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Episode: Guest Brent Strawn unfurls his provocative thesis that The Old Testament is Dying with OnScript host Matt Lynch. Matt and Brent discuss the malaise of ignorance about, hostility toward, and success-driven re-packaging of, the Old Testament in recent and ancient history. Along the way Brent laughs a lot, sheds a few tears (I didn’t verify that), and even sounds a few hopeful notes … but not before letting his diagnosis sink in.
Guest: Brent A. Strawn is Professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta. He is the author of What Is Stronger Than a Lion? Leonine Image and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2005), and editor-in-chief of the award-winning Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law (Oxford University Press, 2015), along with Iconographic Exegesis of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible: An Introduction to Its Theory, Method, and Practice (Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2015) and other books, including his most recent book The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment (Baker Academic, 2017). Brent taught previously at Rutgers University and Asbury Theological Seminary, and has taught as a visiting lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary and visiting professor at Columbia Seminary.
Book: The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment (Baker Academic, 2017). ‘This timely book shows how the Old Testament is like a language – a language is used and learned or it falls into disuse and eventually dies. Brent Strawn details a number of ways the Old Testament is showing signs of decay, demise, and imminent death in the church and criticizes common misunderstandings of the Old Testament that contribute to its neglect. He also shows that it is possible for a language to be recovered. Drawing fresh insight from recent studies of how languages die and are revived, Strawn offers strategies for renewing the use of the Old Testament in Christian faith and practice. This clearly written book will appeal to professors and students of the Old Testament as well as pastors and church leaders.’ (From the Baker Academic Website)
The OnScript Quip (our review): The title of this book is not click bait. It’s a serious data-supported diagnosis by one of today’s leading doctors of all matters Old Testament. Brent A. Strawn (Candler School of Theology, Emory University) examines the Church’s inability to speak fluent, or even near-fluent, Old Testament, and he names the forces at work against language acquisition. Strawn claims that at best the Church speaks a pidginized form of the Old Testament, a kind of baby speak: ‘Joshua win battle!’ ‘David kill Goliath!’ He examines three factors that accelerate language loss: The New Atheists, The Neo-Marcionites, and the health and wealth ‘Happiologists,’ and discusses their attractiveness and their impact on the Church’s native tongue. Strawn lets his diagnosis sink in deeply before letting just a few shafts of hopeful light enter the dimly lit hospital room where the Old Testament lies, attached to a ventilator.