††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (July, 1985) 209-23

††††††††† Copyright © 1985 by Dallas Theological Seminary.Cited with permission.

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use

†††††††††††††† of the Old Testament in the New

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Part 1

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Darrell L. Bock

 

 

††††††††††† For evangelicals, whose distinctive characteristic is their com-

mitment to a high view of Scripture, perhaps no hermeneutical

area engenders more discussion than the relationship between the

Testaments. Within this discussion, a particularly important issue

is the use made of the Old Testament by the New Testament. For

evangelicals this issue is of high importance since both

Christological claims and theories of biblical inspiration are tied to

the conclusions made about how the phenomena of these passages

are related to one another. The hermeneutics of the New Testa-

ment's use of the Old is a live topic for discussion within evan-

gelicalism. In fact one could characterize the discussion as one of

the major issues of debate in current evangelicalism. In short, the

subject of the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament is a

"hot" issue in evangelical circles, as many recent works in the area

suggest.1

††††††††††† Despite all the discussion, no consensus has emerged. The

main reason for the absence of consensus is the complex nature of

the discussion both hermeneutically and historically. Major theo-

logical issues often involve multifaceted questions and this area is

no exception. The goal of this article is to discuss the hermeneutical

issues that are raised in the debate. The article seeks to††

describe four schools of approach that have emerged recently in

evangelicalism, letting each view define its perspective on these

complex issues. A second article will discuss four major her-

meneutical issues which each school is attempting to handle in

 

 

 



210 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

dealing with the phenomena of certain passages. The merits and

weaknesses of each hermeneutical area will be evaluated briefly.

Also a framework for dealing with the Old Testament in the New will

be presented that reflects consideration of these key hermeneutical

issues and draws from the contributions of each of these schools.

Hopefully this two-part discussion will lead to a better understand-

ing of the debate in this complex area and will provide a basis for

better dialogue.2 It is also hoped that the proposed framework in

the second article can serve as a functional working model for a way

to approach the subject of the Old Testament in the New.

†††††††††††

††††††††††† ††††††††††† Four Schools within Evangelicalism

 

††††††††††† The following outline of the four approaches to the use of the

Old Testament in the New is an attempt to group together the

various evangelical approaches to this area. None of these groups

has consciously attempted to form a "school"; but the term is used

simply for convenience. The titles given to each school represent an

attempt to summarize their distinctive qualities. All the

approaches have one thing in common: they all recognize that the

way to discuss the use of the Old Testament in the New is not on a

"pure prophetic" model, in which one takes the Old Testament

passage in its context and simply joins it directly to its New Testament

fulfillment without any consideration of the historical situation

of the Old Testament passage. In fact Kaiser explicitly makes

the point that the best term to summarize the prophetic connection

between the Old Testament and the New is not "prediction" but

"promise3 This point is well taken.

††††††††††† The relationship between certain Old Testament texts and

their New Testament fulfillments is often more than just a mere

linear relationship between the Old Testament text and New Testa-

ment fulfillment. As helpful as charts are which simply lay Old and

New Testament passages beside one another, the hermeneutics of

how the passages are tied together is often more complex than a

direct line-exclusive fulfillment. All the schools mentioned in this

article agree on that fundamental point. 4

 

THE FULL HUMAN INTENT SCHOOL (WALTER C. KAISER. JR.)

 

††††††††††† The basic premise of this school is that if hermeneutics is to

have validity then all that is asserted in the Old Testament passage

must have been a part of the human author's intended meaning.

Thus the Old Testament prophets are portrayed as having a fairly†††††††††††



††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 211

 

comprehensive understanding of what it is they are declaring

about the ultimate consummation of God's promise.5 So Kaiser

a rejects sensus plenior, dual sense, double fulfillment, or double

meaning. He rejects any bifurcation between the divine author's

intended meaning and the human author's intended meaning,

though he recognizes that God has a better recognition of the fuller

significance of a promise. He believes that to portray the

relationship between the human and divine author as in some way

divided is to create hidden secret meanings, something that is not

a disclosure, something that cannot be called a revelation. Kaiser

does have a place for typology, which he sees as having four

elements: historical correspondence, escalation, divine intent,

and prefigurement. Typology, however, is not prophetic nor

does it deal with issues of meaning; rather it is merely

applicational.

††††††††††† The key point of Kaiser's view is his appeal to "generic prom-

ise," drawn from Beecher's "generic prediction."6 Beecher defines it

this way:

††††††††††† A generic prediction is one which regards an event as occurring in a

††††††††††† series of parts, separated by intervals, and expresses itself in lan-

††††††††††† guage that may apply indifferently to the nearest part, or to the

††††††††††† remoter parts or to the whole--in other words, a prediction which,

††††††††††† in applying to the whole of a complex event, also applies to some of its

††††††††††† parts.7

 

Kaiser comments,

††††††††††† The fundamental idea here is that many prophecies begin with a

††††††††††† word that ushers in not just a climactic fulfillment, but a series of

††††††††††† events, all of which participate in and lead up to that climactic or

††††††††††† ultimate event in a protracted series that belong together as a unit

††††††††††† because of their corporate or collective solidarity. In this way, the

††††††††††† whole set of events makes up one collective totality and constitutes

††††††††††† only one idea even though the events may be spread over a large

††††††††††† segment of history by the deliberate plan of God.8

 

††††††††††† Kaiser's key point is that in generic prediction only one mean-

ing is expressed and also that the human author is aware of all the

stages in the sequence from the first event to the last. The only

factor the prophet does not know is the time when those events will

occur, especially the time of the final fulfillment. Kaiser does

identify features by which one can spot a generic promise. These

textual features include: (1) collective singular nouns (e.g., "seed,"

"servant"); (2) shifts between singular and plural pronominal suf-

fixes in an Old Testament passage (e.g., Servant as Israel in Isa.

 

 


212 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

44:1 and as an individual, the Messiah, in Isa. 52:13-53:12; refer-††††††††

ence to the monarchy and to the Davidic ruler through a pronoun

shift in Amos 9:11-12); and (3) analogies that are expressed on the††††††

basis of antecedent (italics his) theology (e.g., either a use of

technical terms already revealed like "kingdom," "seed," "rest," or a

quotation or allusion to an earlier Old Testament text, event, or

promise). Thus the human author can intend in one message to

address two or more audiences at once and have in view two or

more events at once. It is important to recognize that for Kaiser

generic promise does not equal typology, a distinction which others

might not make. Kaiser sees typology as a nonprophetic. analo-

gous phenomenon.

 

††††††††††† His view may be diagramed as follows:†††††

 

††††††††† Human Intent School

†††††††††††

††††††††††† Intention of

††††††††††† prophet in

††††††††††† God's revelation:

†††††††††††

††††††††††† One sense,

††††††††††† many events.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† final fulfillment

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (events) A B C-----------> Z

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† Time

 

††††††††††† 1 sense, meaning (generic promise)

 

Again the point of Kaiser's model is that "the truth-intention of the

present was always singular and never double or multiple in

sense. "9 The key distinctive of this view is that the human author

had the whole picture in view as part of his own intention and

understanding, with the one exception of the time frame.

 

THE DIVINE INTENT-HUMAN WORDS SCHOOL

(S. LEWIS JOHNSON, JAMES I. PACKER, ELLIOTT E. JOHNSON)

 

††††††††††† The key emphasis of this school of thought is that prophetic

passages all draw on the human author's words but that the†††††††††



††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 213

 

human author did not always fully intend or comprehend the

prophetic reference, while God did intend the full reference. 10 In a

real sense, according to this view, God speaks through the

prophet's words. The terminology used to describe how this dis-

tinction is made and maintained differs between the adherents in

the school even though they express basically the same view S.

Lewis Johnson and James I. Packer refer to sensus plenior, while

Elliott E. Johnson prefers the term references plenior. The mean-

ing of these terms is disputed and will be discussed later. In making

s the distinction between the human author's intention and God's

intention, all three proponents seek to maintain a connection

between the human author's words and meaning and God's inten-

tion and meaning in order to avoid the appearance of arbitrary

fulfillment. Thus the fulfillment does not give the Old Testament

text a meaning foreign to its wording and conceptual sense.11

††††††††††† Both Johnsons allude to the work of E. D. Hirsch for sup-

port. 12 S. Lewis Johnson says directly that "we may agree with

Hirsch"--by which he means he can agree with Hirsch's thesis

that meaning is to be located in the authorís willed meaning--

provided "that it is understood that the Ďauthorial willí we are

seeking as interpreters is God's intended sense." He continues, "we

should not be surprised to find that the authorial will of God goes

beyond human authorial will, particularly in those sections of the

Word of God that belong to the earlier states in the historical

process of special revelation. "13 This introduces a key issue,

namely, how the progress of revelation affects the understanding of

these passages and their relationship to one another. (More will be

said about this factor later.)

††††††††††† One objection that could be leveled against this school is the

charge of the arbitrariness of a fulfillment that distinguishes

between what God knows and what the human author does not

know. How does this school deal with this problem? S. Lewis

Johnson cites Packer as follows in defining their concept of sensus

plenior:

††††††††††† If, as in one sense is invariably the case, God's meaning and message

††††††††††† through each passage, when set in its total biblical context, exceeds

††††††††††† what the human author had in mind, that further meaning is only

††††††††††† an extension and development of his [i.e., of the human author's

††††††††††† meaning], a drawing out of implications and an establishing of

††††††††††† relationships between his words and the other, perhaps later, biblical

††††††††††† declarations in a way that the writer himself, in the nature of the case

††††††††††† [i.e., because of the limits of the progress of revelation to that point]

  


 

214 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

††††††††††† could not do. Think, for example, how messianic prophecy is

††††††††††† declared to have been fulfilled in the New Testament, or how the††††††††††

††††††††††† sacrificial system of Leviticus is explained as typical in Hebrews. The

††††††††††† point here is that the sensus plenior which texts acquire in their

††††††††††† wider biblical context remains an extrapolation on thegrammatico-

††††††††††† historical plane, not a new projection onto the plane of allegory.

††††††††††† And, though God may have more to say to us from each text than its

††††††††††† human author had in mind, God's meaning is never less than his.

††††††††††† What he means, God means.14††††††††

 

Packer stresses the role of the progress of revelation and the con-

nection between the human author's meaning and God's meaning.††††††††††

††††††††††† Elliott E. Johnson emphasizes some important semantic

issues in his article which among other things discusses his con-

cept of references plenior.15 In defining meaning he notes the

distinction between sense and reference.16 "Sense" refers to the

verbal meaning of language expressed in the text regardless of the

reference, that is, "sense" involves the definition of a term, not what

the term refers to. "Reference" indicates what specifically is referred

to through the sense meaning. There is a difference between what

is described and meant (sense) and to whom or what it refers

(reference). For example, the word "Paraclete" is defined as "com-

forter" (the sense), but in John 14-16 it refers to the Holy Spirit

(reference). The human and the divine authors share the sense of a

prophetic passage but God may have more referents in mind than††††††††††

the human author had. Thus Johnson's designation of references

plenior is to him a more accurate term than sensus plenior. For

Johnson, there is always a fundamental connection between the

sense the human author intends and what God intends. He writes,

 

††††††††††† What we are therefore proposing is that the author's intention

††††††††††† expresses a single, defining textual sense of the whole. This single

††††††††††† sense is capable of implying a fullness of reference. This is not sensus

††††††††††† plenior but sensus singular as expressed in the affirmation of the

††††††††††† text. But it also recognizes the characteristic of references plenior. In

††††††††††† Psalm 16 ... the words of verse 10 apply to both David and Christ in

††††††††††† their proper sense, yet in a fuller sense to Christ who rose from the

††††††††††† dead, while David's body knew corruption but will not be subject to

††††††††††† eternal corruption.17

 

Johnson's illustration of Psalm 16 argues that the idea of the

passage, the "sense" of the author, is this: "Rejoicing in God, His

portion brings His Holy One hope for resurrection." The passage

applies both to David (at the final resurrection) and to Christ (at His

resurrection). Thus the term "Holy One" has two referents: David

and Christ. Though David spoke of his own hope, his language


 


††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 215

 

prophetically pointed to Christ. This Psalm 16 passage illustrates

how this school sees these kinds of texts.18

††††††††††† The point of the previous discussion is that within the divine

intent-human words school two sets of terms are used to protect

the connection between the human author's intention and Gods

intention. Appeal is made either to senses plenior (Packer and S.

L. Johnson) or to references plenior (E. Johnson). There is a small

but potentially significant difference in nuance between the two

terms. Packer's senses plenior sees the limitation that prevents an

arbitrary fulfillment as residing in "the implications of the words"

in the light of the progress of revelation. While Elliott Johnson's

limitation is found in the non-alteration of the "defining sense" of

the human author's words. Thus Packer's limitation is slightly

more open-ended than Johnson's. In other words Packer has more

room for the amount of extension of meaning between the Old and

New Testaments than does Elliott Johnson. This school, despite

this internal distinction, has many other nuances hermeneutically,

but the preceding paragraphs have surfaced its basic

characteristic.

††††††††††† The view of this school may be diagramed as follows:

 

†††††††††††††††††† Human Words School

†††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Intention of

††††††††††††††††††††††† human author: A†††† ††††††††††† (Possibly Z)

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† \

††††††††††††††††††††††† Intention of†††††††††††† \

††††††††††††††††††††††† Divine Author in††††† \

††††††††††††††††††††††† human author's††††††††† \

††††††††††††††††††††††† words:†††††††††† ††††††††††† †††† \†††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† final fulfillment

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (events) A B C→ Z

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† time

 

††††††††††††††††††††††† 1 sense, multiple reference with extension

 

††††††††††† For this school, typology is prophetic because the pattern of

God's activity is designed by God to be repetitive and the correspon-

dences are identifiable from details in the Old Testament text. In



216 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

identifying typology as prophetic, this school differs from Kaiser's

view.This represents a second divergence, the first being its refusal

to identify human intent with divine intent totally, as Kaiser does.

The key distinctive of this school is its defense of a distinction

between the human author's intent and God's intent, while trying

to maintain a connection between the meaning which both

express in the words of the text.†††††

 

THE HISTORICAL PROGRESS OF REVELATION††††††††

AND JEWISH HERMENEUTIC SCHOOL

(EARLE E. ELLIS, RICHARD LONGENECKER, WALTER DUNNETT)

 

††††††††††† The main characteristic of this school of thought is its utiliza-

tion of historical factors in assessing the hermeneutics of the

relationship of the two Testaments. As the title of Longenecker's

work suggests, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, this

school attempts to present the New Testament use of the Old as a

reflection of the progress of revelation in Jesus Christ ("the

Christological glasses" of the New Testament writers) and as

especially making use of methods of first-century Jewish inter-

pretation and exegesis (concepts such as midrash, pesher, and

Hillel's rules of interpretation). 19 Longenecker speaks of the

"Christocentric exegesis" that permeates the New Testament. He

argues that the "Jewish roots of Christianity make it a priori likely

that the exegetical procedures of the New Testament would resem-

ble to some extent those of then contemporary Judaism."20 He

argues that New Testament writers neither (a) mechanically "proof-

texted" the Old Testament nor (b) illegitimately twisted or distorted

the ancient text. The New Testament writers got their perspective

from Jewish exegetical techniques and from Jesus. Their exegesis

could be characterized as "charismatic" in the sense that they saw

events and declared them to fulfill the Old Testament in the "this is

that" language reminiscent of pesher exegesis at Qumran. Some of

these pesher treatments of the text may not conform to historical-

grammatical exegesis as it is practiced today; but it was the basic

way in which the Bible was read in the first century and therefore

was a legitimate way to read the Old Testament. Often an important††††††

element in the pesher handling of the text is the rewording of the

Old Testament passage so that it more nearly conforms to the New

Testament situation in light of larger biblical and theological

understanding. 21 One can readily see the historical stress in the

argument of this school. Also appeal is often made to sensus

plenior as a way to describe this phenomena. 22††††



††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 217

 

††††††††††† This view also emphasizes that when the New Testament writ-

ers read the Old Testament, they did so out of a developed theologi-

cal picture both of messianic expectation and salvation history. 23

Thus the theology of the Old Testament and in some cases that

theology's development in intertestamental Judaism affect these

writers.24 Proponents of this view argue that one's understanding

of the New Testament writers' hermeneutic should be less con-

cerned with abstract issues of legitimacy and be more sensitive to

the historical factors that can explain this type of exegesis.

††††††††††† A few citations from Longenecker serve to summarize the

approach of this school.

††††††††††† It is hardly surprising to find that the exegesis of the New Testament

††††††††††† is heavily dependent upon Jewish procedural precedents, for, the-

††††††††††† oretically, one would expect a divine redemption that is worked out in

††††††††††† the categories of a particular history ... [and] to express itself in

††††††††††† terms of the concepts and methods of that particular people and day.

††††††††††† And this is, as we have tried to show, what was in fact done--the

††††††††††† appreciation of which throws a great deal of light upon the exegetical

††††††††††† methodology of the New Testament. But the Jewish context in which

††††††††††† the New Testament came to birth, significant though it was, is not

††††††††††† what was distinctive or formative in the exegesis of the earliest

††††††††††† believers. At the heart of their biblical interpretation is a Christology

††††††††††† and a Christological perspective.25

 

Longenecker also writes:

††††††††††† Thus it was that Jesus became the direct historical source for much

††††††††††† of the early church's understanding of the Old Testament. But in

††††††††††† addition, the early Christians continued to explicate Scripture along

††††††††††† the lines laid out by Him and under the direction of the Spirit....

††††††††††† But the Christocentric perspective of the earliest Christians not only

††††††††††† caused them to take Jesus' own employment of Scripture as nor-

††††††††††† mative and to look to Him for guidance in the ongoing exegetical

††††††††††† tasks, it also gave them a new understanding of the course of

††††††††††† redemptive history and of their own place in it.... From such a

††††††††††† perspective, therefore, and employing concepts of corporate soli-

††††††††††† darity and correspondences in history [i.e., typology], all the Old

††††††††††† Testament became part-and-parcel of God's preparation for the

††††††††††† Messiah.26

 

††††††††††† While this view will be evaluated later, two potentially negative

responses to it are addressed now: (1) This view seems too open to

historical parallels from outside Christianity, and (2) this approach

seems to lessen the concept of prophecy by setting its recognition

largely in the fulfillment period, rather than at the time of the

original revelation. The view, however, need not seem as unusual or

negative as it may appear at first. For example, any New Testament



218 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

passage where Yahweh in the Old Testament becomes Christ in the

New Testament (e.g., Rom. 10:13 and its use of Joel 2:32) follows

this principle of reading the Old Testament in light of New Testa-

ment realizations about the nature of the Messiah (where Jesus as

Messiah is recognized as Lord and God Himself). Even Chris-

tianity's interpretation of a gap in Isaiah 61:1-2 - in which part of

the passage refers to Jesus' first coming (Luke 4:18) and the other

part refers to Jesus' return - is possible only because of the New

Testament teaching about Jesus' two comings. This "refractory"

and reflective use of the New Testament on the Old is a key factor†††††††

that must be evaluated in the use of the Old Testament by the New

As new revelation was given (in the life of Jesus and in the teaching

from Him), the Old Testament was elucidated with greater detail.27

††††††††††† Again the distinctive of this school is its attempt to be histor-

ically sensitive to factors operating in the interpretation of Scrip-††††††††

ture in the first century. It could be diagramed as follows:††††††††††

 

†††††††††††††††††† Jewish Hermeneutic School

††††††††††† O.T. PERIOD ††††††††† INTERTESTMENTAL††††††† N.T. PERIOD

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† PERIOD

passage†††††††††† ††††††††††† O.T. ------->†† Judaism††††††††† ††††††††††† Jesus†† ††††††††††† final

|††††††††††† |†††††††††††††††††††††† †† |††††††† hope††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††† |†††††††††††††††††† ||†††††††† event

|††††††††††† |†††††††††††††††††††††† |††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††|††††††††††††††††† ||

|††††††††††† |††† †††††††††††††††††††|†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† |_________||

|††††††††††† |†††††††††††††††††††††† †† |††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† | †††††††††††|

|††††††††††† |†††††††††††††††††††††† progress of revelation --------------------------> Z††† |

|†††††† A|††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† |

________________††††††††††† refraction<---------------------------------------------

†††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Time††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

††††††††††† Obviously the diagram for this school is more complicated

than the other diagrams. Advocates of this view still see a "pro-

phetic" element in the fulfillment, even though it is realized mainly

with the event itself. Their appeal for a prophetic meaning is

grounded in (a) the sovereign design of God in which the patterns

of salvation history reoccur and aim for fulfillment and in (b) the



††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 219

 

appeal to the wording of the text in conjunction with God's revela-

tion in Christ. However, it is also crucial to note that the event is the

key dynamic that leads to the realization of the prophetic meaning.

Most realization of fulfillment works toward and from the New

Testament event.

 

THE CANONICAL APPROACH AND NEW TESTAMENT

PRIORITY SCHOOL (BRUCE K. WALTKE)

 

††††††††††† The discussion of this fourth approach will be brief since the

writings propounding this point of view are not so numerous.28

Waltke defines his approach as follows:

†††††††††††

††††††††††† By the canonical process approach I mean the recognition that the

††††††††††† text's intention became deeper and clearer as the parameters of the

††††††††††† canon were expanded. Just as redemption itself has progressive

††††††††††† history, so also older texts in the canon underwent a correlative

††††††††††† progressive perception of meaning as they became part of a growing

††††††††††† canonical literature. 29

 

††††††††††† While noting his indebtedness to Brevard Childs's work, Intro-

duction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Waltke distances him-

self from all the details of Childs's approach. Waltke also states that

his approach, though similar to sensus plenior, is distinct from it

in that he asserts the unity between the Old Testament writers'

ideal language and God's intention. This agreement of intention

is possible because the human authors spoke in ideal language.

For him, progressive revelation made more clear the exact shape of

the ideal, which was always pregnant in the vision. What is unclear

from Waltke's writing is what the human authors understood of

their intention. The lack of clarity on this point distinguishes his

view from Kaiser's view Waltke rejects a sensus plenior that "wins"

new meanings from the text and sees New Testament writers as

"supernaturally" discovering the fuller sense. Waltke and Kaiser are

close in their denial of sensus plenior. The difference between them

is how they handle later revelation in relationship to earlier revela-

tion.30 Waltke appeals to it openly, while Kaiser refuses to refer to

subsequent revelation as relevant to this discussion.††††††††

††††††††††† Waltke's appeal to the refractory role of the progress of revela-

tion sounds like Longenecker's view The difference is in the wide-

spread application of this method and the assertion of the unity of

authorial intent. For Waltke, all of the Psalter was ultimately the

prayerbook of Jesus Christ. All the Psalms can ultimately be

applied to Him.31 In addition, New Testament fulfillments of

earthly Old Testament promises have the effect of taking priority



220 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

over the Old Testament promise and "unpacking" its literal mean-

ing. An illustration of this approach can be seen in the following

quote:

††††††††††† If the Lord Jesus Christ and his church fulfill the promises of the Old

††††††††††† Testament, as the New Testament affirms (see Acts 3:24-25), then

††††††††††† those promises expressed in terms appropriate for the earthly form of

††††††††††† God's kingdom in the old dispensation, find their literal fulfillment

††††††††††† in the spiritual form of the kingdom in the New dispensation. Thus if

††††††††††† Psalm 2:7 refers to Jesus Christ in his first coming, so also the

††††††††††† reference to Psalm 2:6 and Mt. Zion does not refer to a location in

††††††††††† Palestine; but rather refers to heavenly Mt. Zion and Christ's taking

††††††††††† possession of the nations.32

 

††††††††††† So Waltke's position is that the whole of the Old Testament is to

be reread ultimately in light of the New Testament; as a result the

original expression of meaning within the Old Testament passage

is overridden and redefined by the New Testament. Though Waltke

would probably not describe the result of his method in this man-

ner, such a conclusion seems fair. This description of Waltke's

method is argued for as a result of his shift from earthly to heavenly

referents in his understanding of Psalm 2. Such a wholesale shift

of referents to the exclusion of the original sense is actually a shift

of meaning. This writer is not able to supply a good functional††

diagram for this view.

††††††††††† The key to this view is its desire ultimately to read the Old

Testament so thoroughly in light of the New.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Summary††††††

 

††††††††††† This survey of recent evangelical views on the Old Testament in

the New has demonstrated the variety of approaches which this

area of debate has produced among conservatives. Four distinct

schools exist. Some share overlapping concerns while they diverge

from each other at other key points. What key hermeneutical

issues are isolated by this debate? The second and concluding

article in this series will state and evaluate four key issues involved

in the debate. That article will discuss the differences among the

schools and isolate the key points in the discussion, highlighting

the four key areas of debate. The writer will then seek to offer an

eclectic approach to the hermeneutical problems raised by suggest-

ing lines of approach for the evangelical handling of each of these

four areas. This eclectic approach will draw on the best points of

each of these schools of thought.



††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 221

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† Notes

 

1. A survey of recent evangelical literature on this subject shows that at the

technical monograph level, the evangelical societal level, and the level of more

popular works, this issue is the subject of major concern. Article XIII of the Chicago

Statement on Biblical Inerrancy dealt in its denial section with an issue raised by

Old Testament in the New Testament phenomena. Also 2 of the 16 areas raised at

the ICBI 1983 Summit Conference on Hermeneutics dealt directly with this sub-

ject, namely, 'Author's Intention and Biblical Interpretation," and "Patrick Fair-

bairn and Biblical Hermeneutics as Related to Quotations of the Old Testament in

the New" These are chapters 7 and 14 of Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible,

ed. Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing

House, 1984). At this conference, Article XVIII of the Affirmations and Denials dealt specifically with this subject. Article XVIII is presented in the Radmacher and Preus volume, page 885, while Article XIII can be found in Inerrancy, ed. Norman L Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), p. 496. The last decade has produced a myriad of evangelical works in this area as this article will show.

2.The author hopes at a future date to write a follow-up work that sets forth a

detailed consideration of the author's position on specific texts in relationship to

the four schools referred to in this article. However, in fairness it should be stated

that the author sees himself in most agreement with the second and third schools

of the upcoming discussion; but as to which side among these two views he falls,

even he cannot say at this time for reasons that this two-part series will show The

author's doctoral work at the University of Aberdeen was on this subject: see his

Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology

(Sheffield: JSOT Press, forthcoming), which examines all the major Christological

Old Testament passages in Luke-Acts.

3. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., The Uses of the Old Testament in the New (Chicago: Moody Press, forthcoming). Kaiser has kindly allowed the author access to proofs of his important new work. The references to it will be to sections of the book since it is not yet published. These remarks are made in his introduction to Part II: "The Prophetic Use of the Old Testament in the New" The book will be an important catalyst for discussion on this topic.

4. See, for example, Kaiser's forthcoming work (see n. 3); Richard Longenecker,

Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Age (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish-

ing Co., 1975): S. Lewis Johnson, The Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980): and Bruce K. Waltke, ďA Canonical Process Approach to the Psalms,"

in Tradition and Testament, ed. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981). However, these authors each represent a different approach to the issue.

5. Kaiser. The Uses of the Old Testament in the New, the chapter on the prophetic

use of the Old Testament; and Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "Legitimate Hermeneutics," in

Inerrancy, esp. pp. 133-38.

6. Kaiser, "Legitimate Hermeneutics."p. 137, citing Willis J. Beecher. The Prophets

and the Promise (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. 1975), p. 130.

7. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise, p. 130.

8. Kaiser, The Uses of the Old'. Testament in the New. in Part II on prophecy in the††††††

section on "Double or Generic Fulfillment" (italics his).

9. Ibid.. Part II, section on "B.C. or A.D. Fulfillment?"

10. S. Lewis Johnson cites J. I. Packer with approval (The Old Testament in the

New, p. 50):. Elliott E. Johnson, 'Author's Intention and Biblical Interpretation" in

Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, pp. 409-29. One of the respondents to Elliott E. Johnson's paper was Kaiser (pp. 441-47).

11. More on this point will follow later in this section.

 



222 †††† Bibliotheca Sacra - July-September 1985†††††

 

12. E. D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,

1967). Kaiser also appeals to Hirsch for support, but in the matter of human

intention. The major difference between this school and Kaiser's view is on the

question of what the human author knew and the emphasis on full intention at

different places: human author (Kaiser) versus divine author (Johnsons).

13. S. L. Johnson. The Old Testament in the New, p. 50. 7f

14. Ibid.: and James I. Packer, "Biblical Authority, Hermeneutics. and Inerrancy."

in Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussion on the Theology and Apologetics of

Cornelius Van Tit, ed. E. R. Geehan (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian Reformed Publishing of

House, 1971), pp. 147-48 (italics added, except for the words "sensus plenior").

15. E. E. Johnson. Author's Intention and Biblical Interpretation," p. 416.

16. Semanticists suggest many levels at which the meaning of "meaning may be

discussed! They are: (1) meaning R ( = referent or reference: identifies the specific

person[s], thing[s], or concept[s] named); (2) meaningS (= sense: describes the

qualities of person[s], thing[s]. event[s], or concept[s] named): (3) meaning

(=value, "this means more to me than to anyone else"): (4) meaningE ( = entailment

implication, "this discussion means we are discussing the area of ... or it

involves including the following details of. .." ): (5) meaningI (- intention, what a††††

speaker wishes to declare by his use of language): (6) meaningEM (=emotive††††††††

meaning, the emotion which a speaker intends to convey): and (7) meaningSig

(=significance, "this means that I must ... "). In discussions on what an author††††††

"means," it is helpful to know what level of meaning one has in mind. Also with the††††††††††

issue of significance it is important to distinguish between "what it was intended to†††††††††††

mean" (author's meaning) and "what it means to me" (significance) (see G. B. Caird,

The Language and Imagery of the Bible [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1980],†††††††††

pp. 37-40: and J. P Louw, Semantics of New Testament Greek [Philadelphia:†††††

Fortress Press. 1982], pp. 147-66).

17. Elliott E. Johnson. ďAuthor's Intention and Biblical Interpretation." p. 427††††††††

(italics his).

18. An alternative way to view Psalm 16 in the same framework is to argue that††

David spoke of his own deliverance with such confidence that he knew "nothing††

would separate him from God," that is, God would not abandon him either in an††††

early death (so some interpreters) or ultimately (so others). The sense of the passage

is lound in this expression of confidence: but the "how" of the passage, an aspect of

the referent, depends on the subject fulfilling it. For David, the how of the referent is

never historically revealed: but for Christ. the "how" is in resurrection. Therefore

Peter, knowing that the fulfillment for David was never revealed and realizing that Christ did fulfill it, proclaimed Jesus as the Holy One who truly fulfills the Psalm 16

text in Acts 2:25-32. For details of this approach to the passage and alternate views.

see Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament††††

Christology, the section on Acts 2:25.

19. The originator of this approach as it is grounded in Jewish methodology is†††††††

Otto Michel. Paulus and seine Bibel (Gutersloh, 1929; reprint, Darmstadt:†††††††††

Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1972). The fundamental monograph study on

Pauline Old Testament hermeneutics also comes from this school: Earle E. Ellis,††

Paul's Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. 1957). For a†††††††††

brief introduction to Jewish hermeneutics, see Longenecker. Biblical Exegesis in

the Apostolic Period. pp. 19-50, and the extremely well done but technical work by††††††††

D. J. Moo, The Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives (Sheffield: Almond††††

Press, 1983), pp. 5-78. This latter work is full of relevant historical data. Also see

Earle E. Ellis, "How the New Testament Uses the Old," in New Testament Interpreta-

tion, ed. I. Howard Marshall (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing_ Co.,

1977), pp. 201-8.

20. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, p. 205.

 


††††††††††††††††††††††† Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New††† 223

 

21. Ibid., pp. 205-14. Walter M. Dunnett recognizes the tension such an approach

creates and thus attempts to defend the concept of sensus plenior (The Interprets-

tion of Holy Scripture [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 19841, pp. 39-64, esp. pp. 57-64).

22 Dunnett, The Interpretation of Scripture. Another writer who defends sensus

plenior and represents this viewpoint is Donald Hagner, "The Old Testament in the

New Testament," in Interpreting the Word of God: Festschrift in Honor of Steven-

Barabas, ed. Samuel J. Schultz and Morris Inch (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976), pp.

78-104.†††††††††††

23. Ellis mentions their theological presuppositions, such as a salvation historical

perspective that involves a two-stage consummation in Jesus' two comings, the use

of typology, corporate solidarity, and the right to charismatic exegesis ("How the

New Testament Uses the Old," pp. 109-14).

24. The appeal to ideas of intertestamental Judaism need not be inherently a

problem. The use of the term "the Messiah" as a technical term for the Davidic

Descendant who will fulfill God's promise is an intertestamental term from the

Psalms of Solomon 17-18. To cite such points of theology is not to make these

works authoritative; rather it is to say that some developments in intertestamental

Judaism were accurate reflections of divine realities based on the Old Testament.

God is to be seen as working sovereignly in the conceptual world of the first century

as much as He is seen to be working sovereignly in the sociopolitical world of the

first century to prepare all the world for the message of Christ given in linguistic

and conceptual terms to which they could relate. For an overview of intertestamen-

tal Jewish theology as expressed in its apocalyptic literature, see D. R. Russell., The

Message and Methods of Jewish Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,

1964).

25. Longenecker, Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period, p. 207 (italics added).

26. Ibid., pp. 207-8 (italics added).

27. The qualification "with greater detail" is important. The teaching of the Old

Testament is not changed or overridden; rather it is either deepened, made more

specific, or is given additional elements. For example, when God told the serpent

that "his seed would bruise Adam's seed on the heel," but that Adam's "seed" would

crush the head of the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), what would Adam's or Moses

readers at this point in the narrative be able to understand about the promise? It

would be something like this: Adam's seed will eventually have victory over the

forces of evil as represented by the serpent. The statement is true enough but it

t lacks detail. What would New Testament readers or Christians today see in this

promise? Nothing other than that the victory of Jesus over Satan at the crucifixion

and resurrection with a view to His eventual total reign is what is in view It is called,

and rightly so, the protoevangelium. The progress of revelation has filled in the

details of the meaning of the saying (or to use the language of the previous section,

the "referents" of the passage). This process could be called the "principle of refrac-

tion" within revelation.

28 Bruce K. Waltke, ďA Canonical Process Approach to the Psalms," in Tradition

and Testament, pp. 3-18, esp. pp. 6-10. Also see Waltke, "Is It Right to Read the New

Testament into the Old?" Christianity Today, September 2, 1983, p. 77. Waltke

answers the question of this article with a resounding yes.

29. Waltke, ďA Canonical Process Approach to the Psalms," p. 7.†††††††††††

30. Ibid., p. 8.

31. Ibid., p. 16.

32 .Waltke, "Is It Right to Read the New Testament into the Old?" p. 77 (italics†††

added except for the word "literal").

 


This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

†††††† †††† 3909 Swiss Ave.

††††††††††† Dallas, TX†† 75204††††††††††

www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:thildebrandt@gordon.edu

††††††††††† Thanks for proofing this article to Anna Tschetter.