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April 01, 2005


Just Me

I'm not disagreeing, just asking the question: Why not interpret the ending of the play in light of the beginning? Or at the very least as an integrated whole?


I think you can do that. The point that Wright is making is that things are fundamentally different after Christ. He cites Galatians 3, for example. We can't just expect to apply the Old Testament as if we are pre-Messiah Israelites. Unfortunately, it seems like people tend to pick and choose what they want to make authoritative about the OT without really having a good explanation of why.

Bob Robinson

How does this play into the whole idea that the Church is the "New Israel," and that the OT message for that "People of God" is indeed the message for the new "People of God?"

I see more CONTINUITY than DISCONTINUITY between the Testaments.


Bob, I've been wrestling with that. I want to say the same thing as you and yet I can see the way people randomly choose things they want to make authoritative about the OT (while ignoring other parts).

Here are some of the discontinuities that N.T. mentions:

"We do not have a temple, we do not have sacrifices—at least, not in the old Jewish sense of either of those. Both are translated into new meanings in the New Testament. We do not have kosher laws. We do not require that our male children be circumcised if they are to be part of the people of God. We do not keep the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. Those were the boundary markers which the Old Testament laid down for the time when the people of God was one nation, one geographical entity, with one racial and cultural identity. Now that the gospel has gone worldwide we thank God that he prepared the way like that; but it is the New Testament now which is the charter for the church."

What I don't like is how people make it sound like everything Jesus (and Paul) said was brand new...as if the Jews hadn't been told tons of times that they were supposed to be circumcised in their HEARTS, for example.


I am preaching and posting on N.T. Wright. If my sermon goes well, I will post it. On this idea, I think the theme of exile and return and the king who will lead them to victory and not exile is a huge theme in NT proclamation SO..you must understand the OT to understant this theme.


I don't think Wright is saying that the OT should be discarded or isn't authoritative - I think the quote Bill posted shows nicely where it seems that he is going with his thoughts. I think the play motif is wonderful for displaying this - the farther away in the play you get from a certain act, the less impact the act has on the current action. However, there are still key themes or events from that act that are directional and so cast the rest of the play in a particular way. In other words, in Act 5 we would be interacting far more with the events of Act 4, while recognizing that Act 3 casts its influence down through Act 4 to the current act, primarily in the way that it shaped Act 4 but also in that it sent the plot in a particular direction.

I don't know if I'm saying this right.

Bob Robinson

Yes, Scott and Bill.
I see this as what Evangelical scholars for decades have been calling the "History of Redemption."

Continuity in that OT Israel is fulflled in Christ, along with all the ceremonies, etc. The Church is the fulfillment of the promises of Israel (ie, those, according to the NT, are in Christ) to bless all nations.

Discontinuity in that the NT is the New Covenant of renewal through the Resurrection of Christ. And since it is a New Covenant, ceremonies and cultic rituals are no longer needed.

The key (which Wright is definitely saying, I'm just reiterating it for my own benefit) is that (as Bill said) our faith is not only understood from the NEW Testament, but from the continuing story of redemption that started in the OLD Testament.

--It would not due to come into the theater somwhere in the middle of the play and think you understand what's going on.


Good thoughts. I like Dr. Wright's model because it allows for a changing world and a continuing story without saying that we would "write" something contradictory to what we have been given in scripture.

Of course, the challenge is to discern what's contraditctory and what's not. Many of us think it is not contradictory to allow for women to be pastors, for example. The burden, in such cases, is to show how such a practice makes sense in light of Acts 1-4 and the 1st scene of Act 5.


I think you're exactly right Bill - that is the trick. We've been doing it for hundreds of years, in fact, sometimes well and sometimes poorly. I think your earlier comments on slavery and the Bible was a great illustration of that. Another example that I use frequently is circumcision - clearly it plays a much different role in society today, even though it remains a common practice for newborn boys at least in America. But nobody reads Paul's comments related to it in the western cultural context in which we find ourselves, and anybody who might try would simply be laughed at, I think. So how do we determine what should shape Act 5 and what should not? It's not simple enough to just say that we just do what the Bible says, because clearly that is exactly what we don't do. There's always negotiation.

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