Agenda discussion

I have been thinking a lot today about the agenda of the writers of the Old Testament.

I always ask myself the question, what was the author trying to convey when I exegete a text.  But I never thought about the word agenda in use with the Old Testament writers.

When I think about the word agenda the first thing that comes to mind is politics.  It seems like everyone has intentions, but then there is the subtle secret agenda.  I realize the comparison is not perfect because but I wonder if reading the Old Testament with a lens for an agenda would illuminate new things.

Take away the negative connotation that often times accompanies the word agenda and what is left is the final goal of the writer.  In the case of the bible the overall message is one of redemption for a lost people.  I guess my question is, is there a difference between looking at the intention of a writer and, looking for a specific agenda (maybe even an unspoken or between the lines one)?

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6 Responses

  1. This is an interesting question, one i have never thought of before. To me the word “agenda” does have some pretty serious negative connotations, but in the end i think it really is much like “intention.” Someone’s agenda is what they want to get accomplished. Maybe the difference here is that an agenda is often hidden whereas intentions can be pretty plain?
    It is a very good idea to look for the intention of the author to learn more. If looking for an “agenda” helps in moving deeper, i suppose it could be very good, but what i first think of in such a suggestion is ideas like “the DaVinci Code” and conspiracies like that… I would have to get over that to make it work, i think.

  2. Agenda: that’s a really good word for that. As I’ve been putting together information on the genre of different books of the OT for our project, I noticed that several were in the broad genre of “historical.” Every time, though, the authors qualified by saying it was a certain KIND of history; one with an agenda. A didactic history, or a theological history, or maybe another kind. But we should try to understand not just their words, but their intentions.

  3. Please read the post on “The Nature of Biblical Scholarship” again. I went back and put some word’s in bold type. I was talking about the biblical scholar’s agenda–for example what was Wellhausen’s agenda?

  4. I think it’s important not just to ask “what the author” of text is trying to get across, but also what God is trying to convey. Understanding God’s “agenda” in Scripture is essential to a proper understanding of a text.

  5. I first started to hate the word “agenda” when it was written in bold letters across the top of our assignment books we had to carry in school. We had to write down all of our homework in it, and that where our hallpasses, etc. were… it was the book that consumed our life-force in high school.

    Aside from that, I think many agendas are clear here: God’s agenda is focused on restoring us to Him and bring Him glory. The authors’ agendas are to bring glory to God and convey whatever he told them to say. The scholar’s agenda (in my mind) is usually to bring glory to himself. However, that’s probably not fair to say. There are many scholars that also wish to bring glory to God.

  6. Based solely on your remarks about Wellhausen’s “milieu,” one main point stands out: materialism. It sounds as though Wellhausen could not conceive of inspiration in any form being a workable concept and was determined to trace Israelite history and religion, and by extension the Hebrew Bible, along a materialistic timeline. I would like to learn more about that whole process, because from what I’ve heard it seems to be based on some broad assumptions (e.g. cult practices grow more complex over time) that haven’t been correlated to any known practices. But that’s probably just because up to this point I’ve only heard one side of this debate.

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