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Differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Roughdragon, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Roughdragon

    Roughdragon Minstrel

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    I'm trying to write a story about a group of people venturing into the unknown depths of the earth, and I'm planning for two of the characters to be religious. One is influenced primarily by the Old Testament, and the other influenced by the New Testament. What would be the differences between the two, primarily their areas of disagreement?
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    At the most basic level, it's the difference between Judaism and Christianity. Jewish people follow the laws set down in the Old Testament, while Christians tend to focus more on the teachings of Jesus, though they do also follow the Ten Commandments. But there are many different subgroups of both religions, and that requires a lot of research in any case.
     
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  3. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    It all really depends on who you ask. Different religions/denominations will have different answers. To some there is no difference, to others one or the other is the authority or parts of one has more or less authority. Religion is a very complex beast.

    ETA: Same thing topically. What differences there are, if any, depend on the religion of the person.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  4. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    Hi there.

    On a basic level, and from a Christian perspective (me), the main differences are the covenants being presented in each Testament. There are a huge array of things one could point out, but the main difference is that the Old Testament has to do with the Old Covenant that God formed with the Jews. This Old Covenant was focused on the acquisition of the Jewish Holy lands in the Levant region. Much had to do with the Ten Commandments, and giving the jews the laws by which they were meant live by.

    Once the Kingdom of Israel is founded and rises to its peak, the Old Covenant is mostly fulfilled. Later on, Jewish society becomes decadent and the jewish religious officials begin to add laws and regulations to the Old Covenant and forsake the practice of grace that came with the Old Law, preffering to practice the Law without mercy. (Remember, this is my Christian perspective. If I was a Jew, I'd be telling it to you in a different manner).

    After the Israelites mangle and distort the Old Covenant that God formed with them in the past, Christ is brought into the world to bring about the New Covenant. This brings back into the foreground the principles of love and grace that are meant to be combined with the Old Law, and Christ essentially turns traditional Jewish religious institutions over their heads. He chastises the Pharisees for their distortion of God's Word until he is eventually reported and sacrificed on the cross to redeem mankind of its sins.

    In essence, the Old Testament is about the introduction of God's Law. This law was practiced to redeem man of his sins and the like. After man distorts the law, he falls to darkness and a corrupt social order. This leads to Christ whom is meant to finish the law that God has placed and act as the final redeemer of man from his sins. Much of the civil law in the Old Testament is no longer practiced by Christians because we believe that Christ fulfilled the purpose of those laws. For example, animal sacrifices are no longer necessary because Christ became the final sacrifice, man needs no longer perform rituals to redeem himself to God, as man is now redeemed solely by coming to know the person of Jesus Christ. A traditional Jew would follow MOST of the civic law of the Old Testament, because they do not believe in the Gospel of Christ Jesus. There are some parts of the Old Law that Jews dont follow anymore due to historical circumstances. For example, they don't practice animal sacrifice because the Temple of Solomon was destroyed, and that was the place where they traditionally held those sacrifices. I wouldn't be able to explain the Jewish perspective, as I am not a Jew.

    If you think about it, it's not a matter of two different narratives, but rather, the Old Testament and New Testament are meant to be a singular narrative of mankind's history with God. (According to the Christian view)

    All of this, is a drastic simplification, and if a proper theologian saw this, they might give me a scolding. But it's the core view of the Old and New Testaments in the vast majority of Christian tradtitions. 95% of Christians would tell you that the Old and New Testaments are not mutually exclusive. A Jew, on the otherhand, would not believe in the necessity of the Christian New Testament, as most traditional jews would say that the savior has yet to come.

    I hope this drastic oversimplification was of use to you. I'm honestly not the best person to be getting your resources about this from, you should look into people like Ravi Zacharias or William Lane Criag for their disscussions on the differing Testaments. I couldn't tell you about sources from other faiths, as I am not knowledgeable about this.

    Toodles!



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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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  5. This sounds to me like basically the difference between Judaism and Christianity, as Judaism is mainly influenced by the Old Testament and Christianity accepts both, but Christians believe that the Old Testament has essentially been fulfilled so Christians focus mostly on the New Testament. Basically. Kind of. So...those are two different religions basically and you ought to start by researching the differences between them.
     
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  6. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm assuming you meant for both to be self-identifying Christians? With one influenced more by the Old Testament and the other by the New?

    It's possible that drawing the distinction between these two characters and finding ample conflict between them will require some oversimplification and exaggeration, or else some sort of extreme break in their views.

    As others have said, there are so many different subgroups and approaches, with potentially much overlap and many areas of potential disagreement, that you could find two who disagree with one another — but two more quite unlike those two who also disagree with one another and who would disagree with both of the first two!

    Of course, levels of disagreement (areas of disagreement, strength of disagreement) could vary greatly also, so deciding on the level of friction you want will also be important.

    But in choosing two characters, you have the option of choosing these things. Are they at each other's throats, to the point that open hostility eventually results? Does one see the other as a heretic or false prophet type, or a servant of Satan? Or do they merely feel perturbed by one another, good-naturedly disagreeing with frequent banter but without strong feelings of dislike?

    One possible simplification:

    The one influenced more by the Old Testament sees a punishing god, the laws of the Old Testament as being sharp delineations of what constitutes sin and outlining commensurate punishments, and is willing to judge others according to these teachings, whereas the one more influenced by the New Testament believes in "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," "Turn the other cheek," and that doing good works is the epitome of being a good Christian. The first might believe that the Old Covenant is still in force, whereas the other might believe that the New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant. (And I've actually heard this last bit preached.)

    Of course, that sort of breakdown could easily turn into simplistic caricatures if handled bluntly and without nuance. But a sort of conservative vs liberal Christian approach might be a natural dividing line if you are intent on choosing two characters in conflict.
     
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  7. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    I disagree with the last paragraph. A conservative christian is not necessarily one whom prefers the Old Testament over the New one. When one says a conserative christian or liberal christian, it refers to a conversation about how they each understand doctrine. For example, I myself would be conservative, yet I believe the New Testament eclipses the Old in most regards.

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  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    This is a very difficult question to answer without more context.

    People generally talk about the Old Testament without understanding it much at all. The Old Testament is loooong and covers a huge amount of time. Even the way the text understands itself changes through that time.

    In a nutshell, however, what God clearly wants more than anything in the Old Testament is for the Jewish people to obey the laws. To do this, he punishes them, rewards them, teaches them, berates them, unites them, divides them, tortures them, heals them, forgives them, protects them, breaks them, begs them, guilts them, and so on. At one point He tells a prophet to marry a prostitute because that's how God feels about His people and their betrayals - and that leads into a whole book of the Bible that's basically wedding vows between God and the Jewish people, getting happier as it goes.

    In my personal experience Christians who focus too much on the Old Testment comes across harsher in doing so than Jewish practitioners who frame it in a richer context. Christians sometimes mistakenly point to the Old Testament to talk about the need for punishments (which are inconsistent through the OT) while the Jews would speak of obedience (of which punishment is just one small part).

    However, in a Christian, New Testament understanding, the Old Testament is about teaching us beyond a doubt that people are sinners, so that now we can better appreciate that we are forgiven for those sins and share that experience with others.

    This is a conversation that could go on for hours. Without context of what you're trying to do, however, the OT is about:

    - Obedience (for the Jews)
    - Punishments (if you don't read it carefully)
    - Demonstrating that we are sinners (Christianity)

    And the New Testament is about experiencing Forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus who is God.
     
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  9. You'll have to do a crap ton of research for this. O_O There are so many different viewpoints on what each little detail of the Bible means. An extremely wide range of beliefs exists within the umbrella of Christianity. This isn't going to be a clear-cut distinction.
     
  10. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    You are sitting in a bit of a minefield here. And my guess is that you're not on course for where you wanted to be.

    Look the piece of the bible you want to study most carefully for this is Matthew 5:17 where Jesus said he had not come to abolish the old law, but to fulfill it. What that actually means has been debated for two thousand years. Does it mean that the old testament law no longer applies? It has been replaced? Or it still holds? If it still holds then the laws contained within the OT - the ones that include all the anti LGBTQ stuff still apply - and they don't at all fit with the central doctrines of Jesus' teachings. If they have been completed and done with, than the only law that applies are the teachings of Jesus. Most liberal Christians are followers of the New Testament almost purely. Those that espouse the conservative, fire and brimstone stuff, are reading from the OT.

    However, if your OP is about a Christian versus a Jew, then you're in a different ball park alltogether. The Torah / Tanakh / Pentateuch (for Christians) is based around the five books of the old testament - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy but then expands on them with things like oral law - I'm not Jewish so my understanding of this is very limited.

    I think the first thing you need to do is flesh out your characters' positions.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  11. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

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    This is a very thorny issue, but I want to repeat what Netardapope said about "conservative" vs "liberal" Christianity (which seems to be more about Protestant Christianity, which is only one branch). They are not linked to Testaments. It is perfectly feasible to have a very conservative church that is founded mostly on the New Testament, even taking only Protestants into account. Outside of that particular group, you have the Catholic Church, which is highly conservative and from my experience, focus on the New Testament for the great majority of their Biblical teachings.
     
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  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Ah, I hadn't meant to imply that the conservative/liberal split was definitive of a split in influence between Old Testament and New Testament, not quite, but only that a consideration of conservative and liberal attitudes might make drawing a distinction between the two characters easier, particularly if these characters are going to be shown in conflict with one another.

    Mostly, I think there is so much variation, the OP might find a consideration of specific characters and needs for the story more helpful than trying to define Christianity as a whole here in this thread. I do think that understanding the potentials, via research into different approaches, can be greatly helpful; but at the end of the process, the OP has the task of isolating two individuals and will have some control in choosing precisely how these specific individuals think and feel about whatever doctrine they believe. Ultimately, the two characters will both be human and may have individualized understandings of the OT and NT, so they are merely two points on the crowded spectrum of Christianity.

    Plus, depending on how the OP wants to show these characters, it's possible that the two will come into disagreement more in how their beliefs shape their general attitudes toward life, the universe, and everything rather than over specific scriptural interpretation and history-based exegesis. Scriptural references might be used during disagreements, but in support of a more general worldview. So a conservative or liberal attitude might help in distinguishing the two.
     
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  13. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    The civil law of the Old Testament no longer applies due to Jesus coming to Earth.The Moral Law, however, does continue to apply. And this is something that the overwhelming majority of Conservative Christians agree with. Conservative Christianity has nothing to do with a preference for the individual Testaments. I cannot make a statement on liberal Christianity, as I personally find it problematic as a view on the religion, thus, I'd be unable to produce an unbiased perspective on it in this forum.

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  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think as a Moderator I should encourage everyone to try and put a hold on this conversation until the OP posts again to clarify the question. We don't need a lengthy back and forth about this, as that's a recipe for unnecessary conflict.
     
  15. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    With all due respect, back and forth does not necessarily have to escalate to unnecessary conflict. I find that everyone that has posted so far has been civil and respectful of each other's opinions. As long as we keep that up, nothing should go South.

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  16. Well, it's not helping the OP at this point, so we should probably wait for them to clarify.
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Netardapope,

    The problem for conservative Christians in separating the old testament law into civil, ceremonial and moral and claiming that moral laws still apply, is that it's not always easy to work out which laws are which. For example - not suffering a sorceress to live - Exodus 22:18, which is that? How about Leviticus 18:22 don't lie with a male as a female - is that a moral law? What about Leviticus 18:19 - don't have sex with your wife on her period? Leviticus 11:9 - don't eat shellfish?

    The point is that it gets very messy and advocates usually end up cherry picking what they want to consider law still standing and what they don't. Plus if we come back to Matthew 5:17 - Jesus did not specify which laws he had come to fulfill.

    Though ironically enough Liberal or modern Christians only accept the teachings of Jesus as gospel (pun intended) also get accused of cherry picking by separating out the new and old testaments, there is a lot to be said for that very clear demarcation.

    In terms of the OP the modern liberal Christian is probably best seen in the teachings of Jesus including the so-called Golden rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    To my mind the conservative Christian is more conflicted as he tries to pick and choose ancient laws to follow - and then how to follow them. I mean why does he not go to his Wiccan neighbours and slaughter them in their sleep?

    Of course there are still more flavours of Christianity to be considered. Evangelicals - who as a Kiwi I know little about but watch with disbelief on the telly. Those trying to revive some of the dead sea scrolls - and I personally find parts of the Gospel of Thomas quite beautiful. Mormons - again I know nothing much about them but they do seem to spring from conservative ground.

    As I say, the first thing for the OP to do is flesh out his characters.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  18. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    There is merit to what you say, however, by civil law I mean the ones that are explicitly civil. Such as the types of fabric one is to wear, and some of the rituals such as animal sacrifices. In many cases where the civil law could be confused with the moral law, what one does is take the moral aspect, while instead of practicing the traditional civil procedures for that law, we use the practice of mercy and grace that Christ taught us. For example, the animal sacrifices were meant to abstain us of sin, but after Christ, these Civil Laws were annulled since he was the final sacrifice.

    While there are many commandments that could be confused between moral, ceremonial, or civil, there are also many which are clearly civil. And those which are harder to tell apart, we only use the procedure I mentioned above. Weight believe something is wrong as it was pointed out in the Old Testament, but we wouldn't use the old punishments, as they are rendered mute by Christ's sacrifice.

    But what you said is very true.

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  19. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    This is not the place to debate religion, as per the guidelines. You can ask about religion for the purpose of understanding someone's beliefs. But no debate.
     
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  20. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Devor, I hope it's acceptable to post this, even tho you asked for us to wait until the OP asked further clarifying questions. But I saw some language in several of the posts to be so generalizing to the point that it's unhelpful and borderline stereotyping members of this community. *waves hi*

    Oy vey y'all. There have been so many old mistruths about the Jewish side of things that I hope to clarify some stuff.

    Firstly, the claims that Jews of the 1st Century were "mangling" the OT teachings. Uh, no. At that point everything was verbally taught. Errors were starting to creep in, because of the prohibition against writing down the teachings of the rabbis who clarified scriptural procedures [the rabbis were just learned men at this point in time, not community religious leaders]. The emphasis was on the priesthood, while it still existed in Jerusalem.

    Once the Romans burned the temple to the ground/killed the priesthood off, the focus shifted to the personal relationship with god.

    You can argue all day long about the legalism of the OT teachings versus the simplistic message of the NT being all about love. However, "legalistic" is not how Jews view the Torah.

    Practicing Jews believe that following the Torah's teachings are exercises in love and duty between oneself and the creator. They aren't specifically purposed to make life more difficult, but to give life structure and meaning.

    Y'all have seen how all the psych books that try to teach things like 'mindfulness' and finding gratitude nowadays? All that is built into the fabric of Judaism.

    Secondly, Jews don't view the creator as some vengeful, wrathful god. We see that we screwed up stuff, were punished, lovingly brought back into the fold, and erred again. We know we are on a constant journey to improve ourselves and our god expects the best from us. We also understand that the really old stuff like early Genesis stories are meant as allegory, not literal truth [see Noah's flood, etc].

    Every act of destruction on his part was the last resort, and he always gave second third fourth and fifth chances. He never turned away from his people. His covenant still stands with us. [I think that the other Abrahamic traditions are also fulfilling their covenants, in their ways, but that doesn't negate the original agreement.]

    Thirdly, most Jews don't see the NT as gospel truth, but also don't see Jesus as anything but a wise man. His teachings were not incompatible with Torah, and in fact were mostly the condensed version of Torah [be nice to others, don't be mean, god loves you etc. It's all in the Torah.] Obviously, we're still waiting for the Messiah.

    Those are the big differences. I should of course note that I don't speak for all Jews, and there are many disagreements on minor theological questions, thus the differing practices that have evolved over time. But, I'd rather speak up and disspell the mythos that has surrounded Judaism than allow mistruths to go unchallenged.

    If the OP or anyone has specific questions about practical questions on Judiasm, I'd be more than happy to answer them in PMs or to start a separate thread. I also have several good recommendations on beginner's sources should anyone be interested in a more in-depth history of Judaism and practices outside of my experience.
     
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