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Saint Anne Adult Forum. Part 2: The Biblical Perspective. Old Testament History. Outline. Part 1: History of Israel from archeology (last wk) Part 2: History of Israel as described in the OT

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part 2 the biblical perspective

Saint Anne Adult Forum

Part 2: The Biblical Perspective

Old Testament History

  • Part 1: History of Israel from archeology (last wk)
  • Part 2: History of Israel as described in the OT
    • Personal Statement: We do not worship the Bible, but rather God who is both subject and inspiration of the Bible
themes in the hebrew bible
Themes in the Hebrew Bible

History of Israel can be understood in several dimensions:

  • A “Call & Response” between YHWH and his people
  • Conflict between itinerant tribes and agrarian areas
  • A God-centered society and one based on human institutions
  • A small country located between two superpowers

All of these are themes that are present in the Bible and in the history of the Jewish people, and are important to understanding this period

timeline of the hebrew bible
Timeline of the Hebrew bible
  • Abram departs for Canaan c. 1950 BC
  • Movement from Oral Tradition to written scriptures starts c. 700 BC
    • Motivated by destruction of Israel?
  • Canon – Group of books that accurately reflect the understanding of the community about their relationship with God.
    • OT: Movement started 450 BCE, finished by 100 AD
    • Council of Jammiac. 90 AD
    • Text edited/refined till 1000 AD; “points” used to indicate agreed-upon vowels
  • Context is everything
    • When written?
    • Why written?
    • Victors write the history

1200 Years Ago

(700s & 800s AD)

  • Gunpowder invented
  • Muslims conquer Spain
  • Charlemagne rules Germany
  • Battle of Tours - 732
  • Algebra invented
  • Vikings sack London - 851
the patriarchs abram abraham
The patriarchs – Abram/Abraham
  • Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
    • How people of God came to know God, and to define their identity in terms of their relationship to God
  • Genesis 12:1-4
    • Faithful
    • Inclusive
    • Old!
  • Genesis 12:10-20
    • Covenant with Abram is based on demonstrated faith, not on his (limited) personal righteousness

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio

the patriarchs jacob
The patriarchs - Jacob
  • Abraham represents Israel in her ideal form; the elect people of God who depend on faith for Salvation
  • Jacob is a symbol of the reality; constant doubt and dubious actions
  • Theme of Morality & Election
    • Essau is more worthy, more likeable, more deserving
    • Jacob receives the birthright
    • YHWH’s election is what counts, not human understanding of justice

the exodus egypt to sinai
The Exodus - Egypt to Sinai
  • Provided context for the Hebrews as “the people of God”
  • Contest between Moses & Pharaoh
    • Really between Yahweh & Egyptian Gods
  • Miracles of the plagues: Mechanism isn’t the priority; it’s the divine cause. Outcome is glory for YHWH
  • Goal of the Exodus: Remove the Hebrews to a location with the freedom to worship YHWH
  • Passover: Most important cultic rite in Israel’s history
    • Centered in home, not the temple
    • Permitted post-70 AD ritual
    • Shared understanding of what it takes to belong

Moses before the Pharaoh, a 6th-century miniature from the Syriac Bible of Paris

the exodus moses
The Exodus - Moses
  • Early covenants were between YHWH and individuals
  • With Moses, God established covenant with an entire people
    • This can be interpreted as the true beginning of the Jewish people
  • Order of the stories is important
    • First, the people are delivered
    • Then, the covenants & laws
    • Grace is freely given, followed by the structure
    • Paul used this argument in the early post-Easter church against those who argued that following Jewish law must precede salvation

the exodus conquest of canaan
The Exodus – Conquest of Canaan
  • Two versions:
  • Joshua: Rapid & Total; why?
    • National pride
    • Deuteronomist Theology – Avoid anything that involved blending worship of YHWH & the Canaanite Baals (Syncretism)
    • Hero – Show Joshua as worthy successor to Moses
  • Judges: Gradual & piecemeal over time
    • Judges 1:1 – 2:5
    • Text

The Taking of Jericho

(Jean Fouquet, c.1452–1460)


deuteronomist history theology
Deuteronomist History/Theology
  • Starts with Deuteronomy, includes Joshua, Judges, Samuel, & Kings,
  • Associated with Josiah’s reforms; written with a particular theological goal, late 600’s BC
  • Theology – Continuing cycle of
    • Sin (esp. Apostasy, abandoning YHWH)
    • Punishment
    • Repentance, and
    • Deliverance
  • Recast relationship between Judah and YHWH; distinctly anti-monarchist slant
    • Israel sinned in moving to Kings, and defeat/exile were the punishment
    • Centralization of worship in Jerusalem Temple

“Newly discovered” Book of the Law is read to 26-year old Josiah (II Chron 34)

exile return
Exile & return
  • Israel destroyed c720 BC
  • Judah exiled & Temple destroyed c587 BC
  • Isaiah & Cyrus (Ch’s 40-55)
    • Prophesy? Or retelling of History?
    • Either way, YHWH is the Lord of History
  • Return to Judea and rebuilding of Temple 538-515 BC
  • Cyrus Cylinder – Although not mentioning them by name, permitted Jews to return from captivity

Maximum Extent of Persia under Cyrus the Great

c. 530 BC; housed in British Museum

additional themes in the hebrew bible
Additional Themes in the Hebrew Bible
  • The Hebrews started as a nomadic people, but their transition to “The People of God” was tied very tightly to a specific land and, later, the Temple in Jerusalem
    • The Babylonian exile and associated theological reforms eased this connection with the land, and prepared the Jews for survival in a post-temple world (post-70 AD).
  • The Hebrews showed, time and again, a lack of faithfulness to YHWH. (Even the patriarchs were lacking!)
    • God’s grace, and our salvation, aren’t dependant on our ability to live up to God’s standards.