The Importance of the Old Testament

Posted: September 24, 2011 in bible, old testament

Ben Witherington has interviewed Scot McKnight on his new book, The King Jesus Gospel.  You can read Trevin Wax’s two-part review of book here and here.

One of his questions related to the importance of the Old Testament for Christians.  Here is McKnight’s response:

Americans face a constant battering of political options, but the wisest decisions made are the decisions made by those who know who we are as a people and where we have been as a people and what our story is. This is why the work of someone like John Fea, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? shows us the way: it’s easy to argue what one politician thinks vs. another politician, but John takes us through our history to see each issue in its fullness.

So also with the Bible. We can’t make sense of anything in the NT, well maybe a thing or two, without knowing the Old Testament and the Story of Israel that gave rise to that thing in the NT. Thus, why begin Matthew 1 with a geneaology? Well, because of the geneaologies in Genesis and, even more, because the Jewish Bible ended with Chronicles … so that’s a nice tie. And how can we even being to comprehend the temptations of Jesus apart from studying Israel’s testings in the wildnerness? And how can we begin to understand what Paul means by salvation or justification without knowing the covenant history, beginning with Abraham, that gave rise to those terms in those specific ways in Paul’s day?

That so many today think we can do these things without the Old Testament tells us something neither about what these NT texts mean nor what they meant but about us today – it is only our arrogance that leads us to think we know what the New Testament means who cares about the Old Testament?

And there’s the issue of Story: we make sense of our lives because we narrate in our minds the flow of our story, and who we are and where we’ve been and what we’ve experienced, and that leads us to see a tragedy or a victory in context. Without Story we fall apart. The Story of Jesus, of Paul, of the Christian is the Story that begins with Adam, Abraham and through David … and if we are Christians, this is our family’s deepest story. We need to see these folks as our ancestors and our elders, and imagine them sitting around the table in the evening reminding us of where we come from, where we’ve been, and what God has done in our past.

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Comments
  1. laurensheil says:

    We can’t make sense of anything in the NT, well maybe a thing or two, without knowing the Old Testament and the Story of Israel that gave rise to that thing in the NT – Amen!

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