Interview with Dr. K. Lawson Younger, Jr.

11.24.2020  |  Season 2  |  Episode 7


SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. James Arcadi and Dr. Michelle Knight interview Dr. K. Lawson Younger, Jr., Professor of Old Testament, Semitic Languages, and Ancient Near Eastern History here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Michelle and James talk to Lawson about his interests—from cats to Arameans—and they learn about his work of integrating humor into his teaching. Finally, Lawson offers a perspective on why (some) evangelicals should strive to operate at the highest levels of the academy.

Want to check out more of Dr. Younger’s work? Here are some of his most recent books:

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro
[00:00:00] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Michelle Knight
Welcome to Foreword. I’m Michelle Knight.

James Arcadi
And I am James Arcadi.

Knight
And we are really excited to be here with you today for a variety of reasons, but really, I just want to talk to James about the fact that it is almost that time of year—

Arcadi
Hmm?

Knight
—when we Midwesterners have a food fest [ARCADI LAUGHS] called “Thanksgiving.”

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] Oh!

Knight
But it is the one time a year where the whole nation realizes that Midwestern-type food is the best type of food.

Arcadi
Yeah you…you really shine through at this season, isn’t it?

Knight
It is our time. It is the time when everyone makes casseroles. [ARCADI LAUGHS] I mean, my guess is that stores across the nation sell out of 9×11 pans. [ARCADI LAUGHS] Like, that’s got to be a thing. They just run out.

Arcadi
Now, Michelle, do…do you have a favorite, uh, you know, “Midwestern Food Fest”/Thanksgiving meal? That is a typical, uh—

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yeah, also that holiday where we thank God; I recognize.

Arcadi
—[LAUGHS] Yeah, that one.

Knight
Um…oh that’s really hard. It’s really hard.—

Arcadi
‘Cause they’re all so good.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Knight
They’re all so good and they kind of…they’re all so similar in makeup and things. [ARCADI LAUGHS] You can kind of just “moosh” them in together. [LAUGHTER] It’s green bean casserole for me. Always.

Arcadi
Green bean casserole! Okay, yeah. That’s a good one.—

Knight
Green bean casserole.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Knight
It’s very different from tuna casserole. [ARCADI LAUGHS] Don’t let Josh tell you differently. There are green things in it.

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] I was going to say…how…how healthy! [KNIGHT LAUGHS] To have all of this…all of these “green” objects in the casserole.

Knight
I mean, there’s also a lot of french fried onions—like, a lot of french fried onions.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Knight
The ratio is pretty embarrassing.

Arcadi
And “cream of something soup” on top, or—

Knight
Absolutely.

Arcadi
—is that part of it? Yeah.

Knight
And you mix it in. Uh, and the best green bean casserole is made with a scoop of sour cream—

Arcadi
Oh yeah, of course.

Knight
—and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Yeah.

Arcadi
Yeah, right. Yeah.

Knight
That’s the best way.

Arcadi
So one of—so my favorite “Midwestern Food Fest”/Thanksgiving food [KNIGHT LAUGHS] is stuffing, which of course, is classic.

Knight
That is classic.

Arcadi
But, so we, uh—That’s…this is not a California thing; this must be my Italian heritage. So my family growing up—and we still continue this—um, actually slices Italian sausage and puts that into the stuffing, and so you bake it all together and you get this wonderful—

Knight
Wow.

Arcadi
—savory, kind of, you know, sausage-y bite with all the…all the carbs in there as well.

Knight
I love that.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Knight
But way to…way to make it less carbs. [ARCADI LAUGHS] I mean, like, that’s fairly on brand, but uh—

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] You need a little protein here and there.

Knight
[LAUGHS] That really does sound good, though. I imagine that you go the safe way and cook it outside of the turkey.

Arcadi
Uh, yes. That’s pretty standard for us, yeah.

Knight
Okay. I wasn’t sure if that was like, a “purist” thing, and like, maybe part of this heritage. I don’t know, but—

Arcadi
I don’t know. Yeah.

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
Now, what about pies? Are you a pie fan? I’m, like—

Knight
Meh.

Arcadi
—that’s my…kind of, like, one of my favorite desserts, is pies.

Knight
Oh really?

Arcadi
I’m not a huge…not a huge cake person, not a huge—

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
—you know, whatever, but I do like…I do like a pie.

Knight
[LAUGHS] I’m not…I mean—sweets; I love salty. And so for me, I would have a seconds of dinner long before I have dessert.

Arcadi
Mmm. Yeah.

Knight
I eat dessert to be socially acceptable—

Arcadi
Ooh.

Knight
—but, like, I…I’m here for seconds on turkey.

Arcadi
Yeah, no. No, I’m actually with you on that one, because I…I’m definitely, you know, you’ve got “salt teeth” and…or “salt tooth” people and “sweet tooth”—

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yeah.

Arcadi
—definitely “salt tooth.” Like, you know, chips over cookies—

Knight
Is that a thing?

Arcadi
—any day.

Knight
I’ve never heard “salt tooth” before.

Arcadi
Well, I don’t know. Maybe I invented it—

Knight
I think you made it up.

Arcadi
—but that certainly describes…that certainly describes me. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Yeah, I take the salty/savory over the sweet almost every day.

Knight
That’s funny. So what is the favorite pie, before we move on?

Arcadi
Uh, well for pie—so, I mean, I think pecan pie is my favorite—

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
—like, November/Thanksgiving pie.

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
Um, you know, I do like an…a good apple pie is good. I’d eat a pumpkin pie also.—

Knight
Choke one down.

Arcadi
—My favorite pie, though—and here’s where the California’s going to come out, okay? So, um, you know, in California, you can get this thing called a boysenberry pie.—

Knight
[LAUGHS] Okay. Okay, I was just so scared—

Arcadi
—Now, boysenberries are…yes, boysenberries are—

Knight
—[LAUGHS] I was so scared you were going to say “kale something.”

Arcadi
No. No kale pie. No kale pie.

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
But boysenberries are this…I think…I think it is some kind of like, cross between various varieties of raspberry and blackberry and what have you, which is like—

Knight
Sure.

Arcadi
—only in California. And, you know, we’ve got a whole Knott’s Berry Farm, [KNIGHT LAUGHS] which is like a theme park in Southern California near Disneyland…has it’s—you know, that’s kind of how it started and everything.

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
It’s just the perfect kind of, like, tartness and sweetness to be in a pie, so…

Knight
Okay.

Arcadi
But I…you know, I think it’s a California thing.

Knight
Yeah, it sounds familiar. Now I’m going to have to track one down. That sounds delicious.

Arcadi
There you go.

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Knight
Well, uh, we are coming together today, of course, not just to talk about Thanksgiving, but also to talk with Dr. Lawson Younger. We’re thrilled to have him on today. He is Professor of Old Testament, Semitic Languages, & Ancient Near Eastern History here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Lawson has published widely on a huge range of topics related to Old Testament and the Ancient Near East. A revised edition of his NIVAC commentary is coming out this December with Zondervan. He also has a recent award winning monograph on the history of the Aramean people that you can track down with SBL Press. But most of all, he’s somebody who has been at TEDS for a long time, has really shaped the Old Testament department, and really has made this a really awesome place in more ways than one, so we’re glad he could be with us today.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

[00:05:45] Well, Lawson, we are just thrilled to have you on the podcast today. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and to kind of, uh, let the students and our listeners get to know you a little bit more, so we’re really excited about that.

Lawson Younger
Thanks!

Knight
Well, before we discuss any of your academic interests, you have to understand that on the podcast, we’ve been talking a lot about pets. All summer long, we talked about James’ new dog; we talk about Dr. Jipp’s new dog; and Madison, of course, has a dog, and we talk about her all the time. And so, I am the only cat person on this podcast team, but I have it on good authority—especially from the tail that’s currently on your screen—[ARCADI LAUGHS] that you are, in fact, a cat person. Is this right? Is this true?

Younger
This is very true, yes! [LAUGHTER] Yeah, I’m indeed a cat person, and, um, of course, when the kids were growing up, we had dogs, cats, fish, turtles—you know, the whole bit. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] At one time, every one of our children—all three of our children—had their own cat. Um, today, we only have one. We’ve had virtually every breed, pretty much, or a lot of different breeds, and we enjoy each one! They’re really cool. And, uh, one day, I’m going to have a male cat that I’m going to name Tiglath-Pileser.

Knight
[ARCADI LAUGHS] I love that.

Younger
I just think it’s a really cool name for a cat, so…[KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Arcadi
Great name for a cat.—

Knight
You know what, I think this…I think this summer, I said something similar. I think I was talking about Sargon—

Younger
There you go!

Knight
—so like, I really appreciate that. I may have—I wonder if I’ve stolen that from you; like, perhaps you made that joke in class.

Younger
I’ve said it for years, um, yeah.

Knight
Yeah, I probably did steal that.

Younger
Yeah, Tig…Tiglath has been my favorite name for a long time, [KNIGHT LAUGHS] but of course, the kids get to name that cat—

Knight
Ah.

Younger
—and this cat is actually Patty’s cat.

Knight
Okay.

Younger
So, I didn’t get to name her. [LAUGHTER]

Arcadi
Is…is “cats” an Old Testament department thing, apparently?

Younger
No—

Knight
I think it’s just us.

Younger
—No, they’re…they’re plenty in the Old Testament that don’t have cats. [LAUGHTER]

Knight
[LAUGHS] Unfortunately.

Younger
[LAUGHS] Yes.

Knight
Unfortunately.

Younger
They’re…they…they are missing out on the great blessing. [LAUGHS]

Knight
Indeed. Indeed.

Arcadi
Well, Lawson, beyond some of your, uh, “feline” interests [LAUGHTER]—

Younger
Yes, right.

Arcadi
—we…we move to more of sort of your, like, professional interests—

Younger
Yeah.

Arcadi
—and…and the things that you’ve…you’ve worked on and studied. And, as…as far as I know, you’re one of the world’s experts on…on ancient Arameans, and of course you teach in the Old Testament department here at TEDS, and I know you’ve done quite a lot of work in…in archeology as well. I’m just kind of curious—if you might sketch a little bit how you got into some of these areas. What…what led you down that path to study these…these topics?

Younger
Yeah. I mean, the…the long story—which I won’t go into full detail—is really just that, when I was in college, I was an undergraduate math major. I was not interested in the Bible; I wasn’t even a Christian. I took four years of Latin in high school for the sole reason of never taking another language ever again. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] And then I, uh, heard the Gospel, and saw 1 John 5:13 and realized that I could know that I had eternal life when I put my trust in Christ, and that radically changed my life.—

Arcadi
Amen.

Younger
—And so, um…so anyway, that’s part of the long story. But while in seminary, I became really deeply interested in the First Testament, because God chose to reveal Himself through the lives of His people of old, and there are really vital teachings in the First Testament that are crucial to one’s walk with the Lord. And yet, the Church largely ignores this portion of the Canon. In fact, in some…some churches, it’s practically Marcionite. So, I’ve really taken on a great interest in understanding of the Old Testament to help others understand the Old Testament. Part of the general—the reason for not going to the Old Testament is tied to issues of history and context, and…and yet, it’s vital that we understand what God is trying to communicate. Because if right thinking about God is essential, and I think it is—the book of Job really makes that clear, when God condemns the wrong thinking of the three at the end of the book—then it is really important that we take all of Scripture and let it develop our spiritual lives. It’s been a very crucial part of my own walk with God, and I really don’t understand how you can really appreciate the death of Jesus and fully understand the whole significance of a proper approach to a Holy God if you don’t start with the Old Testament sacrificial system and the way in which proper approach of God was in the Old Testament. Yeah, so that’s…that’s the short version. [LAUGHTER]

Arcadi
Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Yeah. I mean, can I ask too—

Younger
Yeah!

Arcadi
—just in terms of…so thinking about the Old Testament—and I think what you say there is fantastic—I mean, but, you’ve also moved outside of studying the Old Testament specifically, and also the cultures, and languages, and context of the Old Testament—

Younger
Right.

Arcadi
—kind of how did…how did that develop for you?

Younger
[00:11:26] Yeah, I mean, really in a lot of ways, my title as Professor of Old Testament, Semitic Languages, & Ancient Near Eastern History—which was not what I came up with; that was what was proposed when I was recruited to come to TEDS—kind of sums up my role at TEDS, and it…it really touches on the interest. For me, the portion of the Old Testament Canon that God has led me to specialize in is the historical books, particularly in the Former Prophets, and so, which—Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings—for those who might not know what I mean by “Former Prophets.” And so really in a lot of ways, I’m a historian, and in order to really work in this area, there are certain competencies that you need, and so God has led me to gain those competencies, whether it’s in the Semitic languages or otherwise. And so that’s really kind of why I’ve gotten interested in it; was because God has led me down the path—and I really want to stress this—provided the necessary opportunities to really learn the various things that allow you to deal with this, because it’s…this is really about honoring God and showing how context matters for this section of Scripture. I hope that answers that question.

Arcadi
Yeah, yeah.

Knight
Yeah. Well that might sort of answer the next kind of question we wanted to ask you, which was how this relates to how you see your role at TEDS, and so all of these specialties you bring with you when you come and teach. So we’d love to hear a little bit about how you see this fitting into kind of the place that you play,—

Younger
Yeah.

Knight
—your specialty here at TEDS, but also your style of teaching and what you think the classroom is about. We’d love to hear you kind of chat about that a little bit.

Younger
[LAUGHS] Yeah, alright. Well, I mean, um, the…the great thing about teaching at TEDS is, um—I mean for ten years, I was a professor at LeTourneau University, which is a Christian Evangelical engineering school, and it was great. I enjoyed it a lot. I was the Old Testament department at the time, [LAUGHTER] which meant I could kind of do whatever I wanted. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] But…but here, I have the opportunity to teach some of the special languages and help students—whether they are MDiv students or MA students or PhD students—gain the competencies to do what God is calling them to do, and so that’s a real thrill. And so I get to teach those…those cognate languages. I also teach specifically in—Pentateuch Historical Books, for instance—in the core of the MDiv curriculum, and then a lot of history and background kinds of courses that enable our students to gain much better access to the Scriptures, particularly in the…in the Former Prophets. Yeah, um, my…my teaching style is very much deliberately lecture, often is proclaimed by the “experts” [LAUGHTER]—

Arcadi
Scare quotes there.

Younger
—okay, that the…that the lecture…that the lecture is “dead,” okay? But I believe very much that a creative, robust, engaging lecture is still the best way of teaching. For…for our time, this means I think being visual. That means having maps, photos, diagrams, charts—anything that can help people perceive and understand the Biblical text better is what needs to be incorporated into the lecture. So my lectures are not just standing there in…like, you know, a head on a stick [LAUGHTER], just doing, you know, a little…little lecture, you know, a “sermonette” for “Christianettes.” It’s really hopefully very engaging, very dynamic, and very much drawing people into the subject.

Knight
Alright.

Arcadi
Now, Lawson, I’m relatively new at TEDS, but I’ve heard that there’s a fair amount of levity and humor that comes into these lectures as well. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Am I understanding that correctly? [KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Younger
[00:16:06] Yes, there is! Um, I mean the first goal in teaching and preaching, which you’ll never hear in a pedagogy class or a homiletics class, but the first goal is: keep people awake. [LAUGHTER] Okay? So this is especially true when you’re teaching undergrads, and certainly in some churches, alright? So humor is a means to enlivening the lecture. And so when you’re doing technical discussions of Hebrew, or Akkadian grammar, or some esoteric subject in historiography—philosophy of history—you need to insert some humor to keep people engaged. Besides, at the end of the day, learning really should be fun—

Arcadi
Yeah.

Younger
—and it’s part of exhibiting the joy of the Lord, as I see it. And I don’t do humor just to be funny; I do it as part of a way of keeping people engaged. I mean, our job is to engender a love for Scripture, and to get them to yearn to read the Bible on their own, and to give them the tools to do it.

Knight
Yeah.

Younger
So…so my humor is very purposeful. I’m not a jokester. In fact, I’m really bad at telling jokes. [LAUGHTER] My three year old granddaughter asks, “Grandpa, tell me a joke!” and I’m like, totally lost. [LAUGHTER] And she’s looking at me like, “Why can’t you tell me a simple joke?” [KNIGHT LAUGHS] and, um, I’m not good. Mine is all impromptu.

Knight
Okay.

Younger
Uh, I would be good as an improvisational kind of—

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] There we go.

Younger
—comedian. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] I’m not a jokester, okay, so…but it’s all part—

Knight
Okay. Madison always says that too. We should get you guys together.

Younger
Yeah! Oh, it’s all part of—[KNIGHT LAUGHS] Yeah! it’s all part of hopefully doing a good lecture that helps people learn, okay, and if doing some kind of pun or being silly for the sake of, say, remembering a vocabulary word—so I typically do “Nakah! Nakah! Nakah!” [LAUGHTER] for teaching students that “nakah (נכה)” means “strike; smite.” [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Um, you know, hey, being silly is fine if it helps people learn what you’re trying to get them to learn, okay?

Knight
Yeah.

Arcadi
Yeah, totally! Michelle I don’t—

Knight
I’ll never forget—

Arcadi
—Oh, so sorry. Do you remember—

Knight
—Oh, sorry, James—

Arcadi
—Do you remember we—

Knight
—Let me just—

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] Oh, go ahead, please!

Knight
[LAUGHS] Okay, I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll go. I was just going to say—

Younger
I’ve engendered interest in both of you! Great! [LAUGHTER]

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yeah! We both have so much to say. Uh, my very first class I taught at TEDS—so like, I was new, and I was super nervous, and I was probably quieter then and more subdued than I am now in the classroom, and I was right next door to Dr. Younger—[YOUNGER LAUGHS] and I just remember about every ten minutes the class next door erupting into laughter [ARCADI LAUGHS]. And I was just like, “I think I’m doing something wrong!” [LAUGHS] Like, “I need to figure out what’s happening next door.”—

Younger
Yeah, I’m unfortunate—

Knight
—So I’ve always appreciated that.

Younger
Yeah, fortunately or unfortunately, my…my voice projects [LAUGHTER] really loudly, and, um, and so I’ve had students over the years who say they’re in another class, and they tune out and listen to my lecture. [LAUGHTER]

Knight
[LAUGHS] For…yeah, we won’t tell their professors.

Younger
Yeah, yeah. [LAUGHTER]

Knight
Sorry, James, what were you going to say?

Arcadi
No, no. I was just going to…I was remembering, Michelle, when we interviewed Dean Cole, and he talked about when he was in seminary, they actually had a comedian come—

Knight
That’s right!

Arcadi
—and like, give lessons on, like—which, I mean, in some sense, it’s kind of silly, but I’m…I’m totally on board with like, if you’re trying to get people to remember things—

Younger
Absolutely.

Arcadi
—either in, you know, a seminary lecture, or in a sermon, or what have you—

Younger
Yep.

Arcadi
—um, yeah, humor could be a way to do it!

Younger
Yep.

Knight
Yeah. Absolutely.

Younger
Absolutely.

Knight
[00:20:01] Well, uh, you have…I mean, you have shown us that you are such an intentional professor, somebody who is thinking carefully about the projects you take on, and very carefully trying to listen for God’s guidance—and that’s one of the things we love about you. So I’m interested to hear; I mean, you’ve written a well-loved NIVAC commentary on Judges and Ruth—the revised version of which is being released this year. You have a recent commentary on Joshua for Eerdmans. But what our listeners may not realize is that in 2017, you released a book that actually won an award—The Political History of the Arameans—and the Biblical Archeology Society actually awarded you that. I’d love to hear a little bit about this work and sort of the impact it had on the broader academy. What are you bringing to the table there?

Younger
Yeah. Yeah. Well I’ll back up a little bit and just explain that while I was in graduate school, God laid on my heart that he wanted me to be engaged in the highest levels of academic endeavors. And interestingly, a few years ago, Dr. Vanhoozer and I were talking with one another about some things, and we both were very impacted by James Barr’s book, Fundamentalism, where in a nutshell, Barr claimed that a “fundamentalist”—by that, he meant an “Evangelical”—could not make a contribution to real scholarship. And both Dr. Vanhoozer and I took this in our lives as a personal challenge for our scholarly endeavors. But there are reasons why Barr made this claim. Certainly, during the middle part of the 20th century, Evangelicals abdicated their involvements in the academy in a large way in Biblical Studies. And I believe strongly that this was wrong, and that we should be engaged in academic endeavors. Not only is this important as a witness, but on occasions, I’ve even had opportunities in very private instances to share the Gospel with people who ask me about it, and, um, and people that you would never expect to ask that kind of question, but in private, they want to discuss it. And I think it’s very important, then, that we have engagement with the academy. So many of my publications—in fact, probably the majority of my publications—have really been targeted to the academy. And the book of the Arameans is really ultimately part of a larger project that I believe that the Lord is leading me to do, and so, it’s…it’s really part of a…a lifetime engagement. Yeah.

Arcadi
Can…can I just follow up a little bit on…on the issue of the Arameans and this sort of historical focus on them?

Younger
Yeah.

Arcadi
I mean, I understand your focus isn’t just “Hey, let’s learn about Arameans because that’s kind of fun”—

Younger
Right.

Arcadi
—but also, because this…this gives some light to how we understand Scripture—

Younger
Yes.

Arcadi
—how we understand the Old Testament. I mean, could…could you just give a, I mean, a brief idea of like—

Younger
Yeah.

Arcadi
—how someone who’s not a historian might benefit from your study of the Arameans—

Younger
Right.

Arcadi
—and their reading of…of the Old Testament.

Younger
Yeah, sure. The Arameans are really an incredibly important people group of the Ancient Near East in the Bible. I mean, all you have to do is open up Deuteronomy 26:5 and you see there that when the Israelites were to bring their first fruits of the harvest and dedicate it to the Lord, they were to utter this confession, which I think is a really powerful confession: “My father”—that is, “my ancestor”—“was a fugitive Aremean.” Typically, it’s translated “wandering,” but it really is best translated “fugitive.” “And he went down to Egypt and lived there, as a foreigner, few in number, and then came out, was made into a great nation”—this is all Deuteronomy 26— “and brought us into this land, and now we possess our own land.” So we go from “fugitive” to “owning land” and celebrating how God took the Israelites from their origins within the Patriarchs to being a people who own their own land, remembering the mighty acts of God. So the fact is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were Arameans, and so too were their wives. And so the Israelites, of course, developed into a nation, and so too other Aramean tribal entities—some of them becoming dire enemies of Israel, like Aram-Damascus. So a study of these entities and polities I think is very important to understanding lots of what’s going on throughout all of the Old Testament. And later, the Aramaic language, of course, became the lingua franca of the Ancient Near East and it was even Jesus’ first language. So there’s a whole lot—

Arcadi
Wow.

Younger
—of benefit in…in studying the Arameans, and I hope that my book has helped at least address a lot of that, though it doesn’t take us all the way up to the time of Jesus.

Arcadi
Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

Knight
[00:25:30] No, but it is super helpful. Last time I had to write about the Arameans, I read probably about a third of the book— ‘cause, just so everybody knows, it’s a very thick book. [YOUNGER LAUGHS] I was not being lazy; it’s a really long book. But it is exceptionally—

Younger
Yeah, it’ll…it’ll keep the door open in a…in a windstorm. [LAUGHTER]

Knight
No, but it really is exceptionally helpful. So thank you for that.

Younger
Yeah, thanks.

Knight
Uh, well, uh…I was wondering—I mean, you’ve identified yourself as an expert in the Former Prophets, and as a fellow person who spends a lot of time in the Former Prophets, I’m constantly getting questions from students about those books, because Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings are not the most upbeat books to read about. And while there are bright moments and things to celebrate, particularly Joshua and Judges can be very difficult for contemporary readers, either because of the violence or the kind of sustained discussion of “ethnic outsiders.” Those sorts of categories are just very hard for us to read, and I was just wondering if you had a word of encouragement for our listeners today, sort of as we wrap up our time together. Um, how is God speaking, through either or both of these books, and how can we…how can we learn and appreciate Him when we’re there?

Younger
Yeah. Well, I mean, um, I’m not entirely comfortable out giving only “a word.” [LAUGHTER]

Knight
[LAUGHS] You can give several words.

Younger
But if I must, I would want to remind our hearers that while we see God—particularly in the book of Judges—judging, but…but also we have, of course, in Joshua—in Joshua, it’s God judging the Canaanites; in the book of Judges, it’s God judging His own people in many, many respects. And so, it’s very easy for us to not understand the fact that God doesn’t judge like we do. I mean, we are finite, sinful creatures who thus judge arbitrarily, prejudicially, without full knowledge; I’ve judged my children without full knowledge of a situation. I don’t like to confess that, but it’s true. But the Lord, being One, cannot judge without all of His attributes being integrally involved. So when He judges, it’s always with full knowledge of who that person is, including all of the potentials. Because he’s not judging just the outward aspects; He’s also judging the heart. And so He’s looking at thoughts, intents, motives—the whole array. And so, whether we like it or not, the Holy God judges, but He judges with all of His attributes—His omniscience, His goodness, His holiness. All those things are integrally involved in all of His judgements. That’s why the Psalmist can proclaim, “All of your judgements are ‘tov (טוב)’”—they’re all “good,” because God is “G-O-O-D.” And at the end of the day, His judgements must be good. And so actually, that’s an encouragement, that God is not going to judge us the way we judge people; He’s going to judge us with complete, full knowledge, with all of His attributes being involved. He will judge the Church, and is, in fact, constantly working on judging the Church first, and that’s something that sometimes we forget that is very explicitly clear in the New Testament. And He did the same thing in the Old Testament—He judged His people. So, um…but I hope that that’s a word of encouragement, that God is a God who judges with all of His attributes. And remember, he has “hesed (חסד)” to a thousand generations.

Knight
Yes.

Younger
In other words, it’s infinite. So when God judges, it’s with all of His attributes integrally involved.

Knight
Yeah.

Arcadi
Yeah, amen!

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Knight
[00:29:52] Yeah. Absolutely. Lawson, that’s an excellent place for us to kind of wrap up today. It has been a pleasure to get to know a little bit more about you, to hear from you, and ultimately to kind of introduce you to the people listening.

Younger
Yes.

Knight
So thank you for joining us, thank you for sharing your heart, and it was a blast to have you.

Younger
Thanks. It was great to be here. Thanks for the invite!

Knight
And that’s just the foreword. If you’re more interested in some of the things Lawson has written, make sure to check for his NIVAC commentary coming out in December, as well as his monograph, A Political History of the Arameans that’s available SBL Press, but most of all, and if you really want to learn from Lawson, we recommend coming to TEDS! TEDS has an MA in Old Testament, where you could sit in on classes with Lawson day in and day out and learn from some of his wonderful colleagues, including myself.

Arcadi
Woo!

Knight
And we would love to have you. And in the MDiv program, there’s all sorts of room to continue to dig into the context of the Old Testament—to learn about those people, to learn about these books, and to learn, ultimately, about what they tell us about God and how we should do work in the world. We would love to have you come and study with us. And with that, I just want to take a second to thank my co-host, James; I want to thank Lawson for joining us on the show to day; I want to thank our producer, Curtis, who is exceptional at making this a great podcast; and I definitely want to thank our steadfast GA, Lauren, for all of her hard work; and of course, you, our listeners. We are so grateful that you’ve chosen to join us and to learn a little bit more about what is going on at TEDS. I’m Michelle Knight.

Arcadi
And I’m James Arcadi.

Knight
Shalom, y’all.

Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Follow @forewordpodcast.

All content © 2020 Foreword Podcast.