I find it interesting to occasionally put aside my personal faith and just consider the Bible as a piece of literature (in fact the best-selling book in history). In my daily reading (I try to do a chapter a night), I have just recently wrapped up Malachi and thus made the transition from (what Christians call) the Old Testament into the New.
We take the gospel accounts for granted, since they are so familiar to (most of) us, but everything about them is strikingly different from the Old Testament. I was literally getting weary, going through all the books near the end the OT, because they were just so bleak. The children of Israel just kept screwing up again and again and again, and God kept warning them over and over and over that they were in trouble with a capital T.
Then in the New Testament, everything changes. Rather than zipping through history, the narration screeches to a snail’s pace, and we learn intricate details about the pregnancy of a woman, such is the importance of her Son. In fact, this Man is going to be so important, that we have four books in a row, telling different versions of the same story.
And there is another huge difference. The God of the Old Testament was “terrible” in a certain sense of the word. You had better be afraid of that Being. Yes, He was merciful, loving, patient, and so forth, but He was also terrible.
Yet the Man we meet in the gospels was approachable. The reader can finally get his arms around this Person, so to speak. The more He speaks and does, the more the reader realizes He is no mortal man either, but at the same time He is a man, and an incredibly gentle one at that. There is no condemnation or judgment here; in fact, His purpose is to eradicate them once and for all.