By Lawrence Blanchard, ND, MDiv
My compelling journey to discover the truth of what the Bible says and means began with the Table of Contents page. Of course, I was familiar with the books of the Bible and their arrangement. But I failed to recognize what should have been obvious. After three years of graduate school (Denver Seminary) and over 15 years of teaching the Bible at that point, I had not noticed that the Table of Contents revealed two major divisions: Old Testament and New Testament. I knew they were there, of course, but never really thought about it.
Old and New Covenants
As I was pondering these two divisions, it came to me that there was a connection. You couldn’t have a New Testament without an Old Testament. There’s a relationship there.
The other thing I discovered was that instead of Old Testament and New Testament, it should have been translated Old Covenant and New Covenant. After all, that is the word most Bible translations use in the actual biblical text. Covenant also more closely conveys the meaning of the word in the original languages.
“Testament” doesn’t give the same force and idea that “covenant” does. A testament usually conveys something like a testimony about something or a will of some sort. A covenant has the force of a bond or binding pledge or agreement.
So, I learned something from the Table of Contents of the Bible.
On to Genesis
Next, I started reading Genesis through. I was not really studying it in depth, but just taking some notes and getting the big picture.
Then, I continued with Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. I tried to just follow the story line and not get bogged down in many of the details.
Let me pause to tell you that before I began to re-read and re-examine the Bible, I approached it with a new attitude. Instead of trying to defend what I always believed the Bible to say, I tried to read it as if I were reading it for the first time.
I had to deliberately put my own opinions and beliefs on the shelf, including the opinions of others, and just read it – as objectively as possible.
It was unsettling to open myself up to the possibility that I might have been wrong about what I thought the Bible said. It was fear. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of consequences. Fear of what others would say.
Was I opening myself up to going down a wrong path? If I came up with different conclusions from my family or church, would I be rejected?
I was quite shaky about such a pursuit. Where would it end? When you have little support, it makes it even more fearful. Thankfully, my wife was all for the pursuit of truth.
For me, there was no turning back – fear or no fear, I was determined to find the truth. Little did I know, I found it in the story of a family. More to come.