Why is the Old Testament so difficult to understand? The Upper House Lectures
October 6 @ 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM CDTRegister
6 Questions. 6 Lectures. Delivered by experts in their fields.
Imagine a Friday night when you go out to dinner, take in a lecture full of surprises, and enjoy a sumptious dessert. Not only do you return home stimulated, your faith is strengthened. It’s an evening worth making time for. Regularly.
Lecture #2: October 6
Q: Why, oh why, is the Old Testament so difficult to understand?
A: “If you take offense or feel squeamish when you read the Old Testament, you’re not alone! Let’s deal with it.” — Aubrey Buster, PhD, Old Testament
The Old Testament contains stories, poems, laws, and prayers that have inspired, comforted, and challenged generations. But it is also a very difficult text to understand. It is written in an ancient language, describes ancient practices, and takes place in ancient history. Many of its texts strike us as downright offensive today, filled with patriarchal norms, violent scenes, and ethnic exclusion. How do we understand such a difficult text? And for those communities who hold it as sacred, how do we read it as the word of God?
About Aubrey Buster
Aubrey Buster is Associate Professor of Old Testament at the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Wheaton College. Dr. Buster’s research focuses on the Psalms, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Daniel, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. She is the author of Remembering the Story of Israel: Historical Summaries and Memory Formation in Second Temple Judaism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022). She is currently co-authoring the Daniel volume for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series with John H. Walton, and the Ezra-Nehemiah volume for the Bible in God’s World Series. Aubrey earned her PhD from Emory University, where she was a recipient of the George W. Woodruff Fellowship; her MA in Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College; and a BM in Voice with Elective studies in English Literature, also from Wheaton College.
Lecture #3: November 3
Q: What’s unique about American Christianity?
A: “History will be our guide to separating fact from fiction.” — Dan Hummel, PhD, History
American society and culture have deeply shaped traditions of Christianity that have developed here since the 16th century. To make sense of American Christianity today, we’ll unpack three, profound, historical and sociological influences: the trans-Atlantic origins of American Christianity; the legal disestablishment of religion and subsequent “marketplace” of religion; and ways Americans have boosted the development and growth of the global church in the 20th century. The history propelling these influences, as well as the tensions embedded within them, have made American Christianity distinct.
About Dan Hummel
Dan Hummel is the Director of University Engagement at Upper House, prior to which he held appointments at UW-Madison and Harvard University. The author of The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle over the End Times Shaped a Nation (Eerdmans, 2023) and Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), Dan has written articles for the Washington Post, Christianity Today, and Religion News Service. He hosts Upper House’s UpWords podcast, and co-hosts with John Terrill, PhD, With Faith in Mind — a new podcast that offiers a thoughtful and faith-informed perspective on important issues and questions facing our society. His research has been published in Religion & American Culture and Church History. He earned his PhD in History from UW-Madison, as well as his MA in History and BA in History and Philosophy from Colorado State University.
More coming Spring 2024!
Lecture #1: September 15
Q: What’s the fundamental conflict between Christianity and Science?
A: “It’s not what you think.” — Tony Bolos, PhD, Philosophy
Contrary to popular belief, the tension between Christianity and science isn’t fundamentally a dispute about scientific evidence. The conflict is, at its most basic level, about the commitments Christians have and the idea that these commitments make certain beliefs, like evolution, incompatible with their worldview. In this lecture, we will explore the history of this tension and the commitments that make this relationship difficult. Are there realistic solutions to consider? Yes! In fact, there are numerous issues we might explore further—fruitfully and faithfully.
About Tony Bolos
Tony Bolos brings a unique background to his role as Director of Learning and Formation at Upper House. A philosopher by training, Tony served as the Executive Director of New Hope Peru, an organization that serves vulnerable children and families; there he worked with government officials, pastors, and community leaders to launch a pilot foster care program — the first of its kind in southern Peru. Tony’s previous positions also include teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, where he taught a range of courses, including Ethics, Philosophy of Science, and Epistemology. While at VCU, Tony co-founded, with another philosopher, Scholé House — a place where students, faculty, and the Richmond community engage with scholarship related to the Christian tradition. His academic philosophy articles have appeared in Erkenntnis, Ratio, Synthese, and Faith and Philosophy. He earned his MSc and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, an MA in Philosophy of Religion from Denver Seminary, and a BA in Biblical Studies from Crown College.