Misconceptions about Old Testament Law

A common misconception about the Old Testament is that it’s laws were meant for everyone. This is not so. The laws of the Old Testament were always handed down in the context of a covenant or treaty. The rules were always articulated in the context of a relationship. Outside of that covenant, that treaty, thatContinue reading “Misconceptions about Old Testament Law”

What books make up the Old Testament? 

While there is some disagreement between different Christian traditions regarding the extent of the Old Testament, these disagreements should be understood within the context of broad agreement overall. To begin with, the three main branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) as well as rabbinic Judaism all agree the Old Testament includes the core Hebrew texts, commonlyContinue reading “What books make up the Old Testament? “

Limits to war in the Old Testament

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace … This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, doContinue reading “Limits to war in the Old Testament”

Is the Torah redundant?

The other day I was reminded of a conversation I had with Rabbi Zalman Kastel at the last Anabaptist peace conference. It started with a question about the Old Testament. He asked me, if I recall correctly, if I regarded the Jewish law as “superceded” or “redundant”. After thinking this over I replied, “not exactly”. For,Continue reading “Is the Torah redundant?”

Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 3)

Another messianic prophecy with pacifist overtones: Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born,    to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace     there will be noContinue reading “Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 3)”

Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 1)

Yesterday I mentioned that holy war “often featured in the Old Testament, but not always.” I also mentioned that apocalyptic pacifism “emphasizes the difference between old and new covenants as a movement towards climax.” Today I would like to demonstrate how pacifism was anticipated “in the last days” by the prophets of the Old Testament.Continue reading “Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 1)”

Unconventional wisdom in the Old Testament

How’s this for a quick explanation of Ecclesiastes and Job: In the book of Job, God shows Job, who is identified as a most righteous man, that he is a sinner in God’s sight In the book of Ecclesiastes, God shows Solomon, who is identified as a most wise man, that he’s a fool in God’s sightContinue reading “Unconventional wisdom in the Old Testament”

Moses or Jesus?

Sometimes, when comparing the New Testament with the Old Testament, it is said that the God of the Old Testament is about wrath and judgement but the God of the New Testament is one of grace and love. Personally I find this way too simplistic. Not that I don’t see a significant difference between theContinue reading “Moses or Jesus?”

Violence in the Old Testament

Some forgotten teachings on violence from the Old Testament. Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. Job 16:17 yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. Psalm 11:5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence hisContinue reading “Violence in the Old Testament”

Why was God so intolerant of Canaanite religion?

Given the value our culture places on religious tolerance it can be very difficult for us to accept the intolerance we find attributed to God in the Old Testament. Why was God so negative towards Canaanite religion back in ancient times? Why did he forbid Israelites to mix with it? Why did he pass theContinue reading “Why was God so intolerant of Canaanite religion?”