Today is the first day of class at Northern Baptist Seminary. Since the school is on the quarter system, students begin their classes during the last week of September. Today, I will welcome new students to my class on the Pentateuch.
With the start of a new quarter, students will begin their theological pilgrimage. This pilgrimage will lead them to discover the rich treasure hidden within the pages of the Bible. Christians everywhere love the Bible because it is God’s Word, and yet, most Christian’s knowledge of the Bible is limited and fragmentary.
A good seminary education will allow those who are preparing themselves to become ministers of Christ to gain a better knowledge of the Book that will become the focus of their ministry. Within the last 50 years or so, biblical scholars have developed new methods designed to help eager students to gain a better knowledge of the religious, political, economic, and social worlds of the Bible.
Students come to seminary eager to study the Old Testament. The Old Testament deals primarily with the history of the people of Israel. Other nations are also mentioned within its pages but only as they relate to Israel. The main concern of the Hebrew Scriptures is to provide the most important facts about Israel’s relationship with God.
The writers of the Old Testament were not concerned with providing neither plain facts of history nor a chronological account of the political and military events that affected the history of their nation. Rather, those who wrote the books of the Old Testament were concerned with the religious life of Israel, that is, they were attempting to understand the mighty acts of God and how Israel responded or failed to respond to God’s revelation of himself.
To study the Old Testament and to properly understand its message, takes time and effort. Over the coming months, I will keep you informed on the progress of our students. I will also provide material that will help my students and you gain a better appreciation for the Old Testament.
All along, I invite you to join us in this pilgrimage of faith. I invite you to write me with your questions and comments. Since a better understanding of the Old Testament will come through diligent study of its content, may your effort to know the Old Testament pay rich dividends. I hope you will allow me to help you in this journey of faith.
Claude F. Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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