Treating the Old Testament Like An Ugly Tie
Modern Christians are now almost entirely non-Jewish in background. This creates a strong tendency to see in Jesus’ interaction with the Judaisms of his day a critique of the content of their scriptures rather than an argument over scripture’s true governing center. This critical attitude of Jesus is then identified with the New Testament as such. This Second Testament becomes the developmental culmination of and correction of the Old Testament, its religion, its ethic, its God. In other words, what began as a struggle between differing sorts of Jews over what constitutes the governing heart of the only scriptures they know has become for a church now Gentile a warrant for reading two Testaments developmentally and indpendently.
But the most serious problem involves the Christian understanding of God himself. It is not just that the Old Testament has become someone else’s religion en route to Christianity; rather, a criticism of Jewish appropriation of the scriptures, made by one within their own frame of reference, has become a criticism of God himself as depicted there, to be pitted against ‘the God revealed in Christ.’ The results are striking. We have a New Testament focused on Jesus but not on God, a Jesus who reveals a new religion if not a new divinity, and an Old Testament with only historical, descriptive, or background–but not theological or normative or abiding–contours. Instead of being a correlative expression, ‘He is risen’ replaces ‘the God of Israel raised him from the dead.’ Jesus relates not to the God of the scriptures, with an identity provided there, but to a private God, known somehow else. And so Christians struggle at present to give this God a name: Godself, Creator, Mother/Father, Mother. Ironically, what became an unutterable name in Israel out of reverence has become unutterable in the New Israel because the One who raised Jesus from the dead no longer seems to be riveted to the scriptures the church inherited as a gift. The gift has proven awkward: a bad tie from a close relative at Christmas.” (Christopher R. Seitz,Word Without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness, 4-5)
Don’t fall into this trap. Read the Old Testament, and read it as Scripture.