Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Theology Out Of Footnotes

From a Christian perspective, then, Old Testament theology is a truncated exercise, but a defensible one. In contrast, New Testament theology seems not only a truncated exercise, but also an indefensible one. It deconstructs. One of the New Testament’s own convictions is that the Old Testament is part of the Scriptures (indeed, is the Scriptures), give or take some questions about its boundaries, and that the Old Testament provides the theological framework within which Jesus needs to be understood. The New Testament is then a series of Christian and ecclesial footnotes to the Old Testament, and one cannot produce a theology out of footnotes.

There may be a hint of bias in Old Testament scholar John Goldinagay's words, but the man has a point. Nevertheless, there are four books in the New Testament that stand as a stumbling block. The irony is that they are probably the four books most overlooked when it comes to developing what might be considered a "New Testament theology". They are of course Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Footnotes they are not.

That being said, the Gospels might arguably feel more at home in the OT rather than the NT. What do you reckon? Would that transform our reading of the Bible, perhaps helping to bridge the gap between the testaments? Do pipe up, so I can call the people of NIV before it's too late!


  1. Is that a good "well now", or a "well now, what the heck has Bible College done to you?"?

  2. Neither. It's an "I've been trying to post long winded comments for a while and failing due to technological incompetence so I decided to waste less time by employing brevity. Seemingly, brevity posts.

  3. Is the new born babe a footnote to the foetus/
    The man subordinated to the child

  4. I think when Goldingay mentions the NT, he is talking about the collection of books that we dub the "New Testament" rather than the actual covenant that God has made in Christ. I also think he is using the provocative word "footnote" to get us NTphiles out of hiding and into dialogue.

    Of course the new covenant itself is not a mere footnote, but the reality is that it finds its rootage and framework of understanding in what we call "the Old Testament". If we as Gentiles want to know what it means to be a child of Abragam, Israel's Scriptures is the place to go. We look at the OT through the lens of Christ, of course, but we also look at Christ through the lens of the OT. That's what Goldingay encourages.