The awareness of the historical nature of our human existence had a profound influence on
Old Testament scholarship. The historical nature of the Hebrew Bible was also realised and
historical criticism was the result, but in the 20th century there was resistance against this
method. This article is an attempt to emphasise the importance of historical understanding as
a means of reliving the experiences of others in the present. To illustrate this we focus on the
work of Eckart Otto and his exposition of the golden calf narrative in Deuteronomy 9:9–21;
10:1–5*. The importance of his work for us lies in his blending of synchrony and diachrony in
the study of the book of Deuteronomy.