Positive and Negative Aspects of the World in the NT -- By: Bo Reicke

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 49:2 (Fall 1987)
Article: Positive and Negative Aspects of the World in the NT
Author: Bo Reicke

Positive and Negative Aspects of the World in the NT

Bo Reicke*

Biblical theology embraces positive and negative aspects of the world. On the one hand the universe is regarded as perfect and dependent on a magnificent Creator, on the other as deficient and exposed to his severe judgment, although possibilities of conversion and salvation are still offered.

Whereas modern science is concerned with causality, regularity, and even necessity, the biblical perspective represents axiology insofar as the polarity of good and evil is the starting point according to the OT, and its termination in Jesus Christ is the consummation according to the NT.1 Our purpose is to illustrate the NT’s submission of cosmology to Christology.


The ideological background of the NT conceptions on the universe is found in the OT and post-exilic Judaism. However, there is a difference insofar as the OT and Judaism developed ideas about this world that were either positive or negative and could even appear to be contradictory, whereas the NT

* [The present issue was about to go to press when news arrived of Professor Reicke’s death. During a visit to Philadelphia at the end of 1985, Professor Reicke spent an evening with the Westminster faculty and submitted this article to WTJ. His sweeping survey of the biblical doctrine of creation, appropriately, ends with a reference to “Christ, who lets the faithful approach the tree of life in the new creation.” —Ed.]

represents an organic view because the perspective is focused on Christ.

(1) In the Old Testament a positive view of the creation is discovered in the first Genesis account, which illustrates the separation of the ocean and the earth followed by the appearance of light and life, corresponding to experiences made in the Middle East after the winter rains (Gen 1:1–2:4a). God is said to have qualified this prehistorical creation as good (1:4 etc.) and permitted man to enjoy its fruits (1:28–29). By the Psalmists of the CT, the creation was also regarded as good insofar as the God of the Patriarchs and the Covenant was praised for having created the world and made Israel its center (e.g. Ps 24:1–9; 33:1–22; 105:1–45). Similar ideas were represented by the Prophets (e.g. Isa 40:9–31).<...

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