Faith And History In The Old Testament -- By: J. Barton Payne

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 11:3 (Summer 1968)
Article: Faith And History In The Old Testament
Author: J. Barton Payne


Faith And History In The Old Testament

J. Barton Payne, Th.D.**

[* Professor of Old Testament, Graduate School of Theology, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.]

Old Testament and New Testament unite in asserting the reality of the special revelation of God within history. Traditionally, the divine word, has been accepted by evangelicalism as being either personal and active—e.g., Psalm 147:15, 18, “His word runneth very swiftly” and when He casteth forth His ice like morsels “He sendeth out His word and melteth them,” a phenomenon which climaxes in Jesus Christ, John 1:1—or as being verbal and static, e.g., Exodus 34:28, “And He wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments” (cf. v. 27), which climaxes in the written Scriptures, “the word of God” per Mark 7:13. The latter or verbal revelation has been considered as essentially dependent upon the former; 1 e.g., faith in the static truth of heavenly immortality would become an illusion without history and the active deed of Christ’s redemption (Ps. 16:10–11, I Cor. 15:17–20). But the former, or active, has been seen as equally dependent upon the latter, for its meaning and interpretation; 2 indeed, historical acts of God seem hardly to figure at all in certain forms of Old Testament revelation, e.g., the Solomonic wisdom literature. 3

I. Background

19th century Wellhausenism repudiated both the historicity and the supernaturalistic faith of the Old Testament. Such an approach leaves it, of course, without a meaningful “word of God”; as C. Ernest Wright explains, “A Biblical theology is completely imposible because the Bible has no unity...[only] many human voices which present more dissonance than they do harmonious concord of sound.” 4 All that was left was a history of the religion of Israel, rewritten so as to present an evolution 5 of religious values.

The reaction of post-World War I Barthianism, however, with its re-

turn to a belief in the transcendence of deity and in redemption accomplishe...

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