Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, (Ezra) read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
I’m not an exegete and scholar on the par of my collaborator Neil, but occasionally something of the Scriptures strikes me. As I heard this longer passage at Mass this morning, I thought of the advanced technology of the age, namely the written word.
In an age of television and computers, even the best orator would not be able to hold children’s attention, much less adults’, for six full hours. But this would seem to be akin to crowds gathering in Times Square for one of those Eve celebrations: watching the screens, the lights, mingling with friends and strangers. Something of a liturgical event, which the greater body of Nehemiah 8 portrays. (A great example of Old Testament participatio, by the way.)
Do we really need the latest media technology to captivate the masses? Can the power of the message be enough? Does the message of God, of Christ and his Gospel, come through powerfully enough with the best of sixth century BCE technology: the preached word?