Looking at The Old Testament and woah - it's not all faith-building

I'm looking at different methods of Bible study and realising that if I was ever after just straightforward exegesis, I'm not going to get it at college, I'm better off reading the commentaries and studying with my house group. It would seem, it is going to be a lot more complex than that.

At the moment, we are studying The Pentateuch and the different critical approaches scholars adopt. I have to try to train my brain to not read it so allegorically, Christologically or devotionally which is what I want to do driven by the instincts of my faith. I have to learn to start reading it 'critically'.

It is, however, a bit un-nerving. I'm looking briefly at the methods and discover that in applying a Historical-grammatical exegetical method, for instance,
the statement of God in Gen. 1.26, 'Let us make humanity in our image', which, is interpreted by most of the Christians I know, as an address by God the Father to the other persons of the Trinity, since God is speaking of 'us' in the plural, becomes for exegetes of the historical-grammatical school nothing of the sort, They deny that the author of Genesis 1 knew anything of the doctrine of the Trinity, since Genesis was written well before the advent of Christianity and the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity; so any such meaning is denied.

I will comment more about my reaction to this later...


Jane said...

HAve fun with this one. The Pentateuch is wonderful. You could also try reading some Thomas Thompson on the Bible as History ... or some George Steiner on new translations of teh HEbrew Bible - really though just enjoy - these are great stories!

Rachel said...

Thank you for the recommendations - you caught me just in time, credit card in hand at Amazon Prime. I'll take a look.

Thank you

And yes, the lecturer is fab and it is great getting to grips with these amazing sagas (if I dare to call them that - I'm becoming super-conscious of how I define them)

poppy tupper said...

Ah, Rachel, I'm glad you're enjoying your OT work. It's exhilarating, isn't it? What is more challenging is the realisation that there is more or less no idea of the Trinity in the NT either. The few direct references to it are probably later insertions into the earlier text. The rest - ideas of logos, references to Father, and so on, are at best ambiguous, at worse, not trinitarian at all, unless your read Trinity into them from a later perspective. Enjoy!

Rachel said...

Yes Poppy, we're certainly getting involved in some interesting, even heated, discussions in seminars. It's a good module.


It doesn't really equip me with the task of apologetics, though. How do we teach a trinitarian God to congregations asking for the Biblical picture of the concept, I'm wondering. The JWs who had me on my doorstep the other week had me quoting the Nicene creed but it didn't seem to have much impact on them, although she came in and we got on very well, realising that she had more in common wth me than she had with most of the people on whose doors she had knocked, surprisingly or perhaps not ie I could at least reach for a Bible and discuss it with her.

David Rudel said...

But why is "Teaching a Trinitarian God" part of apologetics?

There are plenty of ways of dismantling false faiths without alluding to a doctrine statutorily accepted 300 years after Christ's death.

The apostles in Acts show no interest in the trinity at all, and they were the original apologists.

The heart of Christianity is Jesus as risen King...any efforts at "defending the faith" should flow from that...for that is the faith that is being defended.

poppy tupper said...

Hi Rachel. It's not that hard a question when you think about it. We always and only tell people the truth. If there's no real biblical warrant for beleif in the Trinity, we say so. Then we, and they, have to grapple with the notion of Tradition, with all its strengths and weaknesses.

Rachel said...

Thank you Poppy.

You raise some interesting points about which I largely agree. I am a little relieved to think now that this is not a task for apologetics - for there are so many. I've been thinking today about the word and the Word and I guess whatever it is we do, the essential is to point people to Jesus in much the same way as John the Baptist does in the picture 'The Crucifixion by Matthias Grunewald in 1515. I love that picture. Thanks for reminding me of it, Poppy.

Anonymous said...

May be you will see more trinity in the OT if you read some books like...

the great mystery how can three be one

the jewish trinity by yoel natan

the mystery of the holy trinity in the oldest judaism


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