Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Did the NT Authors Interpret the OT Right, and Should We Interpret It the Way They Did?

I'm not at all inclined to find a person credible who argues that the answers to those questions are simple. I'm even less inclined to find a person credible who argues that the answers to those questions are unimportant.

Greg Beale's Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation surely is one of the most helpful books on the subject. It's a survey, so it doesn't address a number of the key issues in great detail, but it does offer a robust bibliography.

Justin Taylor posted a helpful overview of the book with links to related lectures and interviews. But Beale makes a crucial point that Taylor's overview doesn't deal with explicitly: The NT authors appear to have modeled their hermeneutical approach to the OT on the hermeneutical approach later OT authors applied to earlier OT writings. In other words, Beale argues that a careful analysis of how, say, the prophets quote the Pentateuch would reveal a similar hermeneutic to what the NT authors use when they quote the prophets.

If that proposition is true, then it would have profound implications for all sorts of contemporary debates, not the least of which is the tension among Covenant Theology, Dispensationalism, and their alternatives. And I suspect what might prove helpful is a partner volume to Carson & Beale's Commentary on the NT Use of the OT—a Commentary on the OLD TESTAMENT Use of the OLD TESTAMENT.


Watchman said...

Perhaps I'm not understanding the context of the question, but what orthodox view of inspiration allows for the possiblity that NT authors erred in interpreting the OT?

d4v34x said...

Another related question would be if whether all the NT uses of the OT are strictly interpertive.

Ben said...


Many Dispensationalists think NT authors quote the OT out of context, but the inspiration of the Holy Spirit validates their usage. They'd also argue that we shouldn't apply the same hermeneutic. Given the fact that we're not inspired, it's a reasonable conclusion. The question is whether the premise is valid. Beale obviously believes that it's not. I'm unaware of a Dispensationalist response to Beale's understanding of the OT use of the OT. Perhaps someone else is.

d4, I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to. One of Beale's arguments is that the NT uses the OT lots of different ways. Obviously, texts that describe fulfillment have to contain some real correspondence, if that's what you mean by "interpretive."

Gary said...

(Arminian) Evangelical Christianity teaches that my salvation is dependent on MY decision to accept Christ, and my assurance of salvation is dependent on MY feelings of his continued presence in my heart.

But what happens during times of hardship and trial when I don't feel saved? Answer: I repeat my born again experience again and again until I finally feel absolutely certain that I am saved!

Thousands, maybe millions, of Evangelical Christians struggle with doubts and fears regarding their salvation and eternal destiny due to this faulty theology. They have no sure assurance of salvation! They are praying the Sinner's Prayer again and again as if it were a Rosary.

The Sinner's Prayer:

"Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for
Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen."