Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adventures in the Old Testament

Dear Internet Browsers,

When I turned 18 I set myself the goal of reading the entire Bible cover to cover. I will turn 22 on October 2nd and I would like to have finished the Old Testament by that time.

 I took an introductory course in Bible and Theology last Fall and the professor, who is an OT scholar, asked the class if anyone read more Old Testament than New Testament in their personal reading. I was the only one who raised my hand, so I looked like a ridiculous OT show-off. I wanted to explain to everyone, "You don't understand, guys! I would read the New Testament if I could! But I am not allowed to yet because I am an insanely slow reader!"

Just me, making some new friends during Freshman year. 

This project has been really hard to do because I have been so uninformed about the OT. So many of the things I was reading about like in the books about the prophets were confusing and boring.

You may ask, "Uh, Lucy Rose, why didn't you read some books on the side to help you understand? Why didn't you consult your family's bookshelf devoted to theological studies? And once you got back to America, where they have huge libraries of stuff in English, why didn't you read about it then? Why didn't you ask your parents to help you!? WHY DID YOU PURPOSEFULLY STAY IGNORANT?!"

Well, Folks, I just DID, OK?! I wasn't very smart about it. I also sort of told myself that I just read the Old Testament cold-turkey. I just hopped right in there and the turkey was very cold. Wait a sec…That sounded strange. Sorry.

Back to the topic at hand:

Now I am taking an Old Testament class, because after four years of Old Testament cold-turkey-ing about I will finally understand what the heck Ezekiel was about.

It is kind of like developing a weird friendship over the course of four years with someone who never talks about their family. Then one day you go to their family's house for dinner and you're like, "Oh my gosh! I suddenly understand this person a lot more. That's why they never eat meat!"

That is a weird analogy. But do you get the idea? I am excited to learn about the Old Testament from an academic perspective after having been forming this strange relationship with it for the last four years.

I both love and hate the Old Testament.

Three reasons I love the Old Testament:

1) God constantly reassures His people that He loves them and want them back

2) I love the Psalms

3) There is some really hilarious, weird stuff in it. For instance, God tells the Israelites not to walk on steps up to the altar because he does not want to be mooned by them. (See Exodus 20:5-6 which reads: "And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.") 
Also take a second look at the book of Jonah. HE WAS SWALLOWED BY A SEA-MONSTER! That is just plain cool. (although if you read Jonah you will see that Jonah has little objective appreciation for the coolness of spending 3 whole days inside a sea-monster)

Three reasons I have a hard time with the Old Testament: (the original title of this list was "Three reasons I hate the Old Testament", but that sounded very sinful)

1) It is very long. Like thousands of pages long.

2) There are some very boring parts which I do not understand (I am looking at you, Prophets!) 

3) There is a lot of killing which makes it hard to understand God 

All of the things on my second list are things that I am getting over thanks to my new class. It is a very hard class for me, but I am learning a lot. 

Here is a portion of Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah. This piece is exquisitely beautiful and I think it captures the essence of the Old Testament. God is using the entire OT to tell His people that He wants them to seek Him and come to Him. (See Deuteronomy 4:29 "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.")

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post, Lucy, as I've been reading the OT chronologically since June 2013 ... and ... hurrah!! ... I will finish it by Sept. 30, 2014!! I have to say that reading it in chrono order has been immensely helpful to me. That said, I'm SO READY to read the NT!! Hang in there!