So ten years ago, when I joined the church, it suddenly became slightly uncomfortable to me that despite having 11 years of catholic school education, I had never read the Old Testament. So I randomly picked a book of the OT to read, as a way of getting started. It was Nehemiah. As you can imagine, that didnâ€™t go over too well. So I then began reading one chapter of each of the Standard works every day. That lasted for about 20 days, and then I lost my Bible in a car accident.Â (I bought a new bible, but alas the habit was broken).Â So another 9 months passed, I read the D&C and PoGP for the first time, and went on a mission. (I read the Book of Mormon 2 or 3 more times too) and I started at the OT again. This time I made it to Chronicles, then gave up. When I got married, My wife admitted she also had never finished the OT, and we read together, and made it to Leviticus once, then the end of Genesis, then the middle of Exodus, etc. etc. Then we tried backwards and made it to Jeremiah. So last May I bought the Old Testament on CD. Itâ€™s the â€˜Inspired Byâ€™ TNIV edition, with a dramatized rendition by an all African-American cast. Â And last week I finished it.
First of all, I have to give a big thumbs up to the Inspired By Production.Â It was well-done and very well recorded. The Cast (Including Denzel Washington reading the Song of Solomon and Cuba Gooding Jr.Â as Jonah) all did the best that could be done to give honor to their subject matter. When I was listening to Genesis, It transported me into the Temple. It was easy to listen to, and while it is impossible to get through the OT without glazing over sometimes, it held my interest much more than I thought it would. There was room for improvement, of course, as sometimes, the background ambient noise became a distraction, as music began to repeat in certain segments, o r Music didnâ€™t seem to line up 100% with the fore-matter. Another quibble with the audio, albeit minor, was the introduction and exit music to each CD and book of Scripture. With 60 CDs, it frankly got old after the first 3, and I skipped it.
Secondly, while I know Kevin Barney put up a post last year with all the reasons not to like the TNIV, I didnâ€™t have much issue with it. For easy-listening, it was a good copy, and used plain language. For that matter, the language was almost too plain. At sometime in Genesis, I think it became pretty apparent to me that I wasnâ€™t comfortable with the material for my 5 year old. (Maybe it was Onanâ€™s semen, but I canâ€™t remember.) With Onan, and David, and Davidâ€™s kids, and all the rape, abuse, hate, and darkness in the Old Testament, I came to the startling conclusion that while at one time I had seriously considered being believing in just the Old Testament God rather than in Christ (at least as seriously as a 15 year old considers anything), I now know I definitely need the Christian lense for God, and beyond that, the LDS lense.Â
Which brings me to my last point, something I have discovered about myself in the process of reading the Old Testament is that I cannot take it literally. The God presented there is too cruel and unkind. The values are foreign from my understanding of the way things are. So much of it is people doing terrible things, and a God who is praised as a destroyer and feared as a king. While there are some highlights (For me Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs) there is so much violence and lack of understanding that I doubt I will ever read the Old Testament again.
So my question is this:
The God presented in the Old Testament isnâ€™t much like the God I believe in. How do I deal with that?