Covenant Through New Eyes: Part 1 – Introduction
Today marks the beginning of a new series here at St. Anne’s Manor. I finished up my series on liturgy last Thursday and have been spending the last week or so deciding on a new topic for a series. The inspiration for my Liturgy Series was derived mainly from James K.A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom. This new series that I’m beginning finds its inspiration from James B. Jordan’s book Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World.
Through New Eyes is a transformative book. The title is very apt because, after reading it, one feels as though they’ve been given new eyes with which to read the Bible. One of Jordan’s main concerns in the book is to correct the modern phenomenon of projecting our worldview back onto the pages of scripture. Put another way, we often approach the Bible with the questions we want to have answered for us. Therefore when the Bible doesn’t seem to give us the answers we want we either dismiss the Bible or twist it in such a way to answer our questions.
We moderns are more Victorian than we’d probably like to admit, especially when it comes to the Bible. We want clean, straight, analytical ideas that are easy to move around on. We want clear cut doctrines and succinct worldviews that can be articulated in an exclusively didactic manner. But the Bible isn’t necessarily concerned with the desires of the modern mind. In the introduction Jordan says:
The Biblical worldview is not given to us in the discursive and analytical language of philosophy and science, but in the rich and compact language of symbolism and art. It is pictured in ritual and architecture, in numerical structures and geographical directions, in symbols and types, in trees and stars. In short, it is given to us in a premodern package that seems at places very strange. (pg. 1)
The Bible comes to us from another world. A world that was not afraid to mix God’s actions with flesh and dirt. In fact, it’s not too far into the pages of scripture that things like blood and sweat are highlighted. In order to understand the Bible we must step into a world that is rich in symbolism and imagery. Again from the introduction:
Twentieth-century Christians are used to discussing worldview questions in the language of philosophy, while the Bible sets forth its worldview very often in the language of visual imagery (symbolism) and repeated patterns (typology). (pg. 3)
Jordan spends about 30 pages defending and articulating this concept and preparing his readers for a deep dive into the primeval mind. Throughout the next 70 pages of the book Jordan jumps off the high dive with an in depth walk through the symbolism and imagery of the Bible. Jordan hashes out the importance of the skies, the stars, rocks and gold, trees and thorns, birds and beasts, and even angels. Jordan spends time excavating the canon to prove the interconnections within and between these symbols; it really is astounding. I almost see this section of the book as an arsenal, Jordan is equipping the reader with tools for the job ahead.
It is after the section just described that our new series will really hone in on. Having equipped the reader, Jordan moves on to his covenantal framework which describes how both God and man work in the world and throughout history. Once he puts this covenantal framework in place Jordan goes on a Biblical tour of the covenants. We will do the same thing following his lead.
In the coming weeks we will examine Jordan’s covenantal framework and then move on to how he applies them to the history of the Bible. We will look that the worlds of Noah, the Patriarchs, the Exodus and Tabernacle, the Kings and the Temple, the Exile and Restoration, the New World of the New Covenant and conclude with the direction and course of history on the morning side of Easter.
All in all I expect the series to be ten parts in whole that will be as follows:
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – The Covenant’s Framework (God’s Work)
- Part 3 – The Covenant’s Framework (Man’s Work)
- Part 4 – The World of Noah
- Part 5 – The World of the Patriarchs
- Part 6 – The World of the Tabernacle
- Part 7 – The World of the Temple
- Part 8 – The Worlds of Exile and Restoration
- Part 9 – The New World
- Part 10 – The Course of History
Parts 4 through 10 are named after chapters 13 through 19 of Through New Eyes and will be the meat of this series with parts 1 through 3 serving as introductions and equipping. If you’re interested in tracking along with me I’d be more than delighted. Moreover, if you want to order yourself a copy of Through New Eyes and track along in the book as I go through this series that would be even better! I will say, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!
Hope to see you back next week and, as always, food for thought!