Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Testament Use of the OT

For a couple years, there's been a hole in my Bible as Scripture class. I have in the syllabus that there will be a video called, "The NT Use of the OT" to watch on Thursday evening. So far, that video has never been ready.

No one ever complains--one less assignment. My problem is that it is a complex topic, and I want to present it in a clear, convincing, and non-offensive way. I probably spent two hours last night trying to record the PowerPoint in its current form and finally just went to bed and mulled it over some more.

So here's the outline I woke up with:

1. The NT can use allegory.
  • Galatians 4:21-31 - Paul uses Sarah and Hagar as an allegory for the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem
  • Hebrews 9:6-10 - The author uses the structure of the earthly tent as an allegory of the two ages and the two covenants.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:9-10 - The ox in Deuteronomy represents the minister of the gospel, and "treading the grain" means to minister to a community.
2. The NT (almost) uses pesher.
Pesher is a word used to describe the exegesis of some commentaries at Qumran, where verses are applied to contemporary situations in the interpreter's day. Matthew especially comes close to this.
  • Matthew 2:15 - "Out of Egypt I called my son" in Hosea 11:1
  • Matthew 2:23 - "He will be called a Nazarene" in where?
3. Some Basic Insights
I think that's enough data to draw a very important conclusion. The NT authors did not follow the rules of modern exegesis when they interpreted the OT texts.

4. This makes sense.
  • It makes sense because I do not interpret texts in your head, but in mine.
  • In revelation, God takes on our flesh. He does not expect us to take on his (which is impossible anyway).
5. Meaning is contextual.
  • God revealed truths, promises, and commands to the NT authors within their frame of reference.
  • As they read the OT, God met them in how the OT text appeared to them rather than use it as an opportunity to give them a history lesson.
6. In the OT stories, God gave them...
  • examples to imitate (Job, Hebrews 11)
  • examples to avoid (Esau, Sodom)
  • Illustrations of truths (Abraham, Rahab on faith/works)
  • These examples stand on their own as true. They don’t have to match the OT exactly.
7. Good Jewish Midrash
  • Arguments from lesser to greater
  • Verses connected together by catchwords
  • Points made out of distinctions in detail, such as the use of a singular instead of a plural
8. Metanarratives
  • Paul's Adam-Christ sequence
  • Mark's exile-return sequence
  • Metanarratives, by their very nature, are extra-textual. They stitch together originally separate stories.
9. The OT Law
  • Sacrifices are understood as shadows of Christ.
  • Israelite particulars of the Law (circumcision, Sabbath, food laws) are not applicable to Gentiles.
  • Christ's law is love God/love neighbor (the filter for applying OT ethics).
  • Some laws are continued (sexual laws).
10. Prophecies
Some texts are interpreted "spiritually" (sensus plenior).
  • E.g., about events in the life of Jesus
  • Some predictions expanded in scope (e.g., return from exile, return of the throne of David)
11. Possible Conclusions
  • We can hear God through Scripture, even when we don't know the historical meaning.
  • We should not read NT interpretation for historical information on the OT (e.g., authorship).


Ken Schenck said...

I finally made the video. 33 minutes... sorry!

::athada:: said...

This was helpful. I consider Evangelical discomfort with the evolutionary history of humanity, as it comes to Paul (sin entering through one man, Rom. 5). I suppose I'll wave my hand and say it was a truth as understood by Paul in his context with the knowledge available to humankind at the time.