Dr. Kessler receives R.B.Y. Scott Award
Dr. John Kessler, Professor of Old Testament at Tyndale Seminary, has been named the winner of the R.B.Y. Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (CSBS). The award “recognizes an outstanding book in the areas of Hebrew Bible and/or the Ancient Near East written in English or French.” Dr. Kessler received the award for his highly acclaimed publication, Old Testament Theology: Divine Call and Human Response (Baylor University Press, 2013). “It was a great honour,” said Dr. Kessler.
Dr. Kessler’s book grew out of the Old Testament Theology course that he teaches regularly at Tyndale Seminary. He found that many students arrived with one of two responses to the Old Testament: from the perspective of childhood stories, or with difficult ethical questions. Dr. Kessler explains that both are valid, yet a better approach is reading the Old Testament relationally. God seeks to enter into relationship with humanity. He desires to create a certain kind of individual, human community and world. Dr. Kessler remarked that as soon as we start reading the Old Testament “through a lens of relational response, we’re going in the right direction.”
In his book, he describes the six theological streams that run through the Old Testament. Each highlight different responses:
1. Creation theology - With this comes the understanding of God as Creator and us in creation.
2. Covenant theology - This calls for a response of grateful obedience. “In the Old Testament, the law is not a means of attaining salvation, but a response for maintaining good relationship,” Dr. Kessler explained.
3. Promise theology - Promise theology calls for a response of trust—that we trust God’s Word even when there is nothing else to rely on.
4. Priestly theology - In the Old Testament, to approach God, who is holy, there needed to be mediation and a system of sacredness which made it possible for God in His holiness to dwell in the midst of a sinful people.
5. Divine accessibility - God invites people to speak directly to Him and have access to His listening ear.
6. Wisdom theology – It takes wisdom to live successfully as a person of God in a confusing world. “You have to be discerning and wise in what you believe and trust in,” said Dr. Kessler.
Each relational response resonates throughout the rest of Scripture. “The New Testament calls us to these exact same responses, but now in the light of Christ,” explained Dr. Kessler. “The question is not ‘Should we continue sacrificing animals and maintaining food laws?’ but instead ‘How does the Christian replicate what was in the heart of the ancient Israelite believer?’”