Why Learn "Old Testament Studies"?

Posted on by Brooke Lester

You probably know how to listen. But do you know how to listen well?[^1]

  • Do you know how to be willing to not understand, instead of rushing to premature closure by putting the speaker into your comfortable boxes?
  • Do you know how to practice empathy, avoiding a rush to judgment and putting yourself in another's shoes, imagining circumstances and decisions that seem unthinkable or preposterous to you?
  • Do you know how to be vulnerable, entertaining the possibility that you may be the one who undergoes real change as a result of the encounter?

What is your conversation partner's history? Her language? Her culture? (What are your own?)

Now. You probably know how to read. But do you know how to read well?

They wrote over the course of a thousand years. They wrote in their walled cities, their open villages, their schools, their homes, and lands far from all of these. They wrote in support of the state, and counter to it, and in its ruins. They wrote for one another and against one another, to silence each other and to preserve each other. They told their stories, inscribed their laws, cried their supplications, sang their songs, listed their lists, raged their rage.

If you like to read, you can read them. If you like to understand, if you like to better hear the voices of the past, then you will want to learn how to read well.

  • Historical study
  • Literary study
  • Cultural study

Come and learn the tools by which we listen well to the voices of the Hebrew Bible.

(This post is in response to the prompt, "What is the real 'Why' of your course?" asked in Unit 1 of Connected Courses: Active Co-Learning in Higher Ed.)

[^1]: This list represents my recollection of that offered by Dr. Pam Holliman, professor of Pastoral Care, in a presentation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.