Do we need the Old Testament? That’s a familiar question, often asked. But as an Old Testament scholar, John Goldingay turns that question on its head: Do we need the New Testament?
What’s new about the New Testament? After all, the Old Testament was the only Bible Jesus and the disciples knew. Jesus affirmed it as the Word of God. Do we need anything more? And what happens when we begin to look at the Old Testament, which is the First Testament, not as a deficient old work in need of a christological makeover, but as a rich and splendid revelation of God’s faithfulness to Israel and the world?
In this cheerfully provocative yet probingly serious book, John Goldingay sets the question and views it from a variety of angles. Under his expert hand, each facet unfolds the surprising richness of the Old Testament and challenges us to recalibrate our perspective on it.
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“In none of the Gospels does Jesus tell his disciples to extend the kingdom, work for the kingdom, build up the kingdom, or further the kingdom.” (Page 34)
“The relationship between God and Israel was based on God’s grace. It required the response of obedience to God’s expectations; but then, the New Testament also assumes that the relationship God initiates with us requires a response of obedience. Otherwise, there will be no relationship.” (Page 21)
“My thesis in this volume has been that the chief significance of Jesus does not lie in any new revelation that he brought. It lies in who he was, what he did and what happened to him, and what he will do. He did not reveal new truths about what it means to be God except the fact that God is more complicated than people would previously have thought (‘three persons and one God’). He did not reveal new truths about what it means to be human but (like a prophet) brought into sharper focus some of the truths that people ought to have known.” (Page 177)
“The fact that the new covenant has not been effectively implemented in the church means that we are not in so different a situation from that of Israel. Our lives do not look to be morally superior to Israel’s, nor do we seem to have a closer relationship with God than the one the First Testament speaks of.” (Page 98)
“My argument is that the execution and the resurrection were indeed the logical end term of a stance that God had been taking through First Testament times, so that the First Testament story does give an entirely adequate account of who God is and of the basis for relating to God.” (Pages 13–14)
A fresh, accessible and at times provocative explanation of the enduring relevance of the Old (‘First’) Testament for Christians. It will challenge readers to embrace the first seventy percent of the canon as truly Christian Scripture.
—Mark J. Boda, professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College, professor, faculty of Theology, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada
John Goldingay is incapable of being uninteresting. I smiled approvingly at many passages in this book and grimaced at a few others, all the while deeply grateful for such a passionate dismantling of pernicious but widely held myths about the Old Testament’s theological inferiority. If Goldingay does not quite come to grips with what makes the New Testament new, he nevertheless brilliantly illustrates how the Old Testament is already good news on its own.
—Stephen B. Chapman, associate professor of Old Testament, Duke University
The early church’s problem with the Old Testament was completely different to ours. Their problem was not how to make sense of the Old Testament given the coming of Jesus, but the reverse: Given that the Old Testament is God’s revelation, how do we make sense of Jesus? With this unusual question, Do We Need the New Testament?, Goldingay turns our modern thinking on its head and exposes the weaknesses in the way contemporary Christians understand the Old Testament—and the New. With thought-provoking ideas on every page, this book will help readers look at the Old and New Testaments in new and exciting ways.
—Nathan MacDonald, lecturer in Hebrew Bible and fellow of St. John’s College, University of Cambridge
Reflecting on new perspectives on the life of Jesus, issues of Psalm 137, the role of church and state and their ethics, and the hermeneutics of theological interpretation, the reader will enjoy the questioning and provocative mind of John Goldingay as he takes up his laptop to challenge much of today’s conventional Christian wisdom.
—Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary