The Bible Story: The Old Testament

2281 words - 9 pages

To speak of the Hebrew Scripture is to speak of story, a story stretching from the very beginning of time to only a few centuries before the beginning of the Common Era. It is to speak of richness of content, of purpose and of reality and to engross oneself in an overarching narrative that, depending on your personal convictions, continues to the present day. Within this richness is found a wide variety of different events and experience, told through a series of genre ranging from foundational myth to apocalypse, law giving to poetry, genealogy to wisdom and many more. Within this diversity however, three broad sections can be discerned that speak to a shared purpose and content, these are the sections of Law, Prophecy and Writings. It is the purpose of this talk then to examine each of these sections, identifying their commonality and differences and exploring why they exists as discernable sections. To achieve this, we will be led through a brief survey of each section, delving into the content and purpose of each with reference to the others. In addition to this we will also explore the three genres of foundational myth, type scene and wisdom that are found in these sections, discussing their features and how they have been used in specific circumstances as a part of the greater biblical narrative.

The first section of the Hebrew Scriptures we will be exploring is that of Law, or to use the original Hebrew term for it, ‘Torah’. This section is rich in narrative, encompassing the stories of creation and fall from Genesis as well as the foundational myths of Israel in the forms of the Patriarchs, Exodus, Law and the concept of the ‘Promised Land’. Involving the first five books of the canonical Hebrew Scriptures, this section holds the greatest authority and sanctity of all scripture within the Jewish faith, and the stories told within it are consistently referred back to throughout the remainder of the canon . The reason behind this is the very nature of the content in it and the purpose the authors invoked when placing in it the stories they did. As noted before, within this section is what are called the ‘foundational myths’ of Israel, that is, the stories of how the people and nation came to be and the explanation of its purpose and uniqueness among the nations of the world. The existence of these stories, and so the purpose of this section, works as a uniting force for this new people and new nation, reminding them of their common past and of the God who rescued them and made a covenant with them. This remembrance also has the effect of reinforcing the importance of keeping the covenant as a response to the saving acts of their God and as the true way to ensure the rewards of the covenant rather than the curses.

In comparison to this, the section of the Hebrew Scriptures known as ‘prophecy’ is a far harder collection from which to discern common threads in the sense of genre or content. Set as a continuation of the greater...

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