Friday, 6 July 2007

OT a preface to the NT? My foot!

so my nt colleague in stm (seminari theoloji malaysia) dr lim kar yong says the old testament is only a 'preface' to the new testament! well, imho, he's got it the other way round. the OT is complete in itself. obviously, the jews needed no further addition to their scriptures. although the jews compiled the targums and midrashes, these are not on equivalent level with the OT.

remember even jesus himself used the OT and he did not 'write' any book or gospel to further supplement it. neither were the apostles paul and others conscious that they were writing 'scripture' to be added to the OT when penning their epistles. the NT scriptures came into being due to the proces of Christian canonization just like the jews had their own canonization process which resulted in their scriptures.

so, how does one understand the NT then? of course, i jokingly said that the NT is a 'theological after-thought' to kar yong. strictly speaking, the NT is a Christian document and is added by the Christians to the OT which they adopted as part of their scriptures. 'theological after-thought'? maybe a tad too strong but still, the NT is a sort of 'appendix' to the OT.

Monday, 2 July 2007

The Book of 1 Samuel

After the book of Ruth, we come to 1 Samuel. Originally, 1 and 2 Samuel were one book or one scroll. Later, it was split into two books just like 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles. The book of 1 Samuel revolves around 3 main characters - Samuel, Saul, and David. The first few chapters record the transition from theocratic rule by the judges to kingship or monarchy. The experiment in kingship would of course end in disaster, with both kingdoms meeting their end in exile, the Northern Kingdom of Israel defeated by Assyria and the Southern Kingdom of Judah by Babylon.

Chapter 1 begins with the story of Samuel's parents, especially focussing on Hannah who is childless whereas Elkanah's other wife Peninnah has children. Hannah's cry for a child is heard by God. Her first child, aptly called Samuel, is the result of God hearing her mother's prayer. She dedicates him to God's service having made a Nazirite vow on his behalf before he was born (1:11). The context is set for Samuel to take over the lead from the old priest Eli whose own two sons proved hopeless for the ministry and task of replacing their father (2:12). Instead the boy Samuel grows up in stature and in favour with God and men (2:26 cf. Luke 2:52 where Jesus is similarly mentioned with the same descriptions).