Wednesday, January 28, 2004
There are many people who claim that the Old Testament is merely a type and shadow of that which was to come. Whilst such statements are not without their measure of truth, they frequently seem to serve as a cloak for the conviction that the New Testament reality is fundamentally different to that which existed in the Old Testament. What occurs in the New Testament is not so much a fulfillment of the saving work begun in the Old Testament, as it is a total disjuncture. This is why we must read the Old Testament in the light of the New, not because the earlier acts of God's salvation can be more clearly understood in the light of Christ, but because the Old Testament never really had any reality. The Old Testament is like a shadow, the reality lies wholly elsewhere. Many people argue that the Old Testament is merely a type of the New Testament. Their view of typology obscures the fact that typology operates within the Old Testament itself. It also can undermine the fact that the apostles were quite happy to read New Testament realities back into the Old Testament (1 Corinthians 10 being an obvious example). The very idea that we could in some way think of, say, baptism and circumcision as the same 'kind' of thing appalls many people. The very idea that the Church is Israel brought to maturity is scandalous. Israel is merely a sketch of the reality of the Church and bears no real living relationship to it. The notion that the New Testament references to regeneration, election, salvation, righteousness, justification, faith or sanctification should be understood as closely related to the Old Testament uses of those terms horrifies people. I don't know about others, but I find it very difficult to relate to such Marcionite approaches to Scripture. I would be the first to say that we need to recognize the newness of the New Covenant, but this newness is not, in my understanding, to be conceived of as totally unconnected to what happened before. Christ was active in the Old Testament, but the New Testament sees Him clearly revealed. Christ is the flowering of the Old Testament buds. Perhaps it is just that these people realize that some of the fundamental principles of popular evangelicalism would be totally undermined if they really started reading the Bible as one story. Now that's off my chest, I can get back to the elusive Greek revision.