophets. Nahum Ward-Lev’s efforts to awaken us to the prophetic teachings is a great gift at a crucial moment in human history. Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets is a wise, eloquent, powerful, important, accessible book that touches heart, mind, and spirit . . . . One of the most authentic, discerning, challenging, insight saturated, humbling and loving religious books I have ever read. Irwin Kula, President, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
In Nahum Ward-Lev’s engaging explorations of Biblical and contemporary texts, we encounter insights and understandings that can guide our endeavors toward a more just and compassionate society. This is an important book. Arthur Waskow, Founder and director, The Shalom Center, author of Freedom Seder
With a creative mix of objective scholarship and personal experience, Nahum Ward-Lev explores the inner vibrancy at the heart of liberation movements. In a manner both gentle and bold, this wonderfully well written book inspires us as citizens to bring our passion, creativity, and imagination to the sacred work of building a society that supports the flourishing of all. Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy
This is a wise-hearted book, a wisdom text for our times. To read it is to go on a journey of love for the world. Grounded in the biblical prophetic tradition and in dialogue with contemporary prophetic voices, it is a pouring forth of lessons for living with spiritual exuberance. Give it to your friends; read it in community; teach it to your children. Sandra Lubarsky, Professor Emeritus of Sustainable Communities, Northern Arizona University
Nahum Ward-Lev has mastered the uncommon skill of being at once profoundly wise and practically useful. He’s written an invaluable guide to social transformation. This book provides wisdom and hope for our day! Joan Borysenko, New York Times Bestselling author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind
Ward-Lev tracks the prophetic stream throughout the Hebrew Bible and on into the present. What surfaces is the relational energy of transformation as experienced in the presence of a liberating God. The whole is a treasure for the Abrahamic family. Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary
The practice of facilitated dialogue, relationship building based on mutuality, and deep listening are fundamental building blocks of peacemaking and conflict resolution. Ward-Lev sets these practices in a deep historical context which gives them new life and clarifies how radical and indispensable they have been for centuries and continue to be in the present social and environmental climate. I don’t believe humanity can heal or move forward without a deep understanding of these practices. Roberto M. Chene, Director, Intercultural Leadership and Conflict Resolution Albuquerque, N.M.
As a political organizer, this book meets a perpetual longing in my work – to know our dreams and our agonies were shouted into existence centuries before we named them, and to experience that inheritance of political struggle as a source of connection and resilience. The problems of our day can feel grueling and demoralizing, but alienation–from each other, from God, from our ancestors–worsens their wear on our spirits. This book is an antidote to that wear and that alienation. It is a gift in our time. Zahara Zahav, Community Organizer, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
In 1962 the great Abraham Heschel responded to the apocalyptic moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis with his now-classic study of the prophetic tradition. Ward-Lev’s study can have similar impact, animating hope in our dark time. I warmly recommend it to Christians to build literacy in the first half of our Bible, and its wisdom for our work and witness. Ched Myers, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries
This book resounds with the voices of poets, prophets, philosophers, and inspired leaders. With honesty, creativity, and warmth, Rabbi Ward-Lev invites us into revolutionary ways of being in relationship that are themselves potent medicine in these times. Adam Horowitz, Chief Instigator, U.S. Department of Arts and Culture
This is an extraordinary work of great clarity and scholarship. I hope this book is read by leaders worldwide, because our future may depend on the wisdom embedded in these pages. Larry Dossey, author: One Mind
The two most critical issues facing humanity today, our relationship with the earth and a just response to refugees and the poorest among us, are cogently addressed by Ward-Lev, brilliantly weaving together the two strands. Standing in a long prophetic lineage, he passionately invites us to let the earth bring forth its energies for healing and to summon from the human soul a new vision for justice. John Philip Newell, Author of The Rebirthing of God
This well-researched book opens the door for both believers and non-believers to join together in facing genuine concerns about recent authoritarian political dangers that threaten our society. Ward-Lev also presents a Biblically based alternative to the extreme individualism and base materialism which undermine our capacity to treat the other as human. It is modern midrash in the best sense of that term. Lewis Barth, Professor Emeritus of Midrash and Former Dean, Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Ward-Lev invokes his passionate curiosity to reveal fresh, timely insights and precious tools. It would be hard to imagine more essential, on-target wisdom than this generous offering. This book is a precious gift. If we use it wisely, it will nurture the global healing we all yearn for. Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath.
I was profoundly moved by the fresh and provocative interpretations offered on some of our best known biblical narratives, and even more by Rabbi Ward-Lev’s way of connecting his reading of the Bible to the greatest personal, societal and global challenges we face today. Ruth Sohn, Director of Rabbinic Mentoring, Hebrew Union College
Nahum’s work on the prophets has opened up entirely new ways of thinking for me. This is the best kind of scholarship: deep engagement with the text grounded in a clear-sighted appreciation for the implications for us as we confront the challenges in the world today. If you’re looking for a fresh perspective, this is it. Rick Ufford-Chase, Former Moderator of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), Co-Director, Stony Point Retreat Center