Old Testament Survey - Lesson 1

Form and Message of the Old Testament

In this lesson on the Old Testament, referred to here as the "First Testament," explore its form, message, and common misconceptions. Gain insight into the historical, geographical, and cultural contexts that often make the First Testament challenging for contemporary readers. The lesson emphasizes the frequent misuse and misunderstandings of the text, such as proof-texting, selective reading, and the misapplication of its teachings. It addresses the language barrier (Hebrew and Aramaic) and the physical and cultural distance from the events and people described. Dr. Block also critiques several "myth conceptions," like the idea that the First Testament is outdated or less ethical than the New Testament. 

Daniel Block
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Form and Message of the Old Testament

I. Introduction to the First Testament

A. Overview of the Session's Theme

1. Introduction to the overall theme: Discovering the Grace and the Glory of God in the First Testament

B. Common Misconceptions and Issues with the First Testament

1. Avoidance of the First Testament in study and teaching

2. Misuse of the First Testament for illustrative purposes in sermons

3. Proof texting from the First Testament for doctrinal issues

4. Selective focus on popular passages only

5. Biographical usage: Misinterpreting characters as models

6. Lack of proper contextual interpretation

7. Spiritualization of texts

8. Reading the Bible backward (from New to Old Testament)

9. Christologizing Old Testament texts

10. Superstitious uses in devotional contexts

11. Challenges of language, geography, and culture

II. The Problem with the First Testament

A. The Naming Issue

1. Discussion on the term "Old Testament" vs. "First Testament"

B. Myth Conceptions and Misconceptions

1. Ritualistic misconception: View of outdated rituals

2. Historical misconception: Irrelevance of ancient events

3. Ethical misconception: Perceived inferior ethics

4. Literary misconception: Unfamiliar literary forms

5. Divine misconception: Conflicting views of God

6. Dogmatic misconception: Ideological biases against the First Testament

III. Structural Overview of the First Testament

A. Organization of the Text

1. The Hebrew canon: Torah, Prophets, and Writings

2. The Catholic and Orthodox canon: Inclusion of the Apocrypha

3. The Protestant canon: Law, History, Poetry, and Prophets

IV. Unity and Message of the First Testament

A. Consistent Themes Across Testaments

1. Presentation of a unified message of grace

2. Representation of God's character and covenant

V. Interpretation and Application

A. Principles for Reading the First Testament

1. Treating the text as sacred scripture

2. Aiming for a life-transforming understanding

3. Maintaining a high view of scripture integrity

4. Reading holistically, respecting the entire biblical canon

5. Employing varied hermeneutical strategies

6. Viewing within the context of the entire canon and revelation history

7. Basing theology on scriptural evidence rather than preconceptions

  • Learning about the First Testament's language, geographical, and cultural contexts, and how these factors contribute to its frequent misinterpretation and underappreciation in modern times.
  • Gain insights into the literary and cosmic foundations of grace and glory in the Torah, understanding its role as more than law.
  • Learn that to be made in God's image entails embodying divine qualities and functioning as His representative on Earth, which extends a universal dignity upon all humans and shapes a theological ethic that influences how you treat others.
  • Genesis 1-3 frames human response to divine creation, emphasizing human dignity, work's moral role, free will's consequences, and the persistent grace amid sin.
  • This lesson reviews the Israelite covenant, understanding its stages, implications, and its role in God's redemptive plan.
  • Gain insights into Abraham's covenant with God, exploring his faith and God's promises.
  • Learn how the Exodus from Egypt marked Israel's transformation from a family to a nation under Yahweh.
  • Understand how the covenant at Sinai transforms Israel from slaves into a treasured nation destined for a divine mission, fulfilling God's ancient promises.
  • This lesson covers the covenantal expectations at Sinai. The covenantal agreement provided a constitutional and ethical framework for societal living, focusing on community rights and responsibilities.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into how the tabernacle was both a physical manifestation of God's presence and a profound symbol of His grace, emphasizing the holiness and detailed guidance He provided to the Israelites for worship and daily life.
  • Gain insights into Deuteronomy, recognizing its focus on teaching rather than legislation, and understanding Moses' role as an instructor of Yahweh's will.
  • In this lesson, you explore how to interpret the First Testament's historiographic writings, emphasizing the divine inspiration and literary artistry that guide the selective storytelling and theological themes.
  • Learn how the books of Joshua and Judges illustrate the fulfillment and failure of Israel's covenant with Yahweh, highlighting divine promise, cultural assimilation, and the cyclical nature of faith and apostasy.
  • The Book of Ruth, highlights divine providence, social justice, and personal righteousness while exploring the role of Boaz as a pivotal figure in maintaining the lineage of King David.
  • Samuel had a significant yet complex role in Israel's history; judge, priest, prophet, and crucial figure in establishing monarchy.
  • Learn of David's central role in the Bible, understanding his unique portrayal and the extensive attention he receives compared to other figures.
  • Learn about the Davidic covenant's role in shaping biblical history and theology, emphasizing its eternal impact on Israel and beyond.
  • The books of Kings and Chronicles use historical events to underline theological themes, highlighting the role of scribes in documenting Israel’s history.
  • In this lesson on 1 and 2 Kings, review the downfall of Israel through kings' forgetfulness of God's covenants.
  • Learn about Solomon's temple's historical and theological significance, its divine design and purpose, and its role in Israelite worship and communal life.
  • Gain insights into the transformation and resilience of the Judean people during their exile in Babylon from 586-539 BC, exploring their struggles and adaptations in a new socio-political and religious context.
  • Learn about Daniel's exemplary life in Babylon, his integrity, and his prophetic visions, which highlight divine sovereignty and the vindication of the faithful amidst calamities.
  • Review the Persian period's impact on the Jewish diaspora, analyze the Book of Esther's literary and theological significance, and reflect on divine providence and cultural identity.
  • Explore the crucial roles of Ezra and Nehemiah in reconstructing the Jewish community and faith post-exile, understanding their historical significance, source materials, and theological insights.
  • Gain insight into the roles and significance of prophets in ancient Israel, learning about their historical context, and their critical function in guiding and correcting the nation through direct communication from Yahweh.
  • Learn about the lives and ministries of prophets Amos and Hosea, their calls for justice and return to divine covenant amidst Israel's political and spiritual turmoil, through prophetic books that blend personal biography with national prophecy.
  • This lesson reviews Jonah's struggle with divine grace and Micah's advocacy for justice and the messianic hope.
  • In this lesson, you learn how Isaiah's vision portrays the Messiah as king, servant, and conqueror, emphasizing his divine roles and global mission.
  • Learn of the political and social contexts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel's exile, including Babylon's rise, Jerusalem's fall, and the crisis of faith portrayed in Lamentations, emphasizing hope amid despair through God's faithfulness.
  • Learn about Jeremiah's life and prophetic ministry, navigating challenges with kings, themes in the Book of Jeremiah, and profound passages on true religion and a future covenant, offering lessons on prophetic burdens, God's faithfulness, and spiritual transformation.
  • Explore Ezekiel's life as a priest in exile, his bizarre actions, and profound messages revealing Yahweh's passion and eternal promises of judgment and restoration.
  • Learn about Nahum and Joel's prophecies on judgment, hope, and Yahweh's character. Explore the day of the Lord and the expansion of the covenant community.
  • Explore Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah's prophecies. Discover themes of judgment, faith, and restoration in God's plan.
  • Gain insight into Haggai's role in motivating temple rebuilding during the Persian rule. His brief yet impactful ministry fosters hope and action amid community disillusionment, recoginizing God's presence and reign.
  • Gain deep insight into Hebrew poetry: its forms, parallelism, acrostics, and emotional depth. Explore its celebration and lamentation of Yahweh's glory.
  • Gain insight into Psalms which reflect diverse emotions and experiences. Structured into five divisions, attributed to various authors, their interpretation involves understanding Torah context, literary devices, and applying timeless principles to life.
  • Explore biblical wisdom's depth: from practical skill to moral insight, rooted in the fear of Yahweh. It contrasts with secular knowledge, emphasizing God's order and universal application.
  • Engage with Proverbs to unravel its diverse wisdom, from aphorisms to discourses. Understand its practical guidance for righteous living and leadership.
  • Discover the Song of Songs, a rich exploration of love's nature. From its allegorical interpretations to its celebration of covenantal love, it examines human relationships with wisdom and depth.
  • The book of Job offers insights into faith and suffering, exploring theological themes and character dynamics. It emphasizes trust in God amid life's most difficult trials.
  • Uncover Ecclesiastes' profound journey from despair to hope. Koheleth's existential ponderings contrast with the narrator's faith, urging a shift from worldly pursuits to finding fulfillment in God's sovereignty.

This Old Testament Survey course offers a deep exploration of the Old Testament's literary structure, divine covenants, and historical context. Lessons cover the Pentateuch, emphasizing its narrative over legalistic interpretations, and extend through key biblical figures like Abraham and Moses. Topics such as the covenant at Sinai, the concept of imago Dei, and the tabernacle rituals highlight the continuity of God's grace and the ethical implications of divine laws. The course critically addresses common misconceptions, the role of the Torah as instruction, and the portrayal of God’s plan, underscoring the relevance and complexity of these ancient texts.

Dr. Daniel Block 
Old Testament Survey
Form and Message of the Old Testament
Lesson Transcript


Hello everybody, it's a delight for me to spend a few sessions with you on the First Testament, which most people call the Old Testament, but we'll talk about that problem in a moment. I'm going to be hop, skipping, and jumping through the First Testament, trying to highlight for you how the grace and the glory of God are revealed in this, the three quarters of our scriptures. So my overall theme is, Discovering the Grace and the Glory of God, the Gospel, according to the First Testament.

In this first session, we are going to talk about the form and message of grace and glory, introducing us all to the study of the First Testament itself. Now, I probably don't have to remind you that the problem, the First Testament, is a problem for lots of people. How do we know it's a problem? Well, I can give you a dozen symptoms of the malady that affects the church today.

First, we avoid the First Testament. We don't look at it. We institute walk-through-the-Bible approaches to the First Testament, which is actually what I'm going to be doing in this series of lessons, and I'm a bit embarrassed about that because I am sending the signal to some that walking through the Bible approaches are all we need to do, and yet we don't realize that if that's all we do, we are sending the people a signal that we actually don't have to take it seriously.

Third problem, our illustrative abusage of the Old Testament. I hear lots of people saying, I like the Old Testament. I use it for sermon illustrations.

Well, that's not actually helpful. Fourth, proof texting abusage. We go to the First Testament only when we need a proof text for some doctrinal issue that we are trying to get across.

Fifth, selective abusage. We have our favorite passage, Psalm 23, Isaiah 53, whatever. We have our few favorite passages, but we just completely neglect the rest.

Our biographical abusage. We look to the characters in the Old Testament as models of what we should be when in actual fact they are usually the problems that God has to overcome to get his work done. Seven, we jump quickly to application, and we rarely spend time actually asking, what did this text mean for the first audience for whom it was written? Eight, we spiritualize the text of the First Testament.

For instance, everything has a spiritual meaning. The oil in the First Testament is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, so that when we talk about Elisha who provides the oil for the widow, we really have to end that whole conversation by paraphrasing Elisha's instruction to the widow, now go and sell the Holy Spirit, and you'll be all right. Of course that doesn't work.

Nine, we read the Bible backwards. We start from the New Testament, and then we read everything in the light of the New Testament rather than the other way around, which raises all kinds of questions. Ten, we Christologize all the Old Testament texts.

We try to find Christ, the Messiah everywhere, and that's difficult in some texts like Proverbs and Job and Ecclesiastes, or we sloganize the text by writing songs that have all kinds of titles for God and his Messiah, and in the process, for people who don't actually know what those titles mean in the Bible, it makes no sense at all. And then finally, of course, our magical use or mantic use of the First Testament. For morning devotions, we're going to say, I'm going to open my Bible, and wherever my finger falls, that's my verse for today.

I know of people who do that, and I'm sure sometimes that it works out that way, but it is actually not very, very helpful. Well, why is the First Testament a problem? Well, there are lots of reasons. We could talk about the language of the First Testament.

It's written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Well, most of us are speaking English or some other language, but not Hebrew and Aramaic, so we have to overcome that problem. A second problem is all these events and these prophets came from a world far removed from our own geographically.

If you look on a map like this, the one I have here, Hittites and Assyrians and Babylonians and Persians and Egyptians and Canaanites, I don't see the U.S. of A. anywhere on that picture, and so we have trouble translating the teaching that was supposed to apply to that world to our own. That's the geographic problem, and then, of course, there's the cultural world of the First Testament. It is written by people who thought and wrote in ancient Near Eastern ways.

We're not very close. Just yesterday, I rode to the airport in a cab, and the cab driver was from Ghana. In that conversation, a very interesting conversation, he happens to be a Christian, and he was driving me, escorting me to the airport, and he said he loves the Old Testament because he grew up in a world where the Old Testament views of society and life are so much like what he grew up with in Ghana in Africa.

But for us Westerners, that's far removed, and especially if we live in our big urban centers. There's nothing like that in the Bible. Well, contributing to the problem with the facts of geography and culture and language, we have a series of misconceptions about the First Testament.

I've created a new word here. I really mean misconceptions, but they are myths. There is the ritualistic myth conception, which says that the First Testament is preoccupied with boring, ritualistic trivia, all the sacrifices and all the rituals that they have to do for purification and for cleaning your house when the walls are moldy and whatever else.

In any case, not only is it preoccupied with rituals, but these are declared to be obsolete in Christ. So why do I need to bother with this? That's the ritualistic myth conception. Second, there's the historical myth conception.

The First Testament supposedly concerns times and events so far removed from our own that what it has to say is hopelessly out of date and out of step with our world, and we forget that all of humankind shares certain unchanging qualities and characteristics, and what was true of the people then is often typically true of us today. Then there's the ethical misconception. We tend to interpret the First Testament as espousing a standard of ethics that's grossly inferior, not only to the New Testament where the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is replaced by love your neighbor, but in many respects, some people reject the First Testament because we are far more enlightened about life, and we know better than they ever did then.

So there is that myth conception. Fourth, there's the literary myth conception. The First Testament is written in literary forms that are so different from the kinds of materials we read that we cannot understand them.

Have you read the Song of Songs lately? Those of you men who are married, you do not want to tell your wife, your belly is a heap of wheat. How in the world can that be a compliment? I mean it's a different world. It's a cartoonish kind of metaphor for us.

Then there's the divine myth conception. The First Testament presents a view of God that is unbecoming to deity and in conflict with the New Testament and especially modern commitments to tolerance and diversity. Why can't you just accept everybody? In the First Testament, God is not very tolerant.

And then finally, there is the dogmatic myth conception. For many of us, dogmatic and ideological prejudices prevent us from seeing the value, let alone experiencing the life-giving quality of the First Testament. There is, for example, heretical Marcionism.

He was a heretic from the early Christian times, and he argued that the God of the Israelites was actually a different God from the God of the New Testament, and for that reason he abandoned all the Old Testament, which is what most of us call it, and much of the New Testament. Anything in the New Testament that affirms the First Testament, he rejected as well. It left him with a very small Bible.

Then there's Neo-Lutheranism. This is my mantra for the view that it's grace versus law. You can't have a world in which it's grace and law.

The two are antithetical comments. Either law, which is what we have in the First Testament, or grace, which is what we get in the New Testament. I grew up in a dispensationalist world, and there are elements of extreme dispensationalism where the First Testament is dismissed.

The first principle of interpretation is figure out to which dispensation a biblical text applies. Well, all of the First Testament applies to the previous dispensation, and therefore we don't need to take it seriously, and that's another reason why it's a dead book. And then there's extreme Anabaptism.

This is also my tradition, but in our world we have exaggerated especially the ethical differences between First and New Testament, where there is a big divide between the two Testaments, and the view of ethical views are quite different in our Anabaptist world. We have trouble making sense of the First Testament. The effects of the problem.

What's happened here? Why is this problem such a tragedy? Well, we can identify several effects of this. There's a woeful ignorance of the First Testament in our churches. There's a sorrowful misunderstanding and under-interpretation of the New Testament.

We'll use some of these illustrations as I go along. There's a fundamentally heretical and Marcionite stance on Scripture. There are lots of Neo-Marcians around, and there's an impoverished culture.

You use a metaphor from the First Testament these days, people don't even understand it. They've never heard of it. And finally, there is a discredited evangelical Christianity.

We approach the texts of the First Testament often with principles and hermeneutical rules that leave outsiders shaking their heads. Really? Was the biblical author really intending that in that text? And as a result, they don't take us seriously at all. Well, these are the effects of the problem of the First Testament.

How are we going to solve this? Well, I suppose the first thing we have to do is talk about what is the First Testament, and you've already heard me use the expression First Testament. What you call something matters. If you're trying to publish a book, your publisher is going to be very interested in what you name the book, because people pick it up or leave it based on what it's called.

Why is the word, the expression, Old Testament a problem? Well, if it's old, that means it's irrelevant. If it's new, that means we've got to put stock in its value. But if it's old, the other side of this one is Old Testament is not a biblical notion.

The Bible tells one story, and that is the story of God's grand plan of redemption. It's not one failed story, and so we go to the New Testament, which actually worked. That's a myth conception and a misconception.

It's one story of which the New Testament is the climax, so that when I call it the First Testament, I am trying to communicate that this is the beginning of a much bigger story. It is not an alternative story that you find in the New Testament. It is that that is the culmination and the climax of it.

So, I speak of First Testament. I will use the word New Testament. There is New Testament warrant for that, but if we call the First the old in our disdain for anything that's more than 10 years old these days, calling something the Old Testament does not help.

So, let's look at the First Testament very briefly, then, and ask ourselves, what is this that we are reading? We start with the structure of the First Testament. There are actually three versions that prevail in our Western world on how the First Testament is organized. In the Hebrew canon, you have three sections.

You have the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy. You have the prophets. That's Joshua through Kings.

That's the former prophets, and then you have the latter prophets, which are the ones whose books are in our Bibles. That's the second section. It's all called prophets, and then there are the writings, which is a catch-all phrase for all kinds of different kinds of texts.

Daniel is in their Chronicles, and Ezra and Nehemiah are in their Psalms, Job, Proverbs. Those are in the third category of the Hebrew canon. Now, in the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox canon, they have the same contents as the Hebrew canon, but in a slightly different order, and to that they add what we call the apocryphal writings.

They're also part of their canon, which means their Bible is bigger than ours. The Reformers joined with the Hebrew tradition when they rejected the apocryphal writings as part of the evangelical canon. So, in the Catholic and Orthodox canon, you've got law, historiography, prophets, and the apocrypha.

In our Protestant canon, traditionally, the English Bible has been divided into four parts. We have law, history, poetry, and prophets. We can actually quibble with every one of those categories.

The Torah, this is Genesis through Deuteronomy, but how much of that is actually law? How much of Genesis is law? How much of Exodus 1 to 18 is law? How much of Numbers is law? And even a book like Deuteronomy doesn't sound very legal if you've not read the name, the English name, Second Law. The historical books take us from Joshua to Esther, then we have the poetry of Israel, Job through the Song of Songs, and then finally in our Bibles we have the prophets, Isaiah through Malachi. This is a library of resources that we have, and in this library we've got books covering more than a thousand years and a collection containing a fascinating variety of writings.

Stories from history, love songs, prayers, fables, riddles, hymns, sermons, genealogies, laws, proverbs, they're all there. There is a brilliant variety in our Scriptures. Finally, we need to talk about the unity of the Testament.

For all its literary diversity, the First Testament has a remarkably unified message, the same message that is presented by the New Testament in general and represented by Jesus Christ in particular as summed up in John 1, 14 to 18, and of his grace we have all received grace upon grace, for the Torah was given through Moses, but grace and truth or fidelity are embodied, happened in Jesus Christ. That's a summary of the First Testament as well as a summary characterization of Jesus. The First Testament is the written word of God declaring to all who read and hear it the glory and the grace of God.

But there's an organic progression of revelation as you work through the First Testament and then on into the New. We tend to think that the two gods following Martian, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, are quite different, or God reveals himself as different. Typically, we understand the God of the New Testament as embodied in Christ as faithful, patient, forgiving, merciful, kind, gracious, and loving.

That's why we like Jesus. That's why we like the New Testament. This is its message.

But in the First Testament, now I can use the word the Old Testament, God is wrathful, he's awesome, scary, he's righteous, he's just, he's holy, he's vengeful, he's intolerant. Early on in my life when my sister, it actually dawned on her that I was spending my life in the First Testament, she says, Dan, how can you read that? God is so angry so often. Well, this is the image of God in the First Testament that many of us have, and it's unfortunate because you have such clear declarations of the true character of God.

And for this, we have to go to the First Testament text, Exodus 34, verses 6 to 7. Moses had just requested to see more of the glory of God, and God says, fine, I'll show you my glory. And so he says, come up the mountain, and while you're there in the cave, I will pass by. And then God passes by, and Moses hears the words, Yahweh, Yahweh, a God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in unfailing love, chesed and faithfulness, who keeps unfailing love for thousands, who forgives iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and children's children to the third and fourth generation.

Did you hear that? That is an amazing text. In this text, he declares that God is faithful, patient, forgiving, merciful, gracious, and boundless in chesed. We'll talk more about that word later, but then he's also holy.

He will not leave the guilty unpunished. But of the seven pieces of this First Testament pie, six are exactly what we see in Jesus Christ, and we need to see it in Yahweh, the God of the First Testament, whom Jesus incarnates. Echoes of this passage are found all over Scripture.

Genesis 6, 8, Numbers 14, 18, Nehemiah 9, 17, Psalms all over the place, Joel 2, 30, Jonah 4, 2. This is my favorite. The sermon from Jonah chapter 4 is what's wrong with God. When the Ninevites repent, God spares them, and Jonah says, I knew this would happen.

That's why I ran away. I knew that you are gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and you change your mind about the fury you're going to unleash on people. That's your problem.

This is Jonah. Well, we need to see, hear that message all over the First Testament. Well, what is it then that ties the First Testament together and actually links it with the New Testament? It is not only the character of God, but it is also the work of God.

In my view, the theme of the First Testament is covenants. I've created a new word here, ending in ance, the notion of covenant. This word embodies the foundation of God's grand plan of redemption.

Now, what is a covenant? As it's used in Scripture, a covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, activates, or governs a relationship that does not exist naturally, or a natural relationship that may have been broken or may have disintegrated. That's what a covenant does. And as you look at the First Testament, you will see this is the skeleton of God's redemption.

There's a whole series of covenants, the Adamic covenant, the Israelite covenant first made with Abraham and then established with the Israelites at Sinai and renewed on the plains of Moab in the book of Deuteronomy, and then finally climaxing in the new Israelite covenant, Jeremiah 31. And stuck in there is also the Davidic covenant. We'll talk about all of these as we proceed.

But these are the covenantal high points of First Testament revelation, and if you have these hooks on your wall, this is where you can hang your treasures. This is the gospel. You have a whole series of covenants.

God's gracious covenant with Adam, that is through Noah in Genesis 9. Second, God's gracious covenant with Abraham, Genesis 17, 1 to 8, and also it begins in chapter 15. Third, God's gracious covenant with the Exodus generation of Abraham's descendants in Exodus 19 to 24. Then, God's gracious covenant with a conquest generation of Abraham's descendants in Deuteronomy.

God's gracious covenant with David, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles 17, and then God's gracious renewed covenant with Israel, Jeremiah 31. This is the skeleton of First Testament revelation, and as we walk through this fabulous library in the coming sessions, we will be highlighting how these covenants are playing out. I need to end this discussion of simply introducing the First Testament by talking about how then do we interpret it? How should Christians read the Bible, the whole Bible, and the principles we have here apply to both First and New Testament texts? I have seven principles for reading the First Testament well.

First, people who desire to read the Bible well treat the object of their study as Scripture, not merely as a literary artifact in a museum that may be dispassionately analyzed. This is our Scripture. This is the key to our spiritual life.

God has breathed life to us through his Word. So, people who desire to read the Bible well treat it that way. It's not just a museum piece.

Second, people who desire to read the Bible well understand that the goal of biblical study is grasping the life-giving and life-transforming message of the Scriptures. We could say it's our grasping the life-giving message and the Scriptures grasping us so that that life is lived out in us. That's the goal of biblical study.

Third, people who desire to read the Bible well have a high view of Scripture, which means letting biblical texts say whatever they want to say. The problem with a lot of critical scholars is they can't let the text say what it wants to say, so that when it says in Deuteronomy, and Moses said, well, no, it's not actually Moses. It's some late author who put these words into the mouth of Moses.

That's a problem. Or for us, some of us fundamentalists, the problem is we make the text say more than they want to say. Who wrote the book of Deuteronomy? Well, the fact is that the book of Deuteronomy doesn't tell us who wrote it.

It tells us who wrote the speeches in the book, but that's not the book itself. So we need to let the text say what they want to say. Fourth, people who desire to read the Bible well read it holistically.

These books came to us as whole scriptures. In scholarship, we have a terrible habit of taking it all apart, dividing it into separate sources and whatever else, and then focusing on the sources that we choose to focus on. No, no, no, no, no.

It wasn't written that way or for that purpose. The whole book of Daniel is a book as it stands, just as the whole book of Revelation in the New Testament. We need to hear the whole thing in one sitting or standing or however we receive the Word of God.

Five, people who desire to read the Bible well will not be slaves to any single method, but will utilize responsibly whatever hermeneutical strategy may clarify biblical texts. Well, this includes things like figuring out the sources behind a book. It includes also recognizing poetic features and all kinds of other literary conventions that we find in the Bible.

We must respect that. Proverbs is not a prophetic book. Proverbs is a book of reflection on life and lessons from life.

Number six, people who desire to read the Bible well view biblical writings within the context of the entire canon and the process whereby the canon was produced and within the context of the progressive history of Revelation, which climaxes in the incarnation, life, death, and exaltation of Jesus Christ as God and Lord. We read the whole Bible. I am a Christian, which means that I read the New Testament, but I can't understand the New Testament if I haven't read the first chapters of this story to begin with.

We read the whole Bible as God's revelation of his grace in our salvation. And seven, people who desire to read the Bible well base their understanding of truth and theology on the evidence of Scripture rather than their own predetermined opinion or the opinions of others. I know some people who, when they're working on a new sermon, they photocopy the pages of their favorite commentaries on a biblical text, and then they go to Starbucks, and they sit down at Starbucks, and they work on their sermon that way.

And I ask myself, whom are you reading? Who's the authority? Have you actually looked at the text? People who desire to read the Bible well base their understandings of the truth and theology on Scripture, sola Scriptura, not some other system that's from outside or predetermined opinions. It is what God's authors are saying in the text that we need to hear. This is the first testament of which we will be speaking in the next series of lessons.