Last spring I taught a course at Northern Baptist Seminary titled “OT 458 Old Testament Theology: The God of the Old Testament.” Old Testament Theology is a required course in the Christian Heritage area of the Master of Divinity degree at Northern Baptist Seminary.
The seminary catalog emphasizes the importance of Bible and theology in the preparation of men and women for Christian ministry: “Christian ministry arises from solid biblical, historical, theological, and ethical foundations. Therefore, M. Div. students take introductory-level courses in New Testament, Old Testament, Theology, Church History, and Ethics. In addition, students take an additional elective course in each of those foundational fields.”
The faculty of Northern Baptist Seminary believes that in order for our students to be competent in the ministry, they need to be grounded in Bible and theology. Thus, we have chosen to require that our students be good theologians and good interpreters of the Bible.
My course in Old Testament Theology has three main objectives:
1. This course is designed to help students understand ancient Israel’s religious ideas and beliefs. The focus of this course is to focus on Israel’s understanding of their God.
2. This course provides students with guidelines for the interpretation of the biblical material in its theological context.
3. This course is designed to help students develop an appreciation for the Old Testament as an integral part of the Christian Scriptures.
One of the requirements of this course is that each student is required to write a research paper on one of the theological issues dealing with the God of the Old Testament. Each paper must focus on one characteristic of God as found in the faith of the people of Israel.
As the teacher of this course, I enjoy reading these research papers at the end of the quarter. Our students work hard in researching and writing their papers. Their work reflects their learning and their scholarship. Unfortunately, few people will have the opportunity to read what they wrote.
I have selected four papers that I think deserve to be read by a wider audience. There were other good papers that could have been selected, but I chose these four to show the quality of papers our students write.
These four papers were written on difficult and controversial topics, but each paper is grounded on good research and each paper reflects the teachings of the Old Testament. Each paper represents the views of the writer. If I were writing on these topics, I would probably take a different approach on developing the theme. However, I have chosen these papers because they reflect good research and good writing on controversial topics.
The four papers selected were:
1. Jonathan E. L. Brooks, “The Humanity of God.”
2. Ming Zhang, “The Repentance of God.”
3. Leslie Singh, “Honest to God: Straight Talk on the Problem of Divine Deception.”
4. Stephanie L. Franco, “God: The Defender of the Oppressed.”
Because the papers are long, I will divide them into shorter posts and publish them during the summer months. I hope you will enjoy reading these papers as much as I did.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary