SEAN MCDOWELL BLOG
7 Reasons the Old Testament is DivinePosted July 31, 2018 by Sean McDowell
7 Reasons the Old Testament Is Divine
This summer, I have been reading through The Rational Bible by Jewish talk-show host Dennis Prager. It is a commentary on the book of Exodus—for both religious and non-religious people—that offers wonderful insights on one of the most influential books in history.
In the introduction, Prager offers eight reasons the Torah is divine. He argues that the Torah is so different from anything preceding it (morally, theologically, etc.), that God is the best explanation for its existence (if not God, he says, it must come from “supermen”):
1. A Universal God: Before the book of Genesis, gods were local and provincial. But the God of the Torah is a universal God who offers salvation for everyone.
2. An Invisible, Incorporeal God: The Torah introduced a God who is immaterial. God does not have a body and has characteristics that transcend the physical realm. As a result, reality is far more than the physical world alone.
3. A Moral God: “Gods” prior to the Torah were immoral, deceptive, and capricious. But the God of the Bible is just, which means that justice will ultimately prevail. And as Prager observes, since God is just, it means humans can reason with God.
4. A God Beyond Nature: God created nature and is therefore super natural. God is beyond the natural world. Thus, humans are meant to worship God rather than impersonal nature.
5. A God Who Loves and Who Wants to Be Loved: Before the Torah, creation stories depict gods who made humans to serve them or merely as an afterthought. But the Biblical God desires to be in relationship with His creation. As a Christian, I believe the New Testament fully reveals this God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
6. Universal Human Worth. Prior to the first two chapters of the book of Genesis, there was no conception that human beings were made in the image of God and thus contained inherent dignity and worth.
7. Universal Human Rights. As a result of the belief in human worth, human beings deserve universal human rights, such as the right to life and freedom of religion. The Torah introduced the idea that human rights are pre-political. Thus, governments can recognize these rights, but they do not create them.
As an additional reason, Prager points to the negative depiction of the Jews in the Torah. He notes, “Had Jews made up what is, after all, their book and their story, they would never have portrayed themselves as critically and even negatively as the Torah (and the rest of the Hebrew Bible) often does.”
These points alone are not enough to convince me the Torah (and the rest of the Old Testament) is divine. But they are a significant part of a larger cumulative case, which my father and I lay out in Part 3 of Evidence That Demands A Verdict (chapters 14-26).
Regardless, even if you are not convinced the Torah is divine, these points should be enough to portray its unique and world-changing status. Along with the Gospels, there are no other books that have so radically changed the world’s perception of God.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.
 For instance, why would they make up an origin story as lowly as slavery? See Dennis Prager, The Rational Bible (Washington D.C., Regnery Faith, 2018), xx.