When I was in seminary (seminary friends – please tell me if I am remembering this wrong – it was a confusing time), one of the big points that my particular Old Testament professor wanted to drive home was that the Old Testament was not distinctively about Jesus.
This professor often said that the New Testament was just one ending to the scriptures and cited the sacred documents of other religions saying these were valid endings also. Though this professor was wonderful and highly regarded – I stubbornly disagreed.
Sadly (for me), their views weren’t exactly unique. On my biblical exegesis ordination exam, one of the readers wrote that they strongly disagreed with my interpretation of the Old Testament text saying that it did not likely point to Christ and docked me a point for it (I got a 4 of 5 instead of a 5 of 5 because of it). Hardly seemed fair… especially because this whole idea was hotly debated among the professors themselves. Even many of the professors in the liberal camp disagreed with the Old Testament Professor’s interpretation. In fact, I remember during preaching class, someone said, “I don’t know what to preach about when I preach the Old Testament any more- if it isn’t pointing to Jesus what do I preach?” The Homiletics professor smiled mischievously and told us to forget that the OT professor ever said that! He told us that everything is about Jesus – the more Jesus the better! Now I could get behind that!
I believed (and still do) that all of scripture (in fact all of nature, all of life, etc) points to Jesus.
Anyway… this is all coming to mind today, because while I was reading the Emmaus story this morning to those gathered for the Wednesday Morning Service at church, I was jolted to see that even Jesus thought all of the Old Testament was about him…
“Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures (Luk 24:27 NRS).”
I thought about stopping the service to discuss… but alas that just isn’t done. 🙂
Any thoughts? What do you believe? Does the Old Testament point to Jesus? Can I believe it does and still be gracious and accepting of people who follow other religions? Comments encouraged… opposing views welcomed and honored.
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April is a progressive Christian who writes about scripture and spiritual disciplines. See her latest book, James in the Suburbs.