This past Friday night and Saturday we were privileged to host Rev. Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls, professor of Hebrew Bible at Vancouver School of Theology. This was the first of a three part series “Theology for the First Time,” Vancouver School of Theology’s effort to “bring theology to the people.”
Pat’s topic was “new eyes for reading the Old Testament.” Her thesis is that having been exposed to Sunday School and Sunday Worship, church people come to the scriptures already knowing the answers to their questions. Instead, Pat suggested that if we pay close attention to the texts we discover whole new details and ideas that we never would have noticed or considered before. Not only does it make the Bible far more exciting and interesting, it also opens new insights into God’s character, our relationship with God as human beings, and the relationship between human beings (or at least how they should be). Pat is a deeply engaging lecturer, but the best part is that she gave participants actual tools and strategies for interpreting the texts themselves. We paid close attention to Moses’ encounter with the burning bush, and one participant enthusiastically played the part of Rahab the prostitute from Joshua 2. If you follow Pat’s guidelines, you would do well to avail yourself of a wide variety of coloured pencils for highlighting repetition and key phrases!
Overall, the lecture and workshop reaffirmed our need as the people of God to continually return and listen to where the Spirit might be speaking through the text to us for our time. One of the great Puritan theologians of the 17th century once said that “there is yet more light to shine forth from God’s Holy Word.” This workshop helped us step out from the shade of those things that build up over time and cast a long shadow over our interpretations to see God's light afresh.