The New Testament against Its Environment: The Gospel of Christ, the Risen Lord

The New Testament against Its Environment: The Gospel of Christ, the Risen Lord

The New Testament against Its Environment: The Gospel of Christ, the Risen Lord

The New Testament against Its Environment: The Gospel of Christ, the Risen Lord

Excerpt

In April, 1949, Professor G. Ernest Wright and I gave the Haskell Lectures at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. We took as our subject 'The Bible Against Its Environment.' Professor Wright's three lectures were given under the subtitle, 'The God of Israel and the Gods of the Nations.' They contrasted the Old Testament with its environment by studies dealing successively with God, history, and the life of God's people. My own lectures, a study of the New Testament under the subtitle, 'The Gospel of Christ the Risen Lord,' took up in turn the same three themes. The question which I undertook to answer was: How far does the New Testament present a content which is distinct and different from non-Christian religious life and writings of New Testament times?

It may be asked why I stated the contrast between the New Testament and its environment in terms of 'The Gospel of Christ the Risen Lord.' In these words I tried to lay hold of the common and vital content of the entire New Testament. What is there in the New Testament which all the writers share, and which makes it legitimate to unite in a single collection these books by some dozen different authors? It is not difficult to answer this question. The New Testament undoubtedly has its common center in Jesus of Nazareth. It tells a story about him, and the point of the story is that he was the Christ of Israel, sent of God to carry out God's climactic purpose for his people. That story reaches a climax, but not an end, in the Resurrection. While some modern theologies and gospel hymns seem to suggest that the Cross marked the end and completion of the work of Jesus Christ, the New Testament speaks with quite another accent. The crucified Jesus was raised from the dead, elevated to a place of unique honor and authority with God, and is now the risen Lord of his people. This converging of thought on Jesus as God's central agent, as the Christ of Israel who was crucified but is now the risen Lord, is common . . .

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