According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, November 30, 2012

How the Early Christians Read the Bible

 
Scot McKnight
November 28, 2012
 
It is not unusual for a first-time Bible reader to encounter a New Testament author quoting an Old Testament author, for the reader to wander back to the Old Testament to read that text too, and discover — “Wow, that’s not quite what the Old Testament author had in mind.”
 
One of my favorites is how Matthew sees Jesus’ parents taking him to Egypt and then back to the Land of Israel (to the Galilee in fact) and to see in that move a “fulfillment” of Hosea where it says “out of Egypt I have called my son.” In Hosea “son” means Israel and refers to the Exodus… well, that’s not quite the same as what Matthew was on about.
 
Have you ever explained to a Bible reader how the New uses the Old? What would you tell that person? What are the major ideas? Which text in the NT would you use first?
 
Which is why we need an introductory book to how the earliest Christians read the Old Testament. Greg Beale, in his book Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation (Baker Academic, 2012) provides for advanced college students and seminary students such a book. One does not have to know Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek to make use of this book even if it is rich in detail at times.
 
That problem of “non-contextual” readings of the Old Testament (remember, it was the one and only Bible for the earliest Christians) has a number of arguments in its favor though Beale thinks the arguments are often taken too far.
 
Some Proposed Readings of the OT by the early Christians
 
There is the argument which Beale thinks has been overcooked:
 
  • that the earliest Christians were using typical, non-contextual Jewish methods of interpretation,
  • that the early Christians were using a “testimony book” which had quotes and not full contexts of the Bible,
  • that their “christocentric” or “christotelic” approach permitted them to override the Old Testament context,
  • that they were using the OT rhetorically but not contextually,
  • and that postmodernity reveals that those authors were reading their ideas into the OT.
 
The Argument of Typology
 
The issue is also over typology, something that gets abused in the church and therefore gets a bad name, but it’s something the NT authors clearly do — do the NT authors see analogies within their theology that would not have been seen in the original OT? We are drawn back into the salvation-history discussion: once one admits that Christ is the fulfillment, the Old begins to be read toward and in light of Christ. In other words, it is “contextual” exegesis.
 
  • Salvation-History
  • Christological Focus
  • A Contextual Exegesis
 
Some Practical Guidance Then
 
What Beale can do for most any Bible reader is provide some method for anyone wanting know how to begin seeing how the NT appropriates and reads the OT: 
  • Identify the OT reference: is it a quotation or an allusion? (He’s got criteria for determining allusions.)
  •  
  • Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.
  •  
  • Analyze the OT context both broadly and immediately, esp thoroughly interpreting the paragraph in which the quotation or allusion occurs.
  •  
  • Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be relevant to the NT appropriation. [Requires some texts and some time.]
  •  
  • Compare the texts carefully, including the textual variants: NT, LXX, Hebrew Bible, targums, early Jewish citations of that text, etc.
  •  
  • Analyze the author’s textual use of the OT (which text does this author use?).
  •  
  • Analyze the author’s interpretive (hermeneutical) use of the OT.
  •  
  • Analyze the author’s theological use of the OT.
  •  
  • Analyze the author’s rhetorical use of the OT.
OK, this takes lots of work — for each text analyzed! But some of you are interested in this sort of thing, and this is a great place to start.
 
Conclusion
 
So, then, how does the NT use the OT?
 
  • To indicate direct fulfillment of prophecy.
  • To indicate indirect fulfillment of typological prophecy.
  • To indicate affirmation that a not-yet-fulfilled OT prophecy will assuredly be fulfilled in the future.
  • To indicate an analogical or illustrative use of the OT.
  • To indicate the symbolic use of the OT.
  • To indicate an abiding authority carried over from the OT.
  • To indicate a proverbial use of the OT.
  • To indicate a rhetorical use of the OT.
  • To indicate the use of an OT segment as a blueprint or prototype of a NT segment.
  • To indicate an alternate textual use of the OT.
  • To indicate an assimilated use of the OT.
  • To indicate an ironic or inverted use of the OT.
 
Complex indeed, but here is what is at work under it all:
 
  • They believe in corporate solidarity or representativeness.
  • Christ is the true Israel and church.
  • History is unified
 
 
 

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