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Christianity & the O.T.

  1. Jun 9, 2003 #1


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    This post by Royce reminded me of a few questions...


    I am reading the Bible, but I'm no where near the N.T. yet (up to the 6th book so far). Can someone spoil the suspense and tell me how much does the N.T. refer back to the O.T.? And why do so many Christians (who should draw from the N.T., I would think) focus so much on the O.T. (which pertains more to Jewish tradition)?

    I often engage in the Creation-Evolution debate and I'm still a little surprised to see how much a Christian (yeah, I know...only certain Christians) can focus on what amounts to the first two pages of the O.T. Does Jesus refer back to Genesis in his teachings? I have heard (but not yet read) that he refers back to some parts of the O.T.

    Of course the Bible is an edited compilation of works and it's not clear to me how much they connect and how much the N.T. relies on the O.T. as background support (other than the obvious descriptions of God-the-Father's nature).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2003 #2

    As far as reflection of the NT to the OT. Well there are several quotes of Jesus into the OT. Some refer to prophecies of the coming of Christ. Then there is also a few quotes of some of the teachings and such. "You have heard it said an eye for an eye..." There are many things such as this.

    There is also a deeper meaning in some of what Christ says. He points out how the Jewish people of the time have basically been bogged down in tradition and have lost the faith. They are listening more to the traditions than to God.

    Phobos one thing to look for while reading the Bible is an underlying theme. Trust God. It all started in the beginning. Adam and Eve were to trust God and God's judgement of what is good and what is evil. When they first ate of the fruit they put their judgement of what is good and evil above that of God...they basically no longer trusted God. Cain and Abel. Cain had lost his trust in God. Instead of giving unto God the best he had he thought it better to keep it for himself. All throughout the OT there is times when the Israelites are instructed to trust in God...and when they do it is good times had by all...but when they do not...tragedy befalls them.

    I too am doing a study of the Bible. I have just gotten to chapter 6 of Genesis myself and have filled up almost 2 notebooks of notes and material in about 6 months of work. And already I have seen the implication of trust desired by God. And the rejection of that by man. Already understanding that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a misnoemer...perhaps slight mistranslation. Instead of knowledge it is the step that allowed man to decide to define his own good and evil. This is supported by the idea of their nakedness... Once they ate they saw they were naked and covered themselves, implying that this was evil. However God had them running through the garden before then naked and it was not evil. God would not have them doing evil things. So their nakedness was a self prescribed evil. God even asks them "Who said you were naked?" And of course the answer would have to be "I did". Once again man before God. This becomes a common theme throughout in which man puts his own judgement before that of God's.

    I would urge any reader who is honestly out to study the Bible to do just that. Put away all preconceptions and to start from the beginning and sit and take notes. Write down what you think of each verse or set of verses. But also look at it from the aspect of the religion...meaning that when they talk about a 6 day creation just look at it as what it says. The primary reason for the notes is that it gets you to remember things that happened better...so that when you read something later it may click that it sounded similar to something that already happened and such.

  4. Jun 10, 2003 #3
    Hmmmm.....the Old Testament is the foundation of Christianity, kinda the history I suppose, to skip over it completely would be foolish. I would read it, and remember it is pre-Jesus and a lot of it doesn't apply anymore. Just remember the most important thing, God hates you:wink: That will be in the O.T., but Jesus loves you. Or so they say.

    If you are really studying the Bible in depth, and are afraid of missing references to the OT in the NT I would recommend a program like Premium Bible Study. It has the option to have 'sticky notes' pop up with the Bible verse, makes for much easier referencing. It also has scholar's notes, and many many different versions of the Bible:

    King James 1611
    King James with Strong's Numbers
    American Standard 1917
    Darby's Modern Translation
    Young's Literal Translation
    Douay Rheims (Catholic) 1899
    Webster's Translation 1611
    Weymouth NT Translation
    World English Bible
    Basic English

    are just a few. You can also download a Greek Lexicon, sometimes words are lost in translation. Anyways, I hope I helped.

    Screenshots at http://www.bibleriver.com/screenshots/:

  5. Jun 10, 2003 #4


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    Thanks Tog & Kyle. Food for thought.

    (2 notebooks on the first 6 chapters? egad.)

    Seriously? Along the lines of "traditions vs. principles" you mean? Or does Jesus redefine some of the commandments in the O.T.? (I don't mean the 10 Commandments...I mean the dozens/hundreds of other instructions from God listed in the O.T.
  6. Jun 10, 2003 #5
    Well, certain things such as the 10 commandments, don't really apply. Another obvious would be you don't have to be perfect to get to Heaven, etc. Things along those lines.

    Another thing, as I said, God "can" hate you, he has said he hates people before in the Bible. That was OT, he can no longer hate you because of Jesus. You get the idea.
  7. Jun 11, 2003 #6
    No actually just to darned busy at work nowdays....
    And no it is not a logical fallacy...nor is it the same. In this instance Hussein has been proven to have them...as of 1998 there were still amounts of chem and bio agents that were inventoried but not yet destroyed. He was directed by resolution 687 to have them destroyed under the supervision of the UN. He claimed that they were destroyed. It is up to him to provide that proof...since he was to destroy them under supervision of the UN. There is no fallacy in that. Res 687 states clearly what Iraq is to do with its agents. Distroy, dismantle, render inert, all under the supervision of the UN. Res 1441 reinforced the statements that basically unless proven otherwise it would be assumed that he has not continued the process after 1998 and gave him 30 days to provide up to date and accurate accounting of what was left. He failed on that as well...his report was proven to not be credible...there were things on there that were not on original listings from early 90's, there were things on there that were already destroyed by UN. It had to many errors to be deemed credible. So he failed in providing the information set forth by UN (big suprise there).
  8. Jun 11, 2003 #7


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    ^^^Hey, wrong thread perhaps?^^^


    So this implies that mankind was intended to be "naked". If you look around the world today, you will see many people of different beliefs who are not worried about being naked. They do not think it is evil.

    My point here is, if Adam and Eve took good and evil into there own hands, why is it there are people who still live as they supposedly did?

    And my other question to this is doesn't anyone ever wonder what the world would be like had Adam and Eve not sinned?

    I'd speculate, it would still be Adam and Eve.

    That is of course, after swallowing the lies and other atrocitys.

    I know you all our discussing the bible here, but the questions seem relevant to what Tog was saying.
  9. Jun 13, 2003 #8
    Man was created naked. Man walked in the garden naked. In God's eyes being naked was not evil nor sinful. And think of this... Are not most people embarrassed if "caught" naked? Or unwilling because of shyness or bashfulness to run around naked? All of those feelings are basically "self" oriented feelings. You would not drive into work naked because it would embarass your co-workers but you. And this goes back to the Bible in that it was Adam and Eve who first stated they were naked. It was A&E who first decided that being naked was "evil".

    There is no one who lives as Adam and Eve did...because they live in this world. They are bound by the laws that man has created since. There was but one spoken law for A&E...dont eat the fruit.

    Yes often I do actually. I think A&E would have procreated though. And I think man would still have fallen...maybe by different actions though.

  10. Jun 16, 2003 #9
    Wow Phobos. Are you really reading the whole Bible from beginning to end? That's a major undertaking! Some people have difficulty understanding it reading like that. But if you want to read the books of the Bible one after the other from the beginning then go for it. If you have any questions along the way post them here.

    To answer your questions above there are many references in the N.T. to the O.T. Jesus often referred to the O.T. when he was teaching. He usually said something like "It is written ..." and then quoted a scripture from the O.T. For a couple of examples see Luke 19:46 where he referred to Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11; and see also John 8:17 where he referred to Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15. One of the reasons the religious leaders of the day hated him so much is that Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures better than they did!

    The Bible is one whole interconnected book comprising both the O.T. and the N.T. One is not more important than the other. The Bible says that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..." When it says "all scripture" that's exactly what it means, both the O.T. and the N.T. It is also said in the Bible that the writers were lead by God's spirit so the real author of the Bible is God.
  11. Jun 18, 2003 #10


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    I am, but I don't expect to be done anytime soon! (and I'm not taking detailed notes like Tog_Neve!)

    Seems to make the most sense to me. When I hear preaching/studies, there is a lot of jumping around from book to book and I would think that the context/meaning of a particular passage would be lost like that. Plus, it is giving a chronological history.

    I certainly will. :smile:


    Makes one wonder about the books/texts that were edited out doesn't it?

    Do you have that citation? (chapter/verse)
  12. Jun 18, 2003 #11
    It would appear to make the most sense, but you must understand that the Bible was passed along by word-of-mouth for many years (writing things down back then wasn't done often). Later it was written down into a book, it has been edited after years of passing around (as one would expect) but the majority of it has stayed together and you would think resembles the original intended content.

    Anyways, the order of the books were chosen by people in their logical order, to the person, not necessarily the REAL order, so to read it in order doesn't really mean it is going to flow in order. Don't let "IN THE BEGINNING" fool you:smile: into thinking the whole Bible follows the same logical order.
  13. Jun 18, 2003 #12
    "prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." - 2 Timothy 1:21

    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" - 2 Timothy 3:16
  14. Jun 18, 2003 #13

    Les Sleeth

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    Besides studying the Bible and interpreting it from a theological or religious point of view, one can also study it objectively as history and cultural anthropology. In universities, in fact, serious religious studies is very much linked to historical and archeological evidence, much of it aimed at trying to find out what really happened. I thought you might find it useful to have a sampling of this perspective on the Bible. I will divide this discussion into (more or less) the Old and New Testament, and then reading suggestions.

    Old Testament

    When you hear religious interpretation of the Bible, it is often done in ways to support theological doctrine. Take the supposed references to Jesus in the OT (some feel the term “Old” Testament is pejorative, and prefer “Hebrew Bible”). Those Hebrew Bible references were to a savior-type person, but the savior envisioned was a King David-like military leader to help kick Rome’s butt (or any other enemy that interfered with Jewish religious practices). This “messiah” was a wish, a dream of an oppressed people. Such prophesy, when shared by all the culture members, was like a group prayer, praying for deliverance.

    It was, and is, Jewish custom to read the Hebrew Bible looking for any possible bit of wisdom that might be squeezed out of scripture. So the new Christians, the first of whom were Jews, had this habit in the time of Jesus, plus the whole culture had been praying for a savior. After Jesus, many applied this cultural practice again, but this time searching through Hebrew Bible scripture to support their claim that Jesus was the awaited messiah (in religious studies this practice is technically known as testimonia). But did the Hebrew Bible really refer to Jesus? Or did early Christians claim it trying to legitimatize Jesus to their fellow Jews?

    Another example of looking at the Bible objectively is to recognize that some of the Hebrew Bible is myth. Adam and Eve has to be myth (who could have recorded their story?), and so where did the story come from? One might speculate relying on the habits of tribal peoples. For instance, we know that they would tell stories around the campfire, and in the absence of TV a good story teller was valued. Whatever the way the story was developed, it seems safe to say the Adam and Eve story is most likely how primitive peoples imagined it all. So while it is interesting as cultural anthropology, there is no reason to assume that primitive campfire stories (or whatever) say anything realistic about God or creation’s origin.

    There is another type of myth too, and that is one developed from an actual event. The flood story, for example, appears to be just such a myth. It seems to have been derived from a catastrophic collapse in the Bosporus about 5000 years ago allowing water from the Mediterranean to flood into the Black Sea (see “Noah’s Flood” by two Ph.D. oceanographers Ryan and Pitman). This was not only myth in the Hebrew Bible, but earlier was part of the Gilgamesh story in Babylonia (and a little more history will explain the Jewish/Babylonia link as due to the 586 BC Babylonian captivity of the Jews).

    Parts of the Hebrew Bible record events of the tribes and later the culture of Palestine. Some of it, such as the “wisdom literature” is poetry, reflections, and philosophical questions, and another part is the writings of the prophets. A most important part of the Hebrew Bible is the Law. The concept of the Law began with Moses, who may have had a genuine enlightenment-type of experience up on that mountain. From their experience with Moses, the Jews developed the concept of an agreement with God, a contract which if obeyed would garner God’s favor. So if things were going well, then they figured God was pleased, and if things were going badly, he was anrgy over them not obeying the Law properly.

    Thus developed the obsession by the most fervent with Jewish Law. What started out as ten commandments eventually ended up as 633 precepts which the devout practiced. A study of the writing of the Law, all attributed to Moses, reveals very clearly there were several authors and redactors. Such textual analysis gets complicated, so I won’t go over that, but you are right to say there was editing early on. Today, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls shows that after that original editing, the Hebrew Bible has remained essentially the same for the last 2000 years or so.

    To sum up, the Hebrew Bible is very much a cultural text derived from history, myth, belief, and reflection. Its legalistic aspect also gives practitioners a precise guide for developing a relationship with God. (To answer one of your questions, personally I do not think there is any reference to Jesus in the Hebrew Bible.)

    New Testament

    The history of the New Testament is every bit as complex as the OT. None of the writers of the gospels (the first four books) are believed to have been eyewitness, and only Mark and Luke are believed to be who they claims to be. Matthew and John were names of Jesus’ disciples, but scholars (objective scholars, that is) don’t believe they were truly the authors. This was not always done to deceive; there was a Hebrew custom to attach a famous person’s name to a writing, as though saying they were writing in the same spirit the famous person would have. Mark and Luke were followers of Peter and Paul respectively, and not eyewitness.

    The story of Jesus then, is believed to be gleaned from several sources including oral tradition, Mark’s account (which Matthew and Luke rely on), and an original source document known as “Q” which the first three gospels rely on. Two other important writers of the NT are Paul and the author of Revelation. Tradition has the book of Revelation written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of John, but textual analysis clearly reveals Revelation was written by someone else. (Personally I think the author of Revelation first fasted himself into hallucinating, and then used his delusional state to formulate a revenge-oriented curse. Why? Again history helps us, because in addition to Jesus’ execution, in 69 AD Rome flattened Jerusalem killing or pressing into slavery over 3 million Jews. It wasn’t until after WWII they were able to return in any significant numbers.)

    Paul’s writing is the most historical (though some parts are considered forged). Paul was not an eyewitness either, at least to Jesus, but he was an eyewitness to the establishment of early Christianity because no one was more directly responsible for doing that than Paul. Although it didn’t make it into the “official” Bible, I also think the “Gospel of Thomas” is excellent; in fact, I believe it may be written by a disciple and the only true eyewitness to Jesus we have a record of.

    To answer your overall question, Christians have relied on the OT partially to be able to use its prophesies to support theological claims about Jesus. The first Christians were Jews, and it was believed Jesus had come for them. So they did what was required, which was to make one's case through scripture. If not for Paul, who would visit synagoges and attempt this, it is unlikely Jesus would have been introduced to non-Jews. But their rejection of him, sometimes violently, led to him preaching to everyone who would listen. He also is responsible for defeating what some Christian Jews were insisting upon, which was that to be a Christian, one must first satisfy Jewish Law. Some of Pauls arguments against this, such as those found in his letter to the Galatians, are brilliant.

    Suggested Reading

    If you are interested in some introductory materials on the history of the Bible, there are some books around today helping to make the scholarship more interesting to lay readers. To name a few, “The New Testament” by Ehrman, “The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible,” edited by John Rogerson, “Moses – A Life” by Kirsch, “The Lost Gospel – The Book of Q & Christian Origins” by Mack, and “The Bible is History” by Ian Wilson. Interesting reading too is “The Oxford History of the Biblical World,” edited by Michael Coogan, and “Jesus Christ, the Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith” by Porter. For a general book on religious studies try, “The World’s Religions” by Ninian Smart.

    I couldn’t end this without a plug for the only reason I took up religious studies, and that is what’s called Christian “mysticism.” It has nothing to do with magic or supernaturalism, but is about the practice by some Christians of a type of meditation they called “union prayer.” It is a very difficult subject to research, I’ve been at it 30 years so far (not just in Christianity, but worldwide).

    I believe this meditation was taught by Jesus to his closest followers, and was continued by them after his death when they took up residence in caves in the deserts of Palestine and Egypt to practice it. Later they took it into the first monasteries, and there kept it alive for many centuries. Four introductory books on the subject I’d recommend are “The Desert Fathers” by Woddell, “The Gnostic Gospels” by Pagels, “Lost Christianity” by Needleman, and the classic work by Evelyn Underhill “Mysticism.”
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2003
  15. Jun 19, 2003 #14
    I've seen these 2 sections used to describe a larger more cohesive picture. The old testament is largely about the tribulations of God's chosen people as they struggle to live according to the "law". These stories are littered with examples of how these chosen people failed miserably to live according to this law.

    Then comes the NT introducing a saviour to save man of his sins. The spin is that it takes the experiences in the OT to convince man that he cannot save himself. All of this set up the arrival of the savior to show that the point of the OT wasn't about the "law". The lesson to be learned was about the nature of man.

    I've seen this view before and I guess it's one way to look at it.
  16. Jun 19, 2003 #15
    Re: Re: Christianity & the O.T.

    They were also in a struggle for their survival too, against the elements and, to establish a national identity, in which case God has to come down as a bit harsh. And yet once established, perhaps it isn't necessary to go to "such extremes" in order to survive?
  17. Jun 19, 2003 #16
    Re: Re: Re: Christianity & the O.T.

    Well the tribulations and difficult times are necessary to test the character of man, which is the whole point of this view. I think this view is more poetic but has no more credibility than your proposal as far as I'm concerned.
  18. Jun 20, 2003 #17


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    Thanks to everyone with the thoughtful responses...I'll have to digest all of this and throw some more questions your way.
  19. Jun 26, 2003 #18


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    Feel free to keep the discussion going in the meantime! :wink:
  20. Jun 26, 2003 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    Even though this is an area of real interest to me, I personally need your feedback to keep my part of it going. I seldom debate with people who want to do faith or religious things, but if you are interested in history and pre-history sorts of discussions, I 'd enjoy that.
  21. Jun 27, 2003 #20
    I finally got around to reading this thread. I had no idea that it was a post of mine that started it. If you are interested at all I will explain why I feel the way I do.
    While the old testament contains a lot of myth, legend and folk lore, IMO, there is a lot of truth, fact, history and wisdom to be gleaned from it. My objection was the the old testament God was wrathful, jealous, vindictive and mean.
    So much blood was and has been shed in his name, so much fear and punishment and damnation was handed out by fire and brimstone preachers and so much of our humanity and sexuality was condemned and deemed sinful that I rebelled against it it my late teens.
    I declared myself an athiest as far as the O.T. God was concerned and agnostic as far as any God/Creator was concerned. I admitted that I didn't know; but, that I refused to believe in a jealous wrathful bloodthirsty God that would condemn forever in burning hell an innocent baby or child just because of what some one may or may not have done thousands of years ago.
    Even if there were such a God I would not worship him but, in my mind at least at that time, I would defy him and refuse to worship or honor such a God. If it were all true then I would rather roast in Hell than honor such a God. I knew that I would not be alone.
    I then turned to Zen Buddhism and learned to meditate. I was able to get rid of much of my anger (at God and others) and hate and my eyes were opened. This took several years and I am still on that same jouney.
    I started to study religion, all relions and their history as well as philosophy and dogma. I read the N.T. at least the Gospels and some of Paul's writings. My parents introduced me to The Urantia Book which I read. I started searching for where Hell damnation and the Devil came from. The only place that I could find this was from a Persian philosopher, Zoaster (sp). How his philosophy got into the Judo-christian religion I have never found out. The only reference that I could find for the concept of hell in the Gospels was about someone being cast into the eternal flaming pit and was consumed by the flame. This is not burning eternally in hell ruled by the devil.
    Since then I have continued to read, meditate, contemplate and question. Many teachers in one form or another has come my way or me their way and I have learn a lot and grown a lot. I have in my mind, heart and soul developed my own philosopy and religion. I have reconciled science and religion and God and find no conflict.
    I still have much to learn, unresolved conflicts and far yet to go in my journey to find my God and my true self and to know and be one with both. I know I am not alone in my journey as maney if not all of us are on our own journey down our own path. I also know that none of us are alone on our individual paths put are constantly led and guided. If we wander off the path and distracted for a while it matters not and in time we are gently led back to our path. If we faulter or fall be are picked up and if necessary carried for a while until we are strong enough to go on under our own power and will.
    Again as always these are my personal beliefs and convictions. I can not prove any of this to you or anybody else nor will I try. I am not trying to convince you nor anybody nor convert you nor anybody. I am merely telling my story for what it may be worth to you.
    You must find your own God and your own path to follow. The only place you will find him is within yourself. You have only to look and ask. This I know is true because I looked and asked. He came and I was told what I needed to know.

    No I still not go to church nor will I. I do not need nor want the church nor does the church need or want me.
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