Q&A: Evaluating Critical Approaches to the Pentateuch

Evaluating Critical Approaches to the Pentateuch

Critical scholarship often assumes that ancient religions were lower and less involved. How should evangelicals evaluate this critical mindset?

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Answer

Evangelicals should evaluate the idea that ancient religious beliefs are lower forms of religion with the Old Testament in mind. When the Christian church decided to give it's witness to Jesus, it's first witness was the Old Testament. So, the way that this impacts our understanding of the Canon is through the Old Testament. Israel is an ancient religious body of people, and if we look at that as a lower form of religion, we've got a real difficulty involved in understanding how that relates to Christianity. Was the Old Testament just a lower form of religion that sort of dropped off when the New Testament came along? I think those assumptions tell us more about modern views of history than they do the Bible's own self-presentation. The Bible speaks from the perspective of God as the one who speaks eternally, both in the past, the present and the future. So, the view that the Old Testament is a lower form of religious belief or that Israel represents, Israel's faith represents a lower form of religious belief would be something that Scripture's own self-witness doesn't support, but that comes from assumptions outside the text that have to do with modern ways of understanding our present in relation to the past.

Answer by Dr. Don Collett

Dr. Don Collett is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Trinity School of Ministry