How should Christians read the Old Testament today? Answers to this question gravitate between two poles. On the one hand, some pay little attention to the gap between the Old Testament and today, reading the Old Testament like a devotional allegory that points the Christian directly to Jesus. On the other hand, there are folks who prioritize an Old Testament passage’s original context to such an extent that it is by no means clear if and how a given Old Testament text might bear witness to Christ and address the church.
This volume is a tribute to Willem A. VanGemeren, an ecclesial scholar who operated amidst the tension between understanding texts in their original context and their theological witness to Christ and the church. The contributors in this volume share a conviction that Christians must read the Old Testament with a theological concern for how it bears witness to Christ and nourishes the church, while not undermining the basic principles of exegesis.
Two questions drive these essays as they address the topic of reading the Old Testament theologically.
The volume unfolds by first considering exegetical habits that are essential for interpreting the Old Testament theologically. Then several essays wrestle with how topics from select Old Testament books can be read theologically. Finally, it concludes by addressing several communal matters that arise when reading the Old Testament theologically.
“First, laws in the Old Testament are set within the theological and literary context of covenant.” (Page 52)
“The church needs to read the Old Testament in light of how it addressed an ancient Israelite audience (historical) through a genre-shaped logic (literary); and how through its formation and preservation it is able to address future readers (canonical) across the many eras of God’s redemptive mission that finds its culminations in Christ’s first and second comings (theological).4 The Old Testament must be free to address the church of the living God today in accordance with, and not apart from the historical and literary contours of its original message to ancient Israel and its preservation for subsequent generations.” (Page 18)
“The purpose of this short study is to explore more closely Moses’ use of יָרֵא (yrʾ) in his exposition of Israel’s gospel, experienced in YHWH’s deliverance from the slavery of Egypt, and then to conclude with brief reflections on the significance of our findings for understanding the relationship between the gospel according to Moses and the gospel proclaimed by New Testament apostles.” (Pages 150–151)
“For the Christian scholar and pastor, a far more preferable approach in historical matters is to emphasize ‘probability’ as opposed to ‘proof.’” (Page 30)
“Old Testament scholars, who prioritize an Old Testament passage’s original context to such an extent that it is by no means clear if and how a given Old Testament text might bear witness to Christ and address the church.” (Page 17)
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