Today, we spent the day with the Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb from the University of Virginia, who focused on Bible study and preaching. It was quite good if more geared toward postulants than priests. I did find the afternoon session particularly helpful as it affirmed some of my own growing convictions about preaching–which I have harped on here before–as a means of grace, as a site where Christ is savingly present, as the place where the Word of God once for all becomes the Word of God for today.
So, I won’t recapitulate that. I do want to try to bring together some of the themes Rev. Grieb talked about with ones I’m encountering while reading Christopher Seitz’s new book, The Character of Christian Scripture. (I’ll be reviewing that fine book on TF shortly after I return to Canada).
Anyway, the themes from our talks today and the book intersect in my imagination as I continue to ponder Luke 24, and specifically, Jesus’ insistence to the disciples that “these are my words.” That the Old Testament, in other words, testifies to Christ, is Gospel, is–to borrow from Seitz–its own discreet witness with its own unique voice apart from and prior to the that of the New Testament.
As I think about preaching, I find that theme really hard to work with. How would I manage if, after the Old Testament lesson, the lector announced “This is the Gospel of Christ” and then it was up to me to find him in, say, Judges? Seitz clearly thinks I can and should. Indeed, he is particularly convinced that the OT has its own voice apart from how it is received by the NT, and that that voice needs to be recovered.
As I look at my own preaching, it is clear that Seitz is right. I do hit on the Gospel–and have done for the last year.
Anyway, some themes from the talk today also impinge upon my wrestling with Luke 24, and accordingly with the Gospel of our Lord in the Old Testament: the Bible teaches us how to interpret it. The texts will give us not only the outline but even the genre of our sermons provided we are willing to submit ourselves to them.
So, I’m not left with any answers here. Just a series of convictions–the OT is itself a discreet and unique witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and would be so even if the NT never had come to be. After all, when Paul reasons from the Scriptures, and tells us that they have been breathed out by God (1Tim 3:16), the OT is what he’s talking about. The OT lessons, further, no matter how out of touch, far away, irrelevant or just plain gross they may appear to be from our own perspective, will teach me how to preach them as I live with them.
Seems to me I need to put these convictions to the test. Readers of this blog know that, in fact, I plan to do just this beginning in July.
So, to the regular readers of this blog (and irregular ones too, if you wish) a question. In addition to good OT commentaries (I have already asked for recommendations on Samuel and Kings), is there anything else I need to know about preaching the OT as Christian Scripture?