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The Kerygma of the Wilderness Traditions in the Hebrew Bible

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Terry L. Burden

The Kerygma of the Wilderness Traditions in the Hebrew Bible examines biblical writers' use of the wilderness traditions in the books of Exodus and Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Prophets, and the Writings to express their beliefs in God and their understandings of the community's relationship to God. Kerygma is the proclamation of God's actions with the purpose of affirming faith/or appealing to an obedient response from the community. The experiences of the wilderness community, who rebelled and refused to live according to God's purposes, serve as a polemic against disbelief in God and the refusal to embrace Israel's religious heritage. In the Writings, more than in the Prophets, the wilderness traditions are remembered with a notable resemblance to the traditions in Exodus and Numbers, which reflects a heightened interest in the ancient traditions in the closing turbulent period of Israelite history. Recollections of Israel's beginnings in the wilderness address problems associated with faith, obedience, and ultimately, the nature of the Israelite community.