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Trusting the Bible – Series 2

How can you study the Bible academically and trust it as a Christian? Does scholarship actually help to find a way through the difficult parts of the Bible? Will some parts of the Old Testament just always feel like a struggle to read? 

In this series Dr Andrew Ollerton meets with five researchers whose work gets to the heart of some of the most challenging Old Testament texts. In these five conversations we take a tour through miracles, poetry, law, violence, and genealogies, to ask how we might read, wrestle with and still really enjoy the Old Testament.

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Episode 5: Names & lists – Making sense of the Old Testament

In this episode Dr Andrew Ollerton is joined by James Bejon to talk about lists, names and genealogies in the Old Testament. Andrew and James take a look at Judges 10 and 12 to talk about messy families, the significance of biblical names, and to ask: How do we make sense of the Old Testament, particularly in the more unexciting moments?

James Bejon is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. Following careers in both music and financial maths, James has now moved into biblical research. He is currently writing a thesis on the semantic content of biblical names and their parallels outside the Bible. James has a particular interest in the canonical study of Scripture – in the fact that the Bible is an organic and highly interconnected text which finds its fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus.

Episode 4: Violence & horror – How do we read Judges 19?

In this episode Dr Andrew Ollerton is joined by the Revd Dr Helen Paynter to look at horror and violence in the Old Testament. Helen walks us through one of the Old Testament’s ‘Texts of Terror’—the notorious nineteenth chapter of the book of Judges – and explores how we can bring humility and empathy to the way we read the Bible.

Content note: please note that this episode contains extensive discussion of episodes of sexual violence in the Old Testament narrative.

The Revd Dr Helen Paynter is a Baptist minister and the Director of Bristol Baptist College’s Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence. Helen has a Masters in Missional Church Leadership, another Masters in Biblical Studies, and a PhD in Old Testament. Her main research interests are in the narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible. Her second Masters dissertation was on ‘total annihilation’ in Deuteronomy and Joshua, her PhD thesis was on aspects of humour in the book of Kings, and her current research interest is in the violence of the Old Testament.

Episode 3: Law & instruction – How do we read Deuteronomy?

In this episode Dr Andrew Ollerton is joined by Dr Daniel Block to look at Old Testament law and instruction. This episode’s text is Deuteronomy 27 and the instruction to set up the stones on Mount Ebal, as Daniel demonstrates how even after 50 years of study the biblical text might still have surprises for us.

Dr Daniel Block is Gunther Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Wheaton College. His scholarly work focuses on the books of Deuteronomy, Judges, Ruth, and Ezekiel. Dr Block studied for his DPhil at Liverpool University. He has written numerous scholarly articles and reference works and served as a senior translator for the New Living Translation. His books include The Gods of the Nations: Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Theology and The Gospel according to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy.

Episode 2: Poetry & allegory – How do we read Song of Songs?

In this episode Dr Andrew Ollerton is joined by Dr Ros Clarke to talk about how we read poetry and allegory in the Old Testament. We focus in on Chapter 5 of the Song of Songs as Ros helps us to unpack some of the richness and beauty of Old Testament poetry. 

Content note: please note that this episode does include discussion of sexual violence.

Dr Ros Clarke is a Christian teacher, speaker and writer. Since 2017 she has been employed as the Associate Director of Church Society where her responsibilities include editing Crossway, its quarterly magazine, and producing its weekly podcast. Prior to that she worked for the Diocese of Lichfield as the first Online Pastor in the Church of England. She holds theology degrees from Oak Hill College and Highland Theological College. Her PhD thesis was on canonical interpretations of the Song of Songs, and she is particularly passionate about helping Christians to read and understand the Old Testament. 

Episode 1: Stories & strangeness – Taking the Old Testament seriously

In this episode Dr Andrew Ollerton is joined by Dr Peter J Williams to look at strangeness and stories in the Old Testament, and to ask: how do we take it seriously? Andrew and Peter discuss talking animals, miraculous events, the bizarre breeding programme we find in Genesis 30, and how we might become confident readers of the Old Testament, even in its stranger parts.

Content note: please note that this episode does include discussion of sexual violence.

Dr Peter J Williams is Principal of Tyndale House and a member of the Faculty of Divinity in the University of Cambridge. He received his MA, MPhil and PhD in the study of ancient languages related to the Bible from Cambridge University. He’s currently Chair of the International Greek New Testament Project and a Member of the Translation Committee of the English Standard Version of the Bible. His recent book Can We Trust the Gospels has been translated into eight languages.

Trusting the Bible is back for a second series. 

Reading the Old Testament: A guide to finding your way through difficult Old Testament passages.

In this series, Andrew Ollerton meets five researchers whose work gets to the heart of some of most challenging Old Testament texts. In these five conversations we take a tour through miracles, poetry, law, violence, and genealogies, to ask how we might read, wrestle with and still really enjoy the Old Testament.

The series starts February 2022.

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