Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wrapping Your Mind Around the Hebrew Scriptures

The Bible is a story with a beginning, middle, and an end, and the Old Testament is a large part of that story. But a lot of people -- followers of Jesus or not -- have a difficult time understanding such a large, ancient, and foreign-sounding book. And even if we're tolerably familiar with it we can have a hard time seeing how it fits together with Jesus and the New Covenant he brought. For one thing, it's so, you know... violent!

Today's post on the Biblegateway's blog  could help. They are covering a presentation made today at Calvin College by Christopher J.H. Wright on understanding this intimidating read.

Biblegateway helpfully summarizes Dr. Wright's eight main points for us:

Eight Questions to Ask When You Read the Old Testament

  1. What do we know about the context and origin of this text?Does this passage respond to or challenge any specific events, trends, or behaviors? If so, can you think of modern-day analogues for those issues?
  2. What does this passage reveal about God and his purposes? And how does the glimpse of God seen in this passage compare to depictions of God elsewhere in the Bible?
  3. Where does this passage fit into the “story” of the Bible? What Bible stories came before this one, leading up to it? What stories come after, building on it?
  4. What picture of God’s people does this passage paint? What values and ideals does this passage hold up for us? If the passage criticizes God’s people or shows them behaving badly, what values can we identify by their absence?
  5. Does this text point us to the future? What promises, foreshadowings of future events, or other groundwork does this passage lay down for us?
  6. What happens if you read this text with Luke 24 in mind? (In Luke 24, Jesus identifies himself as a culmination of the Old Testament narrative.) What happens if you don’t read this text with Luke 24 in mind?
  7. What questions about your own faith today do you want to ask of, or introduce into, this passage?
  8. What questions does this passage ask you? How does it challenge, correct, or encourage you?


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