Q&A: Evaluating Critical Scholarship

Evaluating Critical Scholarship

Critical approaches to the Pentateuch often assume that all ancient religious beliefs as lower, less evolved forms of religion. How should evangelicals evaluate this critical mindset?

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Answer

When we approach Old Testament religion, it's very, very common these days to argue that Old Testament religion is simply one more of the religions of the ancient world, all of which are sort of lower level, not very highly developed. In fact, the religions of Mesopotamia, of Egypt, of Greece, of Rome were very highly developed. These concepts were not those of primitives who couldn't think better. They are the concepts of people who have intentionally chosen these ways of thinking. And the Bible then stands against these, not because it's necessarily more highly developed, but because it's the result of revealed religion and not religion based on speculation, so that we must never say that those religions were not very highly developed. In fact, they were very highly developed.

Answer by Dr. John Oswalt

Dr. John Oswalt returned to the Asbury Theological Seminary faculty in 2009 as visiting distinguished professor of Old Testament.