About this Class
Dr. Paul House walks you through the theology of the entire Old Testament. His textbook, Old Testament Theology, is a standard in the field and now you can enjoy hearing him talk through the topic and enjoy his unique humor. The lectures were originally given when Paul was guest lecturing at Beeson Divinity School in 2002. Unfortunately, when Dr. House recorded the class, he did not provide us a copy of the syllabus he refers to in the introduction.
This course covers the main currents of Old Testament theological thought, encourages you to formulate your own ideas about major topics, guides you to develop a process for understanding the text while identifying theological truths and helps you develop a biblical theology that will inform your ministry. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul teach from the Old Testament and affirm it. The Hebrew canon of the Old Testament is divided into the Law, the Prophets and the Writiings.
Johann Gabler's approcach was that systematic theology should grow out of Biblical theology. Look at each Biblical text and examine it historically, compare different Biblical texts, then find the universal abiding principles. Bauer's approach emphasized theology, anthropology and Christology. Another approach is approach is from a more romantic perspective that emphasizes ideas that encourage people toward higher living. Valtke says that the Israelite religion evolves from simple to complex. Conservative scholars in the 1800's began emphasizing messianic and salvation themes. In the early 1900's Karl Barth emphasized the theme of sin and humans' need for God. Later in the 1900's theologians often tried to emphasize a single theme in the Old Testament like God's presence or covenant, and also God's work in history. The texts in the Old Testament are used and reused, preached and repreached.
In the 1960's, there was an emphasis on Biblical Theology and the unity, the history and the distinct nature of the Bible. One author emphasized that each book of the Old Testament has its own distinct theological witness that forms the ongoing witness of the Old Testament. Some taught that the order of the books of the Old Testament is important to the structure of the message of the Old Testament. Some recent Old Testament theologies are written from a post-modern point of view where everyone's opinion is considered equally, regardless of whether or not it has merit. Presuppositions for OT Theology are: 1. Biblical texts are God's Word and carry God's character, 2. the Bible unfolds canonically and reflects God's work in history, 3. a viewpoint of the writer of the Bible conflicts often with how people acted in history, 4. Jesus bases his teaching on the Law, Prophets and Writings, 5. the Bible interprets itself historically, and 6. the Bible interprets itself thematically. The approach Dr. House uses is: 1. teach the text in canonical order, 2. discern subjects in the text, 3. trace the subject iin canonical order, and 4.
Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 are passages that are central to the teaching and meaning of the Old Testament. Creation is a foundational theme in the Old Testament and throughout Scripture. the Creator created creation. Creation is a beginning point in describing the trinitarian nature of God. The account of creation also gives you insights into God's character and his purpose for creating the universe. The universe is created in an orderly way and structured to function in a specific way. Since humans are made in the image of God so we should treat others with respect and dignity. Animals are not on the same level as humans because they are not moral, but humans should not mistreat animals. The Sabbath is instituted in creation. Process theology and Creation theology are two ways of looking at God's nature and how he relates to his creation.
Dr. House discusses the essential relationship between the Creator and his people. God has created human beings for his glory. He knows the future. We often do not know the ultimate reasons for the circumstances we experience. God does reveal some things about his plan for the world and his love for people. We see some examples in the stories in the Old Testament. It is sometimes difficult to have faith that God loves us when we experience difficult circumstances. Some people believe that God relates to the world in a way they describe as process theology, or an "open" view of God.
Creation is a theme that appears in books in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Israel's covenant relationship to God is unique to countries of that time in the Ancient Near East. God promises blessings if Israel keeps the covenant and curses if they don't keep it. The purpose of the Law is to create a holy people and a kingdom of priests. The Law is relational because it assumes a prior relationship with God.
One purpose of the law is to focus individuals on loving God and loving others. It also helps people create a holy community. Living out the law requires both revelation and wisdom from God. The Tabernacle was a symbol of the presence of God being at the center of the Israelite community. God set up the sacrificial system as part of the process for people to be forgiven when they didn't live up to the covenant. The job of the priests was to care for and teach the Word of God, make sure the sacrifices were offered correctly and to determine what was clean and unclean. At the end of Leviticus, God offers blessings for adherence to the covenant. Living by faith led to people following the works of the Law.
Numbers begins with the Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land. However, they don't believe that God will give them victory, so God tells them that the current generation will die in the desert. Even though they complain and rebel, God provides for them. Moses leads them and also prepares them to enter the land by reminding them of past and also giving them the details of the covenant that God wants them to live by. When the people break the covenant, God sends prophets to remind them to keep the Law and to bring their sacrifices for the right reasons. The message in Deuteronomy is that the covenant is based on God's love for them and their love for him. Christ came to fulfill the Law and teach that it's more than just trying to do as many good deeds as you can. The Law demonstrates that sin is a problem that we can't solve ourselves. It requires a mediator, who is Jesus.
God must be in control of history because he promises Abraham that he will make him a great nation, he will make his name great, he will be a blessing, God will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, all the families of the earth and God will give him the land of Canaan. God promises David an eternal kingdom. He also promises to send a messiah and describes the circumstances surrounding his appearing.
After the Israelites had lived in Canaan for a while, they rebelled and worshipped other Gods. God sent judges to serve as deliverers. The book of Judges includes examples of the Israelites and the judges themselves behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the standards in God's covenant. God appoints Saul as the first king, but Saul becomes strays from following God and dies in battle. We see a picture of God who is strong enough to stay the course even when there is suffering and a God who is soft enough to feel pain. God chooses David to be king. Even though David commits sins like adultery and murder, he repents, and God considers him to be a man after his own heart. God rules history: both the good and the bad, judgment and blessing.
Messianic theology is the most important theme in the Old Testament but not every text in the Old Testament can say something about Christ. The writers of the New Testament interpret Old Testament Messianic texts historically and contextually. The Old Testament offer a multi-faceted portrait of the Messiah so that people would recognize him when he came. The promise of the Messiah begins in Genesis chapter three with the curse of the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned. God also made promises to Abraham and David that are fulfilled in the Messiah. The Messiah is also described as being a prophet.
The Messiah is described as being a king from the line of David. Isaiah describes the Messiah as a coming savior who is a righteous ruler and a servant of God. Isaiah also describes the birth of the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14 and says that he will be known as the wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
Isaiah chapter 11 begins by describing the Messiah as being from the lineage of David's father. The Messiah will also have a spirit of wisdom and understanding, council and strength. Isaiah 25 describes a scene with no threat. God is not only the judge of all nations, he is also the one who reaches out to them. Isaiah 42 and following are the passages known as the Servant Song. The servant referred to in these passages are likely an individual, not the nation of Israel. Isaiah 53 is one of the most cited passages in the New Testament.
Isaiah 53 describes the suffering that the servant will experience. Verses from this chapter are quoted in both the Gospels and the letters of the New Testament. This chapter also describes what Jesus will do in his healing ministry, his atoning death and the resurrection. Isaiah 61:1-3 is the passage that Jesus reads in the synagogue at the beginning of his public ministry. After reading this passage, he says, "These words are fulfilled in your hearing." Jeremiah 23:1-8 describes the Messiah as a coming shepherd to lead the people of Israel. Jeremiah 31 and 33 describe a new covenant that is coming and someone from the lineage of David to make it happen. Jesus refers to himself as the, "son of man," which is a description of the Messiah in Daniel 7: 13-14.
Ezekiel's message to the people of Israel who are captives in Babylon is that God will bring them back to their land and eventually they will live in glorified Jerusalem. He will put his Spirit within them, cause them to walk in his statutes and they will be careful to obseverve his ordinances. God will change their hearts. Ezekiel's message for the nations is one of both judgment and redemption. Imagery that you find in prophets like Micah and Zechariah are referred to in the New Testament. Common themes in the Gospels are Jesus being referred to by the title of Son of Man and also describing the ministry of Jesus as a shepherd. Each of the Gospels also includes references to the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus to the disiples and to the crowds. The Spirit worked in obvious ways in the lives of people in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. The church began with the manifestation of the Spirit at Pentectost after Jesus rose from the dead.
It is possible that Christ appeared to some people in the Old Testament. The Psalms were written to worship and express emotions to God as people were experiencing many different circumstances both personally and as a nation. In David's Psalms, when he uses Zion, he is often referring to glorified Jerusalem. The word, "anointed" often refers to the Messiah.
God does not promise us as humans, omniscience, so we cannot know for sure the significance of the timing , circumstances and results of any situation we face. We sometimes suffer because of the sins of others, because of our own sins or because of evil and chaos in the world. God gives us hope because he can redeem the consequences of sin in a way that is for our good and his glory. Joseph's life is a good example. We can also see examples in the lives of the prophets and the apostle Paul.
The entire book of Job focuses on the question, "If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world?" (see the course, The Book of Job). Part of the answer is that God has made Job's suffering redemptive to him, to his family, to his community and to everyone who reads his story. Naomi's husband and sons die, but Ruth takes care of her and gives birth to a son that Naomi sees as an indication that her future is secure. Lamentations is written during a time when the people of Israel were in captivity with no end in sight.
Jeremiah was called to preach repentance when the nation of Israel was deteriorating. God also gave him a message of building and planting which included the promise of a New Covenant. It will be written on the hearts of people, not just on tablets of stone. The New Covenant is limited to only people who know God, which is a link to the teaching about the New Covenant in the New Testament. Various denominations have different views about how baptism should be done and what part it plays in your conversion experience.
Even while the Babylonians are laying siege and occupying the land, God tells Jeremiah to purchase property as a sign that God will bring the people of Israel back to the land. Eschatology is a theme that links the Old and New Testaments. Jesus preaches about the Kingdom of God in a way that shows that there is a present as well as a future aspect. When you are studying a subject or theme in your reading or preaching, synthesize what both the Old Testament and New Testament teach about it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the programs intended for?
The Foundations program is intended for everyone, regardless of biblical knowledge. The Academy program is intended for those who would like more advanced studies. And the Institute program is intended for those who want to study seminary-level classes.
Do I need to take the classes in a specific order?
In the Foundations and Academy programs, we recommend taking the classes in the order presented, as each subsequent class will build on material from previous classes. In the Institute program, the first 11 classes are foundational. Beginning with Psalms, the classes are on specific books of the Bible or various topics.
Do you offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program?
At this time, we offer certificates only for the classes on the Certificates page. While we do not offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program, you will be better equipped to study the Bible and apply its teachings to your life.