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Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew…

Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture

by R. W. L. Moberly

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In an e-mail exchange Walter Moberly told me that his ideal reader 'want[s] something that takes both scholarship and spirituality seriously.' For such readers he presents readings of several OT passages.

He makes a point of differentiating 'the world in the text', 'the world behind the text' and 'the world in front of the text'. All three need to be taken seriously. The world of the writer (behind the text) is not the same as the narrated world, and we also bring both other parts of the canon and the church's traditions to our readings of the texts. This is part of 'Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture'. It is important to keep in mind which world we are moving in. I found this distinction very useful. On the one hand, I understand the importance of placing passages in their own context, on the other hand, I read the Bible because it is scripture, and cannot place my reading outside of that context.

Moberly usually uses the NRSV translation, but on occasion differs from their interpretation. I wish my Hebrew were good enough to notice these things for myself, but he points out the usage of key terms in the Hebrew, pulling things together that are not obvious in translation. Other times he marks certain words in the translation and discusses why other choices might be prefered. To me this kind of discussion is fascinating. It seems to me that understanding the meaning of a text has to start with understanding the words on the 'page' but that a translation often fails to get that across.

I read the chapter 'Does God Change?' with particular interest. Here Moberly discusses passages where God is said to change his mind or even 'repent' of his decisions. Although this goes against some of our received definitions of God, he points out that this is part of God being in relationship with people.

The book starts by discussing the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). It moves on to other basic passages in the Torah, Isaiah, the Psalms, Job and Jonah. We are not given full readings of any of the books, or even of the chosen passages, but rather shown the challenges that the passages offer, and offered an indication of how these challenges could be faced. More, we are given tools to enable us to notice challenges in other passages.

Warning. The bibliographic footnotes are dangerous. They often convince me that I need to read that other book as well. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jul 16, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801048850, Hardcover)

A top Old Testament theologian known for his accessible and provocative writing probes what is necessary to understand and appropriate the Hebrew Bible as a fundamental resource for Christian theology and life today. This volume offers a creative example of theological interpretation, modeling a way of doing Old Testament theology that takes seriously both the nature of the biblical text as ancient text and also the questions and difficulties that arise as believers read this text in a contemporary context.

Walter Moberly offers an in-depth study of key Old Testament passages, highlighting enduring existential issues in the Hebrew Bible and discussing Jewish readings alongside Christian readings. The volume is representative of the content of Israel's Scripture rather than comprehensive, yet it discusses most of the major topics of Old Testament theology. Moberly demonstrates a Christian approach to reading and appropriating the Old Testament that holds together the priorities of both scholarship and faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:00 -0400)

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