Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Should Christians Read the Old Testament?
a guest post by Lauren Cochran

This post is the 3rd in Chasing Yoder's series of guest posts by different authors addressing the question, "Why does the Old Testament matter to Christians?" Lauren Cochran is a friend and the Christian Formation Director at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, WI. 

You can find the first post in the series, by Paul Cizek, here, and the 2nd post, by Sarah Puryear, here
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One of my earliest memories of the Bible is the giant set of books from the Old Testament that my little brother had on the bookshelves in his bedroom. I knew exactly which book had the story of Esther in it, and I must have made my mother read it hundreds of times.

In this particular version of the scripture, printed (I'm guessing) in the 1950s, Esther is pictured with bright red hair wearing a blue dress. She was my Disney... I mean Bible....
Princess.

For the purposes of this guest post, I thought about trying to use Esther's story to show
how the Old Testament can give us wonderful stories and characters that we can come
to love and understand over many chapters--- this is after all one of the reasons I love
reading the Old Testament.

But then it dawned on me that there is a much more simple, and more important reason
for Christians to read, study, love, and embrace the Old Testament.

Women.

Women!

I dare you to name women in the NEW Testament who are not named Mary or Martha.

Go.

(If you got Anna, or better yet Phoebe, I'm proud of you. And no, "the woman at the well" does not count; I want names.)

Yes, there is a small handful of women in the New Testament, but their stories are short
and their names are rare. The Old Testament is chock full of the ladies. 

Without looking (I promise!), I listed Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Ruth, Naomi, Hagar, Zipporah, Hannah, Rahab, Delilah, Deborah, Miriam, Leah, Bathsheba, and Esther (of course).

Those are some of the more popular names, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. A quick search on Google tells me that the Bible names 188 women. By my best count, there are only 25 named women in the New Testament. That leaves 163 named women in the Old Testament.

Now let me be clear: not all the women in the Old Testament are women that we should
look up to or model our behavior after (I'm looking at you, Bathsheba!), but the great part
about having so many different women present is that we - both Christian women and
men - have a selection to learn from.

These mothers of our faith are practically leaping from the pages with amazing lives and
lessons to share with us, and if we don't venture into the Old Testament, then we miss it!
I could go on about the endless opportunities that come from reading about the women in the Old Testament... for example I think that a careful study of these women could be a wonderful opportunity for women of all the Abrahamic faiths to get together and talk... But alas, I must draw myself to a close.

I implore you to read the Old Testament. Do it because Jesus was a Jew and these were his scriptures. Do it because the Old Testament and the New Testament are on equal ground. And, no matter what gender you are, if you are a Christian, do it so you know our Christian foremothers.
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Lauren Gallant Cochran is a "certified candidate" (for ordination) in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is currently serving as the Christian Formation Director at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison, WI, and she earned her Masters of Divinity at Harvard University.

2 comments:

  1. Very nice!

    I'm wondering if Lauren would grant permission for St. Francis Episcopal, Menomonee Falls, to reprint this as a "hook" for our fall adult Bible Study on Women of the Bible?

    Martha Berger+

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Martha,

    Sorry to be late in replying. I would be happy to put you and Lauren in touch about reprinting her piece.

    Peace.
    Jonathan+

    ReplyDelete