Life-Shaping Media and Deuteronomy’s Greatest Commandment (@Byers_Andy)

When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest, he cited Deuteronomy. According to our Lord and Christ, the highest call of our lives is issued in Deuteronomy 6:5—Love the Lord your God with absolutely everything (all of your heart, soul, strength).

We just had a fine reflection on Deuteronomy 6:5. In this post, I want to look at what immediately follows that verse in the wider passage known as the “Shema” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Because most of us know well the greatest commandment. What we often miss is that the greatest commandment is directly correlated to a set of media practices.

Love the Lord your God with all of your being AND—

…these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.(Dt 6:6–9, ESV)

Loving God is explicitly paired with media. The greatest commandment is linked with the prioritization of a certain form of media (God’s words) and with the adoption of a series of media practices: talking about those words, teaching them to our kids, ensuring that our visual field is saturated with those words.

Image Credit: Seed Resources

Image Credit: Seed Resources

So the greatest commandment entails media saturation; but the media with which we are to be saturated are the verbal media of God.

Deuteronomy is basically a sermon collection delivered to Israel on the outskirts of their new home, Canaan. It was a land saturated with media—not jumbotrons, poster adverts, or billboards. The media of Canaan was the religious imagery of idolatry. God commanded Israel to crush, dash, chop, and break down these media. But he was not calling Israel to embrace a media vacuum. He was calling them to media displacement—the idolatrous imagery was to be eliminated to make way for the media of YHWH. And the primary media form was verbal: God’s words were to be written on stones, bound to the hand, and emblazoned on the physical structures of hearth and home. They were not to be forgotten.

Discussing, sharing, thinking about, and meditating on God’s words are life-giving media practices.

And that is what BigBible is all about.

About AndyByers

I serve as the Chaplain for St Mary's College at Durham University while working on a PhD in the Department of Theology. CODEC has also taken me on to work as a theological consultant of sorts for the BigBible blog. My first book is about cynicism toward the church and disillusionment with God—'Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint' (IVP Likewise, 2011). My latest is ‘TheoMedia: The Media of God in the Digital Age’ (Cascade Books, 2013).