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Old Testament Studies of Korea: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

  • Korean Journal of Old Testament Studies
  • Abbr : KJOTS
  • 2017, 23(1), pp.104-138
  • DOI : 10.24333/jkots.2017.23.1.104
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Old Testament Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Christian Theology
  • Received : January 12, 2017
  • Accepted : February 6, 2017

Sung Yul Kang 1

1호남신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to survey and analyze the history of Old Testament Studies of Korea from 1901 to 2016 in connection with Old Testament Studies of the West, and thus to propose the future of the Old Testament Studies of Korea. In order to achieve these aims, I divided the history of the Old Testament Studies of Korea into three stages: (1) 1901 (beginning theological education at Pyeong Yang Theological Seminary) — 1956; (2) 1957 (first publication of Christian Thought) — 1999; (3) 2000 (a new millenium) — 2016. In addition, I dealt with the relationship between Old Testament Studies of Korea and Old Testament Studies of the West from the three standpoints of acceptance, transformation, and development. In the first stage (1901-1956), Old Testament Studies of Korea were highly influenced by the conservative theology of the western missionaries. However, as a few advanced western missionaries and Korean scholars, who studied the western theologies, gradually introduced the historical criticism to Korean churches and theological students, there happened serious conflicts and tensions. They resulted in the division of Korean churches. The first publication of Christian Thought (1957) with the intention of popularization of Korean theology begins the second stage of Old Testament Studies of Korea. In this stage, various theological thoughts (esp. the historical criticism) of the West were introduced into Korean churches and theological seminaries. Not a few Korean Old Testament scholars cautiously used the theological reflections of the western scholars and applied them to the interpretation of the Biblical texts. According to these changes, the earlier diachronic approaches gradually moved towards the synchronic approaches in the later phase of this stage, and many Korean Old Testament scholars became interested in the ancient Near Eastern studies, the religion of Israel, Old Testament theology, and Old Testament exegesis. With the beginning of a new millenium, Korean churches and pastors experienced various literary approaches to the biblical interpretation beyond the historical criticism. On the other hand, however, they faced serious crisis of slowdown of church growth. As a result, Old Testament scholars had to pursue the theology for churches and to develop messages and theologies for the right changes in the life of Christians. In the future, Old Testament Studies of Korea must conduct two investigations, that is, historical critical (diachronic) studies and literary critical (synchronic) studies side by side, and have to concretely present biblical solutions to the various issues of the Korean society. Furthermore, Korean Old Testament scholars along with Korean church leaders should put their whole energy into overcoming the present crisis of Korean churches and, finally, should practice what the Old Testament teaches and what they advocate. Both intellectual/academic efforts and practical efforts of Old Testament Studies of Korea will transform Korean churches and the Korean society as well.

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