Season 2, Episode 1:
You’re listening to the Rediscovering the Bible online Radio Show, Season 2, Episode 1.
Happy New Year everybody. Welcome back to all you regular listeners and a special welcome for you new comers. My name is Sam, I’m your host, Wow am I glad you’re here. Today, it’s a cloudy, rainy, January 2 and I’m coming to you, as you’ve come to expect, from the camper here at the farm.
Gosh, it’s been a long time since we’ve been together, hasn’t it? A lot has happened in my life, and I’m sure in your world, too. The biggest news of all, I guess, is that Brittan and I are moving to Scotland permanently later this year. I’ll get you all the scoop as time goes by, but I’m expecting this show will continue, just from another location.
This season, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time in the Old Testament. We finished the New Testament last season, and I really want to get through a survey of the Old Testament this year. We’re going to change the format, just a little, and look at some things chronologically and others thematically. Don’t worry, it will all make sense later.
First, I want to recommend that our new listeners go back and listen to some or our earlier episodes, particularly those on Luke and Acts. They will really help, I promise.
Now, let’s talk about translations and reading plans. It’s a brand new year, and there are a whole lot of people who’ve made new year resolutions to read the Bible through. If you’re one of those people, Yay, you. Those of you who’ve been listening for a while, or have been through one of my classes or workshops, know that I believe the order in which we read the Bible is very important to understanding it. First, I encouraged you to begin with the New Testament. The Bible will make way more sense that way. Start with the Gospel of Luke, then read the book of Acts. Luke will clearly tell you who Jesus is, and Acts will give you instructions on how to begin following Him. If you’d like to see my entire reading plan, just go to samburtonpresents.com and let me know by leaving your information on the ‘contact’ page. You can also simply request a copy via the comments section of the show notes which are also at samburtonpresents.com.
One of the questions that comes in regularly is related to which translation to use. The shore answer is, the one you’re comfortable with. This season, I’m going to be using the New Living Translation. I think its simple language is a great way to understand the Old Testament. It’s a fine translation especially if you’re new to Bible reading or if English is not your first language. On the whole, it’s easier for me to disrecommend the translations I discourage, than to share the ones I endorse. I strongly disrecommend the New World Translation. It has been seriously tampered with. Unless you’ve been given one by a Jehovah’s Witness, you probably haven’t ever seen it. It isn’t sold at Christian Bookstores. Yeah, it’s that bad. I would also discourage the Revised Standard Version as it was translated by liberals and skeptics and downplays many important texts.
For those who only have King James, that’s fine. I’m not going to bash it. It’s not my favorite, but it’s still the most used translation in the English language. I it starts to get difficult for you, but you like the way if flows, try the New King James.
Here’s a big money saving tip for you. You can try loads of translations for free by using the internet. For my laptop, I downloaded e-sword.net and several free translations and other Bible Study materials. I did the same thing with for my smartphone with the free app, YouVersion. In full disclosure, I haven’t found a free downloadable New Living Translation, but you can read it for free online at BibleGateway.com and via YouVersion for your phone or tablet. You’ll just have to make sure you have internet access. If you have any questions, ping me and I’ll help any way I can.
Ok, I think that takes care of all the housekeeping for now. The Old Testament can be fun. I know…some of you are giving me that cross eyed skeptical look. I can see you right through the microphone. But I’m serious. There are two keys to the old Testament that are really important. First is, Read the New Testament First. How many times have you heard me say that? The second is, right before you begin a study in the Old Testament, go through the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.
I am totally convinced that Hebrews unlocks the Old Testament and how it relates to the Gospel and The New Testament better than any other tool. So…we’re going to spend a few weeks in Hebrews setting the table for our Old Testament Survey.
Let’s spend just our remaining time today, reviewing the background of the Book of Hebrews, because some people find it controversial. I think those people have way too much time on their hands, but let’s look anyway.
Many conservative scholars consider Hebrews one of the most important theological studies of any of the NT books except possibly Romans. Martin Luther, the Reformer, not MLK the civil rights advocate, on the other hand was not a big fan of Hebrews. I would say, he’s the father of all the Hebrews critics. In the first place, he thought there was too much emphasis on works, though not as much as the book of James.
The other big hurdle for some people to clear is the fact that the author is anonymous. While it has a formal ending, it has no salutation at the beginning. Now, I believe there’s a good reason for that, and we’ll get to it in just a minute.
Frankly, several of the New Testament books, Matthew, Mark, and, John as well as Hebrews are anonymous and all have controversy surrounding them as a result. Church tradition is pretty clear and consistent on the subject, but modern and modernist scholars tend to ignore tradition and history and look for novel hypotheses. After all, there’s not much notoriety, grant money or name recognition is writing, ‘The Church Fathers were clear on…’ Fame comes from stirring the pot.
Over the years, several alternative authors have been named as candidates, namely, Peter because the closing is similar to his closings in his letters, Barnabas, James, Luke, because the quality of the Greek was good and the style indicated an educated individual, and Apollos.
I must admit that when I was in Seminary, I liked the notion of Apollos, but just because I thought he was underappreciated. I played with the idea of James for a while, but mostly it was just because I was having fun.
In the end, though, I have come back to the oldest traditions that Paul is the source of the Book. Hebrews indicates a thorough knowledge of the Law and Old Testament. While there are other candidates, James, whose entire ministry was spent in Judea would be one. Barnabas, a Levite, would be another, but Paul, the formally trained Pharisee, would have had the most complete training in the law of any of the early Christian leaders and Biblical writers.
I have come to the conclusion, as have many others, that The book of Hebrews began life as a sermon preached by Paul, and eventually written down by Luke, very possibly after Paul’s death. This would explain the lack of a greeting at the beginning, the superior quality of the Greek, the similarities to Luke’s other writing, and the very ancient tradition that Paul was the author. In fact, the matter is pretty much settled in my mind.
Do your own homework. In the end, as I often say, background studies are fun as an academic exercise, but in the long run, don’t help much in understanding the contents.
Hopefully, you’ll do a reading of Hebrews over the next few weeks while we examine it. What you will see, if you do, and the direction I’m going to drive the show, is that Hebrews is an overt attempt to show that everything about the Gospel, including the Giver, is a fulfillment of the old covenant, is superior to it, and has replaced the Old Testament as the covenant in place. These conclusions have a profound impact on our understanding of the end times, of role of Israel and the Church in Prophesy, our understanding of everything from the sacrificial system to the ten commandments.
In the next couple weeks, at least for those of you who are familiar with current trends in Current teaching, I’m going to challenge much of what you probably take for granted. It’s not new teaching, it was standard operational procedure for the first 1800 years of the Church. It just sounds new. And, it’s going to dramatically, affect the way we look at some of the more difficult and controversial parts of the Old Testament. We’re going to rock the boat. I love that. It’s going to be FUN.
Please join the investigation. Next week we’ll look at a Superior Savior. Then, A superior Covenant. After that, A Superior Salvation. Then we’ll be ready to dig into the Old Testament itself.
And that’s all I’ve got. It’s so good to be back with you. As always, please share your thoughts and/or questions either via the comments section of the show notes on samburtonpresents.com or via email.
Talk to you soon. Have a happy New Year. Be blessed, and, be a blessing.