A Byzantine Perspective
The Old Testament was composed over a period of more than one thousand years. There were many political, cultural and literary influences on the many authors that composed these books. In this lesson we provide the tools to examine the literature to understand what meaning we can find in them today.
We also look at how and why the books of the Old Testament were written as they were. Understanding the original mission and the first christians interpretation of these texts provides the launching point for our prayful meditation today.
The creation story, the fall and the selection of a human family to bring us back to God provide fertile ground for prayer and meditation. The early church fathers found the entire nature of our existence in Genesis.
The image of Christ is found by Christians in Genesis from the very primordial beginings. Gensis also provides the basic story that repeats again and again in the Old Testament. God creates good, we corrupt, God calls us to a new creation.Genesis Lecture
Exodus provides the foundation of the relationship between God and the Jewish people, including Jesus and the first Christians. We perfect this celebration in the Resurrection of Christ (Easter). The Exodus is the pattern on which our whole celebration of Christs Resurrection and Eucharist are built.
The giving of the law on mount Sinai culminates the Exodus experience with the manifestation of God's love. Chirst gives the law to Moses, just as Christ creates the world in Genesis, just as Christ renews and saves us in his resurrection.Covenant Lecture
The prophets ofthe Old Testament are not like the seers in The Star. They did not go around predicting the future. They called God's people to obey the law of Sinai. Sometimes this involved predicting dire events in the future to scare the people into the right way of life.
The life of a prophet was blessed by personal contact with the spirit of the Lord and cursed by the need to tell powerful people they are behaving badly. The prophets still speak to us today to remind us to live the life God intends for us and allow the Lord to take control of our lives.Prophets Lecture
Messianic Prophecy and Apocalyptic
Jesus is the Messiah, Christ in Greek, the anointed one in English. Jesus is heir to a long tradition of annoited leaders in the Old Testament. From the first king Saul the prophets of God annointed the choosen leaders. By the time of Jesus two types of messiah were expected, the royal and the priestly. Christians saw both in Jesus.
Apocalyptic literature widely circulated the image of the messiah conquering the evil of this world. Apochalypses encouraged a persecuted people to persevere in their faith as God will save them. This widely abused and misunderstood literature was a popular genre during the life of Jesus but very few examples were included in scripture.
The eclectic collection of literature that is neither Torah or Prophets are lumped together in the catagory of The Writings. Here we have the beauty of the Song of Songs and the powerful prayers of the Psalms. The search for wisdom is a common theme in this collection. Wisdom is seen as the source of all our knowledge of God so the early Christians associated this with Christ.
The Psalms have a profound impact on Jewish worship and this formed the basis for all early Christian worship as well. The breadth and depth of the poetry of prayer in the Psalms nurtures us in liturgy. Morning, noon and night and through the seasons of the year the Psalms call us to commune with God in prayer.
This is a printable version of the entire student notes provided for the class. The links below provide short cuts to each lesson. Permission is granted to reprint and distribute for non-profit and educational purposes.