REL395 Selected Topics: Worship in the Old Testament: The Old Testament presents a story of God’s continuing relationship with humans. This first testimony is often neglected or poorly understood by Christians who regard ‘Old’ as signifying less relevant or replaced, rather than prior. But for the first Christians this was ‘the Bible.’ As an anthology of authoritative or canonical writing of various types from numerous times and contexts, it provides a variety of windows into the world of ancient Israelite and Judean communities, families, and individuals and their relationships with God. While this rich treasury of vignettes presents a host of interpretive challenges, its study rewards us with insights into encountering and developing intimacy with God.
In addition to the difficulties presented by the variety of times, contexts, and genres represented it is often the religious practices of the elite which are described. How did the worship of God impact the manner in which ordinary people went about their daily lives? How did they think about God? What did this ‘look like’ in ordinary life? Where are the perspectives of women? How should our knowledge of the surrounding cultures and the archaeological record inform our views? These and many other questions will be addressed in our conversations.
While the broad topics listed in the outline below will discussed, the class will function in a seminar setting so the interests and research of students will determine the attention paid to the various biblical texts and subjects addressed.
It will also be an important priority to learn all we can about the various approaches to the worship of God contained in the biblical tradition, and to consider what contributions this can make to our practice of worship today.