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Interpretive Journey Old Testament

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1 Interpretive Journey Old Testament
Unit 5 Interpretive Journey Old Testament Narrative Law Poetry Prophets Wisdom

2 Literary features of narrative
(What? How?) The sequence of events that ties together the story Exposition or setting Conflict or crisis Resolution Plot (When? Where?) Backdrop of the story Time Place Setting

3 (Who?) Characters carry the action and move the plot forward
Usually the meaning of the story is tied to the behavior of the characters. Characters (Why?) The narrator is the one responsible for conveying meaning to the readers through the story The narrator often stays neutral and allows the characters and events to speak for themselves. Sometimes the narrator will express his views in subtle ways. Viewpoint of Narrator

4 Major literary technique used
Major literary technique used in OT narrative to develop the plot and move the story forward Rahab and Achan Hannah and Eli David and Saul Comparison/Contrast When the narrator’s intended meaning is quite different from the surface meaning of an episode Surface meaning – pagan Philistines capture the ark and think they have defeated the Lord Intended meaning – The Lord invades Philistia and defeats the enemy! Irony

5 God is a central character in OT narrative—let God be God!
Not every character is a hero and most characters exhibit both good and bad traits Good Guys? Solomon Sampson Gideon God is a central character in OT narrative—let God be God! GOD

6 Making the Journey in OT narrative
Step 1 – Grasp the text in their town Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute, is contrasted with Achan, the Israelite. She believes in the God of Israel and trusts him with her life, resulting in deliverance of her and her family from the destruction of Jericho. Achan, however, trivializes God and ignores his strict commands, resulting in his death and that of his family. The two trade places. Step 2 – Measure the width of the river We are under a different covenant than Achan. Our situation is also different. We are not in the conquest and we are not involved in any type of holy war. Nor are we Canaanites (or prostitutes) living in a city about to be conquered. God has not given us the same specific commands as he gave Achan.

7 Step 3 – Cross the principlizing bridge
God sees past superficial externals and saves unusual people who place their faith in him. This is because deliverance is based on true faith (demonstrated by action) and not mere externals, such as ethnicity or religious tradition. God is a God of grace. But judgment comes on those who trivialize God and treat him as if he does not exist. New step for the OT Step 4 – Cross into the New Testament The NT reaffirms that God looks beyond superficial externals and saves people based on faith in Jesus Christ. That God chooses some unusual people is likewise reaffirmed in the NT. Mere association with the people of God, rather than true faith, will not result in salvation.

8 Step 5 – Grasp the text in our town
We tend to judge people based on externals. We meet a clean-cult, middle-class American and think what a great Christian he or she would make. Likewise, when we see someone involved in open sinful activity (drugs, prostitution, gambling, stealing), we tend to write them off and assume they could never become Christians. This attitude is wrong, because God delights in saving the most unusual people. He wants us to have the same attitude towards these people as he does. There are no unlikely candidates for coming to salvation in Christ.

9 OT – Poetry Introduction Over one third of the Bible is poetry.
OT poetry focuses on our emotional response to God. It connects with us down deep, both in joy and in despair. Psalms Proverbs Song of Songs Job Lamentations

10 Elements of OT poetry Terseness g uses few words to enhance their impact and power Show me your ways, O Lord, Teach me your paths – Psalm 25:4 Structure g the most obvious is parallelism where lines represent thought units and are usually grouped in units of two or three: Synonymous – second line repeats idea of first line Developmental – second line further develops idea of first line Illustrative – second line illustrates first line Contrastive – second line contrasts with first line Miscellaneous – other types of parallelism not easily classified

11 Figurative language OT poetry is more like a painting than an essay
Literal, historical truth expressed in picture language Figures of speech involving analogy: Simile – comparison using “like” or “as” “As the dear pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 Metaphor – direct comparison “The Lord is my shepherd.” – Psalm 23:1

12 Indirect analogy – comparison without stating it
“Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.” – Psalm 22:13 Hyperbole – exaggeration for the sake of effect “My tears have been my food day and night.” – Psalm 23:1 Personification/anthropomorphism/zoomorphism – attributes to one entity the characteristics of a totally different entity “Life up your heads, O you gates.” – Psalm 24:7 “Your face, Lord, will I seek.” – Psalm 27:8 “He will cover you with his feathers, And under his wings you will find refuge.” – Psalm 91:4

13 Figures of speech involving substitution:
Effects and causes – substitutes the effect for the cause “Let me hear joy and gladness.” – Psalm 51:8 Representation – substitute a part of an entity for the whole “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 23:1

14 Miscellaneous figures of speech:
Apostrophe – when they address as if present a person or entity not actually present “Therefore, you kings, be wise; Be warned, you rulers of the earth.” – Psalm 2:10 Irony – when the writer says the exact opposite of what he really means (as in God’s use of sarcastic irony below) “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this – Job 38:18 Wordplays

15 Interpreting OT poetry
As with any text in the OT we need to make the five steps in the Interpretive Journey. Here are a few guidelines for the poetry genre related to Step 1: In your observation, look closely for parallelism. Read the two or three lines of parallelism as one thought. Locate and visualize figures of speech. Identify the kind of figure you have in the passage. Also, try to enter into the emotional world of the image.

16 Unique aspects of the Psalms
Does not present doctrinal guidelines so much as examples of how to communicate our deepest emotions and needs to God. When we find ourselves in deep despair or in jubilant celebration, Psalms teaches us to be honest and open with God. God wants us to pour out our hearts to him and he wants to connect with us in the depths of our emotional being.


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