Bibliology

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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Read the series so far.

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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God Gave Us a Book

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Can the supernatural and the natural realms talk together? Is communication possible between God and people? This crucial question polarized our nation’s founding fathers. All of the founders believed in a supernatural realm—God was a given. But a few of the founders insisted that God created the universe to run on its own without Him (a view known as Deism). For all practical purposes, these men dismissed the very possibility of communication between the natural and supernatural realms.

Since the early influences of Deism, American culture has been shaped by the anti-supernaturalist philosophies of biological evolution and secular humanism. Secularism is not merely anti-religious, although it is that. Secularism is, more fundamentally, an utter denial of the sacred and thus a disaffirmation of the indispensability of a supernatural realm—a supposition rendered reasonable by the theory of biological evolution. Whereas Deism was stuck with a Creator (albeit a silent one), evolutionism eliminated the notion of a Creator and completely eradicated the necessity of a supernatural realm. Secularism stands in at this point to assert what evolutionism suggested: supernaturalism is a myth.

It would seem that most Americans today embrace some form of evolutionism (fueled by evolutionism’s monopoly of the public education system), but few Americans are pure secularists. Surveys indicate that most Americans pray, and praying evidences at least a wishful hope in the existence of a supernatural realm (which goes far to explain the angst secularist educators suffer when public school students talk to God). Despite the inroads of Deism and secularism, many Americans still believe in a supernatural realm with which communication is possible. Read more about God Gave Us a Book

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The Guy Who Taught Us Not to Interpret the Bible Literally

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College freshmen are impressionable people. Once as a college freshman I heard a pastor who was pretty good with his Greek New Testament explain how Jesus encountered demons. The pastor interpreted the phenomenon literally. I was impressed, so I bounced my new-found knowledge off my dad.

Wrong forum! Dad was a doctor. He let me know in no uncertain terms, that whatever Jesus did, He did not heal diseases by eliminating evil spirits. That was thinking for the “quacks” and the “kooks.” As we talked, our distinct belief systems had a major collision. I backed off, but for the next several months, whenever the subject came up, my father took pains to instruct the family, so that we all stayed scientifically orthodox.

That conflict demonstrates the essential difference between conservative and liberal theology. True Liberal theology began with the German scholar, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834; the term used in Germany is “Historical-critical Theology”). Schleiermacher had a great desire to defend the Christian faith and an intense interest in Bible study. He was also fascinated with European philosophy and drank deeply from the well of German idealism.

Stellar intellect that Schleiermacher was, he spent most of his student discussions talking about the Christian faith with his unbelieving intellectual friends. His first book was, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. Grenz and Olson say, “None strove so valiantly to reconstruct Christian belief to make it compatible with the spirit of his age.”1 Read more about The Guy Who Taught Us Not to Interpret the Bible Literally

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