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Interpretive Journey Old Testament

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

3 OT – Narrative Introduction
Narrative – literary form with sequential action involving plot, setting, and characters. Narrative shows us how to live or how not to live by the actions of the characters. We use “narrative” and “story” interchangeably. Narrative (stories) comprise nearly half of the OT. The interpretive river is often wide in OT narrative.

4 Reading narrative Reading OT narrative is a lot like reading the Gospels, except that OT stories are longer. Observe carefully the details of each story. Look for connections with surrounding stories.

5 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

6 (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

7 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

8 Literary context – the big story
Locate the story you are studying in the context of the stories that surround it Keep relating the parts (individual stories) to the big story of the entire book and the whole OT God promises the land to Abraham’s descendents in Genesis 12 Israelites refuse to enter promised land in Numbers 14

9 Do “Good Guys” always wear white hats?
Many theological principles derive from the main characters Bible deals with real life and real people. People are complex! Essential that we be able to discern good guys from bad guys

10 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

11 Making the Journey in OT narrative
Step 1 – Grasp the text in their town Step 2 – Measure the width of the river Step 3 – Cross the principlizing bridge Step 4 – Cross into the New Testament Step 5 – Grasp the text in our town New step for the OT

12 OT – Law Introduction Large portion of the Pentateuch (first five books of OT) is comprised of law (over 600 commandments) Some of them are very strange: Exodus 34:26: “Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk.” Leviticus 19:19: “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” Why do we adhere to some laws and ignore others?

13 Traditional approach to interpreting OT law
Moral – deal with timeless truths regarding God’s intention for human behavior (“Love your neighbor as yourself”) Civil – deal with courts, economics, land, crimes, and punishment (“At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts.”) Ceremonial – deal with sacrifices, festivals, and priestly activities (“celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.”)

14 Problems with traditional approach:
Distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial law allowed the believer to know whether the law applied to them: Moral – universal and timeless (still apply as law to believers today) Civil and Ceremonial – applied only to ancient Israel, not to believers today Problems with traditional approach: Arbitrary distinction not in the Bible (Lev. 19:18-19) Difficult to classify many laws (Lev. 19:19?) Too ambiguous and inconsistent We need a more consistent approach OT law

15 Narrative context OT law does not appear by itself, but is firmly embedded in the story of Israel’s exodus, wilderness wandering, and conquest. Exodus Exodus (narrative) (law) Israel’s bondage in Part of the story of Egypt, God’s mighty God’s encounter with deliverance, and Moses and Israel at their journey to the Mount Sinai Promised land The law is part of Israel’s story and the story provides an important context for interpreting law. Don’t separate OT law from its narrative context!

16 Covenant context OT law is tightly intertwined with the Mosaic covenant. What is the nature of that covenant? Mosaic covenant is closely associated with Israel’s conquest and occupation of the land Blessings from the Mosaic covenant are conditional Mosaic covenant no longer a functional covenant for NT believers Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant (Heb. 8:13)

17 NT believers are no longer under OT law as part of the Mosaic covenant
“Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” – Galatians 3:25 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17 We must interpret OT law through the grid of NT teaching. Jesus is the final interpreter of OT law. The OT law no longer applies as direct law for us. However, the OT legal material still contains rich principles and lessons for living that are relevant when interpreted through NT teaching.

18 Making the Journey in OT law
“Or if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean—whether the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or of unclean creatures that move along the ground—even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty.” –Leviticus 5:2 – Step 1 – Grasp the text in their town Leviticus deals with how the Israelites are live with an awesome, holy God in their midst. Larger unit of 4:1-5:13 deals with purification offerings for those who become ritually unclean 5:2 details what makes a person unclean 5:5-6 tells the people what to do to become clean again

19 Step 3 – Cross the principlizing bridge
Step 2 – Measure the width of the river We are not under the old covenant and our sin is now covered by the death of Christ. We also have direct access to the Father through Christ and no longer need human priests as mediators. Step 3 – Cross the principlizing bridge God is holy! God’s holiness demands that his people keep separate from sin and unclean things. If God’s people become unclean, they must be purified by a blood sacrifice.

20 Step 4 – Cross into the New Testament
God no longer resides in a tabernacle, but within each of us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. His presence, however, still demands our holiness. NT redefines “clean” and “unclean” (Mark 7) Under the new covenant, sin is washed away by the death of Christ, the Lamb of God. Confession of sin, however, is still important (1 John 1:9) Summary: Stay away from sinful actions and impure thoughts because the holy God lives within you. If you do commit unclean acts or think unclean thoughts, then the death of Christ allows you to confess your sins and receive forgiveness.

21 Step 5 – Grasp the text in our town
There will be numerous applications of this text. One application relates to the issue of Internet pornography. God’s holiness demands that we lead clean lives. Viewing pornography clearly violates God’s holiness and hinders our worship and fellowship with God. Stay away from Internet pornography! If you do fall into this sin, confess your sin and because of the death of Christ, you can be forgiven and your fellowship with God restored.

22 Conclusion Traditional approach to law (moral, civil, ceremonial) is inadequate. Journey approach to interpreting law: Narrative context Covenant context Interpret all OT legal texts with the same method

23 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

24 Jet engines and paintings
Different literary genres of the Bible are like different museums. National Gallery of Art Air and Space Museum Appeals to emotion, images are central, analyze figures of speech Appeals to logic, rational arguments are central, analyze grammar and syntax

25 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

26 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

27 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

28 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

29 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

30 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.

31 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.

32 Conclusion In OT poetry we are dealing with rather than
Poetry is characterized by terseness, a high degree of structure (parallelism), and figurative language. OT poetry shows us how to communicate our deepest emotions to God.

33 OT – Prophets Nature of OT prophetic literature OT Prophets
Major Minor Isaiah Hosea Jeremiah Joel Ezekiel Amos Daniel Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi Longer books Shorter books

34 Prophets proclaim more than they predict
Little in our culture that resembles the OT prophetic literature (Bob Dylan?) Only a small amount of OT prophecy deals with events still future to us “Less than 2 percent of Old Testament prophecy is messianic. Less than 5 percent specifically describes the New Covenant age. Less than 1 percent concerns events yet to come.” – Fee and Stuart Prophets proclaim more than they predict Prophets make extensive use of the figurative language of poetry

35 Prophetic books are primarily anthologies–collections of shorter units, usually oral messages proclaimed publicly to the people of Israel or Judah. Not usually arranged chronologically Therefore, almost impossible to outline Look for a few major themes repeated over and over Yet the prophet’s message comes through loud and clear

36 H Historical-cultural and theological context Isaac Jacob Joseph
Abraham Egypt H Prophets Israel & Judah Moses & Covenant Solomon David Saul Joshua Judges Ruth Living in the land

37 Basic prophetic message
Prophets function as God’s prosecuting attorneys, warning the people of the consequences of covenant violation. Prophetic message has three basic points: 1. You have broken the covenant; you had better repent! Idolatry—syncretism, faithful husband/unfaithful wife Social justice—widows, orphans, foreigners Religious ritualism—ritual substitutes for relationship

38 2. No repentance? Then judgment!
Plea for repentance, but proclaim severe consequences of rebellion Horrific invasions Loss of Promised land 3. Yet, there is hope beyond the judgment for a glorious future restoration. New exodus (Isaiah), new covenant (Jeremiah), new presence of the Spirit (Ezekiel and Joel) Messianic promises and future predictions

39 Interpretation and application of basic message
1. You have broken the covenant; you had better repent! Must pass through filter of NT teaching No longer under covenant of law, so different for believers and unbelievers Focus on relational aspects of our sin (marriage analogy) Sinning against God causes him to hurt emotionally Idolatry – job, success, money, TV, clothes, grades … Social justice – poor, elderly, minorities, children … Religious ritualism – rituals function as means or ends?

40 2. No repentance? Then judgment!
Sin is an offense against God and demands judgment NT g judgment of death for Christian’s sin transferred to Christ If Christians fail to repent, their relationship with God will be damaged 3. Yet, there is hope beyond the judgment for a glorious future restoration. Ultimate fulfillment of promises in Christ God is in the business of forgiving and restoring people

41 Predictive passages Small portion of prophet’s message to events that are still future for us Near View or Far View? Predictions could refer to: Return of Jewish exiles to Israel (past for us) First coming of Jesus Christ (past for us) Second coming of Jesus Christ (still future for us)

42 Difficult to determine whether the prophets are describing events that will occur within their lifetime (near view) or events that will occur much later (far view). We should be cautious about being overly dogmatic when interpreting details of predictive prophecy. It is possible that the prophets have intentionally blurred together these future events so that their readers will focus on the broader theological principles.

43 OT – Wisdom Introduction You have persevered to the end of this book!
“Of making may books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” –Ecclesiastes 12:12b Job Wisdom Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs

44 Purpose of the wisdom books
Law, narrative, and prophets stress “Believe!” and “Obey!” while wisdom stresses “Think!” Call us to listen, look, think, and reflect Offer practical insights for living Goal is to develop wise and godly character for life in the real world

45 The big picture Four wisdom books balance each other theologically. Read each one in context of all four. Job Righteous and wise suffer in ways that mere humans cannot understand. Proverbs Rational norms of life (what normally happens). Does not present universals (what will always happen). Ecclesiastes Failure of the rational, ordered approach to provide ultimate meaning to life. Meaning only comes through a relationship with God. Song of Songs Irrationality of romantic love between husband and wife.

46 _ Wisdom as poetry A large portion of wisdom literature is poetry.
Wisdom books use parallelism as their standard structural feature. The more emotional the tone, the more the book will use figurative language: Less Emotionally Charged, More Emotionally Charged, Less Picture Language More Picture Language Proverbs Ecclesiastes Job Song of Songs _

47 Grasping the wisdom books
Proverbs Proverbs – short, pithy sayings that teach practical wisdom about life Individual proverbs reflect general nuggets of wisdom about what normally happens in life (e.g., “Don’t be lazy! Work hard!”). Proverbs are never to be taken as universal promises. The book of Proverbs does not deal with the exceptions to the normal rules. Since each proverb presents a general principle, the river of differences is usually quite narrow and shallow. But be careful how you define “blessing.”

48 Job Job does all that Proverbs commands, but he receives dead children, financial ruin, physical pain, and criticism from his friends. Job is a story (in contrast to Proverbs) and we must take the literary context of narrative seriously: Job is afflicted Job searches unsuccessfully for a rational answer God answers Job’s accusations Job’s friends are rebuked and Job is restored The differences between the ancient audience and us are not great. Lessons from Job: God is sovereign and we are not God knows all and we know precious little God is always just, but does not always disclose his reasons God expects us to trust his character

49 NT presents suffering as a normal feature of a godly life.
Don’t repeat the mistake of Job’s friends and misuse biblical truth. Book of Job teaches us that it is not wrong to cry out to God in anger and frustration when unexplained tragedy strikes. Our focus in grief should not be on “why” but rather on God and his character. Comforting friends is different from having all the answers.

50 Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes (like Job) must be interpreted as a whole with the ultimate answer coming at the very end. The book is full of satire, sarcasm, and cynicism. The “Teacher” or “Preacher” declares that a strictly rational search for meaning is “meaningless.” At the end of the book, the Teacher comes to his conclusion: “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Apart from God, not even wisdom can give life meaning. River normally shallow in Ecclesiastes except for a limited concept of death and the afterlife. The NT adds that apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ, life is meaningless. Apart from a relationship with Christ, not even a college degree can make life meaningful!

51 Song of Songs Shocking book because it speaks openly and joyfully about human sexuality (read 7:7-8). The book is organized into three sequential units: Courtship Wedding Life of Love Highly emotional and full of picture language as the man and woman describe their love for each other Scholars today reject the allegorical interpretation A model of the joy and irrationality of a married couple madly in love Wise and godly people should express their marital love in strong, emotional (mushy?) terms. We suggest a little updating of the figurative language (hair like a flock of goats?)


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