Old Testament Survey
Dr. Christopher Gornold-Smith
Old Testament Survey Course Overview
Old Testament Survey serves as an introduction to the Bible, particularly emphasizing the significance of the Old Testament for Christians. It highlights the need for understanding the Old Testament to fully grasp the New Testament, as many references and quotes from the former are present in the latter. This course covers various aspects, such as historical accounts, authorship, transmission, and the covenant with Abraham, exploring key figures and events like the Tower of Babel, the journey of Abraham, the Tabernacle, the conquest of Canaan, the period of the Judges, and the rise and fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, leading to the Babylonian exile. It also delves into the wisdom literature, including the book of Job, Solomon’s reign, and the prophets’ messages. Ultimately, the course underlines the New Covenant relationship and the fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus Christ, bridging the Old and New Testaments for believers.
What You’ll Learn
- Why Christians should read the Old Testament
- Who wrote the Old Testament
- The History of the Translation of the Old Testament
- The Law (or Torah/Pentateuch)
- The Prophets (Nevi’im)
- The Writings (K’tuvim)
- Apocalyptic literature
- The Creation account
- The Image of God
- The Fall of Man
- Tower of Babel
- The Offering of Isaac
- Suzerain Treaty
- Levitical rituals
- The Tabernacle
- The Canaanites
- The Judges period
- Ruth and the Moabites
- The Philistines
- Hebrew Poetry
- King David
- The First Temple and it’s destruction
- The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
- Babylonian exilic period
- King Cyrus and the Second Temple
1. Approaching the Old Testament
This session provides an introduction to the Bible, focusing on the significance of the Old Testament for Christians. It explains that understanding the New Testament requires knowledge of the Old Testament, as many references and quotes from the Old Testament are present in the New Testament. The Old Testament is defined as the collection of books related to the Old Covenant, given to Israel through Moses. The importance of historical accounts in the Old Testament is emphasized, showcasing how God’s actions and interventions have shaped the destinies of nations and individuals. This session briefly touches upon the authorship of the Old Testament and the order of its books in different traditions, concluding by hinting at the upcoming exploration of Jesus’ usage of the Old Testament in the next session.
2. The Order of Books and Creation
The text discusses the arrangement and acceptance of the Old Testament by Jesus and the Jewish people at that time. It explains that the Jews divided the Old Testament into three groups: the Law (Pentateuch), the Prophets (including historical books), and the Writings. Jesus referred to and quoted from all parts of the Old Testament, acknowledging it as the Word of God. The lesson also explores the transmission of the Old Testament text, highlighting the extreme measures taken by scribes to preserve its accuracy. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls further confirmed the reliability of the Old Testament. The text then delves into the concept of creation, emphasizing that God is the intelligent Creator, and humanity is made in His image with remarkable capacities and consciousness.
3. The Image of God and the Fall
This session explores the concept of humanity being created in the image of God, emphasizing man’s unique attributes such as intelligence, moral consciousness, and a supernatural capacity to experience God’s presence. It also discusses the Fall of Man, initiated by Satan’s deception and human disobedience, leading to a broken relationship with God and fellow humans. The concept of identity is highlighted, drawing a distinction between individualism and solidarity, and how our identity with Adam and later with Christ affects our moral responsibility. The session concludes with the progression of sin and the consequences of disobedience, illustrated through Cain’s murder of Abel and the judgment of the flood.
4. Babel and Abraham: The Concepts of Covenant
This session delves into the story of the Tower of Babel and the journey of Abraham. The Tower of Babel exemplifies mankind’s disobedience to God by attempting to elevate themselves to godhood, resulting in confusion and judgment from God. The story of Abraham, who came from a region near Babel, demonstrates his faith in God and his journey of belief. His covenant with God is likened to an oath that binds people together, and in the New Testament, Abraham is recognized as the father of the faithful. This session highlights how God has tied Himself to humanity through the New Covenant, with Jesus taking on our nature, and when born again, believers receive His nature, strengthening the covenant between God and His people. Understanding this covenant is crucial to comprehending the entire Old Testament.
5. Abraham, Israel, Joseph, and Moses
In this session, the focus is on the life of Abraham, highlighting his faith and the covenant God made with him. This session delves into the importance of written marriage contracts in ancient cultures, as seen in the story of Hagar and Sarah’s suggestion to Abraham. The narrative then moves to the account of Abraham’s offering of Isaac, where his struggle between faith and culture is evident. The discussion shifts to Joseph, Moses, and the burning bush revelation, emphasizing God’s self-existence and eternal nature. The session covers the Exodus, the covenant at Mount Sinai, and the parallels between suzerain treaties and God’s covenant with Israel. It also explores detailed codes of law from other ancient cultures and addresses the question of whether Old Testament laws apply to Christians today, emphasizing the continuity of God’s character between the Old and New Testaments.
6. The Tabernacle Worship
In this session, we delve into the significance of the Tabernacle and the religious rituals established by God for the people of Israel. The Tabernacle served multiple purposes: it unified the Israelites around the Covenant with God, taught them about holiness and reverence for the divine, and symbolized Christ as the ultimate sacrifice. The Tabernacle’s intricate rituals set apart the tribe of Levi as priests, and its laws reflected the nature of God. This session also explores the spiritual message of holiness and the dynamic notion of God’s holiness, which calls upon believers to mirror His character and reflect His glory in the world. Additionally, we examine God’s instructions to Joshua as the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land.
7. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth
In this session, the focus is on the land of Canaan, its geographical map, city-states, climate, and Canaanite religion. The conquest of Canaan is discussed, highlighting the story of Rahab of Jericho, a Canaanite harlot who showed faith in the God of Israel. The cycle of the Judges is explained, detailing the backsliding of Israel, God’s judgment, and the subsequent deliverance through appointed Judges. The narrative shifts to Ruth the Moabite, emphasizing her identity, loyalty, and faith as she embraces Naomi’s people and God. The session concludes by mentioning the invasion of the Philistines and how God’s deliverance continued through the Judges and would later transition to the time of the Kings, to be discussed in the next session.
8. The Kings, David, Psalms, and Hebrew Poetry
In this session, the study shifts to a new development in the history of the people of God, focusing on the transition from Israel’s tribal confederation to monarchy. The Philistine threat emerges, and key figures such as Samuel, Saul, and David play significant roles. David, known for his Psalms, is depicted as a psalmist, poet, musician, and singer. Hebrew poetry, characterized by parallelism, figurative speech, and emotional expression, is explored, with examples from Psalms and Proverbs. Solomon’s reign and wisdom are also discussed, including his temple construction and eventual downfall due to pride and backsliding. The session concludes with wisdom literature quotes, illustrating the value of knowledge and understanding in daily life.
9. Wisdom Literature, Division, and Exile
In this session, the focus is on the book of Job and the division of the Kingdom of Israel after the reign of Solomon. The Book of Job tells the story of a righteous man who suffers greatly, challenging his beliefs about God’s justice. Job’s friends offer conventional wisdom, but their views are proven wrong. Through his suffering, Job’s theology evolves, leading to a deeper understanding of God’s ways. The northern Kingdom of Israel faces political instability, with different kings and periods of prosperity and decline. The rise of Assyria and the ministry of prophets like Amos, Hosea, and Micah shape the history of Israel. Meanwhile, the southern Kingdom of Judah enjoys some stability due to its dynastic line, but also experiences challenges with good and bad kings, leading to eventual judgment. The session sheds light on key historical and theological aspects of this period.
10. Babylonian Captivity, Return from Exile, and the Prophets
In this session, we witness the tragic downfall of the southern Kingdom ofJudah as Babylon rises to power. Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem, leading to the deportation of the people to Babylon. However, after seventy years, Persia captures Babylon, and Cyrus the Great allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Second Temple. During this time, we encounter notable figures such as Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel, Joshua, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah, who play crucial roles in rebuilding and restoring the nation. The prophets also play a significant part in this story, preaching righteousness, social justice, and conditional prophecies. As the lesson concludes, we learn about the New Covenant relationship, experiencing God’s steadfast love through faith and the blessing of Abraham, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ for both Jews and Gentiles.
Old Testament Survey
Brad Andrews sits down with Dr. Berin Gifillan to discuss this in-depth topic of of the Old Testament.
About the Instructor
Dr. Christopher Gornold-Smith
Christopher Gornold-Smith is an English author, pastor, missionary, archaeologist, biblical scholar, Christian apologist, and television producer. He is one of the world’s foremost teachers on the Old Testament. For years he worked as an Assemblies of God missionary, served in educational media development with Global University (formerly ICI University of Brussels), served as a missionary in residence at SAGU, and taught courses in Christian apologetics, Biblical archaeology, and scriptwriting, as well as lecturing at Elim Bible College, and working as a producer for International Media Ministries.
Gornold-Smith became a member of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society and the Palestine Exploration Fund which afforded many opportunities to hear from the leading archaeologists and biblical scholars as they updated members of the IEJ and PEF on their latest digs.
He holds a Diploma of Theology from Elim Bible College (now Regents Theological College, West Malvern, England) in 1961. He holds a Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) from Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Gornold-Smith is now retired, but still are very involved with Global University.