Austin Farrer on The Bible
Farrer’s Short Bible, is a selection of readings from the Authorized Translation. It was to help those unfamiliar with the Bible to grasp the essential message. His aim is to explain the most basic facts about the Bible and provide some insight to its contents and some guidelines to its interpretation.
The person and work of Christ
The scripture expresses the whole work of God, what his work does, what it works with, and what it works against, all are there; sin and error appear beside truth and holiness, fantasy and idealisation beside the unflinching delineation of failure, and, as we all know, Satan quotes nothing but the Bible. If Christ were not there to set Satan right, we should not know what to think.
It is valued and read for the sake of a single theme. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are included under a single name for no other reason than this, that through them the person and work of Jesus Christ is understood. The New fulfils the Old, the Old is indispensable for understanding the New.
The unity of the Bible can be best appreciated from within; so Farrer starts with the Epistle to the Galatians where Paul is writing to avoid a crisis in the young Church.
Unity and authority.
It illuminates the heart of its author and reveals the painful discords of the first Christian days when Galatians had converted to Christianity. Paul tells them they are now, in virtue of their faith members of the true Israel of God. Few of them have any Jewish roots or connections. Now they take over the destiny of the Chosen People.
Paul objects that God gave him the gospel and sent him to preach it in the non-Jewish world and he has made sure that his gospel was the same as the original apostles who acknowledged him for a colleague. If non-Jews accept circumcision and the Jewish customs, they cannot single-mindedly believe that the true Israel is constituted by acceptance of the Messiah, and by that alone. Paul supports his claims by sketching his career. He has been in the new movement almost from the start. The common ground of the preaching places salvation here and hereafter in adherence to Christ, in obedience to him, and in a supernatural share of his life and Spirit, a gift bestowed on his followers through death and resurrection.
Jesus Christ in the Gospels, and St Paul in his several epistles are concerned with the action of God in their own time, through which his love for mankind takes practical effect. It is all the more remarkable that what they have to say is so largely expressed by means of allusion to the Old Testament. ND