Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thesis Three

Thesis Three: Faithful interpretation of Scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New. — The Scripture Project, “Nine Theses on the Interpretation of Scripture”

I am falling behind on lots of stuff lately. There are just too many... things to work into every day. Too many people, places and things. I am pretty proud of myself for setting some sensible boundaries at church (Item: I need one evening a week free for Petra. At the very LEAST.) I invited the congregation to read the psalms with me this month (in my sermon of September 30). So what was I doing this afternoon at about 3:15? Sitting in a car, waiting for Petra while she took her flute lesson, catching up on, oh, about 25 psalms. Yeah.

So blogging these theses... I'm on thesis three, all other Presbyterians in the world are on thesis 6. We will all live through this disequilibrium in the universe, I'm sure.

Faithful engagement with scripture requires engagement of the whole narrative. I agree with this thesis, as a Christian. Many (though not all) the writings of the New Testament presuppose a knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures. Reading Matthew or Luke without that knowledge would be possible (we Christians do it all the time). But it would be an impoverished reading. To know that Luke's Magnificat is echoing Hannah's song from 1 Samuel is to open a whole dimension in the text that is otherwise missing. Mary is not the first woman to have a miracle child! To understand that Matthew is quoting Isaiah (misquoting him: in Isaiah it's a "young woman " who will conceive) opens up fresh understandings of the nature of Jesus' advent.

But I have to allow Jews the right to disagree with this thesis. God made a covenant with Israel that is irrevocable, which God still honors (why would God not honor it?). Jews are used to having Christians push and pull their scriptures in ways that are nearly incomprehensible to them. Why should they have to take Christian scriptures into account in order to understand God's good revelation to them?

As a Christian I read the story of creation in Genesis 1 and I see glimmers of a Trinity. But I realize that is offensive to Jews, who may well consider it polytheism. So I accept this statement for Christians, while I reject it on behalf of my Jewish brothers and sisters. I believe God's revelation to them stands without need of Christian correction.


Wyldth1ng said...

So Matthew wrong all the time and Isaiah has been misquoted. The Old book was rewritten for Christians since the Jews don't believe in the trinity? That is was I got out of that.
Personally I am a big fan of the whole Wrath of God thing anyway.

Magdalene6127 said...

I wouldn't say Matthew is wrong all the time. I would say that his misquoting of Isaiah has resulted in a fairly significant piece of theology (the virgin birth).

There are people for whom I would like to see the Wrath of God happen. Whoever lost the church register comes to mind...