Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ulrich Wilckens on the Role of the OT in NT Theology

Here's another quote from Christoph Stenschke's review of Ulrich Wilcken's NT Theology because I can't get it out of my head:
The presentation of the theology of the New Testament in its own context can
only succeed when the Old Testament is kept in mind as its foundational
presupposition and when the New Testament is understood in permanent contact
with the Old Testament. It is not sufficient to take seriously the many quotations
from the Old Testament in the New Testament and to analyze them, in order to
understand the theology of the New Testament. The Old Testament in its entirety
needs to be considered at all times, because everything that the New Testament
proclaims and considers theologically as God’s eschatological completion of
salvation in the Christ-event presupposes a deep, complete matter of course the
identity of the God who acts in Christ with the God of Israel.
I suspect Wilckens expects his readers to notice the contrast with an earlier German NT theologian--Rudolf Bultmann:
To the Christian faith the Old Testament is no longer revelation as it has been, and still is, for the Jews. For the person who stands within the Church the history of Israel is a closed chapter. . . . Israel's history is not our history, and in so far as God has shown his grace in that history, such grace is not meant for us. . . . The events which meant something for Israel, which were God's word, mean nothing more to us. . . . To the Christian faith the Old Testament is not in the true sense God's Word. (Bultmann, "The Significance of the Old Testament for Christian Faith," as quoted in Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul [Yale, 1989], 7-8)


Juan said...

Great post. So who is right? Or is there no right and wrong here?

I can see why you cannot get it out of your head.


d. miller said...

Hi Juan,

I prefer Wilckens myself.

Juan said...

I have to agree with you but it sure makes you think since much of the OT is for Israel. The struggle I have is what should be for the church and what should not. How much abuse will there be when it is misapplied?


d. miller said...

Wow, this is a huge issue. My working approach, though, is to let the NT writers shape my understanding of what is for ethnic Israel and what is fulfilled in those--both Jews and Gentiles--who respond to Jesus as Messiah.