The simplest way to understand the OT is to read it through the filter of the Gospels as well as the epistles, and it is important to read those in context.
Oh my sweet Lord no!
That's the last thing you want to do! That will guarantee that you will never understand it.
The OT wasn't written by Christians or for Christians. It was written by Jews for Jews. Whatever Paul or other later Christian writers thought those OT authors meant, well, they are entitled to their opinion, but ultimately, their opinions are worth no more than yours or mine.
Trying to force fit the OT into a Christian framework is never going to be easy. It will never create a narrative that is free of contradictions. Your problem is that in attempting to view the OT through a Pauline lens, you are unfailingly going to create a distorted picture, and only increase the number and severity of those pesky contradictions. Much worse, you are allowing yourself to fool yourself into understanding the OT in Christian terms, something that I think is the single biggest error that Christians make in interpreting the Bible.
So should we consider those Jewish writers as reliable or unreliable
This question is a separate matter from interpretation. First we must ask "What are they saying?". Only then can we meaningfully ask whether or not it is true.
Great. Not to mention those nutty koo koo, stories about miracles and fantstic stories about what God may may not have done in that connection.
The OT was written a very long time ago, when people had a lot of very odd superstitious beliefs. I don't see the idea that some of the miracle stories are weird being a barrier to interpretation. Believing, yes, but interpretation, not so much.
What should we filter those stories through
The historical and cultural context from which they originated.
There is much more to consider when deciding upon a literal or non-literal interpretation than a skeptic like yourself can imagine
Oh come on! "You couldn't possibly understand" isn't a very useful or satisfying answer Dawn. Would you be satisfied with that if I threw it at you? I would hope not. Anyone can claim that about anything.
Not really. Paul was a first century Pharicetical Jew and steeped in the tradition. He would understand the Hebrew Scriptures in a way that we can’t hope to today.
Perhaps. But not necessarily in the same way as the authors. Paul is coming to the OT centuries after it was written. He may have been a scholar of Judaism, but his understanding of those texts would have been badly flawed. For example, he would have believed in Mosaic authorship, a major mistake. He would have had no idea about anything resembling the Documentary Hypothesis, another major failing. He would have been steeped in tradition about those texts, much of which would have been wrong. I don't think we can take him that seriously as an interpretor.
His opinion maybe more significant than yours or mine, but I don't think his opinion is especially important.
However, it is important that we realize that Jesus was a Jew, functioning in that culture, speaking in speaking synagogues and in the vast majority of cases speaking to a Jewish audience. In addition all of the writers to the best of our knowledge were Jewish except for Luke. When you get a good Bible and follow through with the footnotes in the Gospels it is obvious that Jesus understood His vocation within a very Jewish context.
But it is also fair to say that Jesus shook up the status quo to a very great extent. His Judaism was a radical departure from that which had gone before. I don't think we should expect the Old and New Testaments to align with each other; if anything, we should expect them to disagree a great deal, which they do.
...we can’t understand the OT in Christian terms but the OT can be of help in understanding Jesus in Jewish terms.
I'm not so sure about Paul subscribing to Mosaic authorship. Anyone who knew the scriptures as well as Paul would know that it would have been difficult for Moses to write the part of the Torah after he was dead.
It seems to me that you are willing to be more generous toward Paul than you would be toward a source that wasn't so important to Christianity.
Mosaic Authorship was the standard model in the First Century. If you want to suggest that he held to any other model, you are going out on a limb; you need evidence for that, or you should assume that the default position applies. The default position in this case is Mosaic Authorship, because that's what people believed back then.
As for the bit about Moses' death, I expect that people back then used the same poor excuse as ICANT does today, that "Joshua wrote the last few verses".
I agree that he would have no idea about the "Documentary Hypothesis" but some parts of the Torah are obviously from different sources so I think he might well have had a smattering of an understanding of it.
I doubt it. Be honest, Paul's understanding of the Torah would have been dwarfed by any modern scholar. He was writing thousands of years after it was written, only without the benefit of modern knowledge and techniques. He was not any closer to the authors in any meaningful sense. His opinion is just another semi-informed opinion, no more valuable than any other opinion.
He would at least have knowledge of the way that it was understood by his contemporaries and of course just how that played into Christ's understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures.
That is true, but it doesn't mean that Paul's contemporaneous view of the scriptures was actually the correct one. He could still have got it very wrong, as indeed Jesus could have misunderstood the scriptures.
Yes and no IMHO. I believe that Jesus' self understanding of who He was as Messiah, and the vocation that flowed from that, was solidly based on the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly Isaiah, Daniel and the Psalms.
Well this is definitely a whole separate topic, but from what I've seen, the OT material about the Messiah does not resemble Jesus very much. If that's your test, I think that Jesus fails it.
The OT is written by men with their personal and cultural biases but within all of that I firmly believe that there is the true revelation of God.
Well, as I've said before, I consider this to be a rather counter-productive way of revealing something.
The Flood never happened? Perhaps it did happen, but we simply have as yet found only one piece of evidence: a species which died out at the real Flood date -- a species which matches the Genesis 6 description of "daughters of men." And if we understand God's reason for something like the Flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, then we might understand why it was necessary to wipe out one very specific species.
Except that this "one piece of evidence" is a pathetic fantasy. As I have explained to you previously, it's based upon inaccurate information on the science side and glaring misinterpretations on the Biblical side.
So, what really happened in Genesis 6-9? We could say that it's all myth and leave it at that, but where's the fun in that?
Funny thing; reality doesn't actually care how much fun you think it is.
What's the right tool? The right paradigm? Restraint and humility! Don't jump to conclusions. Hypothesize by all means, but skepticism -- the way most use it -- has conclusion written all over it.
Science does great in the realm of the study of nature. It deals with elements and qualities of "continuity." Creation, however, is discontinuous in nature.
Magic. The word you are strenuously seeking to avoid here is "magic". If your explanation is that God used magic, then say so. Just don't pretend to have any right to then comment on the science.