Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic) Paperback – March 14, 2017
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From the Back Cover
"Strawn has written a book of urgent practical theology based on prodigious research, grounded in keen theological sensibility, and addressed to an acute problem in the church, a problem that has immense implications for the wider culture in which the church dwells and to which it addresses itself. The language, effective use, and serious understanding of the Old Testament are 'on the brink of being lost.' Strawn shows that the danger runs from Marcion through the Revised Common Lectionary to the likes of Joel Osteen. In response, Strawn wisely urges an intentional pedagogy that includes hymnody, memorization, and sustained didacticism in order to create a 'cultural-linguistic community.' The work to be done is not for the fainthearted, but it is nonetheless work that must be done. Strawn shows himself to be a wise hermeneutist, an acute student of culture and of language, and a passionate witness in and for the life of the church. We have no other book like this; it merits wide attention."
--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary (emeritus)
"Strawn imaginatively reframes contemporary debate about the authority and use of the Old Testament. He develops a suggestive analogy between linguistic and biblical proficiency and shows how much contemporary use of the Bible, both within and outside the churches, is akin to speaking a pidgin or creole. He also indicates what can be done about it. This is a wonderfully illuminating and thought-provoking book."
--Walter Moberly, Durham University
"Combining cunning wit and wisdom and informed by linguistics, Strawn offers a way forward to bring new life to the Hebrew Bible in a culture of reading that prefers the simplistic and the superficial. His prognosis marks nothing short of a revival for this 'dying' Testament. This should be required reading for all students of Scripture, pastors included."
--William Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary
"Current concerns about biblical literacy are too narrowly focused. Strawn instead underscores the need for renewed biblical fluency. Like an endangered language used by a dwindling number of native speakers, the Old Testament as it is known today is all too often a partial and misleading caricature of the real thing. The remedy? Relearning how to 'speak Scripture,' fully integrating the Old Testament--with its surprising variety and challenging complexity--into Christian preaching, worship, and hymnody. Strawn brilliantly diagnoses the sickness and prescribes a promising cure in this highly insightful and urgently needed intervention."
--Stephen B. Chapman, Duke University
About the Author
Brent A. Strawn (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. He has authored or coedited numerous volumes, including The World around the Old Testament.
Top customer reviews
Just like a dying language, the Old Testament languages are increasingly unfamiliar with a modern audience with new linguistic skills. In linguistics, the pattern is that any dying language would go through a process of "repidginization" which are several steps away from the original and happens at the tail end of a language life cycle. Through oversimplification and reductionism, the original loses its former levels of inflections and nuances. When that happens, not only is there a loss of communications skills, there is also a loss of cultural understanding. Essentially, when the generation most familiar with the language die out, so does the language. From languages and linguistics, the author also highlights three further external factors contributing to the demise of the Old Testament. There is the challenge of the New Atheists who often ridicule the Old Testament for the "outdated" laws and stories. The lack of contextual understanding increases the perception that the Old Testament is no longer relevant for our modern age. Then there is the "Marcionites Old and New" that behaves like the early century Marcion, who caricatures the Old Testament as a "false, anti-godly" book when compared to the New Testament. Strawn highlights the rise of the "Happiologists" or the New Plastic Gospels that creates a whole new realm of understanding the Bible from the perspective of happiness, like Joel Osteen. Such prosperity gospel misinterprets the Old Testament and creates a whole new "Happy Testament."
Thankfully, Strawn's diagnostic chapters are accompanied by some recovery strategies. If nothing is done, the OT will die out in terms of disuse and misuse. We can record it. We can multiply the number of speakers of it. We can provide reasons for speaking it. Using the preservation of Hebrew is a case in point. Strawn points out that it is possible to learn to speak it as a "second language." He brings readers through bilingualism and "code-switching." He also anticipates objections to his thesis that the old testament is dying. Like how can canonical texts ever die? He shrewdly distinguishes the levels of understanding the canon: the perspective from religious bodies and the perspective from laypersons. He uses the state of the Apocrypha as a case in point, that language dies out for lack of use. There are ways to save the Old Testament. Through repetition, regular use, re-training, we can definitely revive the greater use of this ancient canonical texts.
Saying that the Old Testament is dying is definitely a bold statement. Strawn backs it up well with statistics, observations, plus others, especially from a cultural and a linguistic standpoint. His first few chapters that outlines the states of decay is particularly poignant for Church leaders, pastors, and preachers in general. he is spot on when he notes how many people claim to preach from the whole Bible but in practice, choose mainly the New Testament texts. Even the use of the Old Testament is limited to choice verses and popular passages. Most parts of the Old Testament are never truly preached upon for various reasons. Churches that preach only one testament over the other is like walking on just one leg. Hopefully, with this book, readers can be awakened to this important matter to learn to re-activate the use of the other leg. Lest it becomes too late for the succeeding generations. While he makes a powerful case to argue how the Old Testament is dying due to neglect and lack of use, it avoids the reasons why people are doing just that. Reasons such as the ones mentioned by Craig Blomberg about the external barriers in his book entitled, "Can We Still Believe the Bible?" where he addresses the doubts and skeptics surrounding the reliability of the Bible. Many of the difficult issues include the need to explain the brutal genocide and violence that are attributed to a good God. For example: If God is so loving, why did He order the killing of so many people in the Old Testament books of Judges and Joshua? Perhaps, it is partly addressed or alluded to in the segment about the Fall of Man. For a book of this nature and size, readers will have to supplement themselves with other questions. Having said that, as far as Strawn is concerned, the issue is not about the reliability of the Bible but the lack of Old Testament literacy. For that reason, I applaud the effort and recommend this book for all. Long live the Old and New Testaments.
Brent A. Strawn is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology. His research interests include near Eastern iconography, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the legal traditions of the Old Testament, and theological exegesis of Deuteronomy, Psalms, and biblical poetry. He is also ordained elder of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.
This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
The linguistic analogy is excellent; it is powerful. But it doesn't have to be reiterated over and over. You may want to skip some of this. The analogy would carry through on its own. More time should be spent actually teaching and drawing us into the content of the Old Testament -- the second language. Most of us know that the Old Testament is in question already. We have limited time in our lives to learn the "second language" of the OT, so we should get to it.
The best chapters: # 1. Chap 5 "Marcionites Old and New" is the best chapter.
#2. "The New Atheism" Strawn's thinking about figurative texts or metaphor is excellent
#3. Chapter 8 "Saving the OT" Deuteronomy as model for a plan of attack -- is well worth reading..