Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 1, 2022
Study guide for the Old Testament broadens understanding

My Old Testament experience started on a long, slow, and sometimes rocky road.

As I grew up, delivering favorite Bible stories proved an easy-out for Jr. Sunday School and Primary talks. I remember getting a few chuckles when I told the story of David hitting Goliath right between the eyes with a rock.

Although a large Bible (including red letters of direct quotes of the Savior) rested prominently in our living room, it would be a stretch of the imagination and an outright fib to say we gathered at our parents’ knees each evening to read from the Good Book.

I enrolled in an Old Testament Seminary class during my sophomore year of high school, where poor Brother Nelson endured 47-minutes of primarily horseplay on a daily basis.

Those were the days when students received credit toward graduation for taking Old Testament and New Testament religion classes. Guess which church lost that court challenge.

About half a dozen of my friends signed up for the Old Testament class. For the most part, they were as interested in religion as in Russian ballet.  

Some of my buddies were of our faith, and others belonged to other religions. Few had attended any church in years. As a smart-aleck response, they all told Brother Nelson they belonged to the Fifth Ward. (Get it? Fifth, as in a fifth of whiskey.)

Early in the year, Brother Nelson gave a quick overview of all the books of the Old Testament, instructing us to not even look at the Song of Solomon. The following day my friends inquired of me, “Hey Charlie. Did you look at Song of Solomon? It has some pretty cool stuff in it.”

During that school year, I always enjoyed it when my dear friend Bob Martinez was in charge of the devotional. He always played a 45 RPM record for the special number to coincide with the theme. For example, he played “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum for the spirituality theme.

Over the next several decades I made brief reading brushes with the Old Testament. Twenty plus years ago, Janna and I taught an Old Testament Sunday School class where I dug a little deeper into the pre-mortal Messiah writings.

Several years ago when my daughter took an Institute class at Dixie, she told me how everything in the Old Testament pointed toward the Savior’s atonement. At that point, the importance of those writings and prophecies started to click.

A few days prior to this past Christmas, I took Lil’ Red shopping to help me find appropriate attire for Janna. In the process, she picked up a copy of The Old Testament Study Guide – Start to Finish. 

Thomas R. Valletta served as the general editor of the thick book and was assisted by 10 other biblical scholars. I took a quick glance, liked what I saw, and Santa placed it under the tree.

I enjoy the question-and-answer commentary format that draws on numerous sources, including Hebrew scholars, Jewish authors, scriptural references, as well as Church authors and leaders. 

The commentary is placed on light-blue background on the outside of each of the 1,358 pages that wrap around Old Testament text.

I also enjoy the charts, art, illustrations, explanations, and comparisons found throughout the guide. Some that helped broaden my understanding included the Sacrifice of Isaac, Jacob’s Dream at Bethal, Joseph as Type of Christ, and the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

My only criticism of the work is that the commentary is printed in tiny (I’m guessing 6 point) san serif type. That forces this 67-year-old to use a magnifying tool to avoid prolonged squinting followed by annoying headaches.

If you want to broaden your understanding and deepen your knowledge of the Old Testament, I strongly urge you to grab a copy.

Charlie Roberts is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Stansbury Park.

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