Not all of these notes are verbatim - typing as fast as I can... Gerstenberger Speaking:
.... What do we do, as pastors or future pastors with this dissolving the unity of the witness of Old Testament? All of a sudden we have different voices from different places. What does it do to our pastoral attitudes?
I was a pastor for 10 years in German, and I was very happy with what I found in the Old Testament, even if it ran counter to our normal expectations. We assume: there is one God, one perception of God, everything must have unity, one piece fitting with the other... and I knew my congregation had this opinion. Like most people. But practicing my scholarly insight, my experience, with people, I found it was very helpful.
I will try to point it out in three areas, how wonderful it was to speak of the various and multiple voices and testimonies of the Old Testament.
One: if you start with the family situation - families are still today the vital place where most of us lead our lives. Families are still as they were in ancient times, except they were much more tightly night back then. We have many more centrifugal forces pulling contemporary families apart - we all have commitments, tearing us apart. There was a study in German that married couples have 8 minutes per day to converse with each other. But still, I think you will agree, that family is still the haven - the backbone - of our existence. Those people that have absolutely no familial ties or support are really bad off, even today. I think so. It's a very sad kind of situation if you don't have anyone to whom you feel bound to...
>> More After the Break...
If you can grasp family dynamics in the Old Testament, you're much better prepared to bring those stories into analogous situations today. In Genesis, you see a lot of people tied up, dependent on each other. Most important are the Psalms that come out of family. The largest portion of our Psalter is related to situations arising out of issues with family members... and what you find there is just amazing. You find people speaking at the brink of death. Threatened. Many probably sick. And they cry to the Lord.
Parallel Babylonian texts have similar situations. The difference is that in Babylonian texts, these stories are tied to liturgical rituals.
The knowledge that these stories and texts come out of these very real situation makes you free to use them in practical ways and to see them in meaningful contexts.