READING BACKWARDS

READING BACKWARDS

Author RICARD B HAYS

Publisher SPCK

ISBN 978-0-281-07408-2

I suppose that if we come across a book written by a distinguished Dean and Professor of New Testament, currently at Duke Divinity school, we should expect something written in heavy scholastic terms.  I did not find that to be the case, neither is it overly ‘heavy,’  but thoroughly confirming as to the true unity of the Bible as one book.  We can define the subject matter of the Hays thought in two statements, first, the Old Testament teaches us how to read the gospels, and the four gospels teach us how to read the Old Testament.  Scripture is to reinterpreted in the light of the cross and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  The Old Testament is filled with the revelation of God at work in one great story, therein the gospel is not so much hid but disclosed and the New is thoroughly based upon what was said and done by God in the Old.  Take for instance the ‘I am’s” of Jesus, each of them already revealed in the Old Testament.  Hays shows us just how distinctively each gospel author brilliantly shows us a different aspect of the Lord Jesus, they all present Him as truly God and truly man.  This author begins by quoting a saying by Martin Luther, that the Old Testament is “the manger in Which Christ lies”.   A graphic picture and one he proceeds to set forth.  Beginning with the Gospel of Matthew we are shown how there we see Jesus as the Torah (the Old Testament) transfigured.  We find the Old Testament illuminated by the way that Matthew builds all He says upon Christ as fulfilment of all.  The mystery of the incarnation, of Jesus as God’s self disclosure in flesh is the particular presentation of the writer of the gospel of Mark.  Luke shows us Jesus as the One Who redeems Israel, should there have been an alert and attentive spirit in those who saw and heard the Lord they would have recognised Him to have been fulfilling those things contained in the Hebrew scriptures.  Hays believes that the man who wrote John’s gospel is showing us that Christ is the temple of the Old testament transfigured.  The gospel writers took the Old Testament scriptures reading backwards into them with spiritual understanding and those very scriptures were filled with sure and certain promises concerning Israel’s messiah and the Saviour of the world.  They pointed forward and the New points backwards thus there is mutual confirmation of all  Modern Biblical studies have not embraced this view, instead the old arguments about a different God of the Old and the gentler God of the New have been taught.  In the view of more modern Biblical studies it is as though the gospels were cobbled together to keep people in the faith rather than them presenting Jesus as the embodiment of the God of Israel.  For some reading this book will be illuminating, for others who have already been led to see something of the flow and unity of the story of God in the Bible and in the Person of His Son, reading this will further corroborate the wonder of God at work in and through Israel and the true Israel, the Lord Jesus.  

Last modified: December 8, 2016

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