The Scientific Approach to the Old Testament Part 2 -- By: Allan A. MacRae

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 110:438 (Apr 1953)
Article: The Scientific Approach to the Old Testament Part 2
Author: Allan A. MacRae

The Scientific Approach to the Old Testament
Part 2

Allan A. MacRae

(Continued from the January-March Number, 1953)

“Then said he unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25–26)

As he hears these verses the intelligent listener feels compelled to stop and ponder: Why did Jesus scold the disciples in this way? What was the reason for His criticism of them? Did He suspect that they did not consider the Old Testament to be a revelation from God? It would be strange indeed if this were the case. There was no critical school at that time to suggest that the Old Testament was a patchwork of interwoven sources, written at various times and often contradicting one another. The evidence is plain that the overwhelming mass of Jews in the day of Christ accepted the Old Testament in its entirety as a revelation from God.

Why, then, did Jesus scold the disciples? Did He suspect them of holding a modern pseudo-scientific view that we know nothing except what we actually observe or discover by means of our own study, so that revelation is not a dependable source of knowledge? Was it necessary to convince them that science itself constantly depends on communication from one personality to another, and thus that revelation is an essential part of the progress of science? Such questions were quite foreign to their minds. These problems had not yet arisen in the consciousness of the first century, A.D.

Many a person has read through the Old Testament without gaining from it any clear understanding that Christ would die on Calvary’s Cross and would be raised from the dead on the third day. These matters do not lie upon the surface. They require careful study. Jesus’ strong rebuke to the disciples did not mean that they failed to have the correct

attitude toward the Old Testament—that attitude which we have already seen to be so clearly evident in His words. What He rebuked them for was something quite different. It was their failure to study the Old Testament carefully, to learn the meaning of all that the prophets have spoken, to see those vital teachings which lie beneath the surface.

This shows that it is not enough, if one is to be approved of Christ, simply to say, “I believe it all,” and to declare that one accepts the entire Old Testament as a revelation from God. This is necessary, but something more is also vital. One must approach the Old Testament exactly as he would approach the facts of geology, botany or astronomy. He must ...

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