hebrew_text.jpg After reading Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, I started into Ed Cyzewski’s Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. Both books speak of an approach to scripture that attempts to bridge the gap between the culture in which the culture in which each book of the Bible was written and that of today into which it still speaks. As I reflected today on the nature of scripture an how it interacts with itself, I remembered the view of one Rabbi. The Hebrew Bible (what we refer to as the Old Testament) is divided into three parts — the Law (Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Jewish view is basically that the prophets and writings act as commentary on the Law (the Pentateuch), explaining how to understand it.

I’ve written before on the interaction of the New Testament with the Old Testament, and I began to consider another possibility that follows the Jewish tradition of setting the later sections of scripture essentially as commentary on Torah. This is what emerges:

Scripture / Essential Message

Torah Live this way

It all comes back to Torah: these are the oldest portions of scripture, and everything builds on this. Here we find the moral code and the basis for loving God and loving others — how we relate to God and how we treat others, neighbours or strangers.

Prophets You’re not living this way

The Prophets essentially don’t bring new knowledge, but come come along say, “What was it about what God said that you didn’t understand?” The judgments are the result of not living according to Torah, while the promise of blessing is the anticipated result of living by Torah.

Writings It’s good to live this way

The poetry and wisdom writings are filled with this message, about the virtues of the law and wisdom.

New Testament How to live this way in a different time and culture

We see Jesus explaining the Torah in new ways to reveal what God’s intention was and how it could be contextualized for the first century Greco-Roman world.

We tend to forget that the time from the writing of Genesis to the writing of the New Testament is significantly greater than the time from the first century to today. With that understanding, the New Testament itself presents a sound example of how to contextualize the Old Testament writings into a newer time and culture.

I’m just thinking out loud here, not presenting a fully developed thesis… but it’s open for discussion.

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