POSTED 23 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 1440-1400 B.C.E. (Right); 1300-1200 B.C.E. (conservative-moderate); 500s B.C.E. (Left)
Time period: Ancient Israel in bondage to the Egyptian superpower
Author: Moses exclusively (Right); Moses, Joshua, and later editors (conservative-moderate); compiled traditions and mythologies (Left)
Location of author: wilderness journey after the Exodus (Right, conservative-moderate); Babylon and/or Land of Israel (Left)
Target audience and their location: wilderness journey after the Exodus (Right, conservative-moderate); Babylon and/or Land of Israel (Left)
Theological Summary: The Hebrew title of the second book of the Bible is Shemot (pronounced Shemos in the Ashkenazic tradition), meaning “Names,” derived from its first sentence, “Now these are the names of the sons of Israel” (1:1a). The term “Exodus” used in our English Bibles is derived from the Greek Septuagint, which designates this text Exodos. A transliterated form of Shemot, Oualesmoth, is used in some ancient Greek Bibles, and others may use the form Exagogue. The terms Exodos and Exagogue both convey the idea of a departure or going out, which are obviously major themes of the book.
In its opening lines, the Book of Exodus calls us to consider the family that has grown exponentially from the characters Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and immediately records how God has been faithful to them to multiply their descendants. The text of Exodus, though, transitions us from the promises given by God to the fulfillment of those promises. Exodus is a profoundly important text for anyone wanting to understand the work of God throughout history. Regardless of one’s theological orientation, “The Exodus from Egypt provides a focus for the OT, and has influenced its entire understanding of God” (Clements, IDBSup). As the departure of the Ancient Israelites from Egyptian bondage is the major theme of Exodus, it is not surprising that it has influenced a great number of “‘theologies of liberation’ movements” (Sarna).
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.