Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Three Minute Old Testament

Here's something I'd like to share. I created this short telling of the Old Testament narrative to support a sermon series we're doing at my church for he summer. It has what I think is the bare minimum of details for the story to hold together. As with any telling, it's an interpretation. I've presented the "plot" of the story as God's plan to use Israel as a showpiece and a meeting place to introduce himself to the rest of the world, with the whole people serving as a "priestly kingdom." (Exodus 19:6) I love how consistent God is in this fundamental outward focus for his chosen partner/servants. We see it applied to the Church in 1 Peter 2:9 where we we called a "royal priesthood." It beautifully invites the question: "If we are all priests, then who is the congregation?" All the rest of the world of course, the ones we are called to serve.

So - here is the video. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful. (The resolution isn't very good so you may want to view a slightly larger version here.) I also want to say thanks to Harry Wendt of Crossways International for the use of his graphic icon for God, his prophet sketch, and general inspiration for this video. I encourage you to check out his excellent Bible-teaching materials!


Anonymous said...

What is the point or purpose of such a simplistic reduction? What is the purpose of doing it in the first place?

The OT (and the NT and the Church in general) was never intended to be fast food from a convenience store.

Feral Pastor said...

The point is that for people who don't know the story at all, if you want to teach it to them it can be helpful to start with the simplest possible reduction that can still make narrative sense.

The purpose is to give people a place to start from. Like an outline or scaffold that they can build on, adding more details as they continue to learn the story.

This isn't fast food - it's baby food. "Spiritual milk" for those who aren't yet ready for "solid food" as Peter would say.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

No, I think it doesn't help.

It doesn't seem like "spiritual milk" (no matter who you quote). It seems like candy, when what is needed is broccoli and meat.

For people who don't know the story at all, what seems to make more sense that you tell them all of it, every last word, starting at the beginning. That seems like the best place to start.

People need the richness afforded in every word of the Word - not a simplified quickie. Without the details and the complete context the story is empty and meaningless...but it will take only 3 minutes, which might fly with some in a society that markets and buys a quick fix for everything.

Feral Pastor said...

I certainly agree that our society prefers a quick fix and microwave spirituality. But I don't, and the TMOT isn't intended to be used that way.

It's designed to be a quick start that leads into a long run where people will be taken into the details, complexity and full richness in the scriptures.

Or, continuing with the food analogy, let me say that I am very much pro-broccoli and meat! But I still maintain: that is not appropriate as the first food we give to young children, just as baby food is not an appropriate diet for those who are mature. Each kind of food in its season, and yes, be sure we don't stay on a simple diet but do move on to meatier matters.

Brent said...

I get it. I think it is a great idea. Stephen didn't quote the whole story to the Sanhedrin before he was stoned. Paul didn't really even mention the OT on Mars Hill.

What's wrong with summing up as an intro?

Ross Jahnke said...

I have to say I agree with the Feral Pastor on this one. There is a lot of value in making a big picture narrative of the Bible accessible to those who have little to no familiarity with the OT. I understand where the anonymous commenter is coming from in wanting to give people the whole scoop, but unfortunately that approach taken alone is probably of little actual benefit. People learn by merging new information into their already present system/scheme of information. If the OT’s over-arching narrative is not in their system of knowledge, then reading the OT to them from cover to cover will make little sense. That isn’t because the OT was poorly written, but because it was written from and to an ancient Middle Eastern framework of thinking and knowledge, a framework which most 21st century North Americans do not have.

Feral Pastor said...

Thanks Ross. I should mention that the real architect of this layered detail approach to the Bible is Harry Wendt of Crossways. As you can see on that page, he's actually developed a four-tiered curriculum, ranging from the 3-hour timeline study to the full-blown, 2-year Crossways study. (Harry likes to refer to the three main courses as baby bear, momma bear and papa bear.) All I've really done is tried to go one step further down from the timeline version. Weather that's taking it to it's logical or illogical conclusion I guess depends on one's perspective. ;)