Sunday, September 25, 2011

Prophets Prophets Prophets

In the fall of 2003 I took Dr. Lamontte Luker's course in Old Testament Theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.  A good portion of that course was on the thread of prophecy that runs from the first hint of messengers as prophets in Genesis 32 and first use of the Hebrew word for prophet, nabi, in Exodus 7 through Malachi, the last of the classical prophets.

I have commented earlier on my difficulty remembering details and the need to outline and present information in some way that makes it visually interesting.  The charts below were created to help me remember key points about the history of prophecy and about the prophets themselves.  As I have also said, most of the value of such exhibits is in the creation of them rather than in the use of them by others, but they took a fair amount of work and I hate to just toss them out.  They are not worth much now, but at least they are free.

The background for all the charts is a timeline covering the approximately 1700 years from Abraham to Jesus.  The various prophets are therefore shown in chronological order, which is different from the order in the Bible, and the chart also indicates whether  they prophesied in the Northern or Southern Kingdom, and before or after defeat and captivity.

If you took Dr. Luker's course, or a similar one elsewhere, or if you just want to undertake your own study, these might be a helpful review or study/learning aid.  Probably the most shocking thing students learn from such a course is that the prophets were not primarily people who spent their time going around predicting the future but  were usually focusing their comments on the current situation and what it was likely to lead to if folks didn't change their ways.  

You can click on these charts for high resolution versions.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Old Testament Timeline - Abraham to Jesus

In Genesis 12:1, God told Abram to get up and go, and Abram, setting an example for us all, got up and went, taking his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all their possessions, and headed for the land of Canaan. Abram, later to become Abraham, lived under a promise that God would bless him and make him a great nation and that through him all families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). And that is the beginning, not of theological truth, but of history, in the Bible. And, while the story from that point on is historical, it is theological truth that dominates and is best served by the choices of people and events described and the words used to tell what happened.

The Old Testament story comes to life once the basic framework and timeline are in place and the people and events can be placed in proper context. It is for that reason that the timeline chart below was constructed by me, used in my OT study, and later in confirmation classes. Of course the greatest value is not in the use of such a device but in the construction of it. Nevertheless, here it is to use and/or improve as you see fit.  Click on it for a better view.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kings, Kings, Kings - Turmoil in the Middle East

It is probably personal frustration with difficulty remembering details that drives my compulsion to gather and organize information visually, preferably on a single page. I did a lot of that during my three years at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. One topic I covered, superficially of course due to limited space, was Old Testament Kings of the Israelites.

The theme of kingship is an interesting one to follow through the Bible all the way from that first demand of the people for a king and Samuel's warning about the problems that would cause to the arrival of the perfect but generally unrecognized and unacknowledged King of Kings, Jesus Christ.

The OT books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles include a wealth of stories about the roughly 600 years from the anointing of the first king, Saul, until the last of the people of Judah, the southern part of the divided kingdom, were defeated by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and taken into captivity.  The diagram below was my attempt to organize the information in a way that would help me remember it.  Maybe you have a Sunday School class or a Confirmation class or other Bible study to lead and would find this helpful.  Feel free to use it and, if you find any mistakes, let me know.  I have a few more diagrams similar to this that I hate to throw away and will probably end up posting here.