Can diversity be taken too far?
I’ve recently felt myself becoming more comfortable with diversity in my study of the Old Testament. In the theological realm, for example, I’ve been appreciating the tension between different perspectives on evil and the justice of God (e.g., Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations). In the historical realm, I’ve found different visions of postexilic restoration, in preëxilic, exilic and postexilic literature–for example, the ethnically exclusive vision of Ezr-Neh in contrast to the inclusive vision of Isa 56 and Zec 14.
I think I’ve found more room in my OT theology for diversity because I’ve become more reliant on the NT to tie all the OT’s loose ends together. If you conceive of Jesus as having fulfilled OT prophecies in a sort of direct, one-to-one correspondence, you can’t have as much diversity in the OT because different eschatological visions mean conflicting messianic roles for Jesus to fulfill. But the NT authors are looking retrospectively at eschatological events that the OT saints could never have imagined so vividly–and they see that Jesus was the true fulfillment of everything for which the OT saints hoped and described as through stained glass.
However, I think some folks hyper-fragment the OT, pitting the different perspectives against one another, while failing to see the unity in the OT. Advocacy readings of the OT, in the quest to be heard alongside traditional perspectives, have shouted down those who advocate unity.
Can’t we do both? Do Christian theologians rely too heavily on the NT to make a cohesive, redemptive-historical whole out of OT Scripture, or is this what the NT is supposed to do?