Understanding God in the Old Testament

Good morning! (or afternoon, or night, whatever time it may be!) 

Our first professor for our Biblical Foundations course, Dr. Ken Turner, is a professor of Old Testament studies at Toccoa Falls College. An expert on Ancient Near Eastern culture, Dr. Turner pointed out subtle details in the Biblical texts that, while they would have been obvious to the original audience, are often missed by modern readers. One of the most fascinating examples that we covered is found in Exodus. In this story, when Moses asks God in the burning bush “Who are you?” Moses is assuming that this God is like the gods he has learned of in Egypt, whose powers only applied to certain lands and over specific aspects of nature. The idea of the God of his fathers appearing to him in North Africa, far from Canaan,  and having power over the gods of Egypt on their own turf, would have seemed preposterous to him. God’s answer of “I Am who I Am” conveys the fact that He is sovereign over all creation, not tied down to any one place. Even the Jewish people were skeptical of this idea at first. When they created the golden calf, they weren’t trying to replace God: they were trying to make Him into the type of god they were familiar with, a god in the form of an idol that was tied to a specific place and land. This idea was so contrary to the thought patterns of their time that every other monotheistic religion descends from Judaism.

Although this concept was so foreign to those in the ancient Near East, it became one of the foundational ideas western civilization was built on. If there was one sovereign God in heaven, instead of a squabbling pantheon of gods who all disagreed with one another, then there could be an absolute right or wrong. This, then, meant that actions could be definitively judged as being good or bad. Judeo-Christian theology, although it is quickly being forgotten, is the very source of our cultures’ ideas of objective morality and human rights. 

Dr. Ken Turner was fascinating to listen to, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations my classmates and I were able to have with him outside of class. His insights and expertise were fascinating, and I only wish he could have stayed longer! My classmates and I were thrilled to have this opportunity to learn from him, and there are definitely topics I learned about that I can’t wait to research further when I get home. 

Have a fantastic day, and God bless!

Heidi 🙂 

Heidi Jo Sunshine Neef is an 18-year-old who loves baking, playing guitar, and reading. She would gladly discuss theology, the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, history, or Star Wars for hours on end. She is excited about the opportunity to be at Summit Semester, and she desires to grow in her faith and build new friendships. After Summit Semester, she plans to help her mom start a new business in Edmund, Oklahoma.