So I’m taking Old Testament Theology this semester, and since theology tends to make my head hurt, I wasn’t looking forward to it terribly, but after one class and 60 pages of one of our textbooks, it actually might be a fun class.
What little we’ve gone over has been the mention of the basic debate among those who study the theology presented by the Old Testament: synchronic vs. diachronic. Synchronic theologians find one overarching theme, or “center,” in the Hebrew Bible’s depiction of God and describe that as the text’s theology. Diachronic theologians argue there is no single theology at all, that the various sources of the Old Testament had different views of God, which are reflected in the text.
I tend to support the diachronic position, at least for now. I don’t see how one can look at the wide variety of Old Testament texts and find a single theology (although my professor, having already said he finds a synchronic theology there, I’m sure will do his best to open my eyes). God is presented alternately as distant and almighty, close and personal, unchanging and omniscient, or flexible and given to change his mind.
One of our textbooks for the semester is Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate, by Gerhard Hasel (although “current” is somewhat relative, meaning here apparently current to a time when George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Saddam Hussein were the most powerful men in the world, but I digress). And working through the first chapter does not give me much reason to think differently.
I was all set to write a rockin’ post about the acceptance of polygamy in the Bible and whether that means the church should be more accepting of it today – but I stayed up late trying (and failing) to finish my reading for this upcoming Maymester on Amos, and therefore woke up too late to write anything more than this apologetic note.
Fear not, dear readers! After next week, blogging will resume in earnest. Until then, however, I’m afraid activity here will be spottier than it already was. Have a great day!
A quick update today to let you know I’ve posted my latest paper. In our New Testament class, we were assigned a 20-page paper dealing with an introductory critical issue involving one of the books of the New Testament. I picked Paul’s purposes for writing Romans, mostly as a way to do some exegesis of Romans 1, which is kind of a clobber chapter for those who condemn homosexuality. (The treatment of sex in the Bible is something of an interest of mine and may turn into a thesis or a dissertation down the road. You might recall that my Old Testament exegesis paper was on Leviticus 18.)
Well, the paper was returned this week (got an “A”!), and as is my custom, I’m posting it here. So what’s it about?
Believe it or not, it’s the middle of the semester. That means midterm time, and on Thursday I turned in our take-home, open-book, open-notes midterm. The assignment essentially was to write an essay about what we’d learned in class and through our readings so far, but the prompt was more than a page long. Good times!
It occurred to me, however, that as a summary of what I’ve learned thus far, it might be worth posting here as a helpful summary of things we’ve discussed – and the things I’ve learned that I didn’t have the time or memory to post about. I’ve edited it a little, mostly to remove parenthetical citations, which are important to the professor but wouldn’t have much relevance to you without some sort of bibliography. Also, I added some links, where appropriate and some bolding for emphasis to make it easier to get through.
The prompt boils down to this basic assignment: A friend walks up to you and says, “Why should I study the Old Testament? I believe it’s the inspired word of God, and I know the stories we learn as kids, so why should I bother learning anything else?”