Christian Ambivalence Toward Its Old Testament

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The Old Testament Torah and Prophets recount the history of an Israel understanding the essence of each person to be the sum of its interactive thus essence-creating social roles, such as citizen, parent, or employee. In contrast, the European world had developed a culture described by Plato as emanating from the logos but actually directed from its upper class. Each individual was to fill its logos-determined place in the social order, in contrast to Israel’s God delegating responsibility to the human community (Genesis 1:27) for itself continuously creating its interactive social structure, its culture.In 325 BCE Greece colonized the Near East and pressured the Jewish leaders to reinterpret their scriptures as static rules from above rather than interactive resource for learning from past experience. The Jewish reformer Jesus of Nazareth urged the people to maintain their interactive tradition, which caused his elimination by the colonial authorities. The New Testament recounting of this restorative movement puts its current issues in creative internal interaction with Old Testament-described events on average more frequently than once every two New Testament verses.However, neo-Platonic Christian theologians Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Tillich, and Rahner misunderstood the Old Testament and Jesus’ embrace of it, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century theologians Schleiermacher, Harnack, and Bultmann explicitly rejected it. In the 1960s, scholars Eichrodt and von Rad rediscovered the Old Testament-proclaimed bilateral internal interaction between God and the community. And by the late twentieth century, Europeans Metz and Chauvet and Latin-Americans Gutierrez and Segundo offered a thoroughly interactive Christian theology.Can European and North American Christianity understand its New Testament? Before 1832 peasants could, theologians couldn’t. After 1832 some theologians can, most middle-class consumers can’t, most politicians don’t want to, while most Africans and mestizo Latin-Americans implicitly always did.

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