“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.

‘Law’ is Broader than ‘Commandments’ in the OT

“We must be very careful over that word because in our common use it means regulations, prescriptions, bits and bobs to be obeyed. ‘Law’ suggests a narrow focus on rules, legislation, even on restrictions and prohibitions, but, in the Bible, ‘law’ means ‘teaching’. It has its regulatory, legalistic component, but basically it means an imparting of the truth that the Lord wishes to share with His people. Proverbs 4: 1– 2 is a good illustration: ‘Hear, my children (lit., sons), the instruction of a father… Do not forsake my law.’” -Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament

Hermeneutical Hiccups of Westerners

“The very existence of these problems [related to date, location, etc of the Exodus] in our minds only shows that we are scientifically-minded Westerners. Indeed, in one sense, we are importing our own problems into the Scriptures, and then blaming the Scriptures because we do not find answers there. Assuredly, to the original writers, these were no problems, or they would have framed their accounts differently. We are not to blame for being ‘scientific man,’ any more than the Hebrews are to blame for being ‘prescientific man,’ but we must learn not to ask of Scripture the answers which it is not written to give. If we must ask these questions, then we can only guess at the answers.” -R. Alan Cole, Exodus, p. 16

Biblicism Revisited

Biblicism Revisited 1

Illustration of Prophetic idiom

The OT prophets spoke of the glories of the messianic age in the ‘garb’ of ideas and concepts that were familiar to them.

This is like when you watch an old movie that is about the future (like 2010: The Year We Make Contact) and from our perspective it’s vision of the future looks a lot like the time the movie was made. It is a very 80s-ish understanding of the future (all the way down to the men wearing high shorts). They described the future that way because that’s how 80s people understood the future.

Similarly, the prophets spoke of the future messianic age in ways that people of their time and space would understand them. Yet, because the Spirit inspired them, their words were reliable guides for God’s people, and not deluded projections