The Old Testament Wrap–up III: The Stories Worth Passing on

In my yearly meeting with my boss, he asked what I had accomplished this year, outside the classroom.  I mentioned this project, which intrigued him. “What impact do you think it’s had on your teaching?” he asked.

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m not a religious person, so the Bible has not become the foundation for my belief system or anything like that. And in saying this, I sound, perhaps, dismissive of the Bible. I’m not. Although I found parts of the Old Testament quite boring, I enjoyed other parts more than I thought. If anything, I’ve developed an appreciation for people who have found so much within its pages.

Beyond that, I now have some common ground for students who do have a religious thread in their life.  Although I’m not looking to build this into a class discussion, should the matter arise, I now can suss out their ideas with a bit more respect.

In addition, I now see more references in films and books, and this is one of the greatest rewards. Even if you hate the Bible (or resent how it’s used), etc., you can’t—and shouldn’t—act like it doesn’t exist. It’s not poison, you can read it and still lead a healthy life, even if it changes not one iota of your ideas and beliefs.

Perhaps because—like me—some people already have/had an impression of the Bible, they don’t feel like they need (or needed) to read it. That’s a shame, for although you encounter some of the stereotypical content, you’ll find a lot of interesting, engaging stories.

For example: David’s rise from obscurity to not only slay Goliath but also to be steadfast in his loyalty to King Saul. He does not kill the jealous king when he has the chance, an act that would have taken his own life out of danger.

Or there’s Moses, who undertakes the impossible by confronting Pharoah and leads the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity (and deals with a whole lot of BS along the way).

Or Nehemiah, who returns to rebuild Jerusalem (post-Babylonian exile) and encounters so much resistance (but still succeeds). He even makes sure that the oppressed have their burden lessened.

And of course Job, who even in the face of evidence that suggests he’s been abandoned by God, holds true to his faith.

The women who stand out deserve their own post.

Last but not least is the symbolism behind the dove and the rainbow from Genesis.  As I mentioned in my post devoted to these two symbols (, I wonder how many people realize the origin of these two often-used symbols.

The sad part is that people who avoid the Bible because of their preconceived notions of what it contains will miss these stories.

Next up: The Old Testament’s Treatment of Women

About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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