It has come up before. It seems to me that the Bible is not some sort of homogenous text by one inspiring author, consistent from Genesis to Revelation. I discern development – be it in the understanding of God, or what happens when we die, or how we should live.
And it is to that trajectory that I pay attention. When, as just one example, I read of YHWH being the best god, that fits with a trajectory from animism, polytheism, henotheism (there are many gods – we follow this one as our “patron god”), to monotheism. Honesty with the biblical texts leads to seeing different beliefs expressed throughout its lengthy history.
And this is true for so much in the Bible.
Might we find God speaking to us in the trajectory more than (or as well as) in the individual texts?
Initially, the image at the top of this post was a cartoon of Jesus speaking to people in his day saying that he used love to interpret what the scriptures mean and they used the scriptures to interpret what love means. The cartoonist was criticised for antisemitic bias – a criticism levelled at Thesis 3: “the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old rightly be understood apart from the New”. The cartoonist, David Hayward, apologised and redrew the cartoon. He is even considering a third iteration.
Acknowledging the antisemitic and supersessionist issue, I would posit that within the First Testament a trajectory is able to be discerned. As a Christian, I posit that Jesus fits comfortably along that trajectory. As a Christian, I posit that Jesus is the lens through which we read the texts and discern the trajectory. I also suggest that the trajectory didn’t stop at the historical Jesus [ie. the situation for Christians is akin to that for Jews].
We all interpret some verses in the light of others, some texts in the light of others. I well remember a Jehovah Witness pair coming to my front door – older mentor, younger apprentice – and as they opened their Bible to prove that Jesus is not God from the left page, I spotted a verse that indicated he was which just happened to be on the adjoining right hand page. Said the older mentor: “We interpret (right hand page) verse in the light of this (left hand page) verse.” To which I responded: “Ah – but I interpret this (left hand page) verse in the light of this (right hand page) verse.”
To be continued…