10 February 2011

What did Jesus (not) say about... how to understand the OT

by Dan Phillips

"You know where you really go wrong? You just read the Torah 'way too literally."

Dan Phillips's signature

70 comments:

Ma ~ said...

Love it!

Tom Chantry said...

Fascinating one. Jesus encouraged us to recognize the spirit of the law, not only its letter. It's amazing how many will twist the spirit/letter distinction as a way of escaping the particulars of God's demands. It doesn't really work if you try to use the teaching of Jesus on the law: "Well, yes, I killed that man, but I didn't hate him! I was following the spirit of the law rather than the letter..." No, we are to interpret God's words no less literally, but much more thoroughly.

greglong said...

Or the Nevi'im, or the Ketuvim...

blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents said...

Well said.

We do well to remember that the Old Testament was all the Bible that Jesus and His apostles ever needed or used.

Frank Turk said...

Can I object to the last comment?

Paul plainly quotes Luke to Timothy as Scripture. (cf. 1 Tim 5) Moreover, Paul himself wrote a lot of Scripture according to Peter (cf. 2Pet 3).

When we say something like what this last commenter said, we make the NT "bonus material" when in fact it is the full and final revelation of God and Christ. I worry about people who think that the writings of the Apostles had not use in the first century.

Frank Turk said...

That doesn't in any way mitigate Dan's point here, btw. Making the OT into a fairy story is not a virtue.

DJP said...

Thanks for that, Frank.

I actually have in mind another in this series intended to address that very point.

blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents said...

@Frank Turk

I was in no way disparaging the NT. Without it, we would not know how to properly understand the OT. However, you are needlessly overstanding the case to imply that 1 Tim 5 and 2 Pet 3 indicate that the apostles were quoting each other as freely and as authoritatively as they were the OT.

Please don't inavertently pull the punch of your colleague's post.

Everyday Mommy said...

Frank --

Why do you find it necessary to insult the readers?

A simple comment noting that Paul plainly quotes Luke to Timothy as Scripture. (cf. 1 Tim 5) Moreover, Paul himself wrote a lot of Scripture according to Peter (cf. 2Pet 3) was sufficient.

Why did you find it necessary to add, "I worry about people who think that the writings of the Apostles had not use in the first century?"

Tom Chantry said...

OK, deep breath everbody. The post was about what Jesus not say. It is true that the only Bible Jesus used in His earthly ministry was the Old Testament. Recognition that the canon grew throughout the apostolic era doesn't "take the punch" out of this text. I assumed that Dan's point was that we should not do with the entire Scripture what Jesus never did with the Scripture available in His ministry.

DJP said...

< puts one finger on nose, points at Tom with other >

Tom Chantry said...

EM - here's an insult for you: your schtick is getting old fast. Frank insulted no one. He said that a certain view of the New Testament is worrisome and that those who hold it are worth worrying over. I didn't see him say, "I worry about you." Rather he objected to a problematic formulation.

You, on the other hand, show up on a daily basis for what appears to be to take issue with whatever Frank says. We all get it; you don't like Frank Turk. Take it somewhere else. (Maybe you could write an open letter to him on your own blog.)

DJP said...

< again >

Tom Chantry said...

And now Dan thinks I stink. Now that's an insult!

/professional-offense-taker

DJP said...

< slaps forehead, buries same in hands >

David Regier said...

What has become very evident in the last 150 years or so is that when we reject the literal, we lose all of the symbolic, the typological and the spiritual as well.

One of the central points of the incarnation is that matter matters.

Everyday Mommy said...

Pastor Chantry:

Would you do me a favor and contact me via email please?

Thank you.

everydaymommy @ gmail dot com

Tom Chantry said...

EM,

NO.

An email contact form is readily available at my church website, the top link in my blog. If you feel the need to write to me, you are welcome to do so.

But what makes you think you can come into a public forum, take needless offense at everything that one of its hosts says, and then duck behind the "email me in private" dodge whenever anyone disagrees.

Your comments to Frank are very public, so I think it's reasonable to ask you, do you have any reason for coming to this blog other than to police Frank's comments and to publicly rebuke him whenever you think it's necessary? If you do, it is not evident from your conversation here.

Everyday Mommy said...

Pastor Chantry:

Thank you. I'll contact you via email.

EM

VcdeChagn said...

What has become very evident in the last 150 years or so is that when we reject the literal, we lose all of the symbolic, the typological and the spiritual as well.

Exactly. I was accused in a comment thread (trashing Israel and Dispensationalism) that I was "natural minded" and not "Spiritually minded."

Luke Olson said...

Looks like Chantry just got called to the principles office...

ps - lest this comment get deleted for not actually contributing anything but snarky-ness...

Turk's point is well-aimed. BFTLJCE's point was well-intended. Boom, roasted. See how easy that was? I'm not even a licensed conflict resolution counselor!

MST said...

Another great post Dan.

I hope I don't end up having to post that link to online reading comprehension courses again.

Daryl said...

Great post.

Great comments Frank & Tom.

This is a test comment, my last one of two didn't go...

Everyday Mommy said...

My apologies, Pastor Chantry. The contact form does not seem to be working at the moment.

Is there another way in which I may contact you?

EM

Daryl said...

There we go...


Jesus comment to the Pharisees, that they ought to observe the weightier matters of the law, in addition to the minutia like tithing mint and cumin, applies here as well.

As I heard a speaker somewhere, somewhen, say...the Pharisees had constructed a whole system of laws in order to allow themselves to be the holiest of the holy, without having to struggle with the very real inconveniences of God's law.

And don't we do that too...?

Yup.

Frank Turk said...

I nominate Chantry for full Pyro team member status.

Tom Chantry said...

tj1689 @ crbc dot us

Sorry, our website is having difficulties. I'll listen, but don't expect me to carry on in private a conversation you started in public.

Tom Chantry said...

Frank,

You're too kind, or maybe not. Who really needs that headache?

Frank Turk said...

I'm looking for headache relief, brother. SOmeone to share the load.

Robert said...

Jesus used the fact that the Torah is to be taken literally to correct the Sadducees in Matthew 23-32. The Sadducees thought that only the Torah was legitimate Scripture to begin with...so that is what he used. They did not believe in the resurrection and He cited Scripture from Exodus where God told Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that since He is not the God of the dead, but of the living that this means that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have to be alive.

And this shows that the Torah is to be taken literally. that includes a talking snake, a talking donkey, the flood and the ark, the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River, and the miracles performed in Egypt to deliver Israel from Egypt and unltimately display the glory of God so that He would be glorified. Of course man, in his infinite wisdom, has decided that the only glory that can be accepted is that which he can comprehend and himself attain to. This is why we have theistic evolution, "churches" accepting unrepentant gay members and clergy, and diovorce rates as high in the "church" as in the rest of the world.

People throw out God's standard because it is too difficult instead of coming humbly to Him and accepting the work of Jesus, and then accepting Him as their Lord. And that is the real problem...many people don't want anybody else to be the boss of them. It is only by God's grace that any of us do submit to His Lorship...and quite imperfectly at that. We must stand firm in stating the truth and submitting to Jesus as Lord so that we do not give any creedance to the liberal theology that is running rampant in the world.

Doug Hibbard said...

I'm thinking of the arguments that would attempt to counter this, but none of them hold any water.

I do think He might have told them they took their add-ons to the Torah way too seriously, but that's another discussion.

Doug

DJP said...

Exactly right, exactly right, and exactly right, respectively.

Strong Tower said...

We do well to remember that the Old Testament was all the Bible that Jesus and His apostles ever needed or used.

And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.

You know where you really go wrong? You just don't read the Bible liberally enough.

Literal: real; not going beyond the actual facts; accurate; unvarnished... given DJP's Scripture reference, Jesus' words not can be summed, "Yo slitherers, you need to bring all the Scriptural guns to bear."

We need also to consider the, "But I say's," where the intended meaning is that Jesus' very authority in speech was Scripture.

Therefore a liberal: large or plentiful; ample; abundant, most full reading, is required. Thus we see that not only did Peter commend Paul's writing as 1st Century Scripture, Paul insisted that his letters be taught and adhered to as the same. At the same time their writings and sayings didn't leave out the fullest consideration, or contradict a jot or tittle of the OT, just as their Master had taught them.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Jesus obviously knew that the Book of Jonah was didactic fiction. He said that somewhere, right?

DJP said...

It's in the special white-letter edition of the Gospels.

Eric said...

Dan,

Very nicely made point.

I think this point is especially instructive as we consider the teachings of those who might (and often do) describe themselves as "Christ followers" as opposed to Christians in some attempt to co-opt Jesus' teachings. Did Jesus read, interpret, and apply the Old Testament as a "community library" where the true meaning is not what is clearly apparent but is rather understood correctly only in the context of mutual musings?

sonofthunder7 said...

Excellent. Brings to mind a certain CNN religious article that got posted recently...pretty much is the textbook article on how to interpret/warp/totally destroy Scripture according to one's own idea of "how things should be".

Tom Chantry said...

Frank,

I guess I can understand. After all, we did send you some of our Wisconsin weather.

Scooter said...

Dan: It's in the special white-letter edition of the Gospels.

Wait, I've heard of that one. It's the God Whispered In My Prayer Exclusive Rendition, or God WIMPER for short.

This is from complete curiosity on my part. Do you plan to a WDJ(N)S to address the rather popular view of using the OT as some sort of principles for a successful life?

ANiMaL said...

DJP - "It's in the special white-letter edition of the Gospels." I'll be smiling all day at that.

blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents said...

@Strong Tower,

You're overreacting to my comments as Frank Turk did.

I fully accept the writings of the apostles (that is, the NT) as the word of God - to the full and same degree that I accept the writings of the prophets (that is, the OT) just as Jesus did.

However, for you to go farther than that and imply that the NT was quoted in the NT as frequently and in the same way as the OT is unnecessary...and inaccurate.

Strong Tower said...

Did not.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Dan,

Was it you, or someone else that said something like, "Once you accept Genesis 1:1, all the rest is perfectly logical."

(My apologies to the source. I'm surely mangling the quote.)

But isn't that what it comes down to?

We either have an omnipotent, (omniscient, omnipresent) God or we don't. We either believe Him or we don't And once you start down that slippery slope...

Well, you end up outsmarting yourself.

Better to simply believe God's Word, yah? Psalm 116:6

Julie

DJP said...

It was me, but I believe I was quoting S. Lewis Johnson... and I think he was quoting someone!

akatakritos said...

Blogforthelord
What you said, emphasis added:

We do well to remember that the Old Testament was ALL the Bible that Jesus and HIS APOSTLES ever needed or USED.

You made sweeping generalizations and Frank called you out. Be clearer next time.

Frank Turk said...

Let's just leave "blogforthelord" alone, shall we? Maybe he overstated his case, and I just said what I said which came across as too much, and that's it. case closed.

Next.

David Regier said...

DJP & Frank:

You're . . . you're . . . you're . . . perspicuous!

Said in a Daffy Duck voice as to Bugs Bunny.

Dave said...

Let's base our thinking upon "science", after all the bible was written by men - not divine fiat. God couldn't have created in 6 literal, 24-hour days and that story about Adam and Eve.... With this as a starting point can it get any better?

lee n. field said...

"What did Jesus not say about how to understand the Old Testament?"

"What did Jesus not say about how to understand the Torah?"

Two different questions.

He did not say, "That Elijah guy that Malachi warned you was coming. It ain't him until he comes with Elijah's face and name."

He did not say, "Jots and tittles, they're so hard to keep track of. No biggie."

DJP said...

What?

Rachael Starke said...

I third the "Tom Chantry to join the Knights of the IgNoble Order of Pyro" nomination.

And don't read David Regier's last comment if you want to keep your laptop screen spit-free. :)

Oh, and also, great thought Dan. I look forward to the full piece.

thenface2face said...

Lest anyone think I am Everday Mommy just posting under another screen name I completely disagree that Frank was insulting.

I can read a text. I note that Frank first asked permission to disagree. And I agree with another commenter who said that his disapprobation was not personal but only at the categories of persons who would not believe that the Apostle's writings weren't widely used in the first century.

Mr. Turk's manners were faultless here. But I refuse to be the manners police here, that would be too exhausting--and I assume you have the Holy Spirit to guide you.

I just wanted to clear up any misapprehensions.

Karen Butler

donsands said...

"Jesus said, "I have come to do away with the law, and fulfill it."

"But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

I love this verse. It's one of my all time favorite saysing of our Lord. I don't know why totally, but it is.

Doug Hibbard said...

donsands,

That's one of the oft-misquoted verses in my family....'Man shall not live by bread alone, but must add peanut butter.'

Of course, that's just nonsense Scripturally, but still...

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Doug,

We're coming for lunch.

If we're ever in the south.

Stefan said...

Jesus Christ and the Old Testament is totally my schtick. I want to say something deep and profound, but I'm coming up empty.

There is Matthew 5:17-20, which lays the Law on quite heavily: "...Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (verse 19).

And then there are His words to the disciples in the road to Emmaus: "...Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled....that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name...." (Luke 24:44b, 46b-47a)

***

Regarding whether the Old Testament was the only Scripture the Apostles had, well, no, that is an overstatement...but the Hebrew Scriptures is the closest thing they had to what was for them at the time a complete canon—especially in the form of the Septuagint (although that encompasses more than what has come down to us as the 39 books of the English OT).

Although Peter refers to Paul and Paul quotes Luke, it is the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings that Jesus refers to several times in His preaching. And I suspect (though I cannot know for sure) that when Paul writes that "from childhood [Timothy has] been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus," he was likely referring to the Old Testament.

Stefan said...

By the way, Matthew 5:17-20 leaves me completely undone. I'm a condemned man, unless I repent and rest in the blood of Jesus Christ, paid for at the price of His suffering God's wrath for my sins!

Stefan said...

Oh, man. I'm having one of those moments. The more I think about the very Scripture I just quoted...and the more I think about the words of Jesus that Dan linked to in his post...how do I go about day after day taking God's grace so blithely, living in my heart as if the New Covenant has no antecedent in the Old Covenant, even as I say with my tongue that it does?

These words bring us face to face with the words of the Living God, and my eyes and ears are starting to burn. Somehow, Jesus Christ's words condemn me in a way I haven't felt before.

Sonja said...

I've missed these Dan, thanks for another. :)

The tags caught my attention and I want to again thank Team Pyro for showing me my error in not being at all settled on literal 6-days of creation. I truly didn't think it mattered one way or the other. I was not reading literally and if I did that beginning with Gen. 1, what ever will I do with the rest of God's revelation? The posts here were of immense help in many ways.

Doug Hibbard said...

Julie (Herding Grasshoppers)

If we ever come northwest, we'll deliver. We need to come to Washington and Montana to meet you and the Squirrel.

Towards the topic: "Jesus was all about love, not about law, man."

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that, especially from people I went to college with and studied Scripture with, my tithe would be a huge blessing.

DJP said...

You saw this one, Doug?

The Squirrel said...

Doug Hibbard said...

"We need to come to Washington and Montana to meet you and the Squirrel."

Why, yes. That is an excellent idea. Might I suggest summer, though...

Squirrel

Doug Hibbard said...

DJP--

I missed that one and its discussion. I certainly agree with it and wish I could force-feed it (not Star Wars Force-feed, just force-feed) to my compatriots.

Noodle-headed does not equal spiritual.

Doug

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Pastor Tom Chantry: "EM - here's an insult for you: your schtick is getting old fast. Frank insulted no one. He said that a certain view of the New Testament is worrisome and that those who hold it are worth worrying over. I didn't see him say, "I worry about you." Rather he objected to a problematic formulation.

You, on the other hand, show up on a daily basis for what appears to be to take issue with whatever Frank says. We all get it; you don't like Frank Turk. Take it somewhere else. (Maybe you could write an open letter to him on your own blog.)"


Pastor Tom Chantry, I understand why you admonished Everyday Mommy for mistakenly thinking that Frank Turk was insulting someone.

But I'm unclear as to the pastoral wisdom in you deciding to insult Everyday Mommy in return.

Could you please explain?

Thanks.

Tom Chantry said...

TUAD,

Thanks for asking.

I assume that what you find insulting was the first line of my message. I wrote it badly, as I realized later in the day. I meant to communicate something along the lines of, "If you found Frank's innocuous comment insulting, I imagine you'll find this so also..." My comments tend to be overly wordy, and my attempt to shorten that sentiment to a mere five words came across as though I were saying, "Listen up, because I want to insult you now." Poorly worded opening. As for the rest of what I said, I do not think it was insulting at all.

Everyday Mommy may or may not have found it so; I don't know because she never said so and didn't want to discuss it further.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for your answer Pastor Chantry. It explains what was initially puzzling much more clearly now.

CGrim said...

fwiw, I didn't think Frank's comment was insulting in the least. Maybe in other comments in the past (I've certainly been guilty of the same), but not here.

I, too, genuinely worry (not snarkily worry, but genuinely) about people who say, "the Old Testament was all the Bible that Jesus and His apostles ever needed or used." I appreciate the sentiment, but it's simply not true, and can lead - as Frank pointed out - to the notion that the NT isn't as fundamental as the OT, or that it was inspired differently than the OT.

I also take issue with red-letter Bibles that imply that some words in Scripture (the words of Jesus) are somehow more important than the rest of the Spirit-authored text.

Dave said...

CG - Don't forget the green letter edition as well.

CGrim said...

Indeed. Or the White-letter edition.

Or the Red-White-and-Blue-letter edition. (The one that highlights all prophecies relating to the United States - I have no idea if such a Bible exists, but part of me suspects it probably does.)

blogforthelordjesuscurrentevents said...

The insult-or-not issue is behind us.

As to the issue of the post, however, and now the most recent comment of CGrim, I feel compelled to add a few words since the thrust of my initial comment continues to be rejected - at least by those who've commented on it.

I can see how my initial comment, in its limited context, could be misunderstood. However, my dissenters are very concerned about potential denigration of the NT but seem unconcerned about potential denigration of the OT which was the thrust of my comment - and of the original post.

The two testaments are a wonder to behold in their unity and interdependency. To exalt one over the other is to miss this unity and interdependency. However, to insist that the apostles used a Bible that had each other's documents in it is to contradict the NT itself. Yes, we can see the clear signs that a NT canon would eventually form and take its rightful place alongside the OT. But that's different from saying that whenever an apostle rolled into town he told the folks at the synagogue to open their Tanakh scrolls to 2 Corinthians. Or that Jesus ever referred to ANY scriptures other than the OT.

There are more nuances to this issue than can be covered here. I'll trust that you know what they are, just I hope you'll trust that I do. But I wanted to highlight what is a great concern: that many evangelical Christians today largely disregard the OT and, as a result, don't understand the NT as well as they should. I thought that was communicated in the original post and it's why I sought to punctuate it.

I hereby rest my case on this post; so, naysayers, be advised that you have the floor without fear of further contention from me. I just wanted to make clear that, from my perspective, the dissent has been off the mark.