The Old Testament -- By: Arnold C. Schultz
BETS 9:2 (March 2001) p. 63
The Old Testament
A major point of tension in contemporary theological dialogue, and consequently a frontier issue, is the problem of the nature of Biblical history and its relation to the phenomenon of revelation. One of the major affirmations made by Evangelicalism is that history, as it is commonly understood, is the channel of God’s self-disclosure and that revelation takes place progressively in the milieu of history’s succession of events. These divine self-disclosures occur within the plane of ordinary human experience and in historical sequence. Biblically there can be no reason for the difference made by some writers between history and suprahistory, this supposed difference being defined on the basis of extra-Biblical existentialist assumptions.
The distinction made by some scholars between Historie and Geschichte is artificial and invalid. Bultman, following Kierkegaard, insists that the true events of the Judeo-Christian faith are not historical events in the usual and proper sense of the term (Historie) but rather existential events (Geschichte) which are not subject to historical investigation. The evangelical affirmation that the divine self-disclosure takes place within history is of vital importance for the whole range of theological disciplines as well as for the Bible’s practical relevance for the problem of the relation of the church to the world.
It is history that forms the line of encounter along which many a theological advance has taken place. And it is the Old Testament that provides the main anchorage for revelation through history. Biblical revelation cannot be uprooted from its historical setting in the life of God’s historical people and then be treated as though it were merely a general truth, a scientific principle, a proposition in logic, or an idea wholly unrelated to time. The truths of Biblical revelation are truths of national and personal encounter with God and are revealed in life, and in history. Examples of the divine self-disclosure in history are the flood of Noah, the Exodus under the leadership of Moses, and the Babylonian Captivity. One must hasten to remark that added to the revelation that takes place in and through the events of history, another channel for
BETS 9:2 (March 2001) p. 64
the divine self-disclosure is that of direct verbal communication. It is an inescapable fact of the Old Testament that God makes special verbal communication with particular men on specific occasions. In moments of special revelation and historical crisis God spoke to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2), and to Moses at the burning bush.
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