This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities
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This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities

Baker Academic / 2015 / Paperback

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Product Description

Instead of dismissing the Old Testament as outdated and irrelevant to modern man, Schlimm goes right to the heart of controversies concerning the nature of God's wrath, purity rules, the status of women, Israel's conquest of Canaan, and much more. He believes the very strangeness of the texts may belie their profundity.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Baker Academic
Publication Date: 2015
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0801039797
ISBN-13: 9780801039799

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Publisher's Description

The Old Testament can seem strange and disturbing to contemporary readers. What should Christians make of Genesis 1-3, seemingly at odds with modern scientific accounts? Why does the Old Testament contain so much violence? How should Christians handle texts that give women a second-class status? Does the Old Testament contradict itself? Why are so many Psalms filled with anger and sorrow? What should we make of texts that portray God as filled with wrath?

Combining pastoral insight, biblical scholarship, and a healthy dose of humility, gifted teacher and communicator Matthew Schlimm explores perennial theological questions raised by the Old Testament. He provides strategies for reading and appropriating these sacred texts, showing how the Old Testament can shape the lives of Christians today and helping them appreciate the Old Testament as a friend in faith.

Author Bio

Matthew Richard Schlimm (PhD, Duke University) is assistant professor of Old Testament at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He previously taught at Duke Divinity School and has held various ministry positions in United Methodist churches. He is the author of From Fratricide to Forgiveness: The Language and Ethics of Anger in Genesis and coeditor of the CEB Study Bible.

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  1. bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Thoughtful exploration of Old Testament issues
    April 20, 2015
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 0
    Do you have trouble reading the Old Testament? You find it contains strange behavior, harsh laws, and apparent contradictions. Maybe you have trouble reconciling a vengeful God in the Old Testament with a nonviolent Jesus in the New Testament.

    This book, written by a Christian for Christians, aims at helping us see that God has incredible things to say to us in the Old Testament. We should not ignore it. It is three quarters of the Bible. Schlimm says the Old Testament is our friend in faith. It has much to teach us but it does require a little extra work to bridge the cultural barriers.

    Beginning at the beginning, Schlimm advocates balancing a firm commitment to Scripture with scientific evidence. He explores identifying genres and notes that what we think the genre is determines our interpretation of the passage. He takes Adam and Eve symbolically.

    He next addresses the passage describing creation in seven days. He then looks at the messy stories describing the troublesome behavior of Old Testament characters. He goes on to look at violence, noting that this is the most challenging issue. His identification of flawed assumptions is great. He also addresses the treatment of women, strange laws, apparent contradictions, laments and raging at God, the wrath of God, and biblical authority.

    I like the way Schlimm gives options in each of the areas he explores and then defends his own view. He encourages us to think deeply and reflect theologically on Scripture passages.

    I really liked his insight on Numbers. If we are disgusted with the characters and their constant complaining and want to stop reading, we are reading it well, he says. We begin to understand how things were for the Israelites - and for God. We are challenged to think about our own complaining.

    Schlimm's thesis is, The Old Testament is our friend in faith. I like that model. Friends are sometimes brutally honest, may sometimes act illogically, may be argumentative one moment but helpful the next. It takes frequent and deep dialog to understand a friend and reap all that the friendship offers.

    I recommend this book for pastors and church leaders, not for all the conclusions Schlimm reaches (I disagree with some of them), but for the way he deals with the troublesome aspects of the Old Testament. The way he takes readers through a difficult aspect of the Old Testament is insightful and is a good model. His way of approaching Scripture is thoughtful and allows for constructive dialog.

    He has included lots of footnotes, blocks of information and quotes, and a section at the end of each chapter For Further Study. There are also several indexes at the end of the book. Schlimm has also provided discussion questions, artwork, quotes, and other resources at his website.

    Food for thought: People who associate the Old Testament with wrath and the New Testament with grace have not spent much time carefully reading either Testament.
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