Ashton Vann Composition of the OTThe three main views of how the Old Testament was composed can be compared and contrasted for further analysis and understanding. One could argue that the Bible is the most controversial collection of texts in the history of mankind. Much like everything else in society, the topic of discussion will likely have opposing views and certain issues will arise that will be challenged by others. The textbook, How We Got the Bible, deliberately displays three main perspectives including the critical, compositional, and common view of how the books of the Bible was composed.One’s outlook on how the Bible was composed may vary for each individual but each of the three views share similarities. First, each view provides readers with the knowledge that at the very least scholars can retrace the books of the Bible to uncover historical evidence. The textbook uses an analogy to compare the Bible to a scrapbook to show that “those [books] have been arranged into a coherent work of literature…that contains many small, precisely recorded documents” (Sailhamer, 1998). Each view has its own path of how scholars formed theories of the Bible’s composition. Others may overlook the fact that each view shares evidence that these narratives, characters, and places actually existed in the specified time period. Much of what we now have in the Old Testament consists of a collection of early records (Sailhamer, 1998). Second, the purpose for each view is to receive the word of God. The message is shared throughout the three different approaches which is conveyed by the general understanding of accepting God and bearing witness to the Holy Spirit. Generally speaking, God’s word is a vessel for each of His followers and the Scripture depicts and foreshadows God’s promisesSummer Ellis There are three views which express the composition of the Old Testament; the critical view, the compositional view, and the common view. First, the critical view is has the most classical expression. The critical viewpoint of the Old Testament believes that, “the Bible is essentially a record of what Israel believed about itself, and the individual books are the result of numerous uses and reuses of the same material, plus countless additions” (Sailhamer, 1998, p. 33). Julius Wellhausen is responsible for finding four principal layers of biblical text and believes that the Torah is a product of multiple authors. Personally, I would describe the critical view as an onion. The layers of the text are being peeled back to unveil what is hidden underneath, as an onion’s layers are peeled to unveil the flesh. Second, the compositional view can be described as how “others see the biblical books as the result of an intentional endeavor to recount what God had accomplished in Israel’s past and what he had promised for their future” (Sailhamer, 1998, p. 33). It is believed in the compositional view that in order to receive something from Pentateuch, it must be read. Just like any studying that is done, it must be read with the mindset that you are learning something. Constantly asking questions like, “why is this happening?” or “why did he do that?”, in order to fully understand the text, you must understand what the author is trying to deliver and the purpose. The compositional view differs from the classic critical view by two different ways. “(1) It views the end product of the Pentateuch and (2) the compositional view does not assume that earlier versions of the Pentateuch once existed to rival the present edition” (Sailhamer, 1998, p. 36). Finally, the common view, which is what many of us are traditionally used to. I was raised in a traditional southern baptist family, when I say this, I mean that I never questioned why we did certain things on Sunday or Wednesdays. I was never taught to question why the bible was put together, it just was and that’s what we lived our lives by, as a guideline. The common view expects for readers of the bible to be so engaged in the text that they aren’t thinking about the events that led up to the authorship of the Bible. In comparison, all of these views are similar because they are ultimately trying to share the bible in a different light and understand the precise purpose of the text.
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