A few people have asked exactly what I am studying in my current OT class, and wanted to know a few details, so I decided to write about it where I can give a more detailed explanation than I could through a text message.
Last night I spent the majority of my time studying in the book of Isaiah, as that is the point I have reached in my OT class. We covered the Historical books first (Genesis-Esther), followed by the Writings (Job-Songs), and have now ventured into the Major Prophets (Isaiah-Daniel). Hosea-Malachi will be next.
We have 2 textbooks. One is a very brief overview of each OT book, while the other is very detailed. For the detailed one, the lesson follows the format below:
- Authorship and Date
- Differing opinions in academia and the evidence presented by each
- Explanation of the intended audience
- Cultural/political situation at time of writing
- Evaluation of the critical methods of analysis
- Individual scholars’ approaches and explanations
- How the book compares to other Ancient Near Eastern literature of the same type (Egyptian, Babylonian, etc – similarities and differences)
- Structure of the book
- Contents (summary of each chapter or division)
- Theology of the book (Main purpose/message)
- Text of the book: explanation of the original sources (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Qumran Texts/Dead Sea Scrolls)
This has been the best class of my life, thus far. I have learned SO MUCH about Biblical history, as well as Ancient Near Eastern literature (Egyptian/Babylonian/Greek) in general: So much of it is similar to Biblical history when looking in a broad sense. Many of the “stories” are the same overall, with differences (some major, some minor) in character and theology. The Epic of Gilgamesh is probably the most fascinating to me, as it is such a parallel to Noah and the flood, but so completely opposite. It is fascinating!!!
My biggest takeaway from all of this is: it is all connected. It is like reading different versions of the same story, tailored to a particular culture/ethnicity. And I have never been more convinced in my life that there is a creator we call God. We are all part of the same story, we just tell different versions based on our perceptions.
Every OT book I read, I think “Oh this is my new favorite.” I used to think Ruth was my favorite book of the OT. Then it turned to Esther and Job. Last week it was Psalms and Proverbs. This week it’s Isaiah. Next week it will probably be something different. I can’t get enough. My class is almost over and I will really be sad when it is. I know for sure this is something I will continue to research once I’m done.
This morning I woke up and wrote a poem, after reading through most of the book of Isaiah last night. I hope you enjoy.