Monday, February 14, 2011

The Messiah in the OT: Read Between the Lines, AND Read the Lines

I remember when I agreed with this argument—that when we read the OT, we find "virtually nothing about Christ, the Cross, or the Gospel." And I'm still not one who lightly dismisses this position with a deft wave of Luke 24:27.

Still, now, I find it completely foreign to my reading of the Bible to suggest, as Snoeberger does, that "Christ and the Gospel do not emerge as major OT themes. In fact, they're not themes at all." Remember, "Christ" is simply the Greek form of the Hebrew term, "Messiah," or anointed one. At this point in my life, it is impossible for me to read the OT without seeing a constantly recurring theme—both explicit and implicit—of a coming King who would restore all things to their proper place under the dominion of God. To say that the Messiah is not a theme of the OT at all is simply breathtaking. I wonder if the members of the intertestamental Jewish messianic communities might not have disagreed.

The Christ/Messiah theme is not the only theme in the OT, and more skilled theologians and writers surely offer better summaries than mine. But in any case, I doubt you'll find a more skilled writer and theologian than Snoeberger among those who dogmatically disagree. It is often useful to hear the best arguments from the other side.


Chris Anderson said...


Anonymous said...

What I found interesting, and what I perceived as a "tell" (in poker lingo) was this statement:

"If robust faith and rigid separatism could flourish in the OT without reference to the themes of Christ and the Gospel, is it really possible to jettison everything else today and base fellowship strictly or even primarily upon fidelity to the Gospel?"

It appears from this statment that the good doctor views separatism as the matter of highest concern. Separatism is the unifying theme of the Scripture apparently -- not the story of God's glory through the redemption of his people?

I'm sure I'm reading too much into this tell. Sure, he also mentions "robust faith", but robust faith in who? Someone other than the redeemer? Of course I know that is not what he believes. So, how is that robust faith not -- in the sense meant by the "gospel crowd" -- the gospel?

Of course there is more to the Bible than the Roman's Road. But is there any part that is detached from God's plan to glorify himself through the redemption of his people and the renewal of his creation? Why does separation matter apart from these things?

Defenses of dispensationalism and separatism sure do produce some arguments that are very strange and confusing to me.


Michael C said...

I agree with you Ben.

As thankful as I am for the renewed emphasis on the gospel, I have noticed that some "gospel-centered" preachers get a little sloppy in how they talk about the OT. It's easy to refer to OT characters as Christians, going to Church (the temple), etc. I heartily affirm the unity of Scripture, but I still feel like it's a bit inaccurate or anachronistic to import some of this NT terminology into OT preaching.

I think that Chris Anderson has described preaching OT passages "in their redemptive context." I think that's a good way to put it. OT passages shouldn't be preached in exactly the same way we would preach from the NT, but they should be recognized as arrows pointing forward to Christ's work on the cross.

All of that is to say, it is good to have someone like Snoeberger challenge us about whether we are truly being faithful to the text. We need to accurately exegete the OT, but we also have to recognize that the OT doesn't tell the whole story.

As a disclaimer, I'll add that as a layperson think a fair bit about the difficulties in preaching from the OT. I'm try to appreciate when it is done well, while recognizing that it's harder than it looks.

Ben said...


I think Snoeberger was trying to accomplish too much in his blog post (i.e., there were several ideas he merged together, and, thus, communicated some of them rather poorly and incompletely). However, he's not arguing that separation is the theme of Scripture. You can see that in his follow up and clarifying post here:

Ben Edwards

Anonymous said...

Ben Edwards,

I agree with you. Notice that I admitted in my comment that "I'm sure I'm reading too much into this tell."

I still think that while ostensibly writing about the O.T. and the Gospel, the driving concern of the argument (the motivation for the argument) seems to be a defense of dispensationalism and fundamentalist style separatism.

He wants to make much of the distinction between Doxology and the Gospel. In doing so, he says: "There’s more to God’s decree than saving his elect via the Christian Gospel. It’s bigger than that."

Yes, it's bigger, but it's not smaller.

He says, "It’s about God ruling his whole universe and extracting glory from all its parts."

Amen -- sounds like every good neo-calvinist I know. But how does that not relate to the gospel?

"While in theory Reformed theologians would agree with this assessment, in practice this does not always seem to follow."

Well, it may not follow in many conservative, calvinistic baptists (although it does in John Piper), it follows quite regularly in reformed presbyterians. Has he read Tim Keller? Francis Schaeffer? I'm sure he has. What am I seeing in them that he is not?

All creation groans because of the fall. God is/will (already/not yet) redeeming it through Christ. Is God also going to be glorified even by the non-redeemed? Sure, but is that the main story line? Does that story line go on forever, world without end?

He says, "There is also in God’s universal kingdom a common or civic aspect, detailed in the dominion mandate, formalized under Noah, and realized in part in the Jewish theocracy, that operates independently of and even prior to the theme of Gospel."

Prior to the theme of the Gospel? Isn't Genesis 3:15 prior to the establishment of National Israel?

He says, "What I AM saying is that there is more to God’s plan than merely saving people."

And, again, every good reformed person I know says this regularly and acts upon its truth -- although imperfectly of course.

I think that a big part of this is the result of different usages of "The Gospel". I think that fundamentalist baptists and dispensationalists of all sorts use "gospel" to mean merely the answer to "How does an individual get to heaven?" However, many reformed us it to mean Christ's redemption of the entire cosmos.

I won't object if he wants to use the more limited definition, if he will allow us the freedom to use the more expansive.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Ben (Wright) about reading the OT and seeing a coming Messiah/restoration of all things theme throughout it. In fact, I would argue that you can't truly grasp the OT without seeing it.

Heb 11 says Abraham dwelled in tents in the promised land. He looked forward to when he would dwell as a citizen, not a foreigner. Even he saw it.

Ben said...

James, Heb 11 also says that Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah were looking for a *heavenly* country. But that's another conversation . . .

Ben said...

Michael C,

You're surely right that it's easy to get sloppy when you're preaching the OT with a commitment to pick up on the Christological elements. But then, one might also counter that many dispensationalist sermons on the OT reflect a sort of approach to the text that only a Muslim could love.

Ben said...


Don't intend on getting into a long back and forth, but just a few comments to push back a little.

I think your continual emphasis on the redemption of the cosmos is part of his point--i.e., it's all related to redemption. However, he is pointing out aspects of God's plan that are not related to redemption (e.g., angels).

Thus, your confusion about his statement "There is also in God’s universal kingdom a common or civic aspect, detailed in the dominion mandate, formalized under Noah, and realized in part in the Jewish theocracy, that operates independently of and even prior to the theme of Gospel." Yes, the dominion mandate (Gen 1:28) did occur before Gen 3:15. This aspect of the common kingdom is independent of God's redemptive kingdom.

Ben Edwards

Ben said...

However, let me clarify that I'm not convinced Christ and gospel are as absent from the OT as he seems to make them.


Anonymous said...

Indeed Ben, a conversation worth having it is.

I assume you are referring to Heb 11:10 - "For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

This is in contrast to living as a foreigner in tents. I find no reason to think that he was looking at/forward to heaven. He was looking forward to the new creation imhbao.

Ben said...

James, verses 13-16

Anonymous said...

We should have this discussion sometime. The "heavenly" country is the renewed earth.

Anonymous said...


I also don't have time for an extended back and forth. But, thanks for pushing back, and I'll respond at least this once more.

I understand that Dr. Snoeberger is emphasizing the "non-redemptive" parts of God's glory. And, I agree that they exist. I even admitted as much previously. I wrote: "Is God also going to be glorified even by the non-redeemed? Sure .. ."

I agree that God is glorified by the Angels and by the damned. I even agree that He is glorified by the heavens (Ps. 19) -- but unlike the angels and the damned, the heavens are being redeemed, they are part of the cosmos, yet Snoeberger detaches them from the gospel. But I digress.

The non-redeemption parts of creation glorify God, but are these things the main story line of the O.T.? Is the O.T. taken up with telling us about the angels, the damned, and other extra redemption or non redemption matters?

I think that it touches on those things, but it seems that its main content is the history and unfolding of redemption. That's where the disagreement with his assessment of the O.T. ultimately rests.

Good catch of the creation/dominion mandate predating the protoeuangelion. I did not read carefully enough. I convoluted Snoeberger's list and focused on the "Jewish Theocracy" part of it.

Nevertheless, the creation/dominion mandate is only independent of the gospel IF one accepts the Two-Kingdoms construct. Something far from universally agreed upon.

Come to think of it, this might be where some of the confusion and conflict is coming from. Dr. Snoeberger is focusing on "All Things" bringing glory to God like a one-kingdom man (he sounds a lot like Kuyper here), but he is reading the O.T. and talking about the gospel like a two-kingdom man (he sounds more Lutheran here).


Ben said...

I'm not sure Snoeberger is arguing this, but I find to be a silly canard the notion (which I have heard advocated forcefully) that gospel/redemption/God's glory in the gospel/whatever *cannot* be the central theme of the Bible because it doesn't show up in Gen 1-2. If there's a metanarrative to the Bible (and I think there is, despite its complexity), I don't think it's unreasonable to concede two chapters to set the stage for why that redemption is necessary.

Now, I'm not arguing that redemption IS the best way to summarize the main theme. I'm suggesting that the central theme doesn't have to appear on every page, and not every component of the text has to directly connect to the central theme (angels). We simply don't read or write narratives that way. To call something the "central theme" doesn't make it the "comprehensive theme."

Anonymous said...


I agree. And, just to clarify, my last comment was in response to Ben Edwards.

But either Ben can maybe help me out with this question.

Why does Dr. Snoeberger (like most self-professed dispensationalists I've met) say things like: "It seems to me that rather than seeing the OT sacrifices as anticipating Christ, it is better to say that God modeled Christ's sacrifice retrospectively after the theocratic system."

Why do they what to give priority to the O.T. practices? What is wrong with seeing the O.T. sacrifices as foreshadowing the true and better and final sacrifice?

Why do we need to read the N.T. in light of the Old more than reading the Old in the light of the new?

How could God, "retrospectively" do anything when he decreed it all outside of time?

I just can't figure it out at all.


Ben said...


I probably need to re-read Alva McLain to get back inside that mindset. But if one concedes that large swaths of the OT prefigure fulfillment in Christ, it becomes more difficult to maintain the Church as a parenthesis in the outworking of God's plan. Seems like there must be far more to it than that though.

Ben said...


Obviously I can't say definitively, but I think Snoeberger is emphasizing (perhaps more than is necessary) that the OT sacrifices were more than precursors to Christ's sacrifice. They don't deny that the sacrifices point to Christ, but they don't think that's all they did. To grossly oversimplify, the OT refers to these sacrifices as accomplishing something (atoning, forgiving, etc.), so they were more than just shadows.

If you want to actually read about it in more depth, you can look at Whitcomb's article on the animal sacrifices and the atonement:


And, fwiw, dispys are not giving priority to the OT. Rather, they practice a hermeneutic that believes the OT must be taken on its own terms and not reinterpreted in light of the NT (the key word being "reintepreted," giving it a meaning it never had).

Ben said...

In case you missed it, I think Snoeberger expounds more on what he means in this follow-up comment:

"But the theocratic/redemptive distinction to me makes all the difference. Those sacrifices DID do something. They were more than a colossal waste of time and sheep that left God shaking his head in dissatisfaction. They made a person right within the theocratic arrangement. And so they were a cause for joy. At the same time the sacrifices did NOT address the redemptive problem, a fact seen most clearly in the lack of access to the Most Holy Place (9:8). And so OT saints, while delighting in what the sacrifices DID do, were genuinely aware that there was something they did NOT do.

The sacrifices did something; Christ did everything.

Follow-up: If the only function of the sacrifices was redemptive, and they were inadequate to that end, then why do we find over and over in Leviticus that the sacrifices took away guilt?

Here's my (theocratic) answer: the sacrifices took away culpability within the theocratic arrangement (much like jail time satisfies a criminal's culpability before the law and pays his debt to society). They didn't redeem him, but they did relieve temporal culpability before the community law.

But if they have no function other than redemptive, what is the removal of guilt that the offerers received? Is it just a promise of future expiation? A temporary redemption by works? A semi-redemptive reprieve? A covering?

That's what I don't get about the redemptive-only theory of the sacrifices. It makes a plausible case in Hebrews, but doesn't seem to explain the whole of Leviticus."

Anonymous said...

"Those sacrifices DID do something. They were more than a colossal waste of time and sheep that left God shaking his head in dissatisfaction."

Just like baptism and communion DO something -- if DOing something is the opposite of "a colossal waste of time and [water, bread, wine] that [leave] God shaking his head in dissatisfaction." Right?


Ben said...

Ben E.,

1. I may have missed, but who's arguing for a redemptive-only view of the sacrifices that excludes one's standing in the community of the Mosaic Covenant? And isn't it entirely plausible that the need for atonement/redemption in relationship to the covenant community can be easily incorporated into a Christological/redemptive theme?

2. Ordinarily, I'd address a 3rd party's comments in the place where they were made, but since you referenced MS' implication that the OT sacrifices, in views contrary to his, were a "colossal waste of time and sheep," I'll address it here: I don't find that sort of rhetoric the least bit helpful. Can you help me think of anyone who says anything close to that? Wouldn't people who disagree with MS argue that the sacrifices have communicated some very clear things to both Israel and the church about the nature of God, the seriousness of sin, and the need for a mediatorial sacrifice?

3. Though I'm in pretty stark disagreement with the dispensational views MS is articulating, I would wholeheartedly agree with the idea that the OT must be taken on its own terms and not reinterpreted in light of the NT. I'd simply argue that NT interpretations of the OT are in accordance with the OT's own terms. Call me crazy.

Ben said...

BTW, Ben, love having you here dude, but another Ben in the comment threads sure does make things confusing! Maybe I'm getting too old for this.

Anonymous said...

"I'd simply argue that NT interpretations of the OT are in accordance with the OT's own terms."

And all God's people said . . . Amen.

Not crazy at all.


Larry said...

I know I am a little late to this party, but I want to address this statement: I'd simply argue that NT interpretations of the OT are in accordance with the OT's own terms.

I would as well. The bigger question is whether modern day "Christ in the OT" interpretations are in line with either.

IOW, I think the OT and NT agree, and the NT uses of the OT are proper and consistent. I think there is often a very great gulf fixed between what the NT does with the OT and what some modern people do with the OT. I think Dave Doran showed a great example of this the other day from Keller.

I can't think of very many places (i.e., any) where the NT uses the "greater David" method as the means for interpreting OT narrative.

When someone says yesterday on a blog that they are trying to find the Christological interpretation, that should raise eyebrows all over the place because there is no warrant for looking for it. If it is there, I would think it should normally arise out of the exegesis of the text.

BE said...

Well, I thought I posted a longer comment yesterday, but I guess it didn't go through. So, the main thing I should say is that I don't necessarily agree with everything Snoeberger is saying, so I don't feel a need to defend the views per se. I was just trying to clarify them so that people would know what they are disagrees with :)


I would love to change my name to avoid confusion on this blog, but it would probably make the rest of my life inconvenient. :) Maybe it will help if I use a different ID tag.

Anonymous said...


You really think that it is a stretch to say that the son of David is greater than David -- from the OT? I assume the answer is no.

You really don't think that the list of people Keller mentions (in the entire lecture mentioned by Doran -- which is what it was, it was not an expository sermon), a list much longer than David alone, are foreshadows of the redeemer? They aren't pointing to the ultimate redeemer? Again, I assume your answer will be no.

So, what's the problem with pointing that out? How is it not taking the OT on its own terms, to say that the central story line is always pointing to the need and the coming of Christ?

Do you and Doran really think that the point of the David and Goliath story is -- "So, be like David." I wouldn't think so, but then what is the point?


Anonymous said...

I should clarify my second paragraph.

I mean, that I think you will agree that the people Keller mentions ARE pointing to the ultimate redeemer.


Anonymous said...

Here is some more of the Keller lecture that Doran mentioned
Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

What about this does not come out of the OT?


Anonymous said...

It takes a special hermeneutic to read the life of Christ back onto the Old Testament and get some of these types of pictures.

Is there anything within those OT texts that anticipated or expected Christ to be the "true" representation of them?

For starters:

"Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us."

What test did Adam have in the garden. Please point out those OT texts for me.

Why pick and choose people this way? Could he not find a correspondence with righteous Lot, Rahab, Solomon, etc?

Some of those points may be interesting, but the majority of them are just weak and forced.

brian said...

Ben I don't think I fundamentally disagree with you. However, I would only add that we should not only interpret the OT on it's own terms, but also interpret it canonically (ie, the Bible as one book)

If we simply isolate the OT from the NT, and interpret it "on it's own terms", and not canonically, would we ever come to the conclusion that Jonah could be a picture of Christ? Furthermore, I don't need an OT text to explicitly tell me the rock in the wilderness was Christ when Paul tells me as much in 1 Cor.

If we isolate the testaments we may not even (like some comments above) see how Adam prefigured Christ. But it blows my mind that someone who has the NT would even question the correlation of the first Adam to the second, or King David to his greater Son whom he calls "Lord".

The bigger question in all of this I think is how or if we can do what the NT writers do. For instance, we don't have explicitly or implicity (that I know of)in the NT that Joseph was a type of Christ. But the correlations are almost as clear as day. I agree with James that Keller's references to Esther and others are much more of a stretch. However, that doesn't make his hermeneutic "special", he's just trying to follow the pattern of intertextual canonical interpretation. How confidently we do that today without divine inspiration is the sticking point (at least for me).

Lastly, I wanted to comment on something Keith said:
"How could God, 'retrospectively' do anything when he decreed it all outside of time?"

Marriage from the perspective of Eph 5 is a perfect example of this. We know now, this side of the cross and through later revelation, that marriage was instituted to be a picture of Christ and the church. In other words, the cross and the church preexisted (in the purpose of God, not strictly in time) the marriage of man and woman. Why then would we be surprised to find the events and words of the OT orchestrated and inspired to point to Christ? We're not necessarilty reading Christ and the NT back into the OT. It's almost as if we're going back before the OT, now with the knowledge of God's ultimate plan climaxing in Christ. We have now what angels and prophets once only dreamed of seeing. Please don't make me go back to that day.

Anonymous said...

Brian, not sure if you were referring to my comment about Adam or not, but let me clarify. Christ is the 2nd Adam. I don't know that anyone denies this.

My point of contention is that Adam had a "test" in the garden (only found in the white portions of the Bible). There is a comparison between Adam and Christ. The comparison of a test though is false.

brian said...


Many commentators see Luke deliberately shaping his Gospel narrative to show how Jesus, unlike Adam in the garden, succeeded in the wilderness temptation by the devil. I tend to agree, and "test" to me is just another word for temptation.

brian said...

Sorry I'm late to the comments, but some thoughts have been building in my mind.

Here are two illustrations supporting canonical reading (or reading the NT back into the OT):

Black box: Imagine a FAA flight inspection team reviewing data and clues from the site of a plane crash. All their information is leading them down a path of understanding the cause of the crash. But when they find the black box they have the pilot’s definitive word on how and why the plane went down. Wouldn’t they then go back and look at all the collected data and see how all along it pointed to that particular failure. But without the black box it wasn’t clear. The recording didn’t change the data (NT revelation doesn’t alter the OT), but shed new light on its proper and full interpretation. Furthermore, without the box, the collected data could never have been fully understood. Why would any inspector then go back and disregard the recording, or separate it from the data, and try to interpret the two separately? Instead, he would interpret the (less clear) clues with the definitive recording.

Mysterious movie: We’ve all probably experienced watching a mysterious movie with a climactic and surprising finish (Sixth Sense comes to mind). What I want to do immediately at the end of such a film is to rewind the tape (does anyone still say that?) and watch from the beginning to see all the clues that I missed along the way. “How did I not see that coming?” is what we say when we carefully dissect the movie from the top. But if we didn’t see the end from the beginning, if we didn’t know the outcome of the story, chances are we never would have guessed it. That’s because the film’s director and writer carefully added clues, but simultaneously withheld information. But by looking at the movie’s beginning with knowledge of the end, we can appreciate the development of the story (progressive revelation) as well as the subtlety of the clues (typology). Without the end in view, the first 95% of the story can easily be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

By isolating the OT and having a hermeneutic based on original authorial intent instead of a wider canonical interpretation based on divine Authorial intent, we are severely limiting our understanding of the text. We can better locate, appreciate, and interpret the signs and symbols pointing to Christ in the OT only as we see them through the lens of the NT. Lastly, we must be very careful to isolate the OT from the NT because, in my opinion, the function of OT revelation (as well as parables, for example) is not simply to reveal, but also to conceal. We weren’t meant to get all the information on God’s redemptive plan from the OT. Throughout the OT God gives us clues which only later can be identified for what they were. My guess is that originally God intentionally concealed the whole story (like any good writer) from all people, but particularly from rulers and authorities, and ultimately Satan himself. How else can we explain Satan killing the King of the Jews only to realize the salvation of the world and his own defeat?

Anonymous said...

There is certainly a connection between how Satan tempted Adam and Christ. Keller was referring to Adam's test in the way covenantists typically try to explain a covenant of works. That is what I reject since it is entirely made up.

Larry said...


Just a quick response before I get back to finishing up my message on the greater David for tomorrow … It’s about the children, the rich young ruler, and the cost of discipleship. Thinking about something along the lines of “Jesus the true and better child because he sits on his father’s lap for us, he is the true and better rich young ruler because he actually sold everything he had and gave it to the poor (us) so that we (not he) could have eternal life, and he is the true and better disciple because he gave up everything he had and endured persecutions in this age so that we could have life in the age to come.”

And just typing that out makes me cringe because that is not the point of the text.

1. I listened to Keller’s lectures, some of them twice. In it, he includes examples from his preaching about how he does what he is talking about. The weird thing is that the lectures are very good about connecting with people. The bad thing is that the examples are pretty weak.

2. I am not convinced that the “central story line” is pointing to the need and coming of Christ. I actually think it is much more than that, namely, the coming of the promise of a kingdom and the restoration of the creation. The Messiah is how that happens. That’s why the Bible ends, not at Calvary, and not at the salvation of sinners, but at the new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells and where old things have passed away and new things have come.

3. The point of “David and Goliath” is actually David and Saul … Why God uses David and not Saul, or how God changes the loyalty of the people from David to Saul. Saul was a weak leader, living out of fear, with no loyalty to God and his name. Thus he stands by when the name of God and the people of God are threatened. David acts for the sake of God because of his loyalty to God. As a result, the promise of God to remove the kingdom from Saul and give it to David happens in the course of normal events.

4. With respect to the longer list, biblically we can say that Jesus is the second Adam (and I wouldn’t quibble over “true and better”) and he is the better David, the Passover Lamb. Perhaps we could plug in Heb 3 and say he is also the better Moses. That all comes right out of the Bible. But none of the rest does that I can recall. The Bible, OT or NT, never says anything about Jesus being the true and better Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rock, Job, Esther, or Jonah.

5. So here, the issue is simply should we preach the text or not? If we preach the text, then we should preach what the text says. I don’t think moralizing about the text is more acceptable because we use Jesus to do it. If we are just going to use the text as a springboard to get to what we really want to talk about, (1) can we say we are preaching expositorily and upholding the authority of Scripture and (2) can we really blame the fundamentalists who did exactly the same thing with many texts and ended up preaching horrible sermons?

I just think we need to have a higher view of the OT than merely using it as a prop to get to Jesus. I think Jesus and the apostles taught that the OT stands on its own and has meaning in itself.

Anonymous said...

Larry, very good except your reference to the Rock not be Christ.

1 Cor 10:4
"For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ."

Anonymous said...


I don't see anything wrong with the examples that made you cringe. How on earth are those things not the point of the text?

Jesus says we must have childlike trust in the father to enter the kingdom. Will we have that perfectly? No. So, the only way to enter the kingdom is to be in him who did. (I wouldn't call that sitting in the lap, but if you want to, ok).

And, the things you say of the ryr and the disciples are also true and seem like the main point.

One difference with the ryr from the OT characters mentioned is that he is not a "hero" in anyone's story.

You say, "I actually think it is much more than that, namely, the coming of the promise of a kingdom and the restoration of the creation. The Messiah is how that happens," and I agree. Good point.

However, I would still emphasize that most of the pages in the Bible are actually about "how that happens" than about what it's like after it's happened in its fullness. Most of the story is about why we need the Messiah to get to the kingdom, how the Messiah has come, and how the Messiah won the victory. All of this will lead to the world without end -- but the details of that story are still to be told.

You say, " I don’t think moralizing about the text is more acceptable because we use Jesus to do it." If you think what Keller is calling for or doing is "moralizing", you have not understood his point at all. It is the opposite of moralizing to say that the point is not, "Be like David," but rather, "Jesus is like David but better."

You wrote: "If we are just going to use the text as a springboard to get to what we really want to talk about, (1) can we say we are preaching expositorily and upholding the authority of Scripture?"

Well, no, not if we are just using it to talk about what we really want to talk about -- apart from the text. However, if these things are the theme flowing through all of these texts, then it isn't just what we want to talk about.

If expository preaching means ignoring the entire canon and the unifying themes -- if it means we have to look at each passage in isolation with blinders on to all the rest of the Bible -- well then expository preaching should be abandoned. Of course, I don't think it must mean that.

You wrote, "I just think we need to have a higher view of the OT than merely using it as a prop to get to Jesus." And, no one is arguing for that. It's not a prop.


brian said...


I agree, preach the text. But we also must preach the text within the text, within the context of the whole.

I also agree that language like "true and better" may not always be helpful or accurate. However, the NT repeatedly makes comparisons (explicit and implicit) of the person and work of Jesus to figures, people, and events of the OT.

Here are a handful from just two brief portions of John and Hebrews: serpent lifted up in the wilderness (John 3:14), Jacob (John 4:12), temple (John 4:20ff) Moses (Heb 3:5-6), Joshua (Heb 4:8), and high priest (Heb 5-9).

That's not even beginning to talk about Jesus' correlation to figures like the (near) sacrifice of Isaac, the betrayal of Joseph, the miracles of Elijah and Elisha, the sign of Jonah, king of Israel, the passover, sacrifices, manna, the rock, the shepherds of Israel, the true vine (true Israel?), the bridegroom (Boaz/Hosea). The list goes on. My point is that this is typical (pun intended) of how the Bible works.

Two final questions:

1. Would those who advocate "taking the OT on it's own terms" also say the same for the NT? Does the NT stand on its own?

2. How does a strictly grammatical, historical hermeneutic account for the fact that Jesus was "raised on the third day according to the scriptures"?

Anonymous said...


1. Friday
2. Saturday
3. Raised on Sunday, first day of the week

He was raised on the third day.

brian said...

Thanks, I can count. The questions is: "according to what scriptures?".

Paul uses "scriptures" to refer to the OT. At the time of writing 1 Corinthians, the Gospels had most likely not been written.

Hopefully you can see my point, but in case it's still not clear. What kind of reading of the OT shows us the Messiah being raised on the third day?

Anonymous said...


It is hardly a stretch to believe that Paul was simply repeating what all Christians knew, that Jonah's 3 days/nights was a type of Christ because Christ had said so.

So according to the scriptures would have been Jonah with the words of Christ.

Further, we don't actually know when the gospels were written. It isn't impossible to think that Matthew could have been written pre1Corinthians.

Larry said...

Would those who advocate "taking the OT on it's own terms" also say the same for the NT? Does the NT stand on its own?

Of course.

2. How does a strictly grammatical, historical hermeneutic account for the fact that Jesus was "raised on the third day according to the scriptures"?

The most obvious, and easiest answer is that "according to the Scriptures" modifies "raised up" not "third day." Isaiah 53 makes it very clear that the Messiah would be raised up. There are some other explanations for it such as Hosea 6:2, but I think that falls short of convincing particularly when there is such an obvious explanation.

I think this is one of the problems with the Christocentric or Christotelic approach -- IMO, it too often overlooks the easy and goes for the hard in the attempt to preach Jesus.

brian said...


1. Perhaps I don't understand what is meant by "the NT stands on its own." Jesus as Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, Lamb of God, Son of Abraham, and Son of David has almost no meaning apart from the OT. How can that stand alone?

2. Obvious and easy interpretation (as our western, enlightened minds define it) doesn't see Jesus born of a virgin, or coming up out of Egypt either for that matter. You could be right that "the 3rd day" is not in Paul's view here, but you can't dismiss it just because you don't readily see it.

My biggest problem with the hermeneutic you espouse is that it ignores and even criticizes the very way NT writers (who learned from Jesus) interpret the OT.

Larry said...

Thanks Brian,

A quick response, enumerated for clarity and organization.

1. I subscribe to Kaiser’s antecedent theology idea, that what informs interpretation is information available at the time of writing. So the NT standing on its own doesn’t mean that it is separated from the OT. It means that we don’t read later revelation back on earlier. I don’t think anyone suggests that all we interpret by is the isolated text in question.

2. The virgin birth is the obvious and easy interpretation of Isaiah 7 so I am not sure what you are getting at there.

3. Hos 11/Matt 2 is a great example that I think underlines my point. You are correct that no one would see Jesus coming out of Egypt because (1) that’s not what Hosea said and (2) it’s not what Matthew says that Hosea said. The word pleroo has a much wider domain than what it typically meant by our use of fulfilled. Matthew simply meant something like a similarity. We do stuff like this all the time in modern language and don’t really think much about it. We talk about someone having a “Waterloo” but we are not saying there was something mystical or suggestive about Napoleon’s defeat. We are just using a well known event as a sort of reference point.

4. I am not dismissing the third day “just because I don’t readily see it.” I am simply saying that there is another, I think more obvious, interpretation. We don’t need to make it harder.

5. I am not ignoring or criticizing the way the NT authors use the OT. In fact, I think that is where the discussion lies. We need to figure out how they used it. I am convinced that they do not use it nearly in the ways that many people are arguing today. I actually think it is pretty straightforward.

It is interesting to me how much of a big deal this is given how little pattern and practice there is of it in the NT. When we read the NT, we see the OT background in some places, but we do not see near the emphasis that some seem to be giving it today.

The NT had plenty of opportunities to use the OT in the ways that some are using it, and the NT is almost completely absent. Think about why, in the midst of great unfair and unjust persecution both of Jesus and Christians, Joseph is never invoked as a type. I think what they did not say is instructive to us.

FWIW, I find Mathewson or especially Chappell a far more well reasoned approach than what many are suggesting. I am currently reading Dennis Johnson’s *Him We Proclaim* and finding it not to be very convincing so far, but I am only about half way through it. Perhaps it gets better.

Thanks for the exchange.

brian said...

Sorry, those last two links didn't work. But you can google James Hamilton's two articles:

"Was Joseph a Type of the Messiah?"

"The Virgin Will Conceive: Typology in Isaiah and Fulfillment in Matthew"

brian said...

Somehow one of my posts was lost in cyberspace. Here's an attempt and recreating my thoughts.

Thanks for your stimulating interaction. I appreciate both your comments and your tone. Due to time, this will be my last post on this thread. I would encourage you to check out some of James Hamilton’s work on this subject.

First, I agree with you concerning a waterloo-type event; in fact, I think that fits with what I’m arguing for. The Greek word (often translated “fulfilled”) concerning Jesus’ flight from Egypt is the exact same word, used in almost the exact same phrase, that describes Jesus being born of a virgin. In other words, strictly speaking, neither OT text predicted specific facts about the Messiah. Rather, Jesus' birth and life are seen by Matthew to fulfill the OT type or pattern.

Second, I don’t think the absence of Joseph being explicitly listed as a type is determinative. Often NT authors deliberately include certain details (obviously excluding others) to point to the OT antecedent or shadow fulfilled in a particular person or event. I don’t think any of us would have a problem saying some or all of Psalm 22 is fulfilled by Jesus. We get that idea because of the details of Christ’s passion given to us in the Gospels, and not because at every event the author said “this was to fulfill what was written by the psalmist.” The same could be true of Joseph. Gospel writers tell us of Jesus being sold for pieces of silver, forgiving his enemies, etc., assuming that biblically literate readers would make the connection to Joseph.

I’ll give one final example of this from Mark 6 and the feeding of the 5000. Mark includes the details that Jesus had compassion on the crowd as “sheep without a shepherd”, making them to sit down on the green grass. Apart from the OT, these are just mere accidents of history. But seen in light of Psalm 23 and Ezekiel 34, we get a picture of Jesus as a “fulfillment” of the LORD who is our shepherd, come to deliver his people (sheep) from her failed leadership (shepherds).

I don’t think that’s reading something into the text, but rather reading the Bible as one book with one Author, realizing that the human authors regularly make intertextual connections for emphasis and meaning.

Larry said...

Thanks Brian for your interaction and tone as well. This is an area that I am reading on and studying and considering.

One quick comment on Isaiah 7. I wrote my ThM thesis on that passage. I think Hamilton gets it wrong, though he wasn't available back when I was working through that. I do think Isaiah intended a direct prophecy of the virgin birth.

I think that is different than how Matthew uses Hos 2. My point is that pleroo is big enough to include direct prophecy as well as "Waterloo" connections.

Thanks again, Brian,

Ben said...

Brian wrote: "However, I would only add that we should not only interpret the OT on it's own terms, but also interpret it canonically (ie, the Bible as one book)"

Brian, that's a helpful clarification. I certainly didn't mean to exclude what you articulate. I was using the phrase in response to the implication that the only two options are "little to no OT Christology" and "reinterpretation."

Also, I agree with you that the difficulty is when and how we identify Christology that's not specifically affirmed in the NT. Surely we can see more than is really there. But what dispensationalists often seem to miss is that if we DON'T see Christology that IS there, we're still getting the text wrong. It doesn't matter if we're trying to play it safe.

Ben said...

James wrote:

"Keller was referring to Adam's test in the way covenantists typically try to explain a covenant of works. That is what I reject since it is entirely made up."

James, I agree that we should not allow (at most) implicit tests and covenants form the skeleton of the Bible's structure. But I think there's a difference between that conclusion and seeing similarities and contrasts in various narratives. It's not unreasonable to perceive intentionality in the divine ordination of the events behind the narratives. You bring up 1 Cor 10, and we also find in that passage that OT events *happened* as examples for our instruction.

Ben said...

Larry wrote:

"But none of the rest does that I can recall. The Bible, OT or NT, never says anything about Jesus being the true and better Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rock, Job, Esther, or Jonah."

Larry, many aspects of the Sinai Covenant are specifically identified among the "shadows" that pointed to Christ in one way or another. But the typological nature of other things aren't specifically identified. Should we assume that the only typological things are those that are explicitly identified, or is it possible that we ought to be able to draw some reasonable conclusions about other elements if we study them carefully enough?

Ben said...

Larry, any thoughts on Barrett's "Beginning at Moses"? I read it years ago and hated just about every page of it, but I'm thinking I need to re-read it now.

Bob Hayton said...

Fantastic discussion here. I love the spirit too. Even though I side more with Paleo Ben and Brian than Larry.

Larry you said, "But none of the rest does that I can recall. The Bible, OT or NT, never says anything about Jesus being the true and better Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rock, Job, Esther, or Jonah."

Have you thought about OT allusions much? You should look at The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by Carson and Beale), and Dennis Johnson brings out the importance of allusions and the LXX in evaluating intended connections between the testaments, too. I also recommend the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (IVP). It is fantastic in seeing the bigger picture of themes as they develop throughout the canon.

Lately I've been extremely blessed by reading Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch. Fantastic book, which argues that Hosea was finding a Messianic meaning in his quotation of Numbers 23/24 in Hosea 11. I have to dig up his section on that and quote it at length on my blog one of these days. He also argues from Genesis and the quotations of Gen. 49 repeated in Numbers and Deuteronomy that Joseph is cast as a Judaic figure. In Gen. 49 Judah is promised that his brothers will bow down before him. Obviously the brothers bowing down before Joseph is a repeated textual feature of the Joseph story. So Judah and the future Messiah-king to come from him (which is also emphasized in the Pentateuch), is cast in a role that will be similar to Joseph.

Anyway, back to your quote.

I don't have ready OT allusions for all of these but here are a few:

Isaac he is called the "beloved son" as Jesus was.

Rock Deuteronomy personalizes the rock, and then Paul says it was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).

Jonah the "innocent blood" Jonah 1:14 and Judas' comment about the innocent blood.

Bob Hayton said...

Including the links at the bottom are making my comment get rejected. Here it is again without the links:

I really do think everything comes down to our warrant for finding Christ in Esther, or specifically the Goliath story. As has been stated, our reading the OT Christologically where the NT doesn't directly find parallels.

For me this comes down to a sufficiency of Scripture argument. Do we need an extraBiblical hermeneutic to interpret the Bible correctly? The hermeneutic emphasizing literalism finds its "umph" in an enlightenment idea of obejectivity. What we have in Scripture is a bunch of theological datum and facts, all we need are the correct, neutral, objective scientific tools for us to go out and discover them, reassemble them and viola we have a coherent system of theology. The idea is that any two people using the same scientific control could come up with the same interpretation, hence objectivity is achieved.

Now the problem is the Spirit is left out of this in a sense, 1 Cor. 2:14 doesn't really mean anything, and the emphasis on teachers being a gift to the church kind of doesn't matter. We can ignore what the church of years before taught, because they hadn't figured out the right science yet for objective interpretation....

I'm speaking broadly, obviously. But I think there's some point there. For my part, I don't think we're left without a hermeneutic. I believe the NT authors model how we are to think of and view, and yes use the OT.

This doesn't excuse wild allegorizations. But the oppostite approach limits the divine author's role in the matter. The fact that God can foreshadow things, and that he chose to do so, should shape how we view the OT.

Many dispensationalists I know have a huge problem with what the NT authors see in the OT. It's a problem they need to fix, or at the very least we all are to be cautioned not to interpret things the way the NT authors did, because they were inspired and we weren't. But how else is the NT supposed to teach us to interpret the OT unless it is by example? Furthermore we have several explicit statements about what OT people saw or thought or wished for, and what the OT actually contained and taught. These direct statements should guide us in this matter, in my opinion.

Finally, I'd recommend my friend Nathan Pitchford's thoughts on this. He has several great articles on this. Here are two articles worth thinking through:

The Impact of New Testament Mystery Revelation on Old Testament Hermeneutics

Land, Seed, and Blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant

In Pursuit of a Macro-Cosmic Biblical Theology

(go to

Ben said...

Just tracked down a quote I read recently in Robert Plummer's helpful 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible:

"The OT authors shared the understanding that God intervened progressively and repeatedly, working toward a final climactic intervention. OT authors saw deliverance in their day as foreshadowed in God's earlier deliverances. By their reference to earlier divine interventions to explain God's work in their own day and their anticipation of greater deliverance in the future, the OT authors implicitly agree to the future typological use of their own writings."

What I hadn't noticed when I read that paragraph before is that Plummer footnotes Jared Compton's article in Themelios a couple years ago.

Larry, would you agree with Jared? (Am I right that you both studied at the same place? Not that you have to agree because of that, of course.)

Brian, is that more or less what you're arguing?

Anonymous said...

I remember reading Ireneaus and his many attacks against the gnostics for their quest of deeper knowledge. I think they were the Valentines. Anyway, they would try to one up the previous discovery of secret knowledge by introducing yet more.

The NT did not try to make everything or everyone in the OT a type of Christ. God said everything he wanted to in the NT. The dominant usage of the OT in the NT is exactly the literal usage of the OT. The relatively few exceptions to that can be explained in ways that don't provoke the endless speculation that causes strife and vanity.

People need to learn the NT, what God actually said. Jesus is David's greater son but is David a type of Christ? Where would I go to say he was? Jesus is Rahab's greater son also. Is Rahab a type of Christ too? Frankly, this gets into the realm of absurd (see Keller for examples).

I find it pastorally irresponsible to neglect the actual NT in favor of theses quests. I know no one is actually saying to neglect the NT, but that is what happens.

Ben said...


You agree that we need to preach the OT, right? And you'd agree that we need to get it right, right? Who's neglecting the NT? I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've known far more dispensationalists who ignore or botch the OT than I've known non-D's who ignore or botch the NT.

I'm not sure the Gnostic analogy is compelling. Was their hidden knowledge biblical or extra-biblical?

And do you have a quarrel with the Plummer/Compton position?

Larry said...

Wow … Lots said. Here’s a hopefully quick and relatively short response, enumerated for ease:

To Ben,

1. On the Sinai Covenant you say “many aspects … are specifically identified” as “shadows.” I am not sure “many” are, but at any rate, I think we can assert typology only on those things where God asserted typology. On what basis would we assert more? (This will be a theme of mine ... How do we determine what else?).

2. I haven’t read Barrett completely. I have it and flipped through it a bit. I should read it. I think one of the “complaints” I had was the lack of footnotes. (It doesn’t even have the dreaded endnotes.) I need to read it completely.

3. I love Jared … saw him today in fact. He’s a great guy. I read his article a long time ago so I can’t really comment. I went back and read his conclusion, and I am troubled by assertions that God “meant” a lot more than the human author did, but I don't know exactly what he said. I define “meaning” in a pretty Hirschian way though so that may be part of it. I have a lot of room for application, but that’s different than meaning. But again, assuming that God meant more than the human author, how would we determine that?

My answer to that is that once you leave the text, you have no way to determine meaning. It all becomes conjecture based on imagination, and I am troubled by that, even when the imagination s very sanctified and points straight to Christ.

So I want to be cautious and I don't mean "imagination" in a negative way. It's just something that's not in the text.

To me Chapell makes a lot of sense with his FCF that stops short, at least in theory, of much of the troubling stuff.

And I think some texts just teach us about God. Or about creation. Or about other things that are not directly related to Christ. I am not sure why we would be troubled sticking with that. I don't see any NT warrant to get to Christ from everywhere.

Larry said...

On canonical interpretation, the problem is progressive revelation. The canon was not given all at once, and the prior parts had meaning without the later parts. This the idea of antecedent theology. If the OT text had meaning, then it had meaning based on its own context. Some left for later would have rendered the text meaningless (or moralistic at best) for the original reader. This is why I think antecedent theology idea is important.

I think we should absolutely see the Christology that “is there” in the OT. I am not in the least arguing that there is no Christology or that we should see none. My point is that we should see what is there, and we have no warrant for creativity. The text is authoritative, not our minds creating paths to Christology. I don’t even think it’s a matter of playing it safe vs. not. I think it is a matter of exegesis and then application.

My main principle is this: We have warrant to understand, preach, and teach only what the text actually says.

On typology, I think we should limit types to those that the NT specifies as types because of the authority of Scripture. “Reasonable conclusions” is what led to all sorts of nonsense, and again, once you get away from the authority of the text and what it says, then we have lost all ground of authority. After all, who gets to define “reasonable” or “careful enough study”?

Much of what I see seems like human creativity. As I said, I am reading Johnson’s, *Him We Proclaim.* I marvel at the creativity of how to get to Jesus. It’s just not persuasive to me. Not that I think his Christology is wrong. I just think it isn’t in the text.

I am familiar with Carson/Beale. I have used it, and you won’t be surprised that hear me say that I think it is a very difficult attempt to deal with a pretty simple subject. I think there some allusions. But as many as people are trying to say? The existence of common words does not make an allusion, unless we want to use the “Waterloo” example from above. You talk about Isaac and Jesus being beloved Son; so is Timothy. Is that Christological as well? I think Jonah/Judas is pretty far-fetched as well. I just don’t see that in the text. And I think we have plenty to preach without it.

I do think you are on to something when you ask if we need an extrabiblical hermeneutic. My answer is no. I think trying to tie a single meaning hermeneutic to recent rationalism is not convincing, to me at least. 1 Cor 2:14 does not deal with this type of issue. 1 Cor 2:14 is about illumination or regeneration. Not about finding Christological interpretations.

With respect to the apostolic hermeneutic, I have no problem using the OT as they did with two caveats. First, we have a fairly limited knowledge of what they did, and even more so of how they did it. In other words, they just don’t use the OT that much. Secondly, they also had apostolic authority and inspiration, which I think counts for way more than people allow. Johnson makes the strange argument that we should use their hermeneutic precisely because we aren’t inspired. That is bizarre to a high degree to me. I will be interested to interact on that some next week.

I don’t know of any dispensationalists who have a problem with the way NT authors use the OT. I know some (including myself) who have a problem with the way some NT exegetes and OT exegetes use the OT.

God can foreshadow things. No one denies that. The question is does the OT have meaning on its own? I think it does, and I think God held Israel responsible for that meaning.

I am looking forward to reading Sailhamer. I have it and am reviewing it for the next DBTS Journal. I have to finish Johnson first for the class I am taking and then will dive into Sailhamer next week.

Thanks to all for the graciousness.

Anonymous said...

Ben, we absolutely must preach from the OT. I recently finished a 5 part series out of Ex 6:6-10. The OT informs the NT.

It is a neglect of the NT, the final revelation, when speculative theology takes over. Yes that includes the speculative covenants of CT, but that is another discussion.

Regardless of who botches what isn't the issue. If both are guilty then both are doing it wrong. Being less wrong on this is like being the skinniest kid in fat camp. You are still at fat camp.

The connection to the gnostics is real. The gnostics were not satisfied with the revelation given and pursued speculative theology. All speculative theology is extrabiblical. The quest for more will never end. The history of the church has shown that when speculation is a hermeneutic, then you have chaos, then you have the need for a magisterial control over interpretation.

d4v34x said...

Is there an express NT (or OT, for that matter) warrant for thinking that Genesis 3:15 means anything more than snakes will bite people and people will step on snakes?

Bob Hayton said...


Rom. 16: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."

also possibly Luke 10:17-19

d4v34x said...

Just curious, although neither is express. Both allusional at best and making use of standard language used to describe defeat (npi).

But it does demonstrate that historically we have felt comfortable reading between the lines.

Bob Hayton said...

I thought that might be what you were getting at.

On a similar vein, I find it interesting how quick some preachers are to assume the character in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 is absolutely Satan. It's literally the king of Babylon and the prince of Tyre respectively (if I remember right). But we find Satan behind that no problem, but balk when it comes to seeing Christ???

Just read someone refer to this text: 1 Cor. 2:2 "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." That described the message Paul preached (vs. 4). It was all about Christ. All the doctrines and practical implications the OT declares ultimately need to be applied to this all-encompassing message of Christ.

Larry said...

I think Gen 3:15 is pretty easy in context. It is clearly Satan, he will have seed, and he will be crushed. We need no other text for that, do we?

With respect to Isa 14/Ezek 28, a good number of people don't see Satan there. But I wonder if we are fairly characterizing the issues. I don't know anyone who objects to seeing Christ in the OT in a number of different ways. The issue is whether or not he is everywhere people say he is, and whether or not everything is about him. So one can see Satan in Isa 14, or Jesus in something else, without seeing Jesus in everything. After all, no one claims to see Satan everywhere do they? So I would argue that the Isa 14 comparison really doesn't hold water since no one denies Christ is found in the OT. The question is, like Satan in Isa 14, is he actually everywhere people say he is.

Bob brings up 1 Cor 2:2. But if we read 1 Cor, we see that Paul actually preached quite a bit about other stuff. 1 Cor 2:2 refers specifically to the pretty narrow issue of baptism and the party spirit. It isn't saying that Paul never talked about anything other than Christ and him crucified.

But while we are in 1 Cor, let me ask you guys about Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11. How are those Christological?

We are still back to the issue of how we determine what is a legitimate preaching of Christ in the OT and from the OT. I think we can easily preach Christ from the OT, but as far as "in" the OT, I haven't seen a lot here that pers Having read most of Johnson, I have to say I find him far less than compelling.

Ben said...

Larry, I copied a bunch of quotes from your post yesterday and just catching up to replying now. My replies are after the asterisks.

"I think we can assert typology only on those things where God asserted typology. On what basis would we assert more?"

*****On the same grounds that we'd preach about God's sovereignty from Esther, even though it's not specifically asserted in the book. At some point, when we seen the same patterns in the storyline over and over, I believe we're compelled to reach certain conclusions. Can we go too far? Sure. But I'm really excited to see this conversation exploding among responsible people.

"assuming that God meant more than the human author, how would we determine that?"

*****Not an easy question to answer, but I think there's another danger in assuming human authors knew less than they did. Having sat through several classes with Sailhamer, I think he'll be provocative on that point for you, whether or not he's persuasive.

"I don’t know of any dispensationalists who have a problem with the way NT authors use the OT. I know some (including myself) who have a problem with the way some NT exegetes and OT exegetes use the OT."

*****Fair enough. I also would have a problem with how some dispensationalist exegetes don't use the OT.

"once you leave the text, you have no way to determine meaning. It all becomes conjecture based on imagination, and I am troubled by that, even when the imagination s very sanctified and points straight to Christ."

*****I'm not sure anyone in this conversation would argue with you that leaving the text is bad. I think our discussion is over what's actually in the text.

"some texts just teach us about God. Or about creation. Or about other things that are not directly related to Christ."

*****I think that's true, but in some way they all connect to the biblical metanarrative. I guess we may need to argue over that too.

Ben said...


I think the Gen 3:15 issue is how we're so easily able to conclude that the seed of the woman is the Messiah since it's not explicit in that text. I'd argue that we need to keep reading in the Pentateuch and we'll incontrovertibly see the theme of the seed emerge, pointing directly at a king who will arise from the line of Judah to rule over his people. The rest of the OT and ultimately the NT picks up on that.

Forgive me if I'm putting words in your mouth, Larry, but I think you've written that we should only see typology where the NT does. But I suspect you'd agree that there's some space between seeing Christ everywhere and seeing him in some places that the NT authors don't specifically identify. That's where this conversation needs to focus, IMO.

d4v34x said...

In other words:

"Jesus is the new and better 'seed of the woman' who doesn't just step on the head of Satan's representative, but fulfills that typology completely by delivering Satan a final deathblow, rendering his venom-- death--powerless."

The writer in me wonders if the words "that it might be fullfilled" were never penned because that fulfillment isn't completely realized yet.

I suspect we might just hear them spoken in person from God Himself.

"This day these words are fullfilled . . ."

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed this discussion. Ben, great work here.

Ben said...

Thanks James. And I've not only enjoyed it but benefitted personally.

Just my little Valentine's Day gift to y'all.

d4v34x said...

Ok, so yesterday I listened to a speaker (one I haven't heard preach much) teach from Gen 24. His title was "Finding a Bride for the Master's Son". The subject was soulwinning, so the Bride was converts; the Master, God; and the Son, Jesus.

Reading between the lines or gross allegory?

Ben said...


Was the application that we're supposed to evangelize by asking people to draw water from a well?

I'd consider that allegory, and the sort that's not sustainable from the text. I just listened Saturday while doing yardwork (I follow the Chris Anderson method) to some lectures by Greg Beale (no anti-typologist, to be sure), in which he argued (among many other things) that we shouldn't be looking for Christ in every verse or every aspect of every narrative. The OT is Christological, but not every element is Christological on its own terms.

I'm not sure even a dyed-in-the wool CT'er would try to do what this speaker did. They identify the Church with Israel. Israel is Isaac's son in the Genesis narratives, not his wife.

Now, maybe I'm missing something. If you heard some merit in the speaker's exegetical case, I'm willing to hear it. But this doesn't strike me as the sort of way I hear Tim Keller handling the text. He seems (from what I've heard) to follow the developing themes and recurring patterns in the Bible's storyline.

Did this man claim to be a dispensationalist? Just curious . . .

d4v34x said...

I can safely assume this guy is a dispensationalist.

He didn't really present it as exegesis. More like, look at this servant/master/mission and see what we can learn about how to approach our mission.

A couple of his points were:

v.10- Our Master is going to ask us to undertake the difficult and strenuous (citing the travel time- like a month- to Nahor, Mesopotamia).

v.11- We need to place ourselves where we are likely to encounter the lost.

v.56- We can't allow ourselves to get sidetracked.