The news is out that the Old Testament lessons will be exactly the same. No changes or updates to the manuals — not even updating the 1800s entry in the Bible Dictionary (the part we got for free from the printer) that Baal is a sun god (something only British Egyptologists believed) or anything else.
With that in mind, here are some of the things to prepare for and expect.
- Someone is bound to point out that the names of the first humans in the Garden of Eden are Ish and Isha. “almost all modern linguists say that ish and isha aren’t related. Ish comes from the root אוש, meaning strength (the related root אשש means “to strengthen”), and isha derives from אנש, meaning weak. (The common plural of both – anashim אנשים – “men” and nashim – נשים – “women” also derive from אנש).”
- Someone will also point out that Brigham Young taught that the name “Adam” is a title that many have had, it is not just one person or one man. Someone else will probably point out that one historic meaning of the mark of Cain was blue eyes. Other trivia will probably come out in classes.
- When you get to the story of Abraham and Isaac, someone is going to point out that Abraham was a “dried up reed” (to use the poetic metaphor) and Isaac was thirty-five years old at the time of the story. So beyond the entire “Abraham should just have said no” which floods the bloggernacle every four years, you will get “just why did Isaac go along with this?” kind of questions.
- Lots of other Abraham issues will come up. Count on it. Lots of them.
- Others will point out that Abraham goes from an outcast, fleeing his idol making father (that was the family business before dear old dad tried to sacrifice him to an idol) to a warrior-prince with hundreds of men under arms, including three centuries of men whose only purpose was war.
- Miriam and Moses as the prophets God sent to deliver Israel will come up (and that the Bible mentions the two of them and excludes Aaron).
- Aaron making a golden calf, leading the people in the worship of it, and then not being punished when others were will probably get raised by the class curmudgeon.
- The genocides in the early Bible will come up, along with the fact that the people who were supposed to have been eradicated show up later in the book, and that God tells the people of Israel that he will not eradicate their enemies because it would destroy the land. With any luck, someone will point out that the genocide moments in the scriptures tend to relate to triumph narratives or to conflicts with the sexually exploitation of children by some movements that were eradicated.
- Moses and Zipporah and their story may or may not come up. I had a friend who was ghostwriting a manual for teaching the Bible in her late 60s when she first read that story and was quite surprised at it (though she thought she was reading the Bible every year at church).
- Balaam and the Ass, while an interesting story, also ends too soon, as in the end, Balaam, the prophet, attempts to lead the Children of Israel into sin (so that God will let him curse them) and dies in battle fighting him.
- Ruth, Moab, her grandson David and the fact that marrying a Moabite disqualified you and your children from being a party of Israel will probably come up at some point.
- Which will also lead to a discussion of just when each part of the Old Testament was written, the differences between history, illustration, metaphor, parable, art and poetry (and that when you get a couple hundred years ago to several thousand years ago, history was not a collection of facts but collected in a way to illustrate points — or why Chronicles and Kings are so dramatically different in parts). Perhaps someone will have listened to the LDS Perspectives Podcast and bring up that the story of Jonah is about how though the prophet is the least obedient person in the story, God is the most forgiving and loving and values all life and every person. Other scripture might get a deeper lense from understanding genres in the Old Testament. Or it may not.
Those are just twelve points or twelve steps to get you started on what to expect in reading the Old Testament and in the Bloggernacle and your Sunday School classes, now that everyone has had the chance to read the same lessons 4-5 times and, perhaps, to have learned something.
- What do you expect to encounter?
- Do you think they will ever fix the Baal entry? (It sure makes understanding Elijah easier. Storm Gods make fire fall out of heaven on the tops of mountains. His challenge to the priests of Baal is to have Baal demonstrate one of his strong points. It would have been meaningless if Baal were a sun god).
- What else do you think they ought to consider fixing?
- What is your favorite bit of Old Testament trivia?
- What is your favorite trope that the bloggernacle recycles every four years?