Relationship between the Old and New Testament. – MessageWeek Blog
Systematic theology strives for unity in the diversity of Scriptures comprising both the Old and New Testaments. Old-Testament studies are quite happy with. Mar 30, An article about how the Old and New Testament are connected and declares that man can now be restored in his relationship to God (Romans ). In both the Old and the New Testament, God reveals Himself to us and. The conclutions are: The relationship between the Old Covenant and the New the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. It should be .
The Bible is a progressive revelation. If you skip the first half of any good book and try to finish it, you will have a difficult time understanding the characters, the plot and the ending. In the same way, the New Testament is only completely understood when it is rightly viewed as a fulfillment of the events, characters, laws, sacrificial system, covenants and promises of the Old Testament.
If the only Word from God that we had was just the New Testament, we would come to the Gospels and not really know why the Jews were even searching for a Messiah. Without the benefit of what God shares with us in the Old Testament, we would be unable to identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah through the many detailed prophecies that were given Him, e. Without the benefit of the knowledge presented to us in the Old Testament, we would be totally unable to understand the Jewish customs that are mentioned only in passing in the pages of the New Testament.
Some thoughts on the relationship between Old Testament studies and systematic theology
Consequently, we could not understand why Jesus was so upset as He cleansed the temple courtyard. Most importantly however, we would ultimately be unable to understand that we can make use of the same wisdom that Christ used in His many replies to His adversaries and to those who ridiculed Him. The New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the apostles record many of the fulfillments of prophecies that were written hundreds of years earlier by Old Testament prophets.
It is the life of Jesus Himself and all that He accomplished that is the powerful validation of Jesus when He claims to be the promised Christ. Even those prophecies in the New Testament, which are for the most part found in the Book of Revelations, are derived from earlier prophecies found in the books of the Old Testament. These New Testament prophecies relate to events regarding the second coming of Christ. In the course of history, the study of the Old Testament developed in a direction where the emphasis will be on the historical questions pertaining to the text and to the literary features of the text.
In some cases, more emphasis will be placed upon historical aspects, and in other cases, the emphasis will be more on the literary features of a text. With this kind of approach, attention to doctrinal issues kept on decreasing.
With the advance of a historical understanding of Old-Testament texts, it became clear that Old-Testament texts cannot be used to substantiate church doctrines in systematic theology. Not long after the Gabler lecture, G. Bauer suggested a division of Biblical studies into two separate parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Relationship between the Old and New Testament.
This development was instrumental in the alienation of the Old Testament from Christian theology Lemche Gabler's inaugural lecture took place in a particular time and Zeitgeist.
The Renaissance that commenced in Italy in the 14th century heralded a completely new age for humankind in virtually all aspects of life.
- What is the relationship between the Old and New Testaments?
It was the time of the invention of the compass, gunpowder and book printing as well as the sea voyages of Columbus, Da Gama and Magellan. It was also during this time that Copernicus born and Galileo Galilei born discovered that the earth is not the centre of the universe but merely a planet like the other 'stars' that are visible in the sky.
The earth is not flat but round; the earth is not stationary but rotating; the sun does not revolve around the earth but the earth revolves around the sun. The 15th and 16th centuries produced people such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare and others. The spirit of this new age also had a great influence on studying the Bible. There were two factors in particular that had a direct influence on studying the Bible.
The one was the development of a historical awareness: The second factor was a revival of the interest in old classical literature. For Biblical science, this meant a turn to the text of the Bible Hayes For this reason, the Reformers insisted that the Bible must be read in the original languages.
The Reformation took place within this spirit of the age. With the slogan of the Reformation, 'sola scriptura', the Bible was brought back to the centre of the church and theology.
In contrast with the multiple meaning of texts that characterised the Middle Ages, great emphasis was now placed on the literal meaning of texts - the so-called sensus literalis. In addition, the historical context within which texts originated now increasingly received attention in the interpretation of the Bible. Since the time of Gabler, Old-Testament studies developed more and more in the direction of a combination of historical and literary emphases on the text of the Old Testament.
Some approaches put more emphasis on historical investigation and understanding whilst other approaches emphasise literary features more than historical interests. Attending international meetings in the field of Old-Testament studies, one cannot help to be overwhelmed by what can be seen as the increasing fragmentation of Old-Testament studies. What was considered to be sub-disciplines have now grown into independent disciplines in their own right.
There is an ever-increasing specialisation in every aspect of Old-Testament studies. One cannot be an Old-Testament historian any more.
What is needed nowadays are specialists in different historical periods in the course of the history of Israel.
It is no longer possible to be a specialist on the prophetic literature. What is found now is specialists on different prophetic books or on prophetic books pertaining to a particular period in the history of Israel.
These examples can be multiplied in almost every discipline in the field of Old Testament studies. We suffer from an overspecialisation in Old-Testament studies. Part of the historical overview that must be taken into account is a growing recognition that the Old Testament does not only belong to Christian theology or to the church.
Old-Testament scholars would therefore find it hard to agree with a point of view such as the following Rahner The inclusion of a particular writing in the corpus of the Old Testament can be recognized as valid for us by reference to Christ, in that this corpus forms a written expression and description of the history of salvation, which, though pre-Christian, leads directly to Christ and possesses normative value for a Christian.
Perhaps we should rephrase this sentence to its opposite: Jewish colleagues share their canon of Scriptures with the Christian tradition of interpretation. This development makes the study of the Old Testament a far more extensive ecumenical enterprise than a conversation between Roman Catholic and Protestant systematic theologians or between systematic theologians from different confessional viewpoints.
Two exemplary views on the relationship between Old-Testament studies and systematic theology The United States of America Brueggemann, arguably one of the most influential Old-Testament scholars of our time, wrote his magnum opus in At the end of this book, he offered some thoughts on the relationship between Old-Testament theology and the New Testament and church theology Brueggemann In these last few pages of his Old-Testament theology, Brueggemann From the side of the Old Testament then, so Brueggemann argues The reason why Brueggemann insists on this premise is because he wants to guard against an 'inherently reductionist' approach that will reduce the polyphonic, elusive testimony of the Old Testament to the New Testament's Christological construal.
The task of Old-Testament theology is to articulate, explicate, mobilise and make accessible and available the polyphonic, elusive and imaginative power of the Old Testament and then to offer it to the church Brueggemann Brueggemann in this way sets a limit put down by the text of the Old Testament itself to the study of the Old Testament: He Childs is known for his canonical approach to the Old Testament and produced, amongst others, both an Old-Testament theology Childs and a biblical theology comprising both the Old and New Testaments Childs The canonical approach developed by Childs' books was criticised for being too close to a typical dogmatic approach as can be seen from the first chapters of his book on Old-Testament theology.
South Africa The most extensive and intensive debate I am aware of that took place between an Old-Testament scholar and a systematic theologian was between Ferdinand Deist and Johan Heyns at a conference commemorating the bicentennial celebration of J.
Gabler's famous inaugural lecture in March Deist's argument was that, in order to reflect on God, we make use of metaphorical language. If we want our God-language to be Biblical, we should make use of the Biblical language about God. If that is the case, we shall have to take seriously the presupposition that God made himself knowable to humankind within the confines of history. Once that is granted, we are bound to speak of God in terms of and with the help of categories and vocabulary coming from history Deist Religious language and the ordinary language of everyday activities are closely related.
To gain an understanding of the language used to make utterances about God, we need textual analysis Deist Deist made us of history and language to construct theological statements, and this is what Old-Testament scholars still do: God revealed himself within history the category of revelation facts. These revelation facts are transformed into revelation testimonies when the authors of the Bible wrote down the facts, and in this way, it became revelation.
Ultimately these revelation testimonies of the Biblical authors are proclaimed, hence the third category of revelation proclamation Heyns The focus in biblical theology is on particularity whilst the focus in systematic theology is on universality. In this way, systematic theologians go further that their Biblical counterparts. The focus shifts from the historical conditions of a particular situation to the doctrinal implications that this text may have in combination with other texts Heyns Systematic theology has to do with the total message of the total Scripture within the totality of its dynamic workings Heyns A second encounter between an Old-Testament scholar and a systematic theologian took place between J.
Heyns on the occasion of Heyns' retirement from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria at the end of As can be expected, the issue Le Roux took up with Heyns is his views on the Bible.
Old Testament vs. New Testament - What are the differences?
According to Le Roux The Holy Spirit acts as the first exegete, and all human errors are safe in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Heyns responded to this criticism by acknowledging that the core of Le Roux's critical remarks centred around Heyns' views on Scripture Heyns Heyns graciously accepted the criticism by acknowledging that he does indeed have a limited knowledge of the results of modern Biblical science and hermeneutics Heyns He then went on to caution both systematic theologians and biblical scholars that the route Le Roux envisages as a result of insights gained from research within biblical scholarship was a 'dangerous one'.
It is clear from this second encounter that the gap between Biblical scholarship and systematic theologians has widened. The sharp criticism from Le Roux is valid whilst it seems that Heyns, on the one hand, was unaware of developments in the Old and New Testament scientific research leading Biblical scholars to ask the kind of questions Le Roux asked and, on the other hand, not willing to concede a rethinking of his own point of view in light of developments in the field of Biblical science.
God and the view of Scripture in Old-Testament scholarship and systematic theology God If one adheres to the very basic assumption that theology has to do with God, there is also a marked difference between Old-Testament studies and systematic theology. In the Old Testament, the emphasis is on the one God Dt 6: In no way can the doctrine of the Trinity be read back into the Old Testament.
The Hebrew concept of the spirit ruach refers to vitality, the breath of life coming from God. God is described in many different ways in the Old Testament. One can imagine that in a corpus of literature spanning more or less a years many different views on God will emerge. The emphasis is more on what God did than on the peculiar characteristics God may have.
What God did sometimes seem to be incoherent and is not always understood by people. The view on Scripture in Old-Testament scholarship and systematic theology To compare the different views that systematic theologians and Old-Testament scholars have on the issue of Scripture will illustrate the difference in approach. The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture is important in systematic theology and a doctrine that one will find in any handbook on systematic theology.
As the study of the Old Testament has been described as primarily a text-oriented investigation, Old-Testament scholars by profession read the text of the Old Testament. Old-Testament scholars read the Old Testament in a very careful way. When reading the Old Testament in a careful way, one cannot help but realise the humanness of the document we call the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written by countless persons over a period spanning several centuries.
When reading this material, one realises that it was written by human beings living in a particular historical time frame with their own viewpoints, prejudices, social status, political and religious convictions and probably a host of other factors as well. The origin of Old Testament books or corpora of Scripture is the result of extremely complex processes that can only partly be reconstructed by theories on what might have happened in the process of the compilation of what we have as the Old Testament.
Once the canon was formed by the different books and more or less outlined, the editing of Hebrew editions of the Old Testament was still in progress. To a certain extent, we may say that we are still busy writing the Old Testament as new editions of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament are prepared and published.
To accommodate an inspiration theory within this complex process of the origin and canonisation of the Old Testament becomes seriously problematic Snyman Where does the inspiration of the Old Testament start? Did inspiration start with the oral phase of transmission, or did it start with the very first time that the oral material was written down? Did inspiration start when a prophet uttered his prophesy or when his prophesies were written down?
Or did inspiration start when somebody wrote a prophecy under the name of a well-known prophet from long ago and presented it as originating from that ancient prophetic figure? Did it start with the Egyptian wisdom teacher who once uttered a wisdom saying that was subsequently written down and eventually taken up in die wisdom literature of the Old Testament?
Where does inspiration end? Does the notion of inspiration only apply to the original speakers or authors of the Bible as Heyns If that is the case, we have ended up with a Bible devoid of any inspiration simply because the autographa if ever there were autographa are no longer available to us. What we have is only copies of copies of copies of manuscripts. If we want to adhere to the notion of the inspiration of Scripture, inspiration must include those countless people who copied ancient manuscripts.
Does inspiration also include translations of Biblical texts? If we keep in mind that the version of the Old Testament used or quoted from in the early years of Christianity was most probably the Septuagint, translations should also be regarded as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The encounter that Old-Testament scholars have with the text of the Old Testament questions the compatibility of inspiration theories from systematic theology with the knowledge we have on the origin of the Old Testament.
The way forward Is there in a time of ever-increasing specialisation still a need for interaction between Old-Testament studies and systematic theology?
This question needs to be asked because, even in the field of Old-Testament studies, it is virtually impossible to keep up with the latest developments in the different fields of what make up Old-Testament study today.
We suffer from an information overload.
Even within the confines of the Christian canon of Scriptures, there is little cooperation. Biblical theology as a field of study that is trying to bring together the Old and New Testament is not one of the current hotspots in the field of biblical studies. One can go even one step further: If one wants to keep up with studies on the book of Jeremiah, there is little time left for studying the latest developments in Pentateuch theories. If this is the case in the field of Old-Testament studies, it will come as no surprise to discover that the same can be said for systematic theology or for any other discipline in the field of theology.
The different loci of dogmatic theology require too much to handle at the same time. Speaking from a historical point of view, Old-Testament scholars may feel that 'we are free at last' wrestling ourselves from the bondage of dogmatic doctrines that kept us hostage for so many years. The forces of history will tend to keep us more and more apart rather than bringing us closer together.
Systematic theology must also reconsider whether it is still in need of Old-Testament studies. Does one have to have thorough knowledge of the Old Testament to be a good systematic theologian? My answer to this question would be no. It is not necessary to have a thorough knowledge of the issues that keep Old-Testament scholars busy in order to be a good systematic theologian. Is it fair to expect from systematic theologians to be knowledgeable about the latest theories on the authorship and origin of the Pentateuch or the latest theories on when and how the prophetic books originated or on the latest developments in the field of wisdom theology?
Do systematic theologians need to know which one was first: More importantly, does the answer to the question matter for systematic theologians?