Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament Danett A. Bourgolly Grand Canyon University Jim Banktson July 5, 2009 Module 1 Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament “A history whose basis is divine intervention by providing truth, The Old Testament has been in existence for over 2000 years and brought about a radical change to history. In order for one to truly understand a book, the author has to have knowledge of or to what he or she is writing about and be able to relay that knowledge through his writing to his reader(s). (Merrill, 2008) While the Jews and Protestants have always recognized the Old Testament as threefold and fivefold respectively, the Old Testament is the collection of sacred writings considered by the Jews to be scripture (Torah/Law, Nebi’im/Prophets and Kethubim/Writings) and by the First century Christian church as their source for doctrine and ethics (Pentateuch, History, Writings and the Major and Minor Prophets) and eventually when the New Testament was composed, both together were accepted as the written word of God (Bible, biblion/book).
In an effort to bring lay understanding to what for years has baffled many, let us embark upon a select few events that are listed as major events and eras that took place in the years before Christ. Major Events of Old Testament History: Creation – In the book of Genesis 5v3, though this era is generally undated, www. matthewmcgee. org (McGee, 1998) lists it as happening in the year 3950 BC while www. biblestudy. org lists it as around 4004 BC. After the creation of the Heavens and Earth in six days (Genesis 1v1-2v25) and the creation of the seventh day of rest, the next major era afterwards was:
The Great Flood – (Genesis 7,8 and 11) allegedly happened about 1700 years after creation around 2294 BC as stated by (McGee, 1998) or 2348 as stated by (Bibledstudy. org) in which Noah builds an ark under the direction of God and was instructed to take his family and two of each animal into the ark. This era however, is undated in the Life Application Study Bible, 1997. The Founding Fathers – (Genesis 5) from Abram (later called Abraham) to Jacob, the years between 2166 (Life Application Study Bible, 1997) to 2006 BC; 1996 to 1690 BC (Bibledstudy. org).
Abraham receives the promise from God that he will be the father of many nations (Genesis 12v2&3) Another founding father Jacob and his wife Rachel (Genesis 30v22-24) would later bring into the world Joseph 1750 BC to 1640 BC (McGee, 1998) 1915-1805 BC (Life Application Study Bible) Joseph would later be sold to the Egyptians by his own brothers (Genesis 37v18-36) however, while imprisoned (Genesis 39v7-23) he gained favor by interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41v1-36) and ultimately the same brothers that sold him to the Egyptians would come to him for food .
The Ten Commandments – As part of the period know as the Pentateuch (Law) by First Century Christians, Moses known as the great deliverer and law giver of Israel (1526-1496 BC) was called by God from a burning bush (Exodus 3v2-5) to deliver the people of Israel (Exodus 7v14-Exodus 12v30) The First Kings of Israel – King Saul and King David. Saul who tried to kill David because of jealousy (1 Samuel 19v9-10) David would later spare Saul’s life.
However, controversy and King David during this time would walk hand in hand whether it was while he ran from King Saul or when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Even thereafter committing the heinous act (2 Samuel 11&12) in order to have Bathsheba to himself put Uriah at the front lines of the war so that he would be killed in order that he could have Bathsheba for himself (2 Samuel 11; 12). The union of Samuel and Bathsheba produced Solomon whom would also become king and be known as a very wise man.
The time frame for these kings varies between (www. biblestudy. com, mattherwmcgee. org and the Life Application Bibles) of 1050-930 BC and 1100-980. The Kingdom of Israel Divided – Approximately 935 or 928 BC after King Solomon died, the Hebrew Kingdom was divided into two separate nations known as Israel (the Northern 10) and (the Southern Tribes) also known as Judah. The capital of Israel was Samaria and the capital of Judah was Jerusalem. The Major Prophets – an era between the years of 740-540 BC (Merrill, 2008) Joshua, the Judges, Ruth, Samuel and the Kings.
In the book of Joshua we are told of Moses’ success as the leader of the Israelites and of course of Joshua’s victory of Jericho, where the walls came down after Joshua obeyed God’s command to march around the city wall seven times (Joshua 1v21). The Judges – fourteen in all – ruled from approximately 1410-1050 BC, which was from the time of Joshua’s death approximately, 1426 BC until King Saul’s appointment. The Books of Poetry/Writing/Kethubim (Hagiographa) – includes the book of Proverbs which are defined as wise, meaningful sayings about the nature of man and his life.
These Proverbs were mainly written by Solomon whom as stated before was deemed to be a very wise man, indeed (1060 BC reign). King David recorded many of his Psalms (prayers) to the Lord as well as his praises (Psalms 150) in the book of Psalms which has been recorded as the longest book of the Bible in both the old and the New Testaments. The Minor Prophets – During approximately 840-400 BC, the minor prophets also known as the greatest prophets of history – not named because their work was or any less importance – but because of the short length or their books from Hosea to Malachi, including Jonah.
Now Jonah decided to take it upon himself and disobey God by going into a complete opposite direction where God sent him to do His work ultimately, Jonah was swallowed up by a big fish after a huge storm encompassed the ship/boat which he took as a passenger to hide from God after God commissioned him to deliver the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1v17-2v10). “The history of the Old Testament could be called divine history. Because the story shows what God is doing in history, specifically His goal of bringing salvation to all mankind, this history is often called salvation history. Look for God and his purposes in the pages of the Old Testament. ” (Grand Canyon University, 2009)
References (2009). Retrieved July 5, 2009, from The Bible Study Website at Biblestudy. org Web site: http://www. biblestudy. org/beginner/timelineot. html Bibledstudy. org. (n. d. ). Retrieved July 5, 2009, from The Bible Study Website at Biblestudy. org Web site: http://www. biblestudy. org/beginner/timelineot. html Grand Canyon University. (2009). Retrieved July 5, 2009, from Grand Canyon University Web site: http://angel. cu. edu/section/default. asp? id=80010 Life Application Study Bible. (1997). Carol Stream, Illinois & Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan-Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. McGee, M. (1998). Retrieved July 5, 2009, from Matthew McGee Web site: http://www. matthewmcgee. org/ottimlin. html Merrill, E. H. (2008). Foundations for Study of the Old Testament. In An Historical Survey of the Old Testament (2nd Ed. ). Grand Rapids, Michigan: a division of Baker Publishing Group-Baker Academic.