READING THE OLD TESTAMENT IN LIGHT OF THE NEW

Saturday, September 1, 2018

 

       “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (ἐνιαυτὸν Κυρίου δεκτόν).’ And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Lk 4: 16-21)

 

     Here in the German-speaking academic world, it is typical of Old-Testament scholars (at both Catholic and Protestant theological faculties) to say that we must not “project” onto the Old Testament our own, New-Testament understanding. Because such “projections,” to the mind of these scholars, distort and obscure the “original” meaning of the text, which is best discerned by establishing its “Sitz im Leben” at the time it was written.

 

     There’s a lot to be said on this complicated topic. But in light of the (NC) above-quoted reading for today, on occasion of the feast of the Beginning of the Church Year, I’d just like to say this: Jesus Himself “projects” onto an Old Testament text the light of His “good news,” recognizing it as “fulfilled” in His “today.” So I shall continue to read the Old Testament as He did, and as the Church always has, – not as a curious relic, of interest only to archaeologists, – but in the light of Christ, in Whom its full meaning and relevance to us is revealed and “fulfilled.”

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