The Old Testament should be read as Christian Scripture, Kenneth Mathews, professor of divinity in Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, said during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Drumwright Lectures, March 5-6.
“The Gospel which we preach has its Bethlehem in the Old Testament Scriptures,” he said during his first lecture. “That which is of first importance, that which is our core message, finds its justification and rationale in the Old Testament Scriptures.”
Since the first centuries of Christianity, Mathews explained, “there has been this ongoing challenge of understanding the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.” In the early church, such writers as Justin Martyr claimed that the Hebrew Bible truly belonged to the church, for Christians understood that it pointed to Christ. In the eighteenth century, however, Enlightenment thinkers created a rift between biblical studies and doctrine. As a result, they began to view the Old Testament apart from the New Testament. In the 21st century, the development of postmodern thought, intending to include every viewpoint, has caused some to believe that calling the Hebrew Bible the “Old Testament” diminishes its significance.
Despite this, Mathews claimed that the Old Testament inherently anticipates the New Testament. “This is not something that is imposed on the Old Testament, it is something that the Old Testament cries for at several levels,” he said, adding that this occurs from individual passages to the discourse structure and canonical order.
The Huber L. Drumwright Lectures in New Testament were established at Southwestern Seminary in 1987 by Minette Drumwright Pratt as a memorial to her late husband. Drumwright, a former pastor, served on the New Testament faculty at Southwestern Seminary for almost 30 years and was dean of the School of Theology for seven years.