A journey through the Old Testament
Old Testament Survey-OTS-101
For at least 6,000 years the stories found within the Hebrew Bible, commonly referred to as the Old Testament in many Christian Circles, has been a piece or the texts shaping the faith of those who worship within an Abrahamic faith community. The basic texts found within the Protestant Old Testament that this introductory text lends to be 39. Elmer’s A Journey through the Old Testament is a basic text that opens up a student’s eyes and mind to beginning to understand these foundational texts.
Written 23 years ago, it shows a little dating but also reveals the bias of the author. These are topics that will be touched on as a summary is made, the text itself is interpreted within light of itself and in the conclusion he question is asked and hopefully answered with the affirmative why it is useful to explore this text as part of one’s educational enterprise.
When one first picks up an overview or introduction text to the Hebrew Bible, a reader normally braces themselves for an onslaught of dates, dead people, and possibly dry archaeological dig sites. What Elmer managed to accomplish within his text’s format is more of a DC Comics retro 1980’s “Who’s Who” feel. This was accomplished by framing the material around the key characters of the stories.
Within the character driven synopsis Elmer has structured a verse by verse commentary for the key characters he highlights. Hidden within these commentaries are simple yet effective gems with his:
I.e.: cycle of Judges
Perspective sections (highlight what the author believes are the main thrust of the text):
I.e.: Servant type of Holy Spirit
Both are sent
Both come bearing gifts
Both come teaching about the Son
Both come to woo and convince
(Elmer, p. 83)
i.e.: Leviticus (p.123) that lays out a rhythm of:
Access- the way to God (1:1-7:38)
Association – walk with God (8:1-23:44)
Apostasy – the warning from God (24:1-27:34)
These are easy to access and understand for the reader regardless of their familiarity with the subject matter. The order or rhythm for the work is that of how they first appear within the context of the story of the Hebrew Bible.
The text itself has two main points:
That for a student to fully understand the New Testament they must read the Old Testament through their Post-Christ lens. This is illustrated through his rendition of Lucifer as a story of rebellion. That the hardest lesson of faith to learn is waiting on God.
The work itself appears designed to aid a subject based study methodology that one would craft around a certain character to learn from. This learning is textual and character driven to be able to come to one’s own conclusions about the works that make up the Hebrew Bible.
At first blush with the innovative way the stories were presented one may assume that Elmer is “wolf” in sheep’s clothing. That is he is letting innovation lead the reader into a false sense of security before hitting them over the head with a rather outdated contextual message, as was the flavor of theological writings in the televangelist driven 1980’s. That is not the case, what is found is a profound character study that can challenge the reader into seeing the sometimes familiar story through new eyes.
For instance he shows a correlation through history of the church, and a story from the Testament by quoting Matthew Henry “all God’s people are praying people” (Elmer, p. 40) as a lead into the Abraham story on the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This thought is clearly continued with Abraham’s conversation with God around the destruction of the two cities as prayer (Ibid, p.60). For prayer is the communication of our...
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