Peter Enns: Modern Insights on the Old Testament

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

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The power of narrative

I’ve been reading Richard Swinburne’s Revelation, and it is a remarkable book. The first couple of chapters deal in great depth with analysing what the “meaning” of a sentence actually is, how (and if) it can be falsifiable, and how to discern exactly when such devices as metaphor, analogy and so on are being employed. (And yes, this really does need multiple chapters. Fortunately, Swinburne is an eminently readable philosopher and communicates so well that even this dry subject matter becomes fascinating in his hands).

Reading the book has gotten me thinking a lot about different literary genres: not just the reality of their existence, but rather the reasons that an author might choose to employ them.

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