How will these resources help you?

Students often struggle to reconcile the idea of an omnibenevolent God with the seemingly violent and capricious deity of the Old Testament. This is understandable – one only has to study stories such as the Flood, the plagues of Egypt and the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah to gain an insight into the power and destruction God is capable of. In fact, over the entirety of the Old Testament, God is either directly responsible for or endorses over two million deaths. Therefore, the relationship between humanity and God seems tumultuous. The resources below help to set out the journey clearly – particularly if teaching from a Christian perspective – as the God of the Old Testament should not be dismissed as simply ‘vengeful’ or less compassionate than God in the form of Jesus. Rather, there are themes to be revisited and questions of how to interpret these Old Testament stories that encourage us to constantly question our own ideals and how we would expect God to relate to His creation. 

Powerful infographics for showing the metanarratives of the Bible

The Infographic Bible: Visualising the Drama of God’s Word

by Karen Sawrey, published by William Collins, (2018), 9780007554614

This is a fantastic resource to use for a teacher’s own subject knowledge, as well as for students. The infographics can be used as a source for many discussions about the nature of God, how the relationship between God and humanity changes over the course of the Bible and the prophecies that Jesus’ life is said to fulfil. This will help students to see the Bible as a coherent whole that requires careful interpretation, and to see exactly what sort of questions we must ask as theologians if we are to gain insight into the purpose of humans in God’s creation.

An exploration into whether God is ‘wrath’ or ‘love’

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News

by Brian Zahnd, published by Waterbrook Press, (2017), 9781601429513

In this book, Zahnd explores the well-visited concept of God’s seemingly contradictory nature across the Old and New Testaments. Although many of his conclusions around God’s true nature and feelings towards us are found through New Testament scriptures, he also explains how the ‘vengeful’ or ‘jealous’ God of the Old Testament should be interpreted. He states that the Bible reflects our own journey in terms of how we perceive God, rather than a change within God Himself. A nice analogy he uses to illustrate this is how our ancestors believed that each day the sun itself was rising and setting, whereas now we understand that we on the Earth are the ones in motion, and thus our understanding shifts.

Understanding the contexts of the Old Testament

Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts

by Jonathan S. Greer, John W. Hilber and John H. Walton, published by Baker Academic, (2018), 9780801097751

Part of the difficulty in understanding how God and humans relate to each other in the Old Testament stems from a lack of understanding of the social, theological and historical contexts of the time. In this book, the authors cover a wide range of topics, from themes of family and inheritance to the architecture of the time. The text presupposes a quite robust background knowledge, but the book also has many images, diagrams and tables that could be used with students in the classroom. Particularly when considering worldviews, this helps to illustrate the perspective of the people living at the time, and also emphasises the importance of using various disciplines to study theology.

Humans as Middle Management: Image of God

What is meant by Imago Dei?

by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins Rasmussen, published by The Bible Project, (2023)

This podcast discusses the very nature of what is meant by ‘Imago Dei’ (the term applied uniquely to humans about the relationship between God and humans) and that humans have a role and an authority over God’s creation in order to help the earth ‘flourish’. The podcast is a useful, in-depth look at the role of humans according to the Bible, and at how humans disappoint God when they fail to uphold this responsibility.

Audiovisual clip

Pathways of Belief: The Bible: The Old Testament - The Ten Commandments

published by BBC, (2013)

A look at The Ten Commandments of the Old Testament which are considered to be God's rules for humans to adhere to in their lives.

Further materials

Getting Personal With G-d by Tzvi Freeman, published by Chabad.ORG, (2006) Read this article
The Old Testament Summary: A Complete Animated Overview, published by The Bible Project, (2018) Watch this video
Lucy Kentish is Head of Religious Studies and a South Coast Adviser for a MAT. She is part of a national leadership scheme for RE, has developed curriculums and resources for various schools and also works as an examiner for Eduqas.

Text © Lucy Kentish, 2023.