Layers: The Story of the Old Testament


The Old Testament is perhaps one the most fascinating yet misunderstood parts of the church’s heritage. Many of us—both in and outside of Christianity—are somewhat familiar with particular stories from the Old Testament, but we lack a clear portrait of the Old Testament as a whole. Additionally, modern approaches to studying history have revolutionized our understandings of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and the formation of the Old Testament, but these new perspectives are not widely known or understood.

This class is designed to empower students to teach, preach, and live the Old Testament scriptures as a theological story. To do this we will utilize the metaphor of “layers” to describe the development of the Bible and the effects of readers who have read, interpreted, and lived the text throughout history and today. As each new layer is added, the old layers still remain, creating a new composition—a new story—that no individual or community ever quite owns or controls alone.

Layers:  Creation, Israel, Law, Exile, Empire, Apocalypse

Rather than concentrating on a particular corpus or a quick overview of the contents, this class emphasizes six key “layers” in the Christian story of the Bible, providing students with a framework for understanding the Old Testament as a whole. It is hoped that as students continue to encounter the Bible after this course through worship, group Bible study, and independent reading, the framework will remain as a helpful tool.