The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, is a collection of Jewish scriptures. But Christianity is a different religion than Judaism. Why, then, are Jewish scriptures in the Christian Bible?
They are there because they provide historical background for the life of Jesus. Jesus did not appear in a vacuum. He appeared at a certain time, in a certain place, and in a certain context. The Old Testament provides background for the context in which Jesus lived. Remember, it was the Jewish leaders who had Jesus killed. The background of Judaism is necessary to understand exactly why they did that.
Christianity is not a continuation of Judaism. It is not a branch of Judaism. It is a completely separate religion with completely different beliefs.
The New Testament shows that Jesus did not follow the laws of Judaism. Jesus did not agree with the Judaism of His day. Jesus was in constant conflict with the Jewish leaders.
Jesus, realized, though, that God had been active in the past among these people, just as God is active among all people. However, they misunderstood how God had been active among them. Out of that misunderstanding, they had developed a religion that, at least according to Jesus, was wrong.
Sometimes events happen, or people have certain experiences, that are so profound that they forever change the way people think, the way people see things. People ponder what happened and try to adjust their belief system to accommodate them. They are events so monumental that they shape people’s beliefs.
Events like this had happened in the distant past among the ancestors of the people among whom Jesus appeared. Way back in the history of the Hebrew people, unforgettable things had happened. God had been active among them and had done things. People pondered them and tried to understand what had happened. These events were so extraordinary that they gave rise to religious beliefs.
But, religious beliefs derive from an interpretation of things that have happened in the past. And, as we saw in an earlier segment, interpretation depends on personal opinion. Many different interpretations of one event will arise, as people with varying personal opinions think about them.
The people in Jesus’ day had developed interpretations of events that had occurred hundreds of years back in Hebrew history. But according to Jesus, their interpretations were wrong. That’s why their version of Judaism was wrong.
There is no line extending from the Judaism of Jesus’ day to Christianity. Jesus rejected the Judaism of His day, and His followers rejected it, too. That’s why they founded a completely separate religion. They realized the beliefs of Judaism were incompatible with the beliefs of Christianity. Christianity represented something completely different from Judaism.
And so, the Old Testament is in the Christian Bible to give historical and cultural background to the context in which Jesus appeared.
The New Testament is always primary in Christianity. Christianity never looks at the Old Testament alone. Christianity looks at the Old Testament only in the light of the New Testament.