“Do you have the makings of a Biblical Studies scholar?”
written by Dr Thompson
Lecturer in Old Testament
Do you find it curious that the titles of the first five books of our English bibles (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are actually Greek names that don’t appear in the original Hebrew?
Have you ever questioned why the book of Genesis contains two accounts of creation (Genesis 1 and 2)? Have you ever tried to make sense of the differences between the Ten Commandments in Exodus (Exodus 20:1-17) and the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 5:1-21)? Could there be any significance in the fact that the command to “love your neighbour” first appears in the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19:18), a book better known for religious rituals and prescriptions on holiness? Can you see the irony in the fact that a book called Numbers doesn’t just contain genealogies? Have you ever questioned how Deuteronomy, a book traditionally attributed to Moses can simultaneously write about his death (Deuteronomy 34:5-6)?
Are you the kind of person who would read the book of Psalms and ask questions like, “What does ‘Selah’ mean?” (Psalms 3) and, “Who was Heman the Ezrahite?” (Psalms 88)? Are you the type of individual to point out that the violence of Psalm 137:7-9 raises serious ethical challenges? Have you heard it said that Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, but noticed that some are attributed to “Agur son of Jakeh” (Proverbs 30:1) and King Lemuel’s mother (Proverbs 31:1)? Have you ever read the book of Job and wondered how God can allow bad things to happen to good people? Do you have any thoughts on why so few sermons seem to be preached from the book Song of Songs?
Have you ever wondered who wrote the book of Ruth? Or questioned why Lamentations is attributed to Jeremiah when it makes no reference to him? Have you been told that Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon but found it curious that much of it discusses how to relate to a king (Ecclesiastes 8:2-4 and 10:4-7, 16-17, 20), rather than how to rule? Have you ever read the book of Esther and wondered how a book that doesn’t mention God’s name can be included in the Bible? Are you the kind of person who reads prophecies, like those found in Daniel, and wants to investigate the historical evidence? Have you ever wondered whether ‘the book of Moses’ described in Ezra (Ezra 6:18) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:1) still exists? Or whether the sources mentioned in I and II Chronicles — such as the “records of Gad the seer” (1 Chronicles 29:29) and, the “story of the prophet Iddo”? (2 Chronicles 13:22) can still be consulted today ?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, or find them interesting, you may just have the makings of a Biblical Studies scholar! These issues and more are covered in our Pentateuch and Writings module, a class where we dig beneath the surface of the Bible and dare to ask the type of questions that make some people uncomfortable. If you’re interested in joining us, please don’t hesitate to contact me.