Bibliology

Do You Agree with Jesus?

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Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus on the first resurrection Sunday, and they were distraught: “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God” was dead (ESV, Luke 24:19). They “had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21), but now he was dead. Their grief touches us even across the years.

A stranger appears and walks besides them and berates them by saying, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken!” (Luke 25:26). And then Luke describes what the stranger, who was Jesus, said to them, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Jesus on the Emmaus road did not add to Scripture. He did not give them a new revelation like what we have from John in the book of Revelation, but rather he explained or interpreted the Scriptures to prove that the Old Testament requires that it be “necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory” (v. 26).

The disciples’ “hearts burn within” them as he “opened up…the Scripture” (v. 32), but the stranger made no claim to authority. All that he did was interpret the existing Bible for them to convince them that the Old Testament taught the suffering, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Because Jesus is not arguing from authority or adding to the Scriptures, Jesus’ interpretation is repeatable by others. The disciples and modern readers of the Bible can return to the Old Testament and find the necessity of Christ’s suffering and resurrection in its pages without the New Testament. Read more about Do You Agree with Jesus?

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The Bible and Modern Criticism

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CHAPTER III THE BIBLE AND MODERN CRITICISM

BY F. BETTEX, D. D., PROFESSOR EMERITUS, STUTTGART, GERMANY

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GERMAN BY DAVID HEAGLE, D. D.

It is undeniable that the universe, including ourselves, exists. Whence comes it all? For any clear-thinking mind there are only three possibilities. Either the universe has existed always, it produced itself, or it was created by a Divine, a Supreme Being.

THE UNIVERSE NOT ETERNAL

The eternity of the universe is most clearly disproved by its evolution. From a scientific point of view that hypothesis is now discredited and virtually abandoned. Astronomers, physicists, biologists, philosophers, are beginning to recognize more and more, and men like Secchi, Dubois-Reymond, Lord Kelvin, Dr. Klein and others, unanimously affirm that creation has had a beginning. It always tends towards an entropy, that is, toward a perfect equilibrium of its forces, a complete standstill; and the fact that it has not yet reached such a condition is proof that it has not always existed. Should creation, however, ever come to a standstill, it could never again put itself in motion. It has had a beginning, and it will have an end. That is demonstrated most clearly by its still unfinished evolution. Should anyone say to us, of a growing tree or of a young child, that either of these forms of life has existed forever, we would at once reply, Why has it not then long ago, in the past eternity, grown up so as to reach

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What is Progressive Revelation? Part 5

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In the first part of this series I referenced some things to which I should now like to return. Even before getting into what is meant when the two words “progressive revelation” are brought together, I said that we needed to settle on what revelation is. At bottom revelation is communication from God to man. The next question up is, how accessible a communication is it? Is it both constant and consistent? That is to say, does the revelation crop up repeatedly, and/or unequivocally? Does it have a character which is traceable backwards and forwards?

What did you expect?

I gave the examples of the Trinity and the Messianic prophecies to do with the first coming. I illustrated it by imagining tracking leopard tracks in the snow. One would expect the tracks to lead to a leopard. In the same way, a reliable progressive communication about a subject through time would produce an expectation based on the data contained in the words being revealed (unless the words were incompetent or deliberately misleading), just as one would not expect leopard tracks to lead to a bear, one would not expect OT predictions of Christ to be fulfilled in someone born in Jerusalem, from the tribe of Asher, begotten through an earthly father. Why? Because the those things were not part of what was communicated! And any “transformation” in the subject’s identity along the line of progression would manifestly terminate that progression! Read more about What is Progressive Revelation? Part 5

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The Testimony of Christ to the Old Testament

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CHAPTER II THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST TO THE OLD TESTAMENT

BY WILLIAM CAVEN, D. D., LL. D., LATE PRINCIPAL OF KNOX COLLEGE, TORONTO, CANADA

Both Jews and Christians receive the Old Testament as containing a revelation from God, while the latter regard it as standing in close and vital relationship to the New Testament. Everything connected with the Old Testament has, of recent years, been subjected to the closest scrutiny—the authorship of its several books, the time when they were written, their style, their historical value, their religious and ethical teachings. Apart from the veneration with which we regard the Old Testament writings on their own account, the intimate connection which they have with the Christian Scriptures necessarily gives us the deepest interest in the conclusions which may be reached by Old Testament criticism. For us the New Testament Dispensation presupposes and grows out of the Mosaic, so the books of the New Testament touch those of the Old at every point: In vetere testamento novum latet, et in novo vetus patet. (In the Old Testament the New is concealed, and in the New the Old is revealed.)

We propose to take a summary view of the testimony of our Lord to the Old Testament, as it is recorded by the Evangelists. The New Testament writers themselves largely quote and refer to the Old Testament, and the views which they express regarding the old economy and its writings are in harmony with the statements of their Master; but, for various reasons, we here confine ourselves to what is related of the Lord Himself.

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Why Doesn't the NT Quote the OT "Accurately"?

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I am often asked by students why the NT quotations of the OT do not match up with what we have in our English OT. There are a number of reasons why this is so. The following are some suggestions about this problem (with a little help from my OT mentor, Walt Kaiser).

First, our OTs are generally translated from the Masoretic text, the traditional Jewish text, the earliest manuscripts of which are from around A.D. 900. Naturally, none of the NT writers had this text. If they knew Hebrew (as Paul did), they cited an earlier version of the Hebrew text, translating it into Greek themselves. This text was not necessarily identical with the text that we have.

Second, we have tried to get our printed Hebrew Bibles as close to the original as possible by comparing the Masoretic Text with manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and the early translations of the Hebrew text into Aramaic and Greek. None of the NT writers had this luxury. They simply accepted whatever Hebrew text they had. It is unlikely that many of them owned any parts of the Scripture personally, so they were happy whenever they managed to get their hands on a copy of some part of the Scriptures.

Third, even when a NT writer knew Hebrew, he did not necessarily use that text. He often used the text that his readers would be familiar with. Paul sometimes quotes the Greek version of the OT, the Septuagint (LXX), even though he knew Hebrew and had probably memorized the OT in that language. Read more about Why Doesn't the NT Quote the OT "Accurately"?

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What is Progressive Revelation? Part 2: Toward a Definition

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Progressive revelation relies in the first instance upon the competence of how that revelation has been communicated. To deny this point is to cast doubt upon the utility of the modifier “progressive.” Revelation has to reveal or else it is not a revelation. Progressive revelation has to reveal progressively in a logically connectable way in order to be what it claims to be and to substantiate itself.

The example of the Trinity

Think about the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a classic illustration of progressive revelation. As it starts out, the Bible introduces God. Then it speaks about the Spirit of God who broods in contemplation over the unformed mass (Gen. 1:2). We get to the schema (Deut. 6:4), and we learn that the God who is “one” (echad, which can mean a plurality in unity as in Gen. 2:24) is perhaps just such a plurality in unity. Numbers 6:24-26 hints also at this, as of course do the inner discussions of God with Himself (the “let us” passages) in Genesis 1:26, and 10:7, and the occurrence of the Visitor to Abraham, who, as Yahweh called down fire and brimstone from Yahweh in heaven in Genesis 19:24. Then we read Psalm 110:1 and Proverbs 8:22-31 add to the picture of a Deity who is alone God but is not unitarian. Indeed, Messiah is given Divine attributes in Micah 5:2 and is called “Immanuel” in Isaiah 7:14 and “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6. Yahweh is betrayed for thirty pieces of silver in Zechariah 11:12-13. Read more about What is Progressive Revelation? Part 2: Toward a Definition

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What is Progressive Revelation? Part 1

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Introduction: the Bible as a communication

The Bible is one Book, not two. It should be read from front to back, not in reverse. Tracing the chronology of Scripture is, in general terms, an important part of Bible study. Everyone is aware that there are cases where specific time-slots cannot be allocated with certainty to some episodes in Judges or the historical vantage point of Obadiah. You will always find a more liberally inclined person ready to correct you about the date of Daniel or “Second Isaiah” or Matthew’s Gospel. But from the standpoint of someone who says he believes in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the Bible is a fundamentally divine Word to creatures formed in God’s image.

This Word from God, which we now have in the Bible, was produced over many hundreds of years. As the story of the Bible unfolds certain things are put in place which will relate to things that appear later on. In most cases these key things are initiated by God Himself, the Author both of the Book we’re reading, and of the circumstances we read about.

The Bible is not simply a storybook. The Bible is, as I like to call it, “a word from outside.” By this I mean that it comes from the One who made and sustains our reality, both now and in the future. And this One, the God of Creation, has done two things which are presupposed by the existence of the Bible. He has spoken truth to human beings, and He has enabled human beings to speak His truth to one another. Putting aside for the moment the problem of our common failure to reflect God’s truth in our every communication (something I’ll return to), the fact remains that communication—from God first and then to each other—is going on. So before we can get into our main subject of progressive revelation, we must initially ponder what makes for effective communication. Read more about What is Progressive Revelation? Part 1

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My Personal Experience with the Higher Criticism

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CHAPTER VI MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH THE HIGHER CRITICISM

BY PROF. J. J. REEVE, SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, FORT WORTH, TEXAS, U. S. A.

The purpose of this article is to state in a very brief way the influences which led me to accept certain of the views of the Higher Criticism, and after further consideration, to reject them. Necessarily the reasons for rejecting will be given at greater length than those for accepting. Space will not permit me to mention names of persons, books, articles and various other influences which combined to produce these results. I shall confine myself to an outline of the mental processes which resulted from my contact with the Critical Movement.

In outlining this change of view, I shall deal with —

I. THE PRESUPPOSITIONS OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM

These presuppositions and assumptions are the determining elements in the entire movement. Once they are understood, it is not difficult to understand the higher critics. It is their philosophy or world-view that is responsible for all their speculations and theories. Their mental attitude towards the world and its phenomena is the same as their attitude toward the Bible and the religion therein revealed. These presuppositions appealed to me very strongly. Having spent some time at one of the great American universities, thus coming in contact with some of the leading minds of the country, the critical view was presented to me very ably and attractively. Though resisted for a time, the forcefulness of the teaching and influence of the university atmosphere largely won my assent. The critics seemed to have the logic of

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