How New is the New Testament?

We must be clear on one point: the Christian God is no different from the one who revealed himself to Moses. If Jesus relied so extensively on the Old Testament, who are we to shrug it off? Where would we be without the Ten Commandments?
by Frederick W. Marks | Source:
Who has not heard of an “Old Testament God” who is harsh and exacting as compared with the “God of the New Testament”? John Paul II points out that we have reached a point where “the name merciful is perhaps the one most often given to the Lord [Jesus] in contrast to the persistent cliché whereby the God of the Old Testament is presented above all as severe and vengeful.”1 Indeed, so widespread and mischievous is this notion of “two gods” that it stands as one of the premier myths of our time.

How can God be one thing at one time and something entirely different at another? God is nothing if not immutable. And clearly, he is the author of the entire Bible rather than a mere portion of it. How can one marginalize seventy-five percent of Sacred Scripture when it comes from the desk of the Almighty?

Let us look at the record. In Psalm 30, the anger of the Lord “lasts but a moment — a lifetime his goodwill.” Psalm 136 assures us that “His mercy endures forever.” Isaiah, in like vein, tells us that although our sins be like scarlet, “they may become white as snow” (1:18). Jonah, echoing Exodus, describes God as “slow to anger,” “rich in clemency,” and “loathe to punish.”2 And Sirach holds that “equal to His majesty is the mercy that He shows.”3 The Old Testament positively abounds in such passages.

The story of the Jews, as told by the Bible, is one of continual betrayal and falling off met by unflagging constancy and forbearance on the part of a Creator who walks with Adam in the Garden of Eden, talks with Moses on Mount Sinai, and meets the needs of his people all the way down to the level of diet and hygiene. Small wonder that he is called “father” by the author of Sirach.4

The other side of the coin is that evildoers in the New Testament are slated for a fate no less dire than anything outlined in the Old: they are to be “cast into darkness,” “beaten,” “cut asunder,” and “utterly destroyed.” St. John, in the Book of Revelation, portrays God as vomiting the lukewarm out of his mouth.5 For every parable illustrative of kindness and compassion, we have three or four threatening divine retribution.6 Our Lord outdid the stern Elijah when he refused to allow candidates for discipleship to return home and bid farewell to their families.7 Among the prophets, he is again unique in chastizing a woman for cohabitation and characterizing her associates as theologically unhinged.8

Isaiah prophesied that the reign of the Messiah would be as caustic as lye and as searing as a refiner’s fire; he would “smite the earth” with “the rod of his mouth” and with the “breath of his lips” he would “slay the wicked.”9 Jesus did not disappoint.

Among his stock epithets were “fool,” “fraud,” “hypocrite” and “swine,” not to mention “liar,” “viper,” and “whited sepulchre.” Here was a Man who found entire classes of people wanting, among them lawyers, scribes, and Pharisees, along with Sadducees, elders, and chief priests. He condemned whole towns on grounds of religious indifference, including Capernaum, his headquarters, which he predicted would “go down to hell.”10 Not even Jeremiah at his most vituperative, and certainly not Moses or Elijah, ever spoke like this.

Critics prone to dismiss the Old Testament as outmoded or obsolete are following a familiar line. Marcion preached the same thing in the early Church, as did Luther at the time of the Reformation. Both men were excommunicated.

From the works of the Church Fathers down to the writings of John Paul II, the best in biblical scholarship teems with references to the Old Testament, as well it might.11 Jesus insisted that he had not come to destroy the Law or the prophets, but rather to fulfill them. “Scripture cannot be broken,” he declared, and “not one jot or tittle” would be “lost from the Law” until all things had been accomplished.12 Did he not send his followers to offer ritual sacrifices, and did he not tell them to obey the Jewish authorities?13 It should come as no surprise that much of the language of Mary’s Magnificat, along with a fair portion of the Lord’s Prayer, is traceable to the Hebrew Bible.14

Where are we first invited to picture God as a shepherd, a rock, and a bridegroom? Where does one first encounter the image of an unfruitful vineyard? Where do we first hear about eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, and a God who will not force us to obey: “Lest with their eyes they see and their ears they hear.”15

Parallels between the Old and the New suggest themselves at every turn. Jesus calls those who mourn “blessed” while Ecclesiastes prefers sorrow to laughter.16 Our Lord tells us to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and Moses has the same charge: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”17 According to Jesus, many choose the path to hell, which is wide and easy; and in Sirach, hell is reputed to have “a deep belly.”18

The Son of God was, of course, more colorful and graphic than the prophets of old, who were scarcely lackluster. Whereas the Old Testament calls the Lord’s Temple a “house of prayer,” Jesus takes a whip to the money changers.19 And whereas Job and the author of Proverbs pay tribute to meekness and humility, Jesus demonstrates it by laboring in a carpenter shop and dying in ignominy.20 Where once it was said, “Hide not away your wisdom,” he tells his followers, “Hide not your light under a bushel basket.”21 And where Old Testament sages taught that “if your enemy be hungry, give him to eat,” Jesus admonishes us to “turn the other cheek” and “if your enemy takes your cloak, give him your tunic as well.”22

The “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” passage, so often cited as quintessentially Hebraic, is no more typical of the Old Testament than John’s portrayal of righteous souls exulting over the chastisement of their enemies is typical of the New.23 Moses sought to limit the degree of punishment. In other words: no more than an eye for an eye.24 For the heart of Jewish wisdom in this regard, one must turn to Proverbs: “Say not, ‘As he did to me, so will I do to him’” (24:29). Then to Leviticus: “Thou shalt not bear hatred for thy brother in thy heart. . . . Take no revenge and cherish no grudges” (19:17-18). Sirach says essentially the same thing: “No matter what the wrong, do no violence to your neighbor, and do not walk the path of arrogance” (10:6). For role models, we have Joseph, who forgave his brothers, and David, who spared a brace of would-be murderers, Saul and Absolom. To be sure, the New Testament places greater emphasis on magnanimity. In contrast with the prophet Zechariah, whose final utterance, before meeting with violent death by stoning, was, “May the Lord see and avenge,” Jesus and Stephen died with forgiveness on their lips. Thus did a new era begin with the highlighting of an old ideal.25

Let us return, though, to Jesus’ rhetorical style. Included in Proverbs are two trenchant aphorisms: “Reprove not an arrogant man” and “Speak not for the fool’s hearing.” Transposed into the language of Our Lord, the same idea suddenly becomes ten times more vivid: “Cast not your pearls before swine.”26 Likewise, where the psalmist claims that he has never seen a “just man forsaken” because “the Lord redeems the lives of his servants,” Jesus dramatizes it in the form of a question: If God watches out for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field that neither toil nor spin, will he not do as much for us, who are “of much greater value?”27

Suppose, for the sake of argument, one were asked to place the following quotations: “He who digs a pit falls into it”; “Wrath and anger are hateful things”; “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds”; “The meek shall inherit the earth”; “Say not to your [needy] neighbor . . . tomorrow I will give”; “Poverty is evil by the standards of the proud”; “Rejoice not when your enemy falls”; “There will never cease to be poor [folk]”; “Seek and you shall find.” How tempting it would be to ascribe each and every one of them to the New Testament. And yet how mistaken, for they are found without exception in the Old.28

The echo from Old to New can be quite striking at times. John’s “In the beginning was the Word” picks up on Sirach: “Before all else, wisdom was created,” while Peter’s “charity covers a multitude of sins” follows Tobias: “Alms deliver from all sin.”29 Paul’s armor of the Lord (Eph. 6:13-17) recalls Isaiah’s view of justice as a “breastplate” and salvation as a “helmet.”30 And James’s tribute to the poor—God has chosen them to be “rich in faith”—is reminiscent of Sirach, who asserts that “the poor man is honored for his wisdom . . . [it] sets him among princes.”31

Not infrequently, Jesus quotes the Old Testament directly as, for example, “Come to me all you who [labor],” and “Not by bread alone does man live.”32 When, on the Cross, he voiced his piercing lament, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jewish bystanders would doubtless have recognized the opening line of Psalm 22, which ends on a note of triumph.

If Jesus relied so extensively on the Old Testament, who are we to shrug it off? Where would we be without the Ten Commandments? Christian belief in purgatory and prayer for the dead is based on Maccabees, just as the medieval ban on usury (fully justified in its day) was derived from Exodus and Deuteronomy.33 Some of the choicest references to the value of life in the womb come from the Old Testament.34 And one can go further. Ezechiel and Jeremiah penned the most stinging indictments of all time on laxity in the priesthood.35 It is to the Old Testament that we must turn for the most instructive example of moral ups and downs in the course of civilization. Leviticus provides the justification for Christian refusal to marry those of proximate kin.36 And it is in the work of Moses that one finds unparalleled condemnation of sexual perversion.37 Lastly, the Old Testament affirms freedom of the will, along with mortal vs. venial sin.38

Certain gospel passages might be difficult to interpret in the absence of supporting material predating the Nativity. Take, for instance, Jesus’ reference to an “unforgivable sin.”39 Sirach furnishes the key: “For the affliction of the proud man there is no cure” (3:27). Or take the Catholic view of celibacy. Although Sirach has it that “a man without a wife becomes a homeless wanderer”—all Jewish males were expected to marry with the exception of scribes, for whom celibacy was regarded as a privilege—we know that at least one of the great priests of old, Jeremiah, was called to celibacy.40 According to Isaiah, a wife may be deserted and without issue; but if she clings to the Lord, she will have more children than one with a husband (54:1).

Priests under the Mosaic Law were expected to refrain from marital relations while on temple duty, and similar restraint was enjoined on all the people, both when Moses ascended Mount Sinai and again during the Maccabean rededication of the Temple. David and his followers also abstained for three days before consuming the sacred Loaves of Proposition.41 Needless to say, Catholic priests are privileged to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day of the year.

Time and again, Jewish scripture proves indispensable. Two of the most powerful strictures against “cafeteria Catholicism”—accepting one teaching and rejecting another—are tucked away in Deuteronomy.42 Many of our liturgical staples are based upon Mosaic practice, including the beautification of churches, the richness of priestly vestments, the ringing of bells, incense, the vigil lamp, and prostration before the Blessed Sacrament (the Holy of Holies).43 Even our pyramidal, hierarchical church organization headed by a single individual with supreme power to bind and loose (i.e., the high priest) is Jewish.44 If, in addition, one seeks confirmation of the sacredness of the Sabbath, of the need for fraternal correction and weekly assembly, and again of the duty to strive for cheerfulness and perfection (Jesus’ “Be ye perfect even as your heavenly father is perfect”); if one wishes to make the case for fasting or for belief in miracles, including those associated with relics; if one wants to buttress Paul’s injunction to shun brethren who live in open defiance of Church teaching on major issues, or if one requires reinforcement for the Christian understanding of human nature, the place to go is the Old Testament.45

What, then, is new about the New Testament? Jewish scholars scanning it for the first time will be struck by Christ’s institution of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. While Jews of Jesus’ time made sin offerings and were familiar with the proverb, “He who confesses . . . obtains mercy” (28:13), Jesus instituted a procedure for the direct pardoning of transgression. He himself forgave sins, and before ascending to heaven, he conferred this power on his apostles.46 Secondly, where the Almighty had fed his people on manna and quail in the desert, Jesus made it possible to change bread and wine into his Body and Blood. Thirdly, while God was on record in the Book of Malachi as “hating” divorce and while Old Testament priests were prohibited from marrying a woman who had been “put away”—no Old Testament sage or prophet is recorded as ever having put away his wife to marry another, not even Hosea, who had ample reason—it is only in the new dispensation that remarriage after divorce is flatly prohibited.47

A fourth element of novelty consists in the clarification of such concepts as judgment, heaven, hell, and bodily resurrection. We know that the scripture which Jesus studied as a boy refers to hell as “death” or “the nether world,” just as it tells us that evildoers will “moan,” “groan,” and “burn” in a place of torment where “the worm shall not die nor the fire be extinguished.” In short, evil will be punished and the wicked “cut off from the land.”48 According to the Book of Daniel, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever; others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace” (12:2).49 Judgment Day is described as a day of “scrutiny” and “wrath,” and there is talk of bodily resurrection, as well as an afterlife in heaven.50 The only problem with these references is that they are drawn from books of the Bible whose reliability was called into question by influential groups such as the Sadducees. Christian references, by contrast, are not only contained in books whose inspiration and canonicity are undisputed. They also come from the lips of the God Man.

Pursuing the theme of clarification, the Old Testament alludes to the prospering of evil, as well as to the suffering reserved for those who draw close to God.51 “Many are the trials of the just man,” says the psalmist, whose insight finds confirmation in the Book of Wisdom: “Let us put the just one to the test [say the evildoers]. . . . Merely to see him is a hardship to us” (2:12-20). But Jesus alone is crystal clear in dubbing Satan “the prince of this world.”52

In the Book of Maccabees, one comes across martyrs who undergo horrible torture for the sake of the truth. Sirach, speaking of the price of goodness, writes that “the path of sinners is smooth.”53 But such statements, few and far between, are counterbalanced by passages linking righteousness with popularity and worldly success. “[Wisdom] will bring you honors,” one reads in Proverbs, and the words could just as well be those of Ben Franklin, Horatio Alger, or Dale Carnegie.54 Never in the Old Testament does the head of a man like John the Baptist wind up on a king’s platter. Instead, an evil Holofernes is beheaded by a saintly Judith while the murderous Haman is hanged at the behest of good Queen Esther. Jeremiah may have been made to suffer, but he was not martyred. Elijah may have been hounded by Ahab and Jezebel, but he comes to a good end, taken up into heaven by a fiery chariot. Joseph and Moses endure separation from their families, and Moses is barred from entering the Promised Land. But both die in honor. Never in Hebrew Scripture does one see God himself in the person of Jesus whipped, beaten, spat upon, and crucified. And never do any of the oldtime prophets demand, as explicitly as Our Lord does, a willingness to face persecution as the price of discipleship.55 Ten out of twelve of Christ’s apostles, along with Stephen, James, and Paul, died martyrs.

One might add, as an aside, that although the Old Testament embraces the notion of pain as an agent of redemption, and although Isaiah speaks of offering up one’s trials, Jesus’ use of suffering as a vehicle for the salvation of all mankind is without precedent.56

Still another example of New Testament innovation would be Jesus’ characterization of the poor as “blessed.” On the one hand, Proverbs warns against seeking after wealth. On the other, it idealizes a state of relative comfort—”give me neither poverty nor riches”—and Sirach believes it “better to die than to beg.”57 Occasionally, one will find Old Testament linkages of poverty with wisdom and wealth with difficulty. But they are rare. It is thus against a background of mixed signals that Jesus does the unthinkable, choosing poverty for the leaders of his band, a poverty, moreover, that extends to liberation from slavish attachment to family ties. By giving a new meaning to the word “father,” “mother,” “brother,” and “sister,” Jesus accentuates the importance of the spiritual family with God as its head. Horizontal blood ties are still important. But they are more than ever subordinated to one’s primary loyalty, which must be vertical.58

Jesus comforted the poor, the persecuted, and the lowly as they had never before been comforted, even as he castigated evildoers, liars, and loose livers as they had never before been castigated. Peerless in predicting his own death and raising himself from the dead, he suffered for the truth as no man has ever suffered and triumphed as no man has ever triumphed. Well could St. Ambrose say that God “preserved the most perfect things for the Gospel.”59

Equally to the point, when one examines Jesus’ rhetoric, one finds a corresponding tightening of the moral code, for nowhere in the Old Testament does God insist on a belief in mysteries as profound as those of the Incarnation and Transubstantiation. Nowhere do we meet the equal of Peter, a man so well bred spiritually that he weeps for his failure to bear witness under trying circumstances. Both Jesus and Isaiah underline the need to minister to the homeless, the hungry, and the naked.60 But Our Lord is startlingly radical in commending a poor woman for giving away all that she has to live on.61

No religious leader has ever condensed so much memorable teaching into such a narrow compass as did Jesus when he delivered his celebrated Sermon on the Mount. No one before or since has ever dared to call himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” much less claim divinity: “Before Abraham came to be I am.”62 As proof of his claim to the Godhead, Our Lord worked more miracles, and of a higher order of magnitude, than anyone else.

In sum, there is much to be said for the formula that the New Testament “is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New.” However, we must be absolutely clear on one point: the Christian God is no different from the one who revealed himself to Moses. It is just that in Jesus God gives us a closer look at himself, and along with this closer look come demands commensurate with the vision. We must be more fully engaged emotionally, as well as intellectually, in the process of loving and serving. And no one is exempt from such engagement. Jesus not only opened the gates of heaven by his sacrifice on Calvary. He also opened the gates of his Church to men and women the world over, instructing his followers to preach to all nations.

Here again, the Man who suffered is unique. His call continues to go out to the four corners of the earth. His Church continues to grow, and the evidence summoning mankind to belief in God and to divine worship is compelling as never before.

Dr. Frederick W. Marks is a research historian and essayist with degrees from Holy Cross College and the University of Michigan. His most recent book is A Brief for Belief (Queenship Publishing Co. 1999). He has taught courses on the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith at the university level, as well as in various parishes.

This article is reprinted with permission from the December 2000 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

1. John Paul II’s papal decree, Reconciliation and Penance (1984), #29. Professor Goldhagen of Harvard calls the myth “anti-Semitic” (Catholic Twin Circle, March 20, 1984, p. 6).
2. Jonah 4:2; Exodus 34:6.
3. Sirach 2:18. See also Sirach 2:11; 18:1-13; 40:16; Isaiah 54:8; Jeremiah 12:15; 33:8; Nehemiah 9:27; 2 Chronicles 30:9.
4. Sirach 23:4.
5. See Matt. 21:41; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 12:47-48; Revelation 3:16.
6. See author’s “Case for Hell, Fire, and Brimstone,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review (March 1996), p. 17.
7. Compare Luke 9:61-62 with 1 Kings 19:19-20.
8. John 4:18, 22.
9. Malachi 3:2; Isaiah 11:4.
10. Marks, “Case for Hell,” p. 18.
11. See, for example, the letters of St. Ambrose; Clement I’s letter to the Church of Corinth; and John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae.
12. Matt. 5:17-18; John 10:35.
13. Matt. 8:4; 23:1-3; Luke 17:14.
14. For the Magnificat, see 1 Kings 2:1-10; Baruch 5:7. For the Lord’s Prayer, see Sirach 23:6, 9-10, 28:1-2.
15. Sirach 18:12 (shepherd); Isaiah 51:1 (rock); Isaiah 62:5 (bridegroom); Isaiah 5:2 (unfruitful vineyard); Isaiah 6:10; 43:8; Deuteronomy 29:3; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezechiel 12:2 (“eyes to see”).
16. Compare Matt. 5:5 with Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 and Psalm 126:4-6.
17. Compare Matt. 7:12 with Leviticus 19:18.
18. Compare Matt. 7:13-14 with Sirach 51:5.
19. Compare Isaiah 56:7 with John 2:15.
20. Job 5:11; Proverbs 22:4; 25:6; 29:23. See also Sophonia 2:3; 3:12; Psalms 34:19; 51:19.
21. Compare Matt. 5:15 with Sirach 4:23; 18:28-29; 20:30.
22. Compare Matt. 5:39-40 with Proverbs 25:21 and Exod. 23:4. For additional Old Testament condemnations of unholy wrath, hatred, and revenge, see Proverbs 20:22 (“Say not, ‘I will repay evil’”); Leviticus 19:17-18; Sirach 27:30; 30:23; 2 Chronicles 24:22.
23. See Exod. 21:24 and Revelation 6:10; 18:20; 19:1-7. There is no real contradiction between wishing that evildoers save their souls and desiring an end to evildoing. Punishment may be needed to bring the culprits to repentance. Thus did Paul strike Elymas blind in Acts (13:11).
24. See William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew (2 vols.; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975), I:163-65.
25. Compare Luke 6:28, 35 (“Bless those who curse you and pray for those who calumniate you . . . Love your enemies”); Acts 7:60 (re: Stephen); and Luke 23:34 (Jesus’ words of forgiveness on Calvary) with 2 Chronicles 24:22 and Psalm 141:10.
26. Compare Proverbs 9:8; 23:9 with Matt. 7:6.
27. Psalms 37:25; 34:23; Matt. 6:25-30. For other OT quotations on Divine Providence, see Proverbs 23:4, 11; Psalms 4:7-9; 23:4; 34:7, 11, 18; 37:25; 41 and 69.
28. In order: Sirach 27:26, 30; 35:17; Psalm 37:11; Proverbs 3:28; Sirach 13:23; Proverbs 24:17; Deuteronomy 15:11 (Jerusalem Bible); 2 Chronicles 15:2.
29. Compare John 1:1 with Sirach 1:4; also 1 Peter 4:8 with Tobias 4:11.
30. Compare Eph. 6:13-17 with Isaiah 59:17; Psalm 140:6 (helmet); 144:2 (shield); and Wisdom 5:17-18 (breastplate).
31. Compare James 2:5 with Sirach 10:29; 11:1.
32. Compare Matt. 11:28 and John 4:4 with Sirach 24:18; Deuteronomy 8:3.
33. For purgatory, see 2 Maccabees 12:39-46. For usury: Deuteronomy 23:19-20; 24:6, 17; Exodus 22:25-26 (also 2 Ezra 5).
34. See, for example, Isaiah 49:5; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Psalms 22:11; 71:6; 2 Maccabees 7:22-23; Sirach 1:12; 46:13; 49:7; 50:22.
35. See, for example, Ezechiel 3:17-20; 13:3-4, 8, 19-20; 34:1-16; Jeremiah 5:30-31; 6:13; 23:16-17.
36. Leviticus 18:6f.
37. See, for example, Genesis 38:9-10 (sin of Onan) and Deuteronomy 25:11-12; 27:20-22.
38. On free will, see Ezechiel 18:24-25; 33:11; Wisdom 12:10; 15:15-20. On mortal sin: Ezechiel 18:24-25.
39. Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10; 1 John 5:16.
40. Sirach 36:25; Jeremiah 16:1-2.
41. See, for example, in the case of David: 1 Samuel 21:4-5.
42. Deuteronomy 26:18; 27:1.
43. Leviticus 8:9 (miter); 24:1-9 (vigil lamp and showbread); Exodus 39:25 (bells); 2 Maccabees 3:15 (prostration); Psalm 95:6 (kneeling); Wisdom 18:21 (incense).
44. On the nature and authority of the high priesthood, see Sirach 45:7, 13, 17 (lifetime authority to prescribe, judge, and teach).
45. For fraternal correction, see Proverbs 9:8; 10:10; 28:23; Sirach 19:5 and 12; 20:1; 42:8. For weekly assembly, see Leviticus 23:3. For cheerfulness: Proverbs 15:15 and 30; 17:22; 25:20, 23. For perfection: Deuteronomy 6:1-4; 10:12; 11:1; Leviticus 20:7; Genesis 17:1; Psalm 119:1. For fasting: Exod. 34:28; Isaiah 22:12-14; Psalm 69:7-11; Judith 4:11; Esther 4:16; Proverbs 30:22; Daniel 9:3; Joel 1:13-14. For belief in the power of relics: 2 Kings 13:20-21. For the shunning of hardened sinners: Proverbs 22:24-25; Psalm 26; Tobias 4:18; Sirach 10:22; 11:33-34. For human nature: Exodus 33:23; Jeremiah 11:8; 17:9; Ecclesiastes 9:3.
46. John 20:23. Holy Father John Paul II has referred to Penance as one of the most awe-inspiring innovations of the New Testament. See Reconciliation and Penance (1984), #29.
47. Leviticus 21:7 (on priests and marriage); Malachi 2:15-16. For the New Testament on marriage, see Matt. 5:32; 19:8-9; Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Romans 7:3.
48. Ezechiel 18:21-29 (hell as death); Numbers 16:33 (nether world). See also 1 Samuel 2:6 (hell); Psalm 37 (cut- off); Proverbs 2:22; Sirach 35:19-23; Malachi 3:19-21.
49. Daniel 12:2.
50. Wisdom 3:18 (scrutiny); Proverbs 11:4 (wrath). On Judgment Day: Joel 1:15; 2:1; Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:14. On the resurrection of the body: Isaiah 26:19; Psalm 16:10; Job 19:25-27; 2 Maccabees 7:9, 14; Sirach 46:12. On heaven: Malachi 3:19-21; Psalms 9:19; 17:15; 21:6; 23:6; 37:18, 37; 49:15-16; Job 4:7; 5:11; 2 Samuel 12:23; Ezechiel 18:28 (heaven as “life”); Isaiah 35:1-10; Daniel 12:2.
51. On the prospering of evildoers: Malachi 3; Ecclesiastes 7:15; Jeremiah 5:27-28; 12:1; Psalm 12:9; 37:7. For the suffering of the just: Psalm 25:19; 27:3; 31:14-16; 34:20 (“Many are the troubles of the just man”); 37:32; 38:20-21; 69:5; Sirach 2:1; Ecclesiastes 1:18; 8:14.
52. John 16:11.
53. Sirach 21:10.
54. Proverbs 4:8. See also Judith 8:8 (“She was greatly renowned . . . because she feared the Lord . . . Neither was there anyone who spoke ill of her”).
55. See, for example, Mark 10:30.
56. Isaiah 53:10-11; Judith 8:27.
57. Proverbs 23:4; 30:8; Sirach 40:28. See also Proverbs 28:11-12, 20, 22; Sirach 10:29; 11:10; 31:1-11; Psalms 4:3; 58:2-3; Judges 9:8-15. The rich are also characterized, from time to time, as cruel, exploitive, and boasting of their wrongdoing—e.g., Sirach 13:3-13.
58. On poverty, see Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:28-30; Luke 12:33. On the spiritual family, see Matt. 12:47-50; 13:57; Luke 11:27-28; 14:25-27; John 7:5.
59. Ambrose to Clementianus, n.d. in Ambrose Letters 1-91 (Fathers of the Church, 1954), p. 406.
60. Compare Isaiah 58:6-7 with Matt. 25:35-36.
61. Mark 12:41-44. It may be objected that the hard-pressed widow of Sarephta was also extremely generous. This is true. But she was obligated by the law of hospitality, as well as by the plea of the prophet (1 Kings 17:12-15). It is hard to compare the two passages because the widow of the New Testament is under no obligation whatever.
62. John 8:58; 14:6.

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