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, that … Continue reading Misconceptions about Old Testament Law
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, commonly … Continue reading What books make up 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, do … Continue reading Limits to war in the Old Testament
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 He asked me, if I recall correctly, if I regarded the Jewish law as "superceded" or "redundant".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?
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 no … Continue reading Pacifist Prophecies in the Old Testament (Part 3)
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)
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 sight … Continue reading Unconventional wisdom 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 his … Continue reading Violence in the Old Testament
Strange question you think? Let me explain. One of the stumbling blocks I find coming up again and again in interfaith conversations, particularly with Atheists and Gnostics, is the difficulty they experience in reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament. I am sympathetic to this. I had similar … Continue reading Is the God of the Old Testament Christian?
One of the difficulties people sometimes experience with Christianity is understanding how the Old Testament and New Testament relate to one another. This is nothing new, as far back as the second century there were guys like Marion who struggled with this, teaching that the god of the Old Testament was not the true God, … Continue reading Understanding the Old Testament