Today saw the release of the 2016 census results by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Much of the coverage was focused on the increased proportion of respondents ticking “no religion” as their preferred option, with commentators either lamenting or cackling with glee, as their personal proclivities dictated. However, more thoughtful observers noted the actual options of the census question on religion lacked the nuance that the real religious landscape displays.
The inimitable James Garth stepped up to the challenge of “improving” the question to reflect a broader range of options. ABS, please take note.
James Garth improves the ABS census question on religious affiliation.
What is the Old Testament?
There are the easy, trivia quiz answers: it’s the first part of the Christian Bible, it’s a collection of 39 books, it forms the Jewish scriptures, etc. But any real understanding of the Old Testament has to be linked to the question of where it came from.
Unlike many other sacred writings, the OT was not written by an enlightened holy man as a single piece of prophetic output. It has history. It has scars and scuff marks. It’s complicated.
Peter Enns has written a post with some great insights into where the OT comes from and how we need to think about this collection of books.
The central points are:
- It’s not a single work but an incredibly diverse collection
- The various books were “composed” centuries before they were written down
- Most importantly, it is impossible to make sense of the text without understanding the history and culture and context of the people who wrote it.
Read the full thing here:
5 Modern Insights about the Old Testament that Aren’t Going Anywhere