St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
A General Overview of the Old Testament
A Discussion led by The Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The Old Testament
The Bible covers a period of roughly 2000 years and 95% of that time period takes place in the Old Testament! The Old Testament was Jesus’ Bible. Some scholars refer to it as Hebrew Scriptures, which was its original name. Some steered away from calling it the “Old” Testament because in modern times the word “old” has some negative connotations. In times long ago, however, “old” meant tried and true!
The five books are also known as the Torah or Pentateuch. Torah means “instruction.” The Pharoses were more progressive and open to including other books.
German scholar Herman Gunkel derived a documentary hypothesis consisting of for distinct times: JEPD: J = Jawist; E = Elohist; P = Priestly; and D = Deuteronomist. When the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem a number of Jews ended up being exiled in Babylonia. There the preaching about Maruk, the Babylonian god was common. He created everything including human beings, who he put on this earth to be his slaves to do the necessary work. A Jew in Babylon took the story and retold it to create the first Genesis story. Here, God created man in his own image and not to be slaves. Initially man lived in an ideal world with all creatures living in harmony.
Starting at chapter 1, verse 4B and continuing into chapter 2 is the older creation story. The LORD (Yaweh) “gets his hand dirty and into the mud.” From this he forms the first human, Adama, which literally means “earth.” In other words, Adam was the first earthling! God planted a garden and put man in it. Work is good and sharing the work with God is good. Man gets to name all of the animals, which shows his dominance. God puts Adam in a deep sleep, takes one of his ribs and creates woman.
Even though the two stories do not agree with one another, there is still a wonderful richness in both of them from which we can learn.