If you ever needed motivation for understanding the OT and its proper application, this article serves the purpose. As you read this tragic tale, it is not enough to react emotionally and declare that these pastors are terribly wrong in their application of the OT. You must be able to explain why Exodus 22:18 and Deuteronomy 18:10 are being misapplied in their churches.
I would also encourage you as you prove their exegesis (and application) unbiblical, that you test your evaluation process on your own application of another OT passage say… 2 Chronicles 7:14. This was an interesting exercise in our Old Testament Theology PhD seminar last week.
As my students prepare for their midterm exam in first year Hebrew this week, I plan on sharing this story by Ellen Davis (see article here) to encourage them to persevere in acquiring Hebrew. Dr. Davis of Duke Divinity asked “the head of Renk Theological College in Southern Sudan to name his top priority for the school’s faculty and curriculum, he said without hesitation: ‘We need biblical language teachers.’”
For those familiar with the conditions in Sudan, this seems like an unusual priority. However, the college leaders recognize the true priority for their students:
“We live in the Old Testament. Ours is a tribal culture, like Israel’s. We are pastoralists and farmers, like the Israelites. And like them, we have suffered terribly in war and exile, and from oppressive imperial regimes. The Bible is our story, and our people must have it in their own languages. Why should we read it in English and Arabic, the languages of colonialism? Why should we translate it from those languages and not from the original? We all speak several languages; we know how much difference a translation makes.”
If the Sudanese see the need to persist in their biblical Hebrew studies, shouldn’t we?
PS Notice the attitude of Sudanese students towards Hebrew from the same article: “The students are proud that theirs is the only school in Sudan where both biblical languages are taught on a regular basis, and the pride shows in their attitude toward study. As one visiting teacher observed: ‘Hebrew without whining–this is a revelation!’”
For those who wished that God would have given his word in pictures, your wish may have come true (although this “word” is not from God). Noted comic illustrator, Robert Crumb, has recently published an illustrated text of Genesis. His 224 pages of comic illustrations cover all fifty chapters. (See this NY Times article for sample pics). His translation follows that of Robert Alter but in certain instances he retains the KJV because of familiarity. Unfortunately, the publisher does not make academic review copies available so I have to wait to buy my own.
I do wonder though if this will be the next “controversy” to hit evangelical churches. The reason for such a reaction to a comic: there are no strategically placed fig leaves or animals for Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3!
Amid much hype last May, a fossil named “Ida” was touted as the “missing link” between primates and humans. As any creationist could guess, the supposed missing link is still missing. Read here.
Thanks to Chris Huff for his visual “explanation” on what happens when two shewas are found at the beginning of a Hebrew word. Thanks for the creativity Chris.