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Session 12: The Restoration & The Writings


By the end of this session you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an initial understanding of the historical and religious issues leading to the return of Jewish exiles to the land

  • understand and outline some of the theological issues of the restoration period and its literature, especially Ezra, Nehemiah and 1&2 Chronicles

  • understand and describe some of the prophetic material around the rebuilding of the temple

  • identify different types and purposes of the Writings and their sub-genre Wisdom literature  (Lamentations, Psalms, Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes)

  • describe the theologies of the Psalms and the Writings

  • explore the use of Psalms and the Writings in worship and ministry


Programme & Preparation

This day is in person at St Barnabas Centre, Pilsley Rd, Danesmoor, Clay Cross, Chesterfield, S45 9BU. Coffee will be available from 9.30am and sessions will start promptly at 10.00am

The programme for the day can be found here


1. Find an image that represents the Restoration to you and be prepared to share it with the rest of the group.

2. What is your favourite Psalm and why? Do you use the Psalms in your worship in church/your personal devotional life? Be ready to share this during the day.

3. Now complete the first section below on The Restoration (just the first section. The rest of the page is for optional further study after the Study Day Session has taken place).

4. Please make sure you bring a device that can connect you to Zoom in case anyone is joining us by that means, a bible and all your notes from the session on Amos.

The Restoration: 1&2 Chronicles & Ezra-Nehemiah

00:00 / 00:48

In preparation for the first part of the Study Days watch Hayes Lecture 22 or read the corresponding chapter from the textbook then do the exercise below, making a note of your thoughts for discussion on the Study Day.


What do you make of the books of Ezra & Nehemiah and their message? How would you briefly summarise thier main message to the post exilic Israelites? Find an image that represents the restoration to you and be prepared to share it with the rest of the group.

Many different pictures of God are painted in the OT  (wrathful, vengeful, judgemental vs merciful, forgiving, gracious) how does this impact on our understanding of the nature of God and how we discern what is the ‘truth’ in all of this?

The Writings

00:00 / 00:28

We have looked at the responses of the prophets to the Babylonian crisis and in this session we will explore some of the other responses found in what is known as the Writings, this is the corpus of biblical literature that includes Lamentations, Psalms and Proverbs as well as Job and Ecclesiastes (these latter three books are also known as Wisdom Literature).

Lamentations, Proverbs and Job

00:00 / 01:43

The book of Lamentations reflects the sense of overwhelming grief and sadness felt by the Israelites after the burning of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem.  Once again it uses a literary form found in other parts of the OT.   As Hayes notes, “The two centuries following the destruction would prove to be a crucial period of transition, and Israelite literature in this period reflects the nation's continuing struggle with the philosophical and religious challenges posed by the destruction' (p319).  Other responses can be found in the books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and also some of the Psalms.


The book of Proverbs holds wisdom as the answer to so many of Israel's problems, but this view is challenged in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes, both of which hold that sometimes suffering is not always a sign of judgement, nor of wickedness - and nor it is always explicable.  Hayes' conclusion on the book of Job is that it offers no explanation of the reason for suffering and injustice but that it does offer a stern warning against criticising its victims by assuming that they have done something wrong as well as blaspheming against Yahweh by assuming his injustice.



What do you think about Hayes' conclusions on Job?  What image of God does the book paint?   What speaks to you most from the message of Job?

What are your favourite Proverbs and why?


00:00 / 02:30

The book of Ecclesiastes (or Qoheleth as it often referred to) remains an enigma.  The most well known phrase from the book is 'Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a chasing of the wind' the translation of 'hebel, hebelim' in the Hebrew, hebel (pronounced hevel) meaning breath, wind or vapour.  Some scholars say it is profoundly joyful while others say it is relentlessly pessimistic.  Its message is so dark at times that it almost didn't make it into the canon of scripture.  Only the last few verses, which are thought to have been added by an Epilogist (someone who writes an ending) give any obvious hope of the God of the Covenant, who has been conspicuous by absence for the rest of the book. 


Carolyn Sharp, Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at Yale Divinity School, believes this book is best understood as a work of irony and this would certainly help to explain its overriding sense of a God who does not care. 


You can download a short summary of this theory in the Resources section.  You will also find a longer essay on the theory in that section in case you would like to explore it in more detail at any time.


The book of Psalms could perhaps justifiably win the award for the most loved book of the Old Testament. 

It has been used in worship for millennia.  One of the most powerful experiences of worship I can remember is the singing of Psalm 22 on Maundy Thursday as the sanctuary was stripped in darkness.  It was a powerful moment. 


This beautiful book is a collection of poems, only some of which are ascribed to David. Some psalms are poems of joy and celebration, others of lament and sorrow. There is something in this book that speaks to everyone and every aspect of life.




What are your favourite Psalms and why?


Outline the basic structure of the book of Psalms.  What do you make of the Psalms of Lament, especially the very difficult (and rarely ever quoted) final verse of Psalm 137?


How have you experienced the Psalms used in worship?


Make notes of your thoughts in your reflective learning journal.

Spotlight on Doctrine

Both the Apostle's and the Nicene creeds end with a declaration of faith in the Holy Spirit.  Wisdom in the Old Testament is often associated with the spirit of God, and the language used is usually female - the Spirit might be called the Mother figure of the Godhead.  In the Nicene creed the Holy Spirit (here used in the male form) is said to 'proceed from the Father and the Son', in other words an equal part of the Godhead.  What do you think about the idea that wisdom in the OT might be part of the Trinity we see more clearly outlined in the NT?

Spotlight on Spirituality

The Psalms are highly valued in many different types of Christian spirituality and particularly so for those in religious orders where they form the backbone of the rhythm of prayer, being said or sung at morning, midday and evening prayer.  Why do you think this might be the case?

00:00 / 01:01


00:00 / 00:43

Spend some time prayerfully thinking about what you have discovered in this session. What are the most significant things for you? How might you use what you have learned in your own faith journey? Write this down in your reflective learning journal.


Blessed are you, Lord our God, all things come from you:

from you come our life, this world and all that we have and are.

Teach us to love and respect your creation and give glory to you.

Blessed are you, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Amen


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