The Difficulty with Reading the Old Testament

“Sandra Richter, in The Epic of Eden, describes what she calls the “dysfunctional closet syndrome,” in which she compares the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, to a closet jam-packed with all kinds of stuff— clothes, shoes, books, games— but so disorganized you don’t know where to put things or how to find things when you need them. So we shut the door and tell ourselves that we’ll sort it all out someday. Sound familiar?” -Rankin Wilbourne

 

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“Cumulative Revelation?” Nah, Stick with “Progressive Revelation”

“My personal preference is to speak of ‘cumulative’ revelation. It would be possible to see the word ‘progressive’ as registering an advance from a ‘primitive’ to a ‘mature’ understanding, leaving the ‘primitive’ behind. This is not what happens in the Bible: hence the word ‘cumulative’ is preferable. Truth is built up layer upon layer, so that nothing is lost. The earlier statement is not primitive but partial— part of the complete whole that is yet to be.” -Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

BTW NOTE: I don’t think Motyer is correct here. It’s not merely that layer is added to layer, nor that there is a cumulative build up of truth across Scripture. That overstates the unity of revelation. There is an age of types and shadows and there is an age of fulfillment. With the age of fulfillment, it’s not just that layers are added, but some things are taken away and replaced by other ideas.