Israel and the Church - pre-ramble (hunting for a trout and catching a shark)

My two burger posts make me feel like a person fishing for trout and catching a shark - I seem to have dragged up from the depths an ancient theological beastie far bigger than I was expecting (though I knew the shark was down there). What exactly is the relationship between Israel and the Church in the past and the present,? between Old Covenant and New Covenant? between Law and gospel?

Oh no! The rule is that in these discussions whatever you say you die! The only question is who will kill me. (What fun! I'll see if I can arrange things so that everyone wants to kill me.)

The problem is that so many controversial texts and issues intersect on these matters that one has to master so much material to speak with any confidence on them. I have not and I cannot (so read any confidence as bluster on my part to deter difficult questioning). So in the series of posts that will follow please appreciate that I am throwing out ideas for discussion. They are thoughts in progress and nothing much stronger than that right now.

Another issue concerns method. Do I start with the specific texts? Should I, for instance, do a post on Romans 14, another on Galatians 2, another on 1 Cor 9, another on Rom 9-11 and so on? I am not going to do that or we'd be at this game forever (not least because I have simply not studied any of them properly).

I have decided to do a N.T. Wright (my hero! swoon). I am going to (briefly) retell the biblical story from start to finish in such a way as to propose a way of answering the questions that have been raised. But I am going to tell it somewhat differently from N.T. Wright. That framework obviously will depend on the exegesis of particular texts but I wish to throw out the big idea to start with. Within that framework it is much easier to start addressing particular texts.

These posts may take a while as I am effectively trying to do a whole biblical theology off the top of my head (and I am not being falsely modest when I say that in truth my brain is not that clever). It is a given that I am going to make some mistakes along the way so please be patient (i.e., pause, smile, pause again, then kill me).

One final thing. The framework only really makes sense when all the parts are in place so there might not be a whole load to say in response to the first few posts (who knows?).

The wise thing to do would be to first work out what I think and then blog it but I thought I'd do some theology on the run and see what comes out. Who knows whether it will be chololate fudge cake or poo? That's the excitement of the journey (I am such a theological adrenelin junkie!)

(Dear Lord, please keep me true to your word along the way! Help me not to be misled not to mislead.)


Rafael said…

Looking forward to this series. But it seems to me that the terms of the question themselves pose problems for any attempt to seek answers. As Philip Alexander once wrote:

Rabbinic Judaism cannot easily be equated with normative Judaism before the third century C.E., and even then only in Palestine. The reason for this is that it was not until the third century that a majority of the Jews in Palestine accepted the authority of the Rabbinate. Nevertheless Rabbinic Judaism must remain central to discussion [sic] of the parting of the ways even when we are talking of the first and second centuries, not because it represented normative Judaism then, but because it was the form of Judaism which ultimately triumphed and became normative Judaism. The forward-looking character of the question should always be borne in mind. (1992:3)

But how Christianity separated from rabbinic Judaism is not the same question as how Christianity came to be identified as a thing that wasn't Judaism, full stop.

In a series of disparate posts, I'm also trying to disentangle some of these ideas. I wish you luck and look forward to your thoughts.
Robin Parry said…

Oh dear! I feel like a guy about to go bunjee jumping and forgetting the bunjee. (note to self: it is not too late to pull out!). I will check out your posts

The Pook said…
"Who knows whether it will be chocolate fudge cake or poo?"
The difference is only about 12 hours. Shorter if you use theological laxative.
Mason said…
This is a topic of great interest for me, and I am excited to see how you develop the issue. Looking forward to much fruitful interation.
Much of my studies have been devoted to that issue, for a variety of reasons which I might elaborate on someday, and I have posted on it a bit but have yet to work up the nerve and energy to lay it out in a detailed stream of conciusness style, kudos to you for deciding to attempt it and best of luck.

Also, as you discuss Israel and the Church if you could mention any books that have really benifited you in certian areas that would be very much appresiated.
Unknown said…
These posts may take a while as I am effectively trying to do a whole biblical theology off the top of my head...

Can I just blow you away now and get it over with? If this is seriously your strategy… ;-)

I love this topic as well, and I look forward to how you'll unfurl the whole of redemptive history for us. Really, though, how can we wait till the whole framework is in place before we start taking shots?
Robin Parry said…

feel free to shoot me as I go along. I do have a sketch in my headf where I want to go with it but I know that I am bting off far more than I can chew. That is my worry.

I would never dream of presenting my preliminary thoughts at such an early stage in my reflections in any other context (in print or in sermons) so I question my wisdom here. I am offering my provisional thoughts for experts to chew up and spit out! Still - it might help me imprive, eh?

So give me grief along the road.


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