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What is the Old Testament and Why Study It?. Encountering the Old Testament Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer. Canon. Definition: Canon comes for the Hebrew word qaneh and the Greek word kanon. Both signified a reed or measuring stick.

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what is the old testament and why study it

What is the Old Testament and Why Study It?

Encountering the Old Testament

Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer



Canon comes for the Hebrew word qaneh and the Greek word kanon.

Both signified a reed or measuring stick.


The Biblical ‘canon’ was a measuring standard for faith and practice. People could compare their lives to what the Bible required.Canon could also be a standard to which the biblical writings themselves must conform.

inspiration how was the bible written
Inspiration: How was the Bible written?

We know the Bible was inspired by God’s Spirit through man. But How? There are several theories as to how God accomplished this feat.

bible affirmation of the god breathed word
Bible Affirmation of the God Breathed Word.

II Timothy 3:16,17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

four most common theories
Four Most Common Theories

* Neo-Orthodox Theory* Dictation Theory* Limited Inspiration Theory* Plenary Verbal Inspiration TheoryPlenary – full or completeVerbal – God’s inspiration extended to every word the writer chose.

neo orthodox theory
Neo-Orthodox Theory

Two Leading Promoters * Karl Darth and Emil Bruner* began in the early 20th century* born as a reaction to liberalism’s disregard for divine authority

neo orthodox theory1
Neo-Orthodox Theory

God is utterly transcendent, that is, he is absolutely different from us and far beyond our comprehension. We can only know something about God is He reveals Himself to us, as He did in Jesus Christ.

neo orthodox theory2
Neo-Orthodox Theory

The Bible is a witness to the Word of God, or contains the Word. As people encountered God they recorded their experiences as best they could, but sometimes those accounts contained errors.

neo orthodox theory3
Neo-Orthodox Theory

These witnesses help others understand God better. As others experience God’s Word through these accounts the accounts become God’s Word all over again.

neo orthodox theory4
Neo-Orthodox Theory

While it is nice that Neo- Orthodox supporters have such a high view of God, The Word is much more than a news report of experiences.


II Timothy 3:16,17 (seen above) II Peter I:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

dictation theory
Dictation Theory

This theory suggests that God simply dictated the Bible to human scribes. God chose certain individuals to record His word and gave them the exact words He wanted.


While this view does not generally appear in print, it is a common opinion held by some conservative Christians.


Scripture does suggest that God may have communicated a precise word-for-word message to human authors.


Jer. 26:2"This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD's house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.

rev 2 1 8
Rev. 2:1,8

1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:       These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:

rev 2 1 81
Rev. 2:1,8

8"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:      These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.


At other times scripture bears out that authors were allowed to express their own personalities as they wrote.


Gal. 1:6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—


Gal.3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.


Phil 1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

Phil 1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy


Still, the Holy Spirit insured that the finished work accurately communicated God’s intentions.

Therefore, this theory contains biblical truth, but not totally.


Limited Inspiration Theory

God inspired the thoughts of the biblical writers, but not necessarily the words they chose. God guided the writers as they wrote, but gave them the freedom to express His thought in their own ways.


Limited Inspiration Theory

Because the writers had this freedom, the historical details they wrote may contain errors. However, the Holy Spirit protected the doctrinal portions of Scripture from any errors to safeguard God’s message of salvation.


This theory recognizes that the Bible contains statements that are hard to resolve. But is the best solution to admit or concede that the Word may contain errors?


The Bible places great importance upon historical details. Romans 5:12-21 requires that one believe in a historical Adam.


Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— …


Matthew 12:41

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.


Jesus states that there were actual men of Nineveh, and there was a Noah who preached to them.


Archaeologists eventually find evidence to prove that historical sites in the Bible exist. Should we not just trust The Word, and wait for evidence to show up to verify what God has said all along?


Plenary Verbal Inspiration Theory

Like the other thoughts, this view holds that the Holy Spirit interacted with man to produce the Bible.


Plenary Verbal Inspiration Theory

Plenary – full or completePlenary inspiration asserts that God’s inspiration extends to all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.


Plenary Verbal Inspiration Theory

God guided the writers no less when they recorded historical details than when they discussed doctrinal matters.


Verbal – refers to the

words of Scripture

God’s inspiration extended to the very words the writer chose. But it defers from the dictation theory.


Writers could have chosen other words, and God allowed the writer’s personal expression in the writing, but the Holy Spirit so guided the process


Plenary Verbal Inspiration seems to fit biblical evidence best. It recognizes human differences in writing. It also affirms that the Holy Spirit is the Bible’s ultimate author.


The Bible is trustworthy. It provides

  • reliable information
  • Insights into history

It describes God’s plan, reveals life’s highest meaning, and helps us be all God wants us to be.

Plenary Verbal Inspiration Important Implication


2. The Bible is Authoritative.

  • It is God’s word and speaks with God’s authority.
  • It calls for us to read, understand and submit to it, whether we agree or are comfortable with its guidelines or not.

Plenary Verbal Inspiration Important Implication


This concept of the Bible seems to best fit the declaration of faith of the Church of God. Our first declaration of faith states that, “We believe in the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible.”

Plenary Verbal Inspiration Important Implication


The Church of God believes the whole Bible to be completely and equally inspired and that it is the written Word of God.

moses called the word of god life itself

Moses called the Word of God life itself.

Deuteronomy 46 he said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.


47 They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."



what will you call the word
What will you call the Word?

Proverbs 4:20-22My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.