Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why I have gotten the Old Testament wrong...

Never before has the O.T. opened up to me like it has the past few weeks. I am currently taking an Intro. to the O.T. class at Southern and have left many-a-class with a dropped jaw. My professor, Dr. Peter J. Gentry, may be the smartest man alive. This coupled with my Hermeneutics (the study of interpreting Scripture) class has helped me see the importance of the grammatical-historical method of interpretation. What this method does is attempt to put you in the original context of the author while keeping the whole of Scripture in mind. Dr. Gentry labors twice a week trying to get us to see what it would be like to be an Israelite in the Ancient Near East (ANE) and hear these words of the O.T. Scriptures for the first time. What has been most interesting to me personally is to look at the pagan culture that was surrounding Israel and notice the striking similarities. For instance, the tabernacle that God so precisely described to Moses for the Israelites to build was just like all of the other tabernacles and temples of that day except for a couple of small differences. But those small differences make all the difference in the world! The ancient Israelites would have not been surprised to hear Moses read to them the guidelines for building the temple... it would sound just like what they were used to. But when he got to the part about what was to be in the Holy of Holies they would have said, "Wait a minute... that's not right. Why are we doing it this way?" You see, all of the other pagan tabernacles and temples at that time had an outer court, an inner holy place, and an even more inner Holy of Holies... nothing new. But in pagan temples the priest would be met with a statue of their god upon entering the Holy of Holies. What's the difference? In the Israelite Holy of Holies the high priest was met with a box, not an image of God. What's God saying here? He's saying, "I am invisible! And there is no idol that you can use as a mediator to get to me." And what is inside the box? The Ten Commandments, or Words. What is God saying with this? "If you want to worship me, here's how you do it. I want you to obey me; I want your life." The differences speak volumes. I think I am going to do a small series on why I have gotten the O.T. wrong. Maybe some that are not given the opportunity to sit under Dr. Gentry will be blessed by it; I know I have been. For me, my error in how I have interpreted the O.T. can be summed up in failing to study the context that it was written in. Next time I'll talk about what I now believe it means to be made "in the image of God". Until then... peace.


Micah said...


I will be glad and honored to make the first comment on your blog. I look forward to reading, especially on your new way of reading the Old Testament. It sounds like it will be helpful for us all. Keep it up.


chance n said...

and i am honored to have you as my first commentor. thanks for the encouragement... i do hope that it is helpful... peace.