The Old Testament Is Dying

A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment

by Brent A. Strawn (Author)BRENT STRAWN (Author)
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"Strawn has written a book of urgent practical theology based on prodigious research, grounded in keen theological sensibility, and addressed to an acute problem in the church, a problem that has immense implications for the wider culture in which the church dwells and to which it addresses itself. The language, effective use, and serious understanding of the Old Testament are 'on the brink of being lost.' Strawn shows that the danger runs from Marcion through the Revised Common Lectionary to the likes of Joel Osteen. In response, Strawn wisely urges an intentional pedagogy that includes hymnody, memorization, and sustained didacticism in order to create a 'cultural-linguistic community.' The work to be done is not for the fainthearted, but it is nonetheless work that must be done. Strawn shows himself to be a wise hermeneutist, an acute student of culture and of language, and a passionate witness in and for the life of the church. We have no other book like this; it merits wide attention."
--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary (emeritus)

"Strawn imaginatively reframes contemporary debate about the authority and use of the Old Testament. He develops a suggestive analogy between linguistic and biblical proficiency and shows how much contemporary use of the Bible, both within and outside the churches, is akin to speaking a pidgin or creole. He also indicates what can be done about it. This is a wonderfully illuminating and thought-provoking book."
--Walter Moberly, Durham University

"Combining cunning wit and wisdom and informed by linguistics, Strawn offers a way forward to bring new life to the Hebrew Bible in a culture of reading that prefers the simplistic and the superficial. His prognosis marks nothing short of a revival for this 'dying' Testament. This should be required reading for all students of Scripture, pastors included."
--William Brown, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Current concerns about biblical literacy are too narrowly focused. Strawn instead underscores the need for renewed biblical fluency. Like an endangered language used by a dwindling number of native speakers, the Old Testament as it is known today is all too often a partial and misleading caricature of the real thing. The remedy? Relearning how to 'speak Scripture,' fully integrating the Old Testament--with its surprising variety and challenging complexity--into Christian preaching, worship, and hymnody. Strawn brilliantly diagnoses the sickness and prescribes a promising cure in this highly insightful and urgently needed intervention."
--Stephen B. Chapman, Duke University


Brent A. Strawn, Author

Brent A. Strawn (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. He previously taught at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He has authored or coedited numerous volumes, including The World around the Old Testament, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law, and What Is Stronger than a Lion? Leonine Image and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Strawn also serves as coeditor of the Old Testament Theology series and is on the editorial board of Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Journal of Biblical Literature.

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