Matthew Lynch (Regent College): 30 OT/HB Scholars to Read and Follow

Matthew Lynch (Regent College): 30 OT/HB Scholars to Read and Follow October 30, 2020

Matthew Lynch, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Regent College

Why do you love teaching and researching about the OT/HB?

The Old Testament (HB) sets a long table and invites people from among the whole people of God to pull up their chairs. That long table creates challenges as well, especially in our divided times. The OT invites us to sit down with some awkward (ancient) family members for unusual, difficult, and wonderful conversations. Being present as a teacher (and researcher) to facilitate those conversations is a precious gift, because it’s often where growth and discipleship happen. Some students discover that certain lament psalms give permission to voice pain they carry, and others find comfort or delight in the soaring poetry of Isaiah 40-55. Yet still others have to confront hard issues like violence or patriarchy, or they need to wade through hundreds of laws that they don’t find relevant. Those are all incredible opportunities in their own ways, and I consider them crucial to becoming people of the whole Old Testament. That close engagement with the Old Testament proves transformative shouldn’t surprise me (but it often does!). The Old Testament was the formative learning environment for Jesus, after all. Somehow, immersion in these books under the guidance of the Spirit (and his teachers!) led Jesus to live and teach as he did. Recognizing that breaks down many of the barriers between the testaments.

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

One unifying idea that runs through my scholarship is an effort to help students identify and confront barriers to understanding the God of the Old Testament as the God revealed in Christ. Many see theological discontinuity between the testaments, and even Christians will implicitly or explicitly pit the testaments against one another. I want to help students recognize the profound continuity that exists, but without domesticating or flattening either testament in the process.

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

Tough one to narrow down, and a few have already been part of this series (Ellen Davis, Walter Moberly). Jon Levenson has always proved inspiring and thought provoking. His facility with the breadth of HB scholarship, from ancient Near Eastern sources through biblical and rabbinic literature, is just stunning. I appreciate Levenson’s ability to address big topics I thought were familiar but had often misunderstood (love, resurrection, sabbath).

 What books were formative for you when you were a student? Why were they so important and shaping?

Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the God of Israel.

It was the first academic book I read on the question of monotheism in ancient Israel and the New Testament. It set me on the path to study that topic in my later PhD work.

Jon Levenson’s Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life.

The title says it all. It’s a stunning book by a scholar I deeply admire.

Read Lynch’s Work

Portraying Violence in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary and Cultural Study (Cambridge)

First Isaiah and the Disappearance of the Gods (Eisenbrauns)

Follow Lynch Online

If you ran into me at SBL, and you didn’t want to talk about OT/HB studies, what would you want to talk about?

I’m an avid fan of, and sometimes dabbler in, the worlds of mountain and rock climbing. I’d want to talk to you about some of the best climbing places in the U.S./Canada and the exciting developments in those sports.

 What is a research/writing project you are working on right now that you are excited about?

I’m currently working on a popular level follow-up to my academic book on violence in the Hebrew Bible. It will aim to provide a way of thinking through the Hebrew Bible as Jesus’ formational context. How did these biblical texts lead Jesus to teach and live as he did–particularly around the question of violence?

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