OLD TESTAMENT / NEW TESTAMENT
While the battle to establish the historicity of the New Testament was being fought, another battle was taking place. This was regarding the historicity of the early part of the Old Testament. Unfortunately, these two controversies sometimes become confused in people’s minds.
A few years ago, I attended a series of talks on the Bible. The lecturer explained that stories such as the seven days of Creation, the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Ark, were treating of pre-historic times. They should be understood according to the way early writers used legends and myths to convey religious truths.
I fully agreed with this line of thought. But a few weeks later the lecturer started to talk about the New Testament. He said it was also very old and therefore should be treated in the same way. Alarm bells started to ring between my ears.
So let us make the situation clear. The early chapters of Genesis are generally accepted as being pre-historic in formation. These chapters which utilise legends form less than 1% of the Old Testament. (In my copy, 9 pages out of 993).
The rest of the Old Testament was composed later and needs to be read accordingly. All the New Testament was written in historical times, not in pre-history.
It is unscientific to transfer literary conventions from one age to another. Monsignor Michael Wrenn pointed out this danger in 1986:
“There is a strange tendency which abuses comparisons with the Old Testament in order to depreciate the history of Salvation, especially Gospel history” ((RL page x)).
For References see item [G 213]
[G317] 5th January 2014