Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 2

Theological Center

What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Theological Center

I. Million Dollar Question

II. The Challenge is the Diversity in the Bible

III. Unity in Authorship

IV. Other Attempts at Identifying a Theological Center

A. Old Testament

B. New Testament

C. Lack of consensus

V. Million Dollar Answer

VI. The Person and Work of Jesus is the Theological Center

A. Jesus is the center of everything

B. The word counting game

  • Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt 
Survey of the Old Testament 
Theological Center
Lesson Transcript


I. Million Dollar Question (00:13):

The purpose of this lecture is to understand and identify the significance of a theological center for the enterprise of Old Testament interpretation. It is important to note that the quest for a center constitutes for us, only one of three main entry points for understanding the Bible and the Old Testament. I have a theological center, a thematic framework, and a covenantal or canonical structure. You can think of John Frames triperspectival apologetic approach. This is my triperspectival approach to biblical interpretation, when it comes to the Old Testament. Here's the million dollar question... what is the Bible about, and how is that message communicated? When you get into an elevator with someone and they see you carrying your Bible, if you've got it, probably not anymore, it's on your phone, right? They say, "Hey, what's that book about?" Do you have a 15 or 30 second elevator speech that you could give to them on the contents of your Bible, that's both accurate and comprehensive?

It's one of the most basic questions about the Bible that we could ask. All of us have answered that question in our mind. Whether you're aware of it or not. You all have presuppositions about how you think about the Bible, and the question is, are they correct? Are they Biblical presuppositions? Where did you get those presuppositions? Did your parents pass them down to you? Did you get them in school? Did you get them by reading the Bible? There's all kinds of ways. There are lots of influences in your life. We think about the Bible in different ways. As we grow and mature over time, we think about the Bible in different ways. We want to know, fully and accurately, what it's about, because the way in which you think about the Bible is the way in which you're going to interpret it.

II. The Challenge is Diversity in the Bible (02:07):

I had sat in the ministry of one pastor for a while, and for him, everything in the Bible was about mission. Creation was about mission. Crossing the red sea was about mission. The period of the judges, the judges were on mission. Are you on mission? That one thing shaped everything. The question is, what's going to be the one thing that shapes everything for you? Some people think the Bible is all about obeying, obeying, obeying. So everything comes out that way. The Bible has mission in it and obedience in it. But what's the thing that undergirds all of it? Now, the challenge for asking this question is that some would deny it's even a valid question. The challenge for asking this is the diversity that exists in the Bible, but especially in the Old Testament.

Consider some of these factors. Number one, the Bible consists of approximately 600,000 words in three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In our English Bibles, the Old and New Testaments total well over 1,000 pages of English texts. Without those versions with notes all over the place. In our English Bibles, there as many as 39 different books in the Old Testament and 27 individual books in the New Testament English Bible. The first books of the Old Testament, The Pentateuch, were pinned by Moses, in approximately 1446 to 1406 BC. The last book, the book of Revelation, about 90 AD. All this is a rough estimate.

III. Unity In Authorship (03:52):

We've got 1500 years of authorship. Think about that. When you work on a book, it might take you three, five, or six years to write a book and publish it. This one took 1500 years. It was a team job. Let's think about authorship, or collectors. In the Old Testament, we have authors we know, like Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel and Ezra. We have 15 prophets and as many as 13 anonymous books in the Old Testament. 13. For some people, that's alarming. In the New Testament we have Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and one anonymous book. We got better there, Hebrews. Notice also that in our Old and New Testament, but especially Old Testament, there is a diversity in the types of revelation. We have divine words and divine acts.

We have creation itself and that reveals God to us. We have general revelation and special revelation. We have things like poetry, prose, law, and gospel. We have history, wisdom, praise, prophecy, apocalyptic literature, dreams, visions, gospels, histories, epistles, and sermons. Yes, even in the New Testament, there are dreams and visions. Think of all the different authors, that we know and don't know about, all the different genres, and the different languages that are employed. By way of summary, the Christian Bible contains 600,000 words written in three different languages. It was written by as many as 28 different human authors, including 15 books without identified human authors over a period of 1500 years, which resulted in some 66 individual books and two testaments. That is a work in progress. Is there a hope for identifying a theological center for biblical interpretation? Does the New Testament identify that center for us somehow?

IV. Other Attempts at Identifying a Theological Center

A. Old Testament (05:35) Let me give you just a couple of reasons I think it is possible. Number one, we have single divine authorship. The Old Testament is God-breathed and it was the spirit of Christ in them, these prophets and apostles, that guided them in the writing. We do have a controlling factor, or feature, that spans the scriptures and that can account for some of the diversity. I think when I show you the covenantal design of the Bible, you'll be shocked at the unity that exists in the macro structure of the Bible. It gives evidence to the fact that only God could have pulled this off over those many years and to that many people. Point two, when you think about diversity and unity, the formal literary Genesis, and a biblical revelation, where did it all start? It is located in the book of Exodus.

God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and confronted him with a task, while delivering divine revelation to Pharaoh. God commands Moses to prefix his address with three key words that become the standard formula for divine authorship in the Old Testament.  In Hebrew they're koh-Amar Yahweh. “Thus says the Lord”. This is how Moses was to deliver everything that he did to Pharaoh. It becomes the prophetic mantra when they introduce their speech.  “Thus says the Lord”, this formula occurs 293 times in the Old Testament. 293 times in the Old Testament. It spans from Exodus to Second Chronicles which is the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament. Interestingly, the prophet Jeremiah, who did not like his job, uses this formula 153 times in his book, because he wants you to know, I'm not saying this, it's the Lord.

Over half the occurrences appear in that. Now, if you add to this, the introductory formula, and the Lord, or Yahweh, and I said, that's 210 more times. Theres’s implications. If you add it all together, we find that the Old Testament explicitly identifies itself as containing the very words of God on 472 different occasions. Explicit. Where you've got those kind of specific formulas. You divide that by the number of books in our English Bible, which is like 39 or 40, that's at least 10 times in every book God saying, "I'm telling you guys this. Wake up".  No other human author, like "and Moses said" or "Moses wrote", and "Joshua wrote", comes even close to that. So by implication, I would say that at least 51% of the controlling interest in biblical revelation must be reckoned to Yahweh, the covenant God of the Old Testament.

B. New Testament (08:16)

Additionally, and finally, the God who spoke in the Old Testament becomes the incarnate God in the New Testament, and no longer is the messenger formula required of this person. Rather, God arrived, and now speaks directly to his people. Not koh-Amar Yahweh, but "truly, truly I say unto you."  Even that statement could have gotten him in trouble because by saying that he’s saying, "I have this authority, I don't need the prophetic meteor messenger formula anymore." The Old Testament word of God became the incarnate word of God and  testified to the singular truth of them. There's a large section that I'm going to skip because so many people have attempted to find a controlling center, either for the Old Testament or for the New Testament, or both. All of these are good things, because they all appear in the Bible.

But the question is, how do they relate to one another? Whatever you give prominence is going to be that which controls how you move forward. So people have suggested things like covenant, promise, the acts of God, communion, life of God's people, dominion, justice, righteousness, Yahweh. Some people do paired themes, like law and promise, election and obligation, creation and covenant, salvation and blessing, dominion and dynasty... Steve Dempster, great book, get it. In the New Testament, people said; kingdom, gospel, righteousness, justification, faith, new creation, law, gospel, promise and fulfillment. In terms of the whole Bible, there’s some good ones. But there are a couple of funny ones in there. Promise and fulfillment, type and antitype, salvation redemptive history, relationship with the living God, Christology, monotheism, covenant faithfulness, God's reign, righteousness, covenant selection, grace, obedience, people of God, Exodus, New Exodus creation, new creation, sin and salvation, God and Jesus in salvation history, and the promised plan of God. Walt Kaiser wrote a great book. Sin and salvation, worship kingdom through covenant, Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum, wrote on it recently.

C. Lack of concensus (10:14):

Some people put themselves as the center of the biblical revelation and that gets them in trouble as well. Does the lack of consensus, then, among scholars, preclude the possibility of getting into center? There currently is no evangelical consensus with regard to any proposed center for biblical interpretation right now. There is no evangelical consensus with regard to any proposed structure for biblical interpretation. There is no evangelical consensus with regard to the scope of biblical theology. Should the Old Testament and the New Testament have one individually? Or should the Old and New Testament have one together? Do we include things like the Apocrypha or not? Do we do the Jewish Bible, the Catholic Bible, the Protestant Bible. We're running around. If there's a million dollar question, right there, we're trying to ask ourselves, is there a center? Then what's the million dollar answer.

V. Million Dollar Answer (11:07)

That's what we want to get here... The million dollar answer.  I'm going to argue from Acts 28:23 and some other spots what that is. We've mentioned it in the last lecture, but it's worth reviewing. Paul was in Rome for two years, teaching day and night and Lucas summarized his teaching by saying, he's trying to testify about the kingdom of God and persuade them, concerning Jesus, from both the law of Moses and the prophets from morning till evening. Then just after that, it says in Acts 28:30-31, he says, "and he stayed there for two full years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ, with all openness unhindered." So two years, not just day and night, but also over a course of two years, Luke is summarizing Paul's teaching ministry as being about the kingdom of God and then trying to persuade them that Jesus is the King of the kingdom from the Old Testament.

It's really mind blowing to think about. When we slow down enough to take in what is being written down here, it's not just a passing statement. You're supposed to focus in on that saying "Wow, two years." Paul wasn’t going around saying "Kingdom of God, Kingdom of God, Kingdom of God." No. We know from his epistles. He covers all kinds of things like high-level Christology, good sanctification and living, right. The indicatives and the imperatives, eschatology. He covers everything. But notice how Luke summarizes all of it under the Kingdom of God and Jesus. So that's where we're going to go. I'm going to try to convince you now that the personal work of Jesus is the best theological center, not just for the whole Bible, but also for the Old Testament.

VI. The Person and Work of Jesus is the Theological Center (12:56):

So the purpose of this part of the lecture, which is part B of this lecture, is to identify and understand Jesus as the theological center of the Christian Bible, both Old and New Testaments. It may be clear to us that Jesus is a theological center of the New Testament, but I'm going to argue that the same center exists for both testaments, unifying them together. Now, let me just show you that some people disagree with what I'm about to argue. I think it's fair to give them a voice. One is a guy named Paul House, who is a great Old Testament scholar. He's got a great Old Testament theology and he does the right Hebrew Bible order in it. So I love that. One of the things he wrote, he says this, and this is another book, not the theology.

"We should give up arguing that one theme, and one thing only, is the central theme of the Bible, and highlight major themes. Let all other ideas as sub points."  So he's arguing against my kind of, "It's all about Jesus" point. But then he backs up and says, "of course we should never fail to assert that God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit are at the center". He just used the word center, "of any Unitarian Biblical theology, nor should we ever fail to assert the Bible unfolds God's redemptive history and the necessity of human response to God's gracious acts." Now reading between the lines, he's got a very Trinitarian theology and redemptive historical, but he's saying, "Okay, the Trinity is at the center of it." And redemptive histories is code for covenant. He's in sense arguing the same thing, but different words.

And that's what we do as academics. We like to nuance everything and play with it. So House concludes that there's simply too much diversity contained within the Christian scriptures to allow for an arguable and defensible theological center.  He's kind of doing, "Well, it's about God and redemptive history." Which I totally agree with, except for the word redemptive history. It's not redemptive for everybody. Covenant history has both blessings and curses. Blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. So it wasn't redemptive for Egypt on that day. It won't be redemptive for the non-elect on that day. It'll be curses. So redemptive history is the label of the winner, but covenant history is the one we should be using because covenant history has that blessing and curse nuance in it. Here's another scholar who writes in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

He says, "It follows that the Old Testament can hardly be called a book about Jesus, as if he were the principle subject. Where there is a future hope, it is centered on God himself, and in some places, on a messianic figure who is not identified. Jesus is not explicitly present. It follows that the Old Testament is perhaps not best described as a book about Jesus, but is rightly seen as a Christian book by Christians. Without it, the writers of the New Testament would not have had the resources which they needed for expressing their understanding of Jesus." So it just becomes like the time between the Old Testament ending and the New Testament starting. That literature, like the book of Maccabees, to help explain the cultural context out of which the New Testament grew.

They're saying that's what the Old Testament is like for the New Testament, just the cultural context out of which Jesus isn't there. Well, I'm going to argue differently. I'm going to argue that the Yahweh of the Old Testament is the second person of the Trinity most of the time.  I'm also going to argue that when we have those Theophanic appearances of the angel of Yahweh, that is the second person of the Trinity. He's there. So there's a great book on some of that. Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm, does a great job in talking about some of that, especially with the name of Yahweh and the double Yahweh figure. So I recommend that to you, but again, it's out of the scope of this class. My working thesis is going to be that Jesus is the theological center for all Biblical revelation, both the Old and New testaments.

A. Jesus is the center of everything (16:35)

Jesus is the heart of the canonical body, that which gives life to the whole. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The canonical structure and the thematic framework would represent severed and lifeless body parts without the living force of the theological center. Jesus Christ. He is the point, the goal, the fullness of it all. The unchallenged ruler over the Kingdom of God, as expressed in his covenantal-canonical-kingdom-word, triple hyphenation. So I'm not the only crazy person out there who believes this. I had team "nay", now I'm going to have team "yay". One of my favorites is Graeme Goldsworthy. Graeme Goldsworthy is an Australian Old Testament scholar. And in fact, his book on Christ centered, Biblical theology and Christ-centered interpretation really revolutionized the way I thought about the Old Testament. It helped me when I was getting into this business.

C. Jesus is the Center of the Universe (17:33):

So anything you can get by Goldsworthy, go for it. This isn't a book. Biblical Theology is the Heartbeat of Effective Ministry in Biblical Theology: Retrospect and Prospect, edited by a former professor of mine, Scott Haffeman, which is a colleague of Bill Mounce. He says, "The hub of the church and of the life of the believer is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. He is not only the hermeneutical center, by hermeneutic we meet interpretational. He's not only the hermeneutical center of the whole Bible, but according to the biblical testimony, he gives ultimate meaning to every fact in the universe. He is thus the hermeneutical principle for all reality, providing the center that holds it all together. All things were created by Him and for Him and through Him". Goldsworthy is amazing, I don't know if people really realize what he's arguing, that Jesus is not just a center of your Bible, he's the center of the universe. Does that makes sense?

You can't make sense of anything without Him. That's why some people who deny that fact have blinded themselves to the most important fact of history. The one thing that explains everything. Another great scholar wrote in his book, Look to the rock: An Old Testament Background to our Understanding of Christ by Alec Motyer, puts it this way, "Jesus came from outside," that is our world, "and voluntarily and deliberately attached himself to the Old Testament by way of incarnation. He affirmed it to be the Word of God and set himself at cost to fulfill it. This fact of facts cuts the ground from under any suspicion that the doctrine of biblical authority rests on any circular arguments, such as 'I believe the Bible to be authoritative because the Bible says it's authoritative.'"

"No," or it says, "Not so. It was Jesus who came from outside, the author, right? As the incarnate son of God, Jesus, who was raised from the dead as the son of God with power, who chose to validate the Old Testament in retrospect, and the New Testament in prospect and who himself is the grand theme of the storyline of both testaments, the focal point center, giving coherence to the total picture in all its complexities. He's the climax, as well as the substance and the center of the hole. In him, all the promises of God are 'Yes. And amen.'". He's using a couple of different words here that are important, where he says climax, substance, and center at the end. So some people in terms of, they might say the Bible is not Christocentric, but Christotelic, that is all the Old Testament eras are driving to Christ to make sense.

And that's a good word too. I like that because Christ is the climax of the covenant. We'll have a climactic age where He returns and brings into consummation the new heavens and new earth. That's Christotelic substance as well. You could also use the word, that I’m going to make up, Christopantic, pantic, or pan, is the Greek word for all. You've got Heterocentric, it's that He makes sense of it all. Christotelic, and it's all about Him in the end, but Christopantic, it's just all about Him. He's not just the center, but He's also everything around it as well. Like all things created by Him and for Him and through Him, it's Christopantic. You can never ascribe too much meaning or significance to the persona; or the of work of Christ in your life.

Ever. You can never worship Him too much. You can never obey Him too much. You can never adore Him too much. You can never search for Him too much in the scriptures. He is the one thing, the one person, that can bear the weight of all your need. No one else can do that. No other thing can do that. See, that's what idolatry is, is when you move from out of that stance. The moment you say, it's Jesus, plus a little bit of this, or Jesus plus a little bit of that. Or this thing can also have meaning in my life, in such a way that takes from that, it moves into idolatry, and our hearts are idol factories, right?

We know that little famous statement, but He's the one thing that can bear the weight of every need that you have, right? That's how we're approaching the Old Testament. We're going to go there and we're going to say the law of the Lord is perfect. Revive my soul, according to your word.

Let me end this little part of the lecture with just what I'll call the word counting game. This is a fun little exercise.

One of the things that we've got a tremendous ability to do now with computer databases, like Accordance or Logos are the now dying Bible works. We can search the scriptures in certain ways to find all kinds of things.  I'm a Hebrew dude. I'm always doing weird Hebrew searches on how things work. It's a favorite. When I have free time, I do keyword searches. Let's think about this from a literary perspective. Let's say we're just all literature scholars here. The Bible's the great literature.  Let's just pick a book. We can pick any book, but some popular ones right now we could say, are the Harry Potter books. Let's say the Harry Potter series.

B. The word counting game (22:47):

If I were to do a word search, like if I had my Harry Potter database, and I searched for all proper names. Proper nouns are a person, place,  or thing. What would be the number one name that popped up in the book? Harry, of course, because the book is about Harry Potter. The same thing is if you had the book The Hobbit and you searched The Hobbit for the number one most common proper noun, it would probably be the hobbit, Bilbo. Yes, his uncle. Yeah. You almost know it intuitively because if you've read the book. The Hobbit's about Bilbo and Harry Potter's about Harry Potter, right? You could do it. It'd be trickier with some other books, but it works like that. Let's apply that basic literary principle to the Old Testament.

There are almost 475,000 Hebrew and Aramaic words in the Old Testament. 475,000. That's a lot. The Old Testament is 77% of the Christian Bible. So what I want to give back to you this week is 77% of your Bible. So 475,000 Hebrew and Aramaic words is in the Old Testament. There are 13,905 different proper nouns. So like, Moses, Aaron, and Saul, or Jerusalem.  They occur 35,783 times in the Old Testament. That's approximately 7.5% of every word in the Old Testament is a proper noun. If you were going to write a fake document, you wouldn't put all this kind of explicit evidence in there that could be looked up and documented like names and places.

1. Top Proper Nouns (24:32):

I use this as proof, for the truthfulness of the Bible. We've got names, places, and dates that we can look at. Let's do the top seven proper nouns that appear in the Old Testament. Number one is Israel. Number two is David. Three is Judah. Four is Moses as well as  Judah, which could be the person or the tribe. So, there's more about the tribe than the person. There's Egypt. There's Jerusalem. You'll never guess, Saul. 2,509, 1,075, 820, 766, 682, 643, and 406. I don't have it on here. He should have been up there though. Shouldn't he? He's probably right under Saul, probably still mad about it. Then, when you compare that to this, I'll just spell it this way. That's going to be Yahweh, the Tetragrammaton, some people like to pronounce it, some people don't. Christian freedom here. Then we're going to put in there Elohim.

Now a couple of times in the Bible, though, it's a statement that the Bene Elohim, and those are angels. We can put it in there. Then we're going to do Adonai, when it refers to God. And so this one is 6,829 or 19.1% of all proper names in the Bible, the Old Testament. Then you've got about 2,602, and 700 right here, which totals 10,131. I want you to compare 10,131 to 2,500. You've got the people of God, the king, from the tribe, the covenant mediator, the bad place, the good place, the bad king. So 19%, so let's say 20%, of all proper names refer to Yahweh. But then if you add these in here it's way higher, too. It's an astonishing figure.

So if you read the Old Testament, the number one speaker, player, and actor is Yahweh, instead of Harry Potter. It'd be called "The History of Yahweh".Or "The Works of Yahweh." That would be an appropriate title, for the Old Testament, "The Works of Yahweh." Remember that number, 19.1. Sorry guys. I'm just going to do here, what I like to call... This is going to be the New Testament. I like to call that the Old Testament answer key. So, appears in the back of the book  and it gives you all the right answers. Aside from Jesus, which you know He's going to win, who do you think the number one name is in there?


2. New Testament Proper Names (27:52):

Yeah, that's right. Peter, John, Pharisee. Look who makes it in both lists; Moses, Jerusalem and, Simon. Oh you'll be happy about this one, Abraham. I guess I would have taken mention in the New Testament over the Old Testament. Then Israel again is in both lists. Look at this; Moses, Jerusalem, Abraham, Israel, you can see the continuity or the overlap there. So you've got 158, not even. The New Testament is much smaller. 156, 135, Pharisee 98, Moses 80. What does the New Testament have? In the New Testament, there are approximately 138,167 Greek words. So let's compare that to 475 in the Old Testament. In it, there are 551 different proper names that occur approximately 4,132 times or 3% of all the words in the New Testament are proper names.

People and places. So Jesus, we'll just write Him down here... His number is 917, God, the Theos, is going to be 1,317. Lord, or Kyrios, is going to be 717. Again, these aren't proper names, these are like titles, so my percentages are just based on that. But that's even more staggered. So this right here is 22.2% of all proper names in the New Testament. It's even higher than the Old Testament. So 22%. So you've got 20% in the Old Testament is Yahweh, more than 20% of the New Testament is Jesus. And when you come to the conclusion that they're basically the same person, like the Yahweh we encounter and experience in the Old Testament is primarily the second person of the Trinity.

Conclusion (30:06):

Now there's some blurring and blending, read Heiser, specifically that, so the same person is at work in both testaments with just slightly different names. We're going to talk about this when we get to the book of Exodus, what does the divine name mean, Yahweh? I'll just tell you right now that the divine name represents the promise of the divine presence. We often think of it as "I will be", but it's actually, "I'll be with you", is what it means. We know that Jesus in the New Testament, in Matthew, is called Emmanuel, which is the fulfillment of the promise of the divine name, “God with us”. These two people are not two different people, but the same person. One pre-incarnate, one incarnate. What I'm going to do after this is give you some biblical testimony. How you can think about this for when you hear preaching and teaching, and then what's the significance of this for your interpretation in the next lecture?