Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Consuming the Word Chapter 3: The New Testament in the New Testament

As Hahn points out, the term "New Testament" is found six times in the 27 books that would later be referred to as the New Testament of the Bible.  While the number may not be a lot, it's significance cannot be overstated.  Hahn shows in this chapter that the term "New Testament" according to the Scriptures was not originally the name of a collection of sacred books, but rather "a sacramental bond (21)" that makes understandable (and accessible) the events of Good Friday.

Getting the terms right from the beginning is essential.  The word "testament" which comes from the Latin is diatheke in Greek and is most often translated into English as "covenant."  (The older Douay-Rheims is helpful here in that it translated the Latin novum testamentum as "new testament" and not "new covenant" in the institution narratives.  See page 20 in Hahn's book for more on this.)  Diatheke is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word for "covenant" which is berith.  In the Old Testament, "New Testament" or berith chadasha appears only once, and that is in the famous passage found in Jeremiah 31:31.  The covenants that God made with his people in the Old Testament form the basic identity of the children of Israel.  These covenants were "normally marked by a solemn ritual oath, sealed with a blood sacrifice and. often, with a shared meal (18)."  So, when Jeremiah prophesies a new covenant, he notes that it will indeed be new, but it won't be completely different or divorced from the pattern of the earlier covenants.

As stated earlier, "new covenant" is found six times in the Christian scriptures.  Yet, the only place that Jesus mentions the "new covenant" is during the Last Supper.  He doesn't use the term to denote a book, but rather a sacred bond initiated through a sacred meal (21).  The beginning of his passion, which will inaugurate the "New Covenant," begins with a sacred passover meal with the apostles.  "Thus, in Jesus's only use of the term, we find that 'New Testament' refers not to a text, but to a rite and to the new order brought about by means of that rite (22)."  Even when the term "new testament/covenant" is found in the New Testament Letters is appears most often in relation to discussions on liturgy and priestly service (22).  Therefore, according to Hahn, it is clear that "when the phrase 'new testament/covenant' appears in the document now known as the New Testament, it appears consistently amid the discussion of sacrificial liturgy and priestly office (23)."

Hahn concludes this section by pointing out that the only way a person could make the connection that the crucifixion of Jesus was a sacrifice, instead of simply a public execution, was the offering Jesus made during the Last Supper (24-25).  The Last Supper explains the what and the why of the Good Friday death of Jesus.

4 comments:

David Dewey said...

I follow Hahn's logic totally in saying that the new covenant (the reality of our relationship with God through Christ as celebrated in the Eucharist) long predates the formation of the New Testament. My worry is this unnecessarily sets Word and Sacrament against each other. He uses the illustration of the Eucharist as meal and the Bible as menu. While I like the way he plays up the Eucharist, I think the Bible is more than the menu: it gives the fullest possible interpretation, explanation and education for our life of faith, enjoyed within the covenant community that is the Church. Scripture is no substitute for our relationship with God, but it is the means - as the Church reads, studies and applies it - by which our faith is formed and sustained. The very title of Hahn's book, Consuming the Word, suggests as much.

losabio said...

The title of the book is "Consuming the Word". The Word is Jesus, and we physically consume the body and blood of Jesus when we partake of the Eucharist.

David Dewey said...

It seems to me Hahn has chosen a title involving a deliberate play on words. His interest is in shown how Scripture informs what takes place at the Eucharist. Hahn is well aware of the long tradition of lectio divina, the prayerful reading/consuming of Scripture by which, as members of the Eucharistic community, we draw near to Christ and feed or faith. Stating this does not detract at all from the centrality of the Eucharist, but rather friends or appreciation of all that Christ has done for us in his sacrificial death.

Steve Finnell said...

WHAT DID THE FIRST CHRISTIANS BELIEVE?

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST HAD ITS BEGINNING ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST 33 A.D.. WHAT BELIEFS AND ACTIONS DID THE THREE THOUSAND CONVERTS TO CHRIST HAVE IN COMMON? DID GOD APPROVE OF EVOLVING BELIEFS, DIFFERENT REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION? IF THAT WERE TRUE, THEN WOULD IT NOT BE FOUND IN THE NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES?

Acts 2:41 So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added about three thousand souls. Acts 2:47....And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

All three thousand believed the apostle Peter's message and were baptized in water. Then they were added to the Lord's church by the Lord Himself. The Lord did not add the unsaved to His church. They had to believe and be baptized in water prior to being added to the body of Christ.

1. Acts 2:22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know---

All three thousand believed Jesus was a miracle worker.

2. Acts 2:31-32 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.

All three thousand believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified."

All three thousand believed that Jesus was Lord and Christ.

4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

All three thousand repented in order to have sins forgiven. (repentance meant that they made the commitment to turn from their unbelief and sinful lifestyle and turn toward God).

All three thousand were baptized in water in order to have their sins forgiven.

All three thousand received the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit after they believed, repented, and were baptized in water.

5. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"

All three thousand were saved after they believed Peter's message: They believed, repented, confessed, and were baptized in water. (Mark 16:16, John 3:16, Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:35-38) THEN THEY WERE ADDED TO THE LORD'S CHURCH! (Acts 2:47)

WHAT THINGS DID PETER NOT PREACH AND WHAT THINGS DID THE THREE THOUSAND NOT BELIEVE.

1.Peter did not preach that men were saved by grace alone.

2.Peter did not preach that men were saved by faith only

3.Peter did not preach that God had selected a few to be saved and that all others would go to hell.

4. Peter did not preach that water baptism was not essential to salvation.

5. Peter did not preach that Jesus was just one of many Saviors.

6. Peter did not preach that once you were saved, that you could continue in a sinful lifestyle and still be saved.

7. Peter did not preach that God did not have the power to give us an inerrant translation of the Scriptures.

8. Peter did not preach that God would provide hundreds or thousands of different Christian denominations, and that they would teach different ways of being saved.

9. Peter did NOT preach that you had to speak in tongues as evidence that you were saved.

AS BELIEVERS IN CHRIST, MEN SHOULD USE THE BIBLE AS THEIR GUIDE FOR SALVATION. Looking to man-made creed books, Bible commentaries, denominational statements of faith, and church catechisms, is looking in all the wrong places for the absolute truth!


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