Thursday, 24 April 2003

one way to understand the ot is from the jewish perspective. the jews divided their scriptures (which is similar to our ot) into 3 sections called Torah, Prophets and Writings. Under the first section, Torah, there are 5 books - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The second section, Prophets, has two sub-parts - Historical books (consisting of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and Prophetic Books (consisting of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets). Note the Jewish way of counting is different from the Christian. Samuel and Kings were originally only 2 books (we have split them further to make 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings). Also the Twelve Minor Prophets were counted as one book (since they were written in a single large scroll).
The third section, Writings, consists of the rest of the ot books - Psalms, Job, Proverbs, the 5 Scrolls (Song of Songs, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther), Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles. Note again, Chronicles was originally 1 book and so was Ezra and Nehemiah. That makes 24 books in all in the Jewish scriptures cf. with the Christian counting of 39 books.

Tuesday, 22 April 2003

one reason why many christians do not read the ot is out of sheer ignorance. they do not understand the book or fail to see any relevance in reading it today. i can understand because the ot has 39 books in all. many of them are obscure and difficult to read. e.g. who would want to read the book of leviticus today? seriously, what can any christian get out of reading about laws of sacrifices, consecration of priests etc? it all depends how you read the ot. i choose to read it from a literary perspective - treating the ot not just as God's word but also human beings' words. it was written by many different people thousands of years ago, but each with his or her literary talents and gifts that God employed. like any ancient literature e.g. Homer's Iliad or the Mahabrathra, one can employ literary techniques and skills to read and enjoy the high literary qualities of the ot that makes us wonder how God's word written in human words can still be powerful and life-transforming.