Old Testament Diversity. It is real and God is Cool With it….
"The word of God cannot be kept safe from the rough-and-tumble drama of human history. For the Bible to be the word of God implies the exact opposite."
Lately I have been re-reading Peter Enn's book "Inspiration and Incarnation, evangelicals and the problem of the Old Testament." In his chapter "The Old Testament and theological diversity," he writes in the beginning (pg 61) "For jews, the bible is a problem to be solved. For Christians, it is a message to be proclaimed." Let the difference sink in -- profound.....
Enn's has had me thinking about the diversity in the OT....
Diversity in laws. (compare Exodus' laws with Deuteronomy)
Diversity in genres.
Diversity in Narratives/stories (compare chronicles with Samuel and Kings -- yeah differences everywhere).
Let's face it -- it's real and God seems to be cool with it, there is no need to tuck this under the rug or putting earplugs in as if it does not exist.
"To accept the diversity of the Old Testament is not to "cave in to liberalism," nor is it to seek after novelty. It is rather, to read the Old Testament quite honestly and seriously. And if diversity is such a prevalent phenomenon in the Old Testament, it would seem to be important to do more than explain away or simply take note of diversity and file it away for future reference. We must ask why God would do it this way . Why does God's word look the way it does?"
Enn's reminds us that God is definitely present in how the scriptures are recorded -- after all, the christian claim is that he is present in Jesus fully participating in this world by becoming Human.. "One thing that such tensions demonstrate to us is how fully God participates in history, that he "incarnates" himself --- in a manner of speaking --- throughout Israel's history."
Maybe the reason the Bible is so diverse is because it's an ancient text written by ancient people living in different time periods -- Why would we expect anything different? Maybe that's why systematic theology has had it's challenges -- maybe it's best to allow the authors of each book to be read in light of their historical context and not placing false expectations on them..... God seems to use culture and the messiness of life to speak to us. The most profound point comes at the end of the chapter.....
"Christ is the ultimate example of how God enters the messiness of history to save his people. He did not keep his distance but became one of us. This is true of Christ, the embodied word. It is true of the Bible, the written word. To put it this way is to turn the entire debate on its head: the diversity of scripture ---and the tensions that this diversity introduces---bears witness to God's revelation rather than detracts from it."
All quotations come from Enn's Inspiration and Incarnation.
Written by Casey Dayton