During the first month of 2013, we will devote many of our posts to subjects on Biblical studies in the First Testament. We will begin on New Year’s Day with my perspective on “The Purpose of the First Testament.”
My life was changed in the 1980’s when I took several classes from Dr. John Sailhamer at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. His grasp on grace, combined with a creative, thoughtful, imaginative approach to Scripture and a thoroughly winsome teaching style made him a favorite of mine and many of my fellow students as well. He opened the book of Genesis to me and gave me an understanding of and love for the OT canon that has continued to grow over the years. I am forever indebted to him.
I am dedicating this month of posts to Dr. Sailhamer. Unfortunately, he is in chronic ill health these days, and so this tribute goes out to him with prayers as well as gratitude.
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I have had several other mentors over the years, mostly through books, who have helped me continue my discovery of these sacred Scriptures. Dr. Walter Kaiser was also a professor and mentor at Trinity. His focus on God’s promise helped me to appreciate the unity of the First Testament and its relation to the new. Bruce Waltke’s Genesis commentary and OT Theology have impressed me as solid and open-minded examples of evangelical scholarship. Commentaries by Cassuto on Genesis, Olson on Numbers and Deuteronomy, Campbell and Hubbard on Ruth, Oswalt on Isaiah, and Gowan on Habakkuk have challenged me intellectually, pastorally, and personally. Gerald Wilson’s groundbreaking work on the editing and final form of the Book of Psalms has been a revelation and continuing source of spiritual insight. Brevard Childs’ Introduction to the OT as Scripture likewise opened new vistas of understanding. John Walton has made an invaluable contribution to my concept of “creation” in his writings on the early chapters of Genesis. In their works of Biblical commentary and theological reflection, Terence Fretheim and Walter Brueggemann have provided deep reservoirs of spiritual truth and application. And teachers like Peter Enns are breaking new ground in helping evangelicals interact with critical studies and life in today’s world.
In January, I hope to introduce you to some of the words and thoughts that these remarkable scholars and pastors have passed on to me, as well as sharing my own perspectives and thoughts about the nature of the First Testament and its role in a Jesus-shaped life.
For starters, meditate on this quote:
The term “Old Testament” cannot be used if we see it as a word that puts down the Jewish faith. But it becomes valuable when we realize that it roots all that we say about Christ in the proper and original soil of Israel’s faith. Christians believe that God has spoken through Christ a new and a fuller word than the Old Testament alone contains. But this is so only because it adds a fuller dimension to the primary word that God had already spoken to Israel when he made them his people and his witnesses. …It is “Old Testament” in the wonderful sense of a parent to our new, young faith in Christ.
– Lawrence Boadt, Reading the Old Testament
I hope you’ll join our discussions in January!