October 25, 2016
Many Christians function with half a Bible. When we feel troubled we may go to the Psalms, or when we need an exciting story to keep children entertained we may go to Daniel or Jonah. But that may be about it. We say the whole Bible is authoritative and inspired by God, but sadly the Old Testament remains largely a closed book.
Yet we cannot understand God or the New Testament fully without understanding the Old Testament. We can certainly read the gospels and letters, learn from them, enjoy them and benefit from them on their own. But if we read them through the lens of the Old Testament, we find richer, deeper layers of meaning--and hard to understand passages often become clear.
The reason is that the New Testament writers were saturated with the images, stories, motifs and themes of the Old. It's the world they lived in. So if we want to understand how they thought, we need to know what filled their minds and hearts.
Richard B. Hays opens up the importance of this in Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels. He shows in multiple examples how each of the four gospels writers made profound use of the Old Testament to explain who Jesus was and what he did. This was not only through direct quotation or reference, but by using associations, symbols, metaphors and narrative patterns from what John Goldingay calls the First Testament.
Each gospel writer has a distinct approach to his use of Israel's Scripture which creates a rich theological polyphony for those ready to hear it. Mark uses indirect references to paint a picture of the mystery of the kingdom. Matthew is much more explicit about how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, with Jesus reconfiguring "both Israel and Torah by carrying forward Israel's story" (p. 351). Luke lies between Mark and Matthew regarding Jesus' link to the Old Testament. He emphasizes promise and fulfillment, demonstrating God's faithfulness which leads to joy for the community of believers. While John is much more selective in his use of Old Testament quotations and images, he goes deeply into them, including the feasts, signs, Logos and shepherd.
This book expands on much of the excellent material found in Hays's earlier and briefer volume Reading Backwards (see here). Both books are immensely helpful guides to reading the New Testament through Old Testament eyes.
Next: Through Old Testament Eyes 2: Misreading Jesus' Trial
October 18, 2016
Henry Kissinger (now age 92) has been a prominent international figure since I was in high school when he became Nixon's National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State. He seemed to me to be an urbane realist then and an elder statesman now. By looking deeply at Kissinger's early writings and the record of his actions as filled out by declassified top secret documents from previous decades, historian Greg Grandin offers a very different picture in Kissinger's Shadow.Continue reading "Kissinger's Shadow"
September 15, 2016
I hate "the Creative Class."
I don't hate creative people. I love them and find them very stimulating. I am always interested in new ideas, new ways of doing things. I am fascinated and delighted when people come up with really good solutions or show artistic talent.
What I hate is the term the Creative Class. Why?Continue reading "I Hate "the Creative Class" "
September 8, 2016
"Give someone a book, they'll read for a day. Teach someone how to write a book, they'll experience a lifetime of paralyzing self doubt," Lauren DeStefano tells us.
The psychological, spiritual, emotional pitfalls of writing a book are so numerous and varied it is amazing a word is ever written. And if you do finish and publish, you face a whole new set of issues instigated in equal measure by success and failure, by praise and criticism.Continue reading "The Pitfalls of Praise and Criticism"
August 23, 2016
Eric Larson achieves the drama and suspense of a political thriller in his book on the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. This is a remarkable achievement because everyone knows how it ends before they start--a German U-boat sinks the ship. How was he able to do this? When I read the acknowledgments at the end of Dead Wake, I found out. He listened to his editor.Continue reading "How Did He Make It So Suspenseful?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:06 AM
August 16, 2016
Throughout my life I have attended worship services in a variety of traditions, but they tended to have one thing in common--they began with praise to God and then moved to confession. This is an appropriate model to follow with much merit. When we see how holy and good God is, we see more clearly by contrast that we are not, and so we confess.Continue reading "Prophetic Lament"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:15 AM