The NT Use of the OT

Posted: October 27, 2011 in bible, books, exegesis, old testament

The Gospel Coalition blog has a helpful article on the hermeneutics of Jesus and the apostles, arguing that they were not “sloppy” or arbitrary in their exegesis.  The author quotes from Greg Beale’s helpful article in Themelios entitled, “Did Jesus and His Followers Preach the Right Doctrine From the Wrong Texts? An Examination of the Presuppositions of Jesus’ and the Apostles’ Exegetical Method.”

It’s commonly assumed that the NT authors paid paltry regard to the context surrounding their passages of choice. “With all do respect,” the thinking goes, “it sure seems that the NT authors treated Scripture like a gigantic grab bag from which to cherry-pick whatever suited their needs at the writing moment.” Nevertheless, such a mindset maintains, “Even if their OT excursions were exercises in missing the contextual point, the infallible end justifies the exegetically iffy means.”

Beale objects to this reasoning. He writes, “[The] proposal of many that the NT’s exegetical approach to the OT is characteristically non-contextual is a substantial overstatement…I remain convinced that once the hermeneutical and theological presuppositions of the NT writers are considered, there are no clear examples where they have developed a meaning from the OT which is inconsistent or contradictory to some aspect of the original OT intention.”

One other helpful resource related to this topic is the excellent Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by Beale and Carson.  This book has been invaluable for my own study of the New Testament.  While not super cheap ($37.79 with free shipping on Amazon), the book is definitely worth the price.  Ask for it for Christmas and you won’t be disappointed!


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