CHI - An Historical Theology of the Old Testament by John...

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An Historical Theology of the Old Testament by John R. Tyson I. Historical-Theological Introduction: The Old Testament (OT) can be a very intimidating body of sacred literature. Its size (39 books which are divided into nearly 900 chapters), and its span (more than 2,000 years of Israel's history) dwarf that of the more familiar New Testament. One of the challenges created by the sheer size and span of the OT is the difficulty of viewing it as a coherent whole. One's attention is more apt to be drawn to a particular book or corpus of literature within the OT (such as the Pentateuch, or Wisdom Literature), and even a careful reading of the various parts of the OT does not necessarily give a clear understanding of the historical events and foundational themes that unite these remarkable books into harmonious corpus of sacred literature. In my view, the historical character of the OT revelation offers a very productive point of departure in our quest for the unifying themes and theological significance of the OT. The OT revelation, which is faithfully preserved for us in the inspired OT text, was given through history; indeed, revelation came to the people of God through a very particular history -- the history of Israel. Theology, an understanding of God and the world and what God requires of us, is not something to be added to OT history as though it were not already present by virtue of its revelatory quality, nor is OT theology something that has to be extracted from OT history as though the inspired texts do not self-consciously witness to the LORD, God of Israel; hence, an historical-theological inquiry into the patterns discernable in the OT texts promises to be a fruitful inquiry that corresponds well to the nature of the Old Testament text. Yet, it is difficult, as can be observed in the work of so many OT scholars, 1 to strike a balance between the 1 Cf. Gerhard Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), fourth edition.
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historical form of the Old Testament record and the desire of the biblical theologian to analyze, order, and collect the teachings of OT texts and organize them into a coherent whole. Biblical theology is an inductive, historical, and descriptive discipline, which seeks to understand the biblical texts in their historical and theological context, and to report the biblical witness in a way that communicates the abiding significance of the OT teaching to modern readers. In view of this on-going discussion, something should be said regarding my own view of OT history; in my view, OT faith and OT history are inextricably woven together. The dramatic and revelatory events of the OT record are real history, they are not "faith-history" or some kind of alternative history that is the creation of Israel's faith. OT history is the chosen medium for Divine revelation. Brevard Child's "canonical approach" to OT theology strikes a responsive note. He urges that a reliable approach to the OT must ". .. overcome the sharp
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course REL THEL 353 taught by Professor Tyson during the Spring '08 term at Houghton College.

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CHI - An Historical Theology of the Old Testament by John...

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