The Old Testament and Christian Faith: A Theological Discussion

By Bernhard W. Anderson | Go to book overview

11 The Way of the Promise through the Old Testament

CLAUS WESTERMANN*

There is complete agreement among modern Old Testament scholars that the event of the Exodus from Egypt is of fundamental importance. 1 As yet no such unanimity has been reached concerning the effect of this basic act of God in the history of Israelite faith and worship. One line which runs through the whole Old Testament and in addition indicates the clearest and most important point of transition to the New Testament is that designated by the two concepts, promise and fulfillment. In recent decades it has evoked extensive discussion. 2 This discussion has been impeded, at least in the German-speaking world, by the vagueness and ambiguity of the terms employed: announcement (Ankündigung), promise (Verheissung), prophecy (Weissagung). While Bultmann, for example, begins with the concept of

____________________
*
Translated by Lloyd Gaston and Bernhard W. Anderson.
1
"The liberation of Israel from the Egyptian 'house of bondage' is and remains fundamental for the religion of the Old Testament." See G. Quell, TWNT, Vol. 3, under apokaluptō, p. 574. "We must start from the fundamental belief of Israel that Jehovah saved them out of Egypt." See N. Snaith, Mercy and Sacrifice: A Study of the Book of Hosea ( 1953), p. 53.
2
See the collection of essays entitled Probleme alttestamentlicher Hermeneutik, Claus Westermann, ed. ( 1960), where the most important literature between 1950 and 1960 is brought together. Eng. edition, Essays on Old Testament Hermeneutics ( 1963), ed. by James Luther Mays.

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