Sunday, August 24, 2014

Much More Excellent

A miscellany from March 22, 2014.

I usually enjoy reading the New Testament more than I enjoy reading the Old Testament. If someone asks me why this is, I like to respond half-jokingly by saying, “Well, because the New Testament is better.” I say “half-jokingly” on purpose, because I fancy it’s a sentiment at least somewhat inspired by Hebrews 8:6: “Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.”

Our English word testament comes from the Latin word testamentum, which is what the Vulgate uses to translate the word “covenant” in this verse from Hebrews. It’s also the word Jesus uses at the last supper: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant [novi testamenti] in my blood” (Luke 22:20). Testament is basically another word for covenant.

The New Testament gets its name from the fact that it is the part of our Bibles that concerns the new covenant. As such, it contains the clearest and fullest expression of the Christian faith; which is why I suppose I typically find it more enjoyable to read. It’s as much more excellent than the Old as the covenant of which it speaks is better. Of course, none of this is to say that the Old Testament is bad. Just inferior. Hebrews says so, kinda.

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