Bible Study - Introduction to the Christian Old Testament
Bible Study - Introduction to the Christian Old Testament
Opening prayer (from the Prayer before the Gospel during the Diving Liturgy) Make the pure light of Thy divine knowledge shine in our hearts, Loving Master, and open the eyes of our minds that we may understand the message of Thy Gospel. Instill also in us reverence for Thy blessed commandments, so that overcoming all worldly desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all things pleasing to Thee. For Thee, Christ our God, are the Light of our souls and bodies, and to Thee we give the glory, together with Thy Father, without beginning, and Thine All Holy, Good, and Life- Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 1:18; 2 Peter 2:11) An Important Prologue (from Fr. Stephen’s The Whole Counsel) · Inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-21. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, than no prophecy of Scripture is of any private origin, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men, being carried by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God (OSB & FSDY). Note that these “men” did this at different times, using different styles, and the writing was not done all at once. For example, the Torah is of Mosaic origin, but its language and style are from later times (and I don’t have in mind E, Y, D, P). Inspiration includes speaking, writing, editing, copying, translating, and compiling scripture. · Inerrancy. A bit on the term. 18th century gave rise to a “scientific” way of looking at scripture. This doesn’t just mean taking out the supernatural elements, but breaking texts apart and said to be of different and conflicting sources. Conservative American Protestants reacted by publishing “The Fundamentals.” They argued that the Scriptures were inerrant (without error). The Liberal Protestants were opposed to this view, saying that they were affected by the limitations of the people and cultures of the times in which they were written. This difference about inerrancy could have been bridged through nuance, but then they moved further apart, with the “fundamentalists” equating literal/materialist with inerrant and the liberal side becoming more interested in a reconstructed social gospel. Orthodoxy teaches that the Scriptures do not contain errors, but it has a strong tolerance for ambiguities. “In large part, this is because the Church has never approached the world on the basis of the Scriptures; rather the Scriptures function internally, with the Church and her worship.” Orthodoxy is not concerned with identifying and reconciling “errors” in scripture, but in what it (with all its richness) calls us to be. · Sola Scriptura. The Reformation put Scripture as the key to evaluating tradition and the teaching authority of the Church; the Roman Catholics make the teaching authority of the Church key (magisterium). Orthodoxy sidesteps this approach because it recognizes that Christ Himself is the Truth. We are not turning to scripture, tradition, and the Church to learn about Christ; we are coming to know God experientially, being united with and in Christ Himself. John 15:26-27 (following the logic of 2 Peter above), has the Holy Spirit (continuously revealing “Tradition”) and the witness of those who saw/knew God (ie Scriptures); “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” We do not recognize competing sources of authority (Church, Tradition, Scripture), but see it all as the way we come to know Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit The Source(s) of the Bible Following Christ, the Apostles, and the Early Church, the Orthodox Church primarily uses the Septuagint. The Torah section was an official translation completed well before the Incarnation of Christ. This makes it more “objective” than the post-Incarnational Jewish Masoretic Text and Canon (most Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles rely primarily on the Masoretic text). The Masoretic text was prepared after the loss of the Temple and the rise of Christianity (with the addition of vowels etc.). The Septuagint differs little from the Masoretic Text; both are supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls help demonstrate that there was textual diversity before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. There is NO SINGLE CANON OF ORTHODOX SCRIPTURE. We have the books we use liturgically and the books we read. All of them are useful. How the Bible is OrganizedNew Testament (we’ll cover it later) and Old Testament. Old Testament Organization (Septuagint organization) The Torah. According to tradition, it was revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai (most connect it with Moses (e.g. Exodus 33:11 & Galatians 3:19), but admit to it being touched by many hands). The five books of the Torah are also called the Five Books of the Law, the Pentateuch and the Books of Moses. Genesis (beginning). God’s creation of the world, the fall of mankind, and the three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) Exodus (departure). The early life of Moses, the Israelite escape from Egypt, and revelations at Mount Sinai. Leviticus (of the Levites). Historically, takes place at the foot of Sinai and continues to describe how God is to be honored and how Israelites are to live. Numbers (you’ll see!). Describes the Israelites’ time in the desert up to their arrival at the banks of the Jordan. Deuteronomy (second law). Moses’ last words to the Israelites. His death. The Books of History. The history of Israel from their arrival at the promised land to just before the Incarnation. They are thought to have been written well after the events they describe. The Books of History are Joshua (the conquering of the promised land), Judges (The Israelites struggle with righteousness and idolatry), Ruth, I Kingdoms (aka I Samuel), II Kingdoms (II Samuel), III Kingdoms (I Kings), IV Kingdoms (II Kings), I Paraleipomenon (I Chronicles), II Paraleipomenon (II Chronicles), Nehemiah, I Esdras, II Esdras (Ezra), Tobit, Judith, Esther, I Maccabees, II Maccabees, III Maccabees. Books of Wisdom. Psalms, Prayer of Manasseh, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs or Canticle of Canticles), Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach (aka Wisdom of Jesus, Son of Sirach; aka Ecclesiasticus) The Prophets. Minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zecharia, Malachi Major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah (includes Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah), Ezekiel, Daniel (includes the Song of the Three Children). Why did some early Christians want to ban the Old Testament from the Biblical Canon? Why do we care about the Old Testament? It is “The Scriptures” referred to in the New Testament. It is about God, Christ, and God’s plan for the world.