As readers of texts written in antiquity we frequently find ourselves in the position of one who overhears a conversation without the benefit of its context. The likelihood of humorous (or tragic) misunderstanding is palpable. In Getting the Old Testament: What It Meant to Them, What It Means for Us, Steve Bridge examines a number of important texts and genres found in the Old Testament. By bringing what is known of their original historical and literary context to light, he clearly demonstrates how important it is to know the cultural background of those to whom a text was originally addressed. Bridge helps us as modern readers to grasp the intended significance of these ancient texts.
Using modern illustrations from Bart Simpson to fortune cookies, and discussing texts from Genesis to Jonah to Ecclesiastes, Bridge succeeds in making difficult texts come alive for the reader as applying practically to modern life. Each chapter begins with a story, event, or illustration that draws the reader into the point which Bridge wishes to make with regard to the clearest understanding of a particular text or given group of texts. The most poignant of these illustrations is found at the beginning of his chapter on the book of Job, in which he starts with the story of Lou Gehrig and the disease that took his life, ALS (known more commonly as Lou Gehrig's Disease) and which ends with his own father's death from ALS.
An annotated list of suggested readings as well as subject and scripture indexes make this a practical book for college classes.
Steven L. Bridge (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of theology and chair of the department at Saint Joseph's College of Maine. He has taught biblical studies at parishes, high schools, colleges, and universities throughout the United States for over a decade and is the author of Getting the Gospels.