The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts—an unprecedented realism. In the Old Testament, the novelty of the Bible did not consist merely in abstract notions but in God’s unpredictable and in some sense unprecedented activity. This divine activity now takes on dramatic form when, in Jesus Christ, it is God himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep”, a suffering and lost humanity.
I just love that aside, “an unprecedented realism.” Don’t you? Jesus is not just some holy man, a teacher with new ideas. He is very much something else. What did Flannery O’Connor say? “If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.”