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March 28, 2012 / Daniel

Bruce Waltke on Old Testament Theology

So I just started to read Bruce Waltke‘s Old Testament Theology.   In his introduction, Waltke explains why OT theology is needed for today.  He argues that the human identity is formed by two different factors: memory and destiny.

“Without a memory a person loses identity, and without a history to sustain it, a society and the world around it become virtually phantom realities.  Memories of our past inform who we are, shape our self-understanding, and give us a vision of our destiny.”

This is why Old Testament Theology is so important.  The study of the Old Testament gives rise to the identity of the Christian community.  It shapes our memory.  The Old Testament is our story.

“These are the narratives that constitute the memories of the Christian community…Abraham is our spiritual father.  His story becomes part of our past.  The exodus, the monarchy of Israel and Judah, and the exile cease to be ancient tales of a distant people, but the triumphs and tragedies of our own history.”

This plays out in 1 Corinthians 10:1 where Paul writes to a predominantly Gentile church.  Yet he refers to the heroes of the OT as “our fathers.”  So, he includes the Gentiles in the lineage of Israel.  The OT heroes are the church’s ancestors.    We belong to Abraham’s family.    This is our story.   It is our memory and it shapes our identity.   As Paul writes, “These things happens to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

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