The Covenant As Giving Expression To The Relationship Between Old And New Testament -- By: F. C. Fensham

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 22:1 (NA 1971)
Article: The Covenant As Giving Expression To The Relationship Between Old And New Testament
Author: F. C. Fensham


The Covenant As Giving Expression To The Relationship Between Old And New Testament

F. C. Fensham

Various solutions have been proposed for problems in connection with the relationship between Old and New Testament. For the Early Church the connection between the Testaments does not seem to offer any serious problem. In the Synoptic Gospels as well as in other New Testament writings the Old Testament is regarded as Word of God and its authority is placed beyond cavil. The New Testament is regarded as a continuation of the Old by a whole series of citations from the Old Testament to prove its fulfilment in the New Testament.1 With the discovery of the Qumran writings it has become clear that during New Testament times a special kind of exegesis of the Old Testament was prevalent.2 This discovery is an important aid to a better understanding of the application of Old Testament citations in the New Testament, but at the same time we must bear in mind that every New Testament author has used the Old Testament according to his own insights.3

In spite of this acknowledgment of the close relationship between the two Testaments, Marcion under influence of Gnostic ideas decided to reject the Old Testament and the God of the Old Testament and to adhere only to a small part

of the New Testament as a kind of purified Word of God.4 It is noteworthy that this development took place as early as the middle of the second century AD. Here we have an attempt to solve the problem of relationship between the Testaments by stressing their discontinuation. This solution is still accepted in certain scholarly circles today although not with the same motives, e.g. Rudolf Bultmann has moved to a position not far removed from that of Marcion when he finds the Old Testament of little interest to a modern Christian. It has limited value only in so far as it can place somebody in an existential decision. A very small part of the Old Testament can thus be of any value to modern man.5

The view of the Alexandrian school under the influence of Clemens and Origen is well known. They worked out a system of allegorical exegesis to connect Old and New Testament. Their exegesis met with severe opposition from the school of Antioch with Paul of Samosata and John Chrysostom as the more important exponents of a literal interpretation of Scripture. The allegorical interpretation was, however, very popular in certain circles.

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