Week 1 Response: Initial Reactions

It’s been a few years since I’ve done any school-related things, and blog post responses weren’t a normal part of courses when I was in school, so bear with me.

In college I took a similar course, an Intro to the New Testament, the last semester of my senior year. I’d gone to church for most of my life, though sometimes more by coercion than anything else, but had never engaged in academic study around any of it. Around that time in my life, I’d just started to re-explore the idea of my own faith and what religion meant to me.

That class turned out to be hugely impactful. Learning about the context of stories I’d heard thousands of time and being introduced to the Historical Jesus for the first time completely changed my experience with church. I found I appreciated everything about my religion and my faith so much more. The words I was reading were no longer the empty platitudes, plucked arbitrarily from the ether, that had swam around me my whole life. They were part of a larger story and a real history.

Beginning to explore the Old Testament already feels like a similar experience. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that in spite of numerous Easter-time viewings of Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea and years of Sunday School storytelling, I had only a vague semblance of the history surrounding the Old Testament (or I guess I should start saying Tanak?). Joining a friend’s Passover celebration a couple years ago was maybe the first time I’d ever considered the story of the Jewish people’s liberation within its complete narrative.

Seeing the general layout of events and the breakdown of books already makes me feel more oriented, and I appreciate the thoughtful critical thinking around how to approach all of this content.

I also appreciated the idea of the history of the Jewish people as being important to the story of Jesus and the early Christian church. I’ve generally been rather dismissive of the Old Testament, regarding it as almost negligible since the advent of the Gospels. It had also seemed to be the source of a lot of outdated ideas that get misappropriated today in order to justify marginalizing others. Not a lot of appeal in that.

I’m pleased to consider a better way of regarding this history, and look forward to continuing to learn more.

Thanks again for letting me tag along on your journey.