. . . the passion of Jesus is not presented in the pages of the New Testament as symbolic of a spiritual notion of sacrifice, but as the direct outcome of all that went before it in Israel, as the obedient fulfilment of God’s saving intervention in all the long story of this stubborn people gathered by God into covenant with himself. This is of supreme importance, for it means that the interpretative witness of the New Testament to Christ is subordinated to and controlled by the Old Testament scriptures, and that basic fact will not allow us to say that the New Testament gospel was the product of the creative spirituality of the primitive church, and that the Old Testament scriptures were only brought in to illustrate it. Through its setting in the context of historical Israel and its setting in the Old Testament scriptures, the New Testament witness to Christ is presented in a way that is objectively and authoritatively controlled from beyond the subjective experience of the primitive church. The New Testament witness is a faithful and obedient witness to Christ wrested from its writers by an authority and a compulsion to which they could only submit. That is very evident for example in the slowness and unwillingness of the New Testament witnesses to acknowledge deliberate divine purpose in the humiliating weakness and passion of Christ. (Thomas F. Torrance, ed. Robert T. Walker, “Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ,” 17-18)

This certainly runs in the face of the ‘form’ criticism so common amongst ‘higher critics’ of the Bible. What I like about this, is that Torrance underscores a very pertinent point; and that is that the New Testament (and thus the New Covenant) is completely contingent upon the framework that the Old Testament promises set forth in proleptic anticipation of ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’. So in other words, the New Testament is not a free floating ‘Marcionite’ amalgamation of books that were ‘copy-and-pasted’ upon the Old Testament; No! Instead the New Testament had been taking shape for centuries prior, in the life and history of the nation of Israel; as Yahweh ‘pre-incarnated’ Himself amongst them through the ‘shadowy-system’ of tabernacles, temples, and law-codes.

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