Old Testament


How does one go about defending the Old Testament? It is hard to understand. It seems to describe God as more of a vengeful being, often times like a person. It is not something challenging my faith, but I want to be able to teach it for other people's sake.



I think Jimmy Akin does a good job of responding to this question:

Hard Sayings of the Old Testament


[quote="Joe_5859, post:2, topic:316573"]
I think Jimmy Akin does a good job of responding to this question:

Hard Sayings of the Old Testament




I’ve heard the OT described as the difference between a parent talking to a young child and a parent talking with a late teen (New Testament). Parents who correct their children and give them rules can sound like absolute tyrants to a young child:
“But why can’t I eat ice cream all day long instead of real meals? Why can’t I jump on the bed with dirty feet? Why can’t I jump off the roof with an umbrella like Mary Poppins? Why can’t I stay up late at night watching rated R movies like my classmates?”

Once a child is old enough to understand the reason for the rules, they can get a more loving picture of their parents. “Oh, that’s why they forbade me to…They didn’t want me to get hurt!” As a result, the parents can afford to relax some rules (such as staying up late) for a good reason.

One of my favourite Old Testament laws to explain this is the washing of hands and utensils. To the modern person today, they say “Well, duh! Of /course/ you should wash your hands and dishes to prevent disease!” But hand washing didn’t even become a popular secular practice until around 1843 AD!

Another is the precise number of days after birth in which a male child should be circumcised (which helps with male cleanliness). 8 days after birth is when the baby’s clotting ability is increased, but the pain receptors aren’t as sensitive as they will be later.

Not every Old Testament rule has to make sense to us at this given time. As a people, we may not discover the reasons for another several hundred years…if at all.

As to God being more like a person, it points to the psychology of relation. We are more likely to sympathize with someone who is like us. If God could feel as we feel, then we are more likely to believe that he can relate to us. Bambi isn’t as cute if he is seen as just another average deer which has no problems attacking a human being during rutting season. The reasons why we relate to Bambi are his humane qualities- curiosity, fear, love, friendship, innocence, etc. The closer an animal is to human emotion, the more we find it loveable. So, when God came to earth as a human being, we found him more loveable than when he remained apparently formless and out of our reach.
Old Testament God isn’t necessarily jealous/ vengeful- but it’s an emotion we, humans, can relate to and understand. The Bible is inspired by God, but written by humans for the sake of humans to come to a relationship with God.

I hope this helps.


Here is another good explaination.



There is a book of questions and answers by Pope John Paul II title Crossing the Threshold of Hope. One of the questions had to do with disbelief (in general) as I recall. Why do so many people reject the gospel news of Jesus Christ?

But, his answer was, some people reject God because they reject, for one reason or another, the way he has revealed hiimself.

Akin's answer was long, and I was getting lost in it. I like to get a little closer to the Bible itself where all the action is.

Aside from anything else, God is revealing himself and teaching us how serious sin is, what an offense it is, how people living immorally, especially worshipping false gods, are going to be judged.

There are other principles that come out of the study of the Old Testament. Judaism (at least as described in the Bible) is not a "deist" religion, where God created the world and then dropped all involvement in it.

On the general subject of the relevance of the Old Testament, the Church has much to say.

In the early church, Marcion was a heretic who rejected the entire Old Testament, because HE didn't like the image of God that comes out of it. Neither Jews, nor Christians (including Catholics) agree with Marcion.

One document that uphold the importance of the old testament is here,
IN THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE issued by the Pontifical Biblical Commission

Now, another place where the importance of the Old Testament is brought out is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In this excerpt, the statement is basically emphasizing the importance of revelation in Genesis:

from paragraph 389:

389 The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the "reverse side" of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.

There was a priest on EWTN cable tv who used to say, a thousand difficulties do not add up to one doubt.

editorial opinion: keep studying and don't get overwhelmed with argument.with others, even if you don't immediately have a response for them. This just shows how we all need to keep reading, studying, and deepening our faith.


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