During our first week at Camp Arnes, Jodie Smith came to teach us about the Old Testament. Before digging in we learned about the misconceptions of the Old Testament and how that shapes our perception of God. As a group we discussed how the Old Testament is primarily God’s laws and rules, whereas the New Testament is only about God’s grace. Jodie taught us that God’s characteristics and desires are unchanging making God the same throughout scripture.
We learned about different perspectives on some of the familiar stories we’ve heard since we were children. For instance, the story of the seven plagues on Egypt. God afflicted the Egyptians so that Pharaoh would let His people go, yet at the same time God was making it clear that He and He alone is God and there are none before Him. He began dethroning the Egyptian gods one by one. When the Nile was turned to blood God dethroned the god Hapi. To the Egyptians, Hapi personified the Nile and was suppose to keep it fertile. Jodie helped me further understand why God sent the seven plagues and that these acts were on purpose to demonstrate his glory.
We learned about the prophets and their lifestyles. We learned about Isaiah, Zephaniah, and Amos to name a few, and I was surprised at how ordinary these men were. Some were married and had children, others were farmers who had no religious “training”. These insights created a connection between the present and the past, making the prophets more realistic.
Jodie taught us about Hebrew poetry and the different styles that are present in the Old Testament. Such styles included: synonymous parallelism, Chiastic and Enclusio. We searched for examples in the bible and even tried creating our own flowing pieces of poetry that follow these Hebrew traditions. I felt like a Shakespearean poet trying to piece styles and words together.
At the end of the four days we said goodbye to Jodie and thanked her for her time with us. I now have a greater understanding and interest for the Old Testament and cannot wait to see who we will hear from next.