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1' History of Old Testament Theology


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Title: 1' History of Old Testament Theology

1. History of Old Testament Theology
  • APTS BIB566/THE566

1.1 Introduction
1.1.1 Difficulties in Approaching O.T. Studies
  • Historical barriers
  • Literary barriers
  • Theological / Hermeneutical barriers
  • General unfamiliarity with the O.T.
  • Scholarly barriers
  • Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology.

Further Difficulties
  • Pluralism Pluralformity
  • Historical Critical Issues the Historiography
  • Sect / Denominational Issues
  • General presuppositions when approaching the O.T.

The Bible as a Problem for Christianity
  • "If the equation is made between the biblical
    representation of Yahweh and the God of creeds of
    theology, then major problems arise. It is the
    theological appropriation of the Bible, or,
    alternatively, the invasion of religion by
    philosophy (which produces theology in the first
    place), which constitutes the problem, and which
    makes the Bible such an uneasy object in the
    temple of theology." Robert P. Carroll

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • The Old Testament itself
  • Intra-Testamental Michael A. Fishbane, Biblical
    Interpretation in Ancient Israel, 1985.

Inner-Biblical Exegesis
  • Michael Fishbane has argued that the first steps
    toward exegesis begins in the Scriptures
  • "The Hebrew Bible (HB) is thus a thick texture of
    traditions received and produced over many
    generations. In the process, a complex dynamic
    between tradition (traditum) and transmission
    (traditio) developed since every act of
    traditio selected, revised, and reconstituted the
    overall traditum. To be sure, the contrast
    between authoritative traditum and ongoing
    traditio is most clear at the close of ancient
    Israelite literature."

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • Version Analysis LXX, Qumran, Samaritan
    Pent., MT, etc.
  • N.B. Brevard Childs chooses the MT via a
    Reformation bias.
  • However each textual trajectory has its own
    theological commitments.

Versional Analysis
  • The Era of Pluriformity
  • The period 250 BCE 100 CE was an era when the
    Scriptures were pluriform.
  • The "proto-Masoretic," "proto-Samaritan
    Pentateuch," Old Greek with its Hebrew Vorlage,
    the Greek translational emendations, Targumic
    beginnings, rewritten Bibles, possibly sectarian
    versions (?)?
  • Some OT scholars have argued that the "all/every"
    scripture of 2 Timothy 3.16 referred to the
    pluriform state of the Scriptures.

Versional Analysis
  • Different Approaches to the so-called Canon
  • Qumran Community
  • Pharisees
  • Sadducees Samaritans
  • Septuagint with what F. F. Bruce called the
    Septuagint Plus
  • What was the role of the Rewritten Bibles?

  • "The problem of the historical and theological
    relation of Old Testament and New Testament is,
    to a large extent, understood as the relation
    between the Biblia Hebraica and the Novum
    Testamentum Graece. It is symptomatic that in
    academic education, the Hebrew original text of
    the Old Testament receives a lot of attention in
    contrast to the Septuagint, the Greek translation
    produced in the Egyptian Alexandria. But during
    the process of translation a certain shift
    occurred toward Hellenistic thinking Based on
    this translation, a considerable Hellenizing of
    the Old Testament cannot be denied, even if the
    extent may be debatable. In the Septuagint the
    spiritual attitude of Hellenistic Judaism in the
    diaspora is expressed one may refer to its
    greater emphasis on universalism." Hübner

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • New Testament
  • "For the New Testament authors the Scripture of
    Israel was not the Old Testament. The correct
    formulation can only be the New Testament
    authors were theologically dealing with the
    Scripture of Israel which for them exclusively
    was holy Scripture and, thus, the literal word of
    God announcing Christ by divine authority."

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Doing Old Testament
Theology Today
  • 1. "First, one must remember that, compared to
    the OT, the NT has a narrower focus. It is does
    not set aside, revise, or update the OT rather,
    its primary preoccupation is to interpret the
    significance of the Christ-event and to set up
    the fledgling Christian church on a solid
    footing. . . . the point is that the NT does not
    see itself as replacement of the OT, so that
    latter retains full authority for Christians."

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Doing Old Testament
Theology Today
  • 2. "Second, however, a well-intentioned desire to
    retain the value of the OT and the unity of the
    testaments should not blind one to the glaring
    differences between them. That is, besides
    fulfilling the OT, the NT goes beyond it."
  • 3. "Most important, Jesus does more that simply
    fulfil OT prophetic hopes - He actually exceeds
    their expectations by radically reforming
    Israels religion and by inaugurating a new era
    of Gods dealings with humanity."

Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Doing Old Testament
Theology Today
  • 4. "Fourth, the principle of analogy is the key
    link that unites the testaments. In other words,
    both share analogous concepts with each other-
    e.g., a self-revealing creator-God, a people of
    God, gifts given to them by God, concepts of
    salvation, etc."
  • 5. Fifth and finally, one must define how Jesus
    Christ relates to the OT since He is the heart of
    the NT. Obviously, Christians regard Him as the
    fulfilment of some OT theological ideas. . . . On
    the other hand, Christ provides a new, final
    interpretive key for the Bible. Christians view
    everything within the Bible from the point of
    view of Christ."

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • Early church fathers, medieval
    interpreters and leaders of the Reformation John
    Calvin and Martin Luther, etc.
  • David C. Steinmetz Precritical Exegesis
  • Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old
    and New Testaments Theological Reflections on
    the Christian Bible, 30-51.

Steinmetz Theology Exegesis
  • 1. The meaning of a biblical text is not
    exhausted by the original intension of the
  • 2. The most primitive layer of biblical tradition
    is not necessarily the most authoritative.
  • 3. The importance of the Old Testament for the
    church is predicated upon the continuity of the
    people of God in history, a continuity which
    persists in spite of discontinuity between Israel
    the the church.

Steinmetz Theology Exegesis
  • 4. The Old Testament is the hermeneutical key
    which unlocks the meaning of the New Testament
    and apart from which it will be misunderstood.
  • 5. The church and not human experience as such is
    the middle term between the Christian interpreter
    and the biblical text.
  • 6. The gospel and not the law is the central
    message of the biblical text.
  • 7. One cannot lose the tension between the the
    gospel and the law without losing both law and

Steinmetz Theology Exegesis
  • 8. The church which is restricted in its
    preaching to the original intention of the author
    is a church which must reject the Old Testament
    as an exclusively Jewish book.
  • 9. The church which is restricted in its
    preaching to the most primitive layer of biblical
    tradition as the most authoritative is a church
    which can no longer preach from the New
  • 10. Knowledge of the exegetical tradition of the
    church is an indispensable aid for the
    interpretation of Scripture.

Precritical Movement
  • Four Fundamental Assumptions Governing the
    Difference Between the Precritical versus the
    Historical-critical Exegesis
  • 1. "First, unlike the historical-critical
    exegesis of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and
    twentieth centuries, the older exegesis (whether
    of the patristic, medieval, or Reformation eras)
    understood the historia that is, the story that
    the text is properly understood to recount to
    be resident in the text and not under or behind
    it. In other words, the "story" is identified
    with the literal or grammatical sense."

Precritical Movement
  • 2. "Second, quite in contrast to modern
    historical-critical exegesis, the older exegesis
    assumed that the meaning of a particular text is
    governed not by a hypothetically isolable unit of
    text having a Sitz im Leben distinguishable from
    the surrounding texts or from the biblical book
    in which it is lodged. Instead, the meaning of a
    text is governed by the scope and goal of the
    biblical book in the context of the scope and
    goal of the canonical revelation of God. In other
    words, Christian exegetes traditionally have
    assumed that a divine purpose and divine
    authorship unite the text of the entire canon."

Precritical Movement
  • 3. "Third, the older exegetes understood the
    primary reference of the literal or grammatical
    sense of the text not as the historical community
    that gave rise to the text, but as the believing
    community that once received and continued to
    receive the text. The text is of interest above
    all because it bears a divinely inspired message
    to an ongoing community of faith and not because
    it happens also to be a repository of the
    religious relics of a past age. . . . The
    precritical exegete . . . did not understand
    these historical or contextual issues as
    providing the final point of reference for the
    significance of the text. . . . the precritical
    exegete understood the text, but its very nature
    as sacred text, as pointing beyond its original
    context into the life of the church. 'Literal,'
    therefore, had a rather different (and fuller)
    connotation for the older exegetical traditions
    than it does for many today."

Precritical Movement
  • 4. "A fourth point amplifies the third. The
    Reformation-era exegete, like his medieval and
    patristic forebears, never conceived of his task
    as the work of an isolated scholar on the
    shoulders of whose opinion the entire exegetical
    result could be established and carried. Instead,
    the exegete of the Reformation era indeed, even
    the Protestant exegete of the later
    sixteenth-century, who held as a matter of
    doctrine that Scripture was ultimately
    self-authenticating as the highest norm of
    theology understood the interpretive task as an
    interpretive conversation in the context of the
    historical community of belief."

1.1.2 Five Possible Starting Points
  • Rabbinic scholars
  • Jon D. Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
    Biblical Theology."
  • Martin Buber, Abraham Heschel, Emil Fackenhiem

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • 1. "The sad truth is that Old Testament
    theologians have generally treated the themes
    that appeal to them as more pervasive in the Old
    Testament and the religion of Israel than is
    warranted. Historians of religion without
    theological commitment would, instead, be
    inclined to acknowledge the diversity and
    contradiction of biblical thought frankly. They
    would feel no need to concoct a spurious "unity."

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • 2. "One reason for the distance Jewish biblicists
    tend to keep from biblical theology is the
    intense anti-Semitism evident in many of the
    classic works in that field."
  • 3. "Historically, biblical theology has been not
    only non-Jewish, but actively Protestant."
  • Karaism's "search out the Torah thoroughly" and
    the anti-Oral tradition yielded a pursuit of the
    peshat (plain sense) reading of the Bible, but
    this was annomolous. There was not ad fontes
    (back to the sources!) movement in Judaism.

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • 4. "The effort to construct a systematic,
    harmonious theological statement out of the
    unsystematic and polydox materials in the Hebrew
    Bible fits Christianity better than Judaism
    because systematic theology in general is more
    prominent and more at home in the church than in
    the bet midrash (study house) and the synagogue."

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • Susan Handelman "One of the most interesting
    aspects of Rabbinic thought is tis development of
    a highly sophisticated system of interpretation
    based on uncovering and expanding the primary
    concrete meaning, and yet drawing a variety of
    logical inferences from the meaning without the
    abstracting, idealizing movement of Western

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • Gershom Scholem "not system but commentary is
    the legitimate form through which truth is
  • "It is hard to see how a biblical theology that
    did not respect the doctrine of the priority and
    normativity of the Pentateuch could be authentic
    to the Jewish tradition."

Levenson, "Why Jews are not interested in
Biblical Theology."
  • 5. "It is precisely the failure of the biblical
    theologians to recognize the limitation of the
    context of their enterprise that makes some of
    them surprised that Jews are not interested in
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