Port Macquarie Uniting Church is set to host its second intensive for United Theological College (UTC) in January 2019. This will be five days poring over the Old Testament.
Anthony Rees lectures in Old Testament at United Theological College. He told Insights that the intensive would be of use to anyone from the Uniting Church who wanted to better understand scripture.
“The Old Testament has always been held as authoritative in Christian communities. Indeed, at the birth of the church in the first century, what became the ‘Old Testament’ was simply ‘the scriptures.’ The gospels portray Jesus’ understanding of them in this fashion, though it also demonstrates the way in which scriptures are interpreted in the face of contemporary reality.
“Early on in Christian history, and down to today, the status of the Old Testament has come under pressure, but as we did in the third century, we need to resist this move. It was then, and remains now, a heresy.
“The Basis of Union lays upon members what it calls the serious duty and of reading the scriptures, not at the exclusion of the Old Testament! And so we read, with an ear open to what the spirit might say to us.”
“These texts have nurtured and sustained God’s people for millennia. We have no good reason to walk away from them. I would say, actually, the opposite is true. Read well, the scriptures continue to provide guidance and sustenance for God’s people.”
“And I say read well, because as the Basis of Union recognises, reading the bible is a serious duty which requires a commitment that goes beyond a flat reading of words on a page.
“That is why biblical studies is so important. We take the texts seriously when we recognise their own historical nature, and the ways in which they have passed through time. Understanding those historical circumstances is important to understanding how those texts may have been understood, and allows us insights into how we, like generations of people before us, might make sense of these texts in their own time and place.”
Introduction to the Old Testament is also offered as a unit at United Theological College over a full Semester. Delivering this content over a five-day intensive is a challenge, but Dr Rees said that it is one that he looks forward to.
“It is a lot of material,” he said.
“But we will work through things in a systematic way. There will be space for engagement with each other and with texts, for questions and struggles.
“For people who want to take up the serious duty of reading the scriptures, or those who already have and want to think more, the class…is an opportunity to stop, think, and engage.”
The Introduction to the Old Testament intensive runs at Port Macquarie Uniting Church from Monday, 14 January to Friday, 18 January 2019.
For further information, go to the official event website. For sent an application form, contact student admin support via email@example.com or phone 02 8838 8900.