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HCH
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# 14313

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I have observed that many Christians, when they cite Scripture, refer to the Old Testament rather than the New. I wonder why. Isn't the New Testament more immediately relevant to Christianity than the Old?

I can think of possible explanations such as:

-- They started reading at Genesis, got bogged down and never reached the New Testament.

-- The Old Testament is larger, so there is more to work with.

-- The Old Testament contains lots of good memorable stories and characters.

I suppose there are lots of other possibilities. What do you think?

I don't know if this matter has been discussed here before.

Posts: 1475 | From: Illinois, USA | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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I think it depends on the Christian. I'm sure I'm not alone in knowing Christians who don't seem to have read anything outside of Romans.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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General rule of thumb:

Evangelicals - Epistles
Fundamentalists - Old Testament
Liberals - Gospels

I personally find a massive disconnect between the thrust of these three sources, so I'm not surprised they tend to appeal to different sorts of people. I confess I find, for example, very little linkage between the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and Paul's theologising which seems to be entirely about Jesus' last few weeks on earth. The same was true of the theology of my Evangelical days; it was all about Crucifixion.

I fear the appeal of the OT to fundamentalists is that God goes around murdering people in huge numbers there and that appeals to them. Perhaps unfair, but it's the impression one gets.

[ 29. August 2017, 22:27: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Jay-Emm
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# 11411

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To modify that slightly, perhaps?
quote:
Based on that posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
General rule of thumb:

Evangelicals - Epistles (New Testament)
Fundamentalists - Pentateuch (Old Testament)
Liberals - Gospels (New Testament)
(Liberation?) - Latter Prophets (Old Testament)
(no-one?) - Kings (Old Testament)
Traditionalists - Psalms

...

I fear the appeal of the OT to fundamentalists is that God goes around murdering people in huge numbers there and that appeals to them. Perhaps unfair, but it's the impression one gets.

It's missing a lot of what goes on in the old testament.

In fact even Leviticus* (IMO) has some fantastic verses, mixed in with the quoted grotty ones and the obvious strange ones, but they aren't used much which kind of proves your point.
But I think there are enough areas of the OT that don't match that description and aren't used (significantly) that it ought to be split up.

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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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I think if you're in a faith community that doesn't follow the discipline of tackling Old Testament, Gospels and Epistles on an ongoing basis, there's a tendency to stay in one's Scriptural comfort zone, whatever that is.

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Ian Climacus

Liturgical Slattern
# 944

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I fear the appeal of the OT to fundamentalists is that God goes around murdering people in huge numbers there and that appeals to them. Perhaps unfair, but it's the impression one gets.

I wonder if it is the certainity too: do this, this happens; do not do this, this happens. Black and white.
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Lamb Chopped
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# 5528

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My previous post seems to have vanished. Hey ho.

I ref the OT so much simply because it has so many stories, and i tend to think in stories. You won't often get refs to the epistles out of me.

I don't see the OT as differing much from the NT in the things I key in on, like the character of God. So I go there and to the Gospels/Acts.

[ 30. August 2017, 00:09: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Galloping Granny
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# 13814

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I find Paul's letters difficult to understand and to use. Gospels much easier.

GG

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mousethief

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# 953

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Orthodox: Gospel of John, followed by the other Gospels, then Psalms

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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It is a strange observation, because IME, most people I have know quote the NT (fitting with Karls breakdown!).

I suspect the problem may be that certain groups who are obsessed with quoting scriptural proof texts are also very into the OT - especially the condemning parts, the places where Israel is given a slap. I would guess they are also very into the book of Joshua (which can be inspirational, but is mostly "You see those people? Kill them all").

I find it strange that one of the thinkgs I have retained from my evangelical background is the importance of Bible reading and study. And this means the whole Bible, right through, and study means understanding how it can change my thinking, not simply putting my thinking patterns onto the interpretation. The current-day evangelical community seems to have lost that discipline, and it is sad, because it has been crusial for me.

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Galilit
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# 16470

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Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

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She who does Her Son's will in all things can rely on me to do Hers.

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Anselmina
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# 3032

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

Because for Christians the Old Testament is synonymous with the Old Covenant established with Abraham, believed to be superseded (depending on interpretative qualification), or at least fulfilled, as Christ claimed, by the New Covenant he was responsible for?

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

For one thing 'Hebrew Scriptures' might include the Mishnah, which 'Old Testament' definitely does not. Likewise the Old Testament may depending on your church or denomination include Wisdom, Bel and the Dragon, etc, which are not part of the Hebrew Scriptures.

For another the Tanakh is divided into Law, Prophets, and Writings. The Old Testament is not divided in that way: for example, Ruth in the OT comes between Judges and Samuel while in the Tanakh it is part of the Writings. What in the Tanakh are the Latter Prophets in the OT come after the books that form the Writings.
If you are talking about a collection of books in which Ruth comes between Joshua and Samuel, in which the Psalms et al come between Kings and Isaiah, and which finishes with Malachi, then you are not talking about the Hebrew Scriptures.

Finally of course if we believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah we have far more serious problems in avoiding supersessionism than are going to be solved merely by not using the traditional name for the Old Testament.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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Added to which, the majority of the New Testament was written by Jews (Luke being the obvious exception). So, we could be justified in calling the majority of the NT documents "Hebrew Scriptures" as well.

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leo
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# 1458

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The 'Old' is not superceded - it is all scripture and without the OT we'd have little teaching about social justice.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
The 'Old' is not superceded - it is all scripture and without the OT we'd have little teaching about social justice.

Christians certainly ought to only consider the OT in the light of the New. We're not Jews. We're bound by a different covenant. And there's more than enough in the Sermon on the Mount to last a lifetime of thinking regarding social justice.

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Posts: 8694 | From: Ultima Thule | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
LutheranChik
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# 9826

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But you really can't understand the NT without the OT

My appreciation of the OT waa helped greatly by studying it in an academic context...and studting with Jewish as well as Christian teachers. It was refreshing to me to do Bible study without constantly filtering the material through a Christian/ Lutheran lens. And getting a better understanding of historical/cultural contexts helps. ( Unlike my experience of reading the Gilgamesh epic " cold," without a great deal of knowledge about its,cobtext...hours of my life I'll never get back.)The trick is getting that information to the people in the pew.

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http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

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Enoch
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# 14322

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

So are you saying that the Old Testament has become one of those expressions we mustn't use any more, like using this week's wrong expression for those who are 'differently abled' in some way?

Who says, since when, and why? Or have I picked up the wrong nuance?

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

When I say "Old Testament" I don't mean the Hebrew Scriptures, because my Old Testament contains books that are not part of the Tanakh, and many of which were probably written in Greek and not Hebrew*.

I have never heard the term "First Testament" and it sounds no less insulting to Jews than "Old Testament" -- indeed it really rather means the same thing, unless you have a third testament.

_________________________________________
*like the Christians of old, right up through sometime in the Protestant Era, see many other threads

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
Why are people in 2017 still saying "Old Testament" when they mean Hebrew Scriptures or First Testament?

Because that's what it's always been called in my neck of the Christian woods, and for me to go changing it would be ... up myself?

Plus "Hebrew Scriptures" among Lutherans will automatically be taken to mean "Scriptures in Hebrew" and someone will ask me to translate. Because we expect our pastors to know the biblical languages, and "Scriptures in Hebrew" are found in pretty much every church building. So they'll assume I'm holding a copy.

As for First Testament--I'm not sure what that means. I've always taken a testament to be akin to a covenant. If that's so, then the first "testament" would be the one God made with Noah et al way back when.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Ricardus
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# 8757

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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I fear the appeal of the OT to fundamentalists is that God goes around murdering people in huge numbers there and that appeals to them. Perhaps unfair, but it's the impression one gets.

I wonder if it is the certainity too: do this, this happens; do not do this, this happens. Black and white.
I dunno, I wouldn't really say the OT was clear. There are lots of stories without an obviously imposed moral.

Something like Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac seems to have invited an enormous amount of philosophical speculation on the intersection of God and morality, from the Church Fathers to Kierkegaard. And if it was a bit clearer, it probably wouldn't have invited such speculation, and IMV the world would be poorer. But as it stands, richer or not, it's not black and white.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I don't think the OT is particularly black and white. I think it is the fact that some people interpret the OT as a rule book. And they tend to do the same with the NT, of course, but the effect of doing so with the OT is far more Fire and Brimstone Fun.

If you really like to condemn and hate people, the OT taken literally is brilliant.

Of course, they don't take stories like the sacrifice of Isaac as literal instuctions. Because that would involve charges of attempted/actual murder. It is an incredibly complex story, with many layers, so they often dismiss this as a simple allegory of Jesus.

I would see the OT as the Israelite nation exploring their place in the world, and their understanding of God. They saw themselves as Really Special Chosen People, rather than people blessed by having being chosen by God. So many of the more, erm, conservative* groups see themselves in the same sort of way. Missing the facts that "Chosen by God" is a) usually terrible for people and b) Gods people are intended to draw others to God, not drive them away.

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Blog
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Lord may all my hard times be healing times
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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I don't think the OT is particularly black and white. I think it is the fact that some people interpret the OT as a rule book. And they tend to do the same with the NT, of course, but the effect of doing so with the OT is far more Fire and Brimstone Fun.

If you really like to condemn and hate people, the OT taken literally is brilliant.

Of course, they don't take stories like the sacrifice of Isaac as literal instuctions. Because that would involve charges of attempted/actual murder. It is an incredibly complex story, with many layers, so they often dismiss this as a simple allegory of Jesus.

I would see the OT as the Israelite nation exploring their place in the world, and their understanding of God. They saw themselves as Really Special Chosen People, rather than people blessed by having being chosen by God. So many of the more, erm, conservative* groups see themselves in the same sort of way. Missing the facts that "Chosen by God" is a) usually terrible for people and b) Gods people are intended to draw others to God, not drive them away.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

Posts: 18499 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Barnabas62
Host
# 9110

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The phrase "weighing scripture with scripture" covers most of the debate. It's quite well known now (and has been the subject of detailed analysis!) but I enjoy President Bartlet's take on selective reading.

Analysing scripture on the basis of some kind of consistent and invariant mold is a particular hermeneutical approach. If that is yours, you can feel very uncomfortable with variations, seek some kind of "weighing scripture with scripture" which keeps your high value of scripture intact. Unfortunately, as the Bartlet diatribe illustrates, it can be just as selective a hermeneutic as the ones used by liberal Christians, who are often criticised by evangelicals for either ignoring scripture or being selective in reading it.

Truth is that when it comes to weighing scripture with scripture we do not have a universal set of scales. So someone like me, from the evangelical tradition, who sees both inconsistency and trajectory in the biblical material, is often seen as letting the side down. To which my normal response is "this is what I see and this is why I see it. How about you?".

Sometimes you get interesting discussions that way, sometimes you just hit dogmatic brick walls.

I think leo's observation about social justice is interesting. Virtually all the prophetic books have something to say about speaking the truth to power, and some very useful current guidance can be got from them. For example, I've always found the warning in the Book of Amos (about combining fervent worship with indifference to justice and poverty) a very helpful corrective. That seems to be a good cross-era and cross-cultural principle to apply.

So I think the hermeneutical approach has a lot to say about whether there is continuing value in OT reading, and how it is to be found.

[ 31. August 2017, 09:18: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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wild haggis
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# 15555

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Yes, Amos rides again (thanks Gareth Hewitt). We forget that the OT prophets spoke into situations, many not unlike today. How often do you hear a sermon using these prophets speaking into the injustice of much of life today. How I wish...................

For me the OT (let's call it that for simplicity) is about people grappling with what they thought God was doing in their lives, land and circumstances at a particular time and pace. There is much we can learn but times and attitudes have moved on. However we do need that background reading to understand Jesus - a Jewish prophet and for Christians Son of God.

The gospels are what people remembered about Jesus - just as I will tell my son what I remember about my parents - I may miss bits out because I've forgotten or I may choose remembrances to prove a point that is pertanant at that time.

The epistles were letters written in a particular time and place and often to groups of Christians that were going off the rails. They were of their place and time and taken in context have much to say to today. But so often preachers forget the context.

I'm afraid I'm a wee bit Barthian in my interpretation of Scripture.

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wild haggis

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