"The Bible opens up conversation. There are gaps in its stories, which invite us to use our imagination. We’re invited to unpack its metaphors. Its poetry invites us in.”
Terry Fretheim wants students to share his love for the "Godly Old Testament." He's passionate about "a God who weeps, who gets angry, who rejoices . . . a God who is in genuine interaction with the world."
Fretheim believes that the Old Testament offers tremendous resources for teaching, preaching and counseling. "I see connections between the New Testament story of Jesus and the Old Testament imaging of God," he says. "The Old Testament understanding of God is the key to an understanding of who Jesus Christ is."
Teaching for Fretheim is not simply "academic." His goal is to help students interact with the Old Testament texts in a personal way. "We're not to be passive readers," Fretheim says. "We're called to be creative, imaginative readers. The Bible opens up conversation. There are gaps in its stories, which invite us to use our imagination. We're invited to unpack its metaphors. Its poetry invites us in."
Fretheim notes that Christians have sometimes neglected the Old Testament. In fact, prior to the 1950s, the Old Testament was not often read in Lutheran churches. Martin Luther, however, was an Old Testament scholar. "He probably would have been in the Old Testament department of a modern seminary," Fretheim says.
Fretheim is a graduate of Luther College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Luther Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton Seminary and has also studied at the Universities of Chicago, Durham, Heidelberg, Cambridge and Oxford.
A prolific writer and scholar, Fretheim particularly likes writing for pastors and laypeople. In the last year, he has added three books to his list of publications: God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation; Abraham: Journeys of Family and Faith; Hope in God in Times of Suffering (with Faith Fretheim). He is also featured in a nine-part video series, Fretheim Explores Genesis, a valuable adult Bible study resource available through Luther Seminary.
Fretheim points out that Christians have common roots with Jews and Muslims through the Old Testament story of Abraham. "We Christians can learn a lot from their struggle to interpret the nature of God and the life of faith," he says.