Exploring the Old Testament
How do we read and understand the story of the Exodus from Egypt of the people of Israel? Did it really happen like that, or not?
Why does the Old Testament begin with an account of the creation of the world, and then immediately tell another version of the creation straight after that?
How should we use the texts of prophets who appear to be predicting things about Jesus, centuries before he was born?
Who are the strong women who were valued as great leaders in ancient Israel? Why do we not hear more about them?
What should we do with the psalms and stories that depict God as a harsh, violent, punishing God? Is it true that the God of the Old Testament is always angry?
What role did the priests have in Israel? Why do we still have so many priestly laws in our Bible? What use are they to us?
How can we best use the psalms of Israel to nurture our personal faith, and to enrich our corporate worship?
These questions—and many others as well—will be explored in a course that is to be offered in the coming months. Exploring the Old Testament will be offered as an online course, with a 90 minute session each week, from 11 February to 27 May. There will be a two-week break in the middle of the course, for Easter (no sessions on 1 and 8 April).
Each week, there will be morning and evening options; the same session will be taught at 10am and again at 7:30pm. Participants will enrol for one of these options, but are able to “swap sessions” on any week if their personal commitments require.
The course is being taught by the Rev. Elizabeth Raine and the Rev. Dr John Squires, who have taught this and other biblical studies courses for many years, at North Parramatta, in regional locations, and online. Elizabeth and John always bring scholarship, creativity, and passion for the subject, into all of their classes.
This is a follow-on from the very popular companion course, Exploring the New Testament, which ran last year. A total of 45 people from 18 UCA congregations across six Presbyteries in this Synod took part in that course—about a third as part of their seeking accreditation of a Lay Preacher, a number for personal interest and growth, and some as a refresher after years of preaching as a Lay Preacher.
Comments from those participants included: “As a result of the 14 week sessions I have a much deeper understanding of the Bible and a thirst to learn more and more!” “I agree with what everyone said about how great the course has been and how easy and convenient Zoom makes it.”
“Instead of just reading a passage, I was exposed to skills to help me unpack a passage; this gives a different insight to what has been written. To me this makes the bible as relevant today as it did when it was first written.”
“What a wonderful opportunity to learn so much about the Bible in ways and about concepts etc that I didn’t even know existed.” “The course has addressed questions that I have had for many years.” “I loved learning about the cultural influences on the formation of the writings.” “I have new perspectives on material I studied many years earlier.”
And: “Scripture finally makes sense.”
All participants in the course will receive a resource book which will form the basis of each week’s session. Additional readings will be supplied as the course continues. Those seeking to be accredited as Lay Preachers have a set of assignments to complete once the course sessions have concluded. The course is fully accredited as one of the “Living Our Faith” units offered by Uniting Mission and Education.
Details of the 2021 course, including session topics, can be found here.
The link to the registration via Eventbrite for the next Exploring the Old Testament course is now active here.
For enquiries, please contact Rohan England.
Rev. Dr John Squires is the Presbytery Minister (Wellbeing) for the Canberra Region Presbytery.