The Problem of Old Testament Instruction

Ralph Leslie Johns
1919 The Biblical World  
I To many people the Bible is the Bible. Of one piece of cloth, true from cover to cover, all the inspired Word of God, a book no part of which may be taken away, no part of which may be added to, else "God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book, "' a book venerated for its age, for its completeness as a lamp and guide to rectitude, for its worthy heroes and its saintly men, a book to live by and a book to die by. To those who view it thus the Bible is a revelation of the past, an
more » ... on of the past, an interpretation of the present, a prediction of the future. It is the arsenal of texts against all unbelievers, the scourge upon the heathen, the blessing upon the "saved." Every question of doctrine or conduct can be justified by a passage, every false passage proved to be of the evil one. Joshua and Samuel and Kings serve but to show the preparation for the coming of the Savior, and every book from Genesis to Revelation can be made to show forth the life of Jesus Christ. "Thus saith the Lord"--so says the Bible; therefore the Lord surely must have said it, else why should it have been in the Bible ? The Old Testament is the master of people who take this point of view. A verse or passage has pretty much the same significance to them wherever found, and little, if any, thought is given to historical setting. The questions of Bible authorship or composition they do not wish to debate. It is easier to interpret from a passage as it stands than to ascertain the environment in which it was written or spoken. It is easier to force some present application than to face with candor the evidence of history, whether in rocks, in ruins, or in texts. It would seem to these people that if Moses, or Abraham, or David, or any other of the prophets could make mistakes, then Christianity is a failure. If it could be proved that the sun did not stand still at the command of Joshua,2 that men did not actually rise up from the valley of bones at a word, then the Bible ceases to be inspired. Inspiration and infallibility must go hand in hand. The fate of the Bible, the fate of the Christian religion, hangs thereon. To an ever-increasing number of people the Bible is still the Bible; yet it is impossible longer to regard the thirty books from Genesis to Malachi as a uniform and unvaryingly harmonious exemplification of God and a perfect code of standards. The Bible is the record of divine revelation, but at the same time has a historical background which by no means may be ignored or overlooked. The Old Testament is a ' Rev. 22:18. 'Josh. 1o:I 2 ff. 481 This content downloaded from 128.083.
doi:10.1086/476282 fatcat:sm5sajul2rhvzaerws3rauz6mu