The New Testament writers had a habit of saying things about the Old Testament that are not in the Old Testament but are in these creative, Jewish writings of the period.
Nature of the Bible
What we might call a fast and loose use of the Old Testament was for Paul and his contemporaries a normal and expected approach to biblical interpretation—creatively connecting the past with the present.
I knew back then, as I do now, that the model of biblical interpretation I had been taught was not going to cut it if I was going to try to explain how my Bible works rather than defend a Bible that doesn’t exist.
The Old Testament models an intentionally innovative, adaptive, and contemporizing theological dynamic—a recasting of the past to speak to the changing present and for a vision for the future.
I think the Bible is worthy of our adult attention, worthy of serious study and reflection, not because it provides a course-of-life syllabus for us, but precisely because it doesn’t: the Bible difficult, challenging, and difficult to wrap our arms around.
Just as the church is made up of all sorts of people with different personalities, different histories, and different and conflicting perspectives, so is the Bible.
The Bible—even where it talks about God—is a relentlessly contextual collection of ancient literature that takes wisdom and patience to handle well, and in doing so drives us toward further contemplation of God here and now.
We honor tradition best when we take seriously the sacred responsibility for shaping it.
The issue is not so much about “balancing” theology with history or vice-verse, but acknowledging the tension and letting that tension inform and fuel our spiritual engagement of the Bible.
The recurring unrest with conservative readings of scripture from within conservative circles suggests that the paradigm is flawed.