Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

From: Pete Enns <>
Date: Wed Nov 04 2009 - 07:45:18 EST

I think trajectory is a good model for the relationship between the

Another model I have toyed with--very simply--is that the NT is
analogous to to the Talmud. Both reflect attempts to engage the Bible/
OT in view of changing circumstances: for Jews, the exile and for
Christians the death and resurrection of the messiah.

I think the trajectory and Talmud models together aim at addressing
the continuity and discontinuity seen in the NT vis-a-vis the OT. To
get back to the original point, I think Bernie is concerned about the
fact that discontinuity is something that resides in a book that is
supposedly written on some level by God.


On Nov 3, 2009, at 11:56 PM, Murray Hogg wrote:

> Hi Pete,
> Interesting. And I'm sure you'll be interested to know that I often
> used a "trajectory model" myself - as in;
> "The entire trajectory of the biblical understanding of God's
> relationship with his people is from the forensic and ritual to the
> pneumatological and christological"
> That is, of course, to paint with a very broad brush, but I think it
> works as a point of departure. It neither denies that Judaism was/
> is, to some extent, a religion of grace, nor demands that we take an
> entirely antinomian view of Christian discipleship.
> Yet I think it helps as an articulation of what the substantial
> difference is between OT and NT religion - with one of the most
> substantial changes being the coming of the Spirit according to the
> prophecy of Joel (cf. Peter's speech in Acts 2).
> One could perhaps quibble about the difference in content between an
> OT and a NT ethic, but it's a rather trivial distinction when
> compared against the different "dynamic" which arises in light of an
> external vs internal "rule of faith" (i.e. the Law vs the Spirit).
> I'm sure we could all beat one another over the head with debates
> about details, but I think most Christians would agree that the
> "trajectory" of Scripture is, broadly speaking, something like I
> have here described. Comments?
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Pete Enns wrote:
>> Thanks, Murray.
>> And I think that the notion of "trajectory" is what puts the NT in
>> both this position of "confirming" and "challenging" the OT. It is
>> the perennial hermeneutical challenge of the church, as far back as
>> Paul. Every Christian who looks into this will adopt some model in
>> an effort to give as much coherence to the data as possible. For
>> me, a "trajectory model" is most helpful because it is flexible and
>> opens up discussion.
>> Pete
>> On Nov 3, 2009, at 11:47 AM, Murray Hogg wrote:
>>> Hi Pete,
>>> I like the way you put this; "not a contradiction to be resolved
>>> but a trajectory to be understood."
>>> All too often I think there can be a tendency to bet bogged down
>>> in the minutiae of the biblical text and not appreciate that there
>>> is, indeed, an overarching trajectory to it all.
>>> In respects of morality, I think the trajectory evidences a move
>>> from the idea of following an outward moral code (the Law) to the
>>> idea of following an internal witness (the Spirit). Crudely put, I
>>> know, but I'm sure I don't need to labour the theological niceties!
>>> I should probably acknowledge, incidentally, that "contradiction"
>>> wasn't your term. I'll simply remark that I was referring rather
>>> generally to the tendency to so focus on Scripture as a bunch of
>>> "data" to be systematised that the *function* of scripture as a
>>> guide to faith and practice gets lost. I'm not, let me say,
>>> against the practice of biblical theology - the attempt to
>>> systematise the teachings of Scripture - but I do think we can get
>>> just a bit obsessive about the minutiae of it all.
>>> Here's to seeking to understand the trajectory!
>>> Blessings,
>>> Murray
>>> Pete Enns wrote:
>>>> Murray,
>>>> It is both, even within the Sermon on the Mount (although we need
>>>> not linger there). Jesus is both addressing the use of Israel's
>>>> civil law by the religious hierarchy (but not limited to them)
>>>> and he is also abrogating certain laws. A good example is the
>>>> passage on oaths and vows.
>>>> But there are bigger issues about what the OT itself assumes and
>>>> what the NT says. However, although I do not shy away from the
>>>> notion of contradiction, I did not use that term to describe this
>>>> phenomenon. It is not a contradiction to be resolved but a
>>>> trajectory to be understood.
>>>> Oh, and hi :-)
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Received on Wed Nov 4 07:45:56 2009

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