I have the privilege of teaching through a study of Old Testament character to two different groups this summer.
As I prepare, it has become clear that too often we change our hermeneutical methodology when doing a character study. So here is my short, but hopefully developing list of guidelines for studying Old Testament Characters:
- Understand incremental revelation
–what had God revealed about Himself when character being studied was living
- Study the characters in context
–as in all Bible study, context rules! A text without a context is simply a pretext to say what we want to say, rather than what Scripture teaches.
- Seek to understand what in the story is descriptive and what is prescriptive
–not everything in Scripture is to be emulated. Most often the goal is not to copy tactics.
- Seek to understand what God affirms
- Seek to understand what God revealed about himself
–God didn’t dictate a systematic theology textbook, but communicated Himself through encounters with individuals. And it is in these encounters that God revealed His character.