BIBLIOTHECA SACRA 142 (Oct. 1985): 302-19

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




                       Evangelicals and the Use

                       of the Old Testament

                               in the New

                                  Part 2


                                      Darrell L. Bock




In a previous article1 this writer discussed four schools of

approach within evangelicalism with regard to the use of the Old

Testament by the New. In the interaction between these schools of

thought four tension points will be raised in this article concerning

dual authorship, language-referent, the progress of revelation, and

the problem of the differing texts used in Old Testament citations

by their New Testament fulfillment(s). In isolating these four areas

of concern, it is important to recall that in any passage being

discussed all these concerns interact with one another. That is why

this area of hermeneutics is so difficult to discuss. Nevertheless by

isolating the key issues, discussion of problem texts may become

more manageable, since the area of concern can be more easily

identified. In this article the state of the debate will be evaluated

and a suggested approach will be offered.


                                       Dual Authorship


The question of dual authorship is the basic one to be consid-

ered. Can God intend more in a passage than the human author

intended? For Kaiser and also, it seems, for Waltke the answer to

this question is no.2 What the prophet intended, God intended;

and He intended no more than what the prophet intended. God

may have a greater understanding about the intention of the

passage; but the prophet must understand what he was trying to



Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                                 307


­say. The concept of “generic promise” is especially important to this


For those who make a distinction between the human author’s

intention and God’s intention, a variety of approaches exist. Appeal

is made to sensus plenior or references plenior. S. Lewis Johnson

and Elliott E. Johnson try to establish a firm link between God’s

intention and the human author's intention so that the Old Testa-

ment prophet’s message remains demonstrably the basis for the

divine New Testament fulfillment. This limitation prevents a

charge of arbitrary fulfillment being raised against the New Testa-

ment. Their limitation is either “the implication of the words” in

light of the progress of revelation (S. Lewis Johnson) or the “defi-

ning sense” of the human author’s words (Elliott E. Johnson).

Those who emphasize the historical perspective of the use of

the Old Testament in the New (the third school of thought) gener-

ally do not discuss dual authorship in any detail. They simply

regard this distinction as established. This omission is a major

weakness of the historical school. Dunnett is an exception within

this approach and attempts to suggest limitations under which a

distinction of authorship can be maintained. He initially appeals to

the vague category of “other criteria” as he discusses sensus plen-

ior. Later he refers to the “other criteria.”3 These criteria seem

similar to an appeal to the progress of revelation. He also insists on

an “organic connection” between the two meanings. In describing

texts like Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53; and Hosea 11:1, Dunnett sum-

marizes by saying:


These kinds of texts may illustrate for us a sensus plenior. Yet to

maintain some control in exegesis one should begin with the literal

sense of the text, observe the total context, realize that the divine

purpose in history is certain of fulfillment (on God’s terms), and

include both Old and New Testaments to have a measure for inter-



How is this question of dual authorship to be evaluated? A fair

summary would be to say that God wrote to His people at a point in

history and to His people throughout time, while the human

author wrote to his people at a point in history and/or, as a prophet,

wrote to his people with hope as he expressed God’s ultimate

deliverance, either (a) in full human consciousness (direct proph-

ecy, full human intent; Dan. 7:9-14), (b) in the ideal language of the

passage itself (many of the psalms such as 16; 22; 110; and Isa. 53),

(c) in language capable of expansion of reference into a new context

through progressive revelation (Gen. 2:7; 3:15; Pss. 2:1-2; 8; 16:10;

308    Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


Isa. 61:1-2; Old Testament kingdom texts; texts about Yahweh in

the Old Testament that refer to Christ in the New Testament), or (d)

in language that involves a “pattern” of fulfillment but with less

than full human authorial understanding of each referent in the

pattern (typology that is typico-prophetic, Gen. 2:7; Pss. 8; 95:7-11;

Isa. 7:14; 40; Hos. 11:1).5   

The reason this writer rejects a “total” identification between    

the divine intent and the human author’s intent is that in certain 

psalms, as well as in other Old Testament passages, theological

revelation had not yet developed to the point where the full thrust of    

God’s intention was capable of being understood by the human 

author. For example the divine nature of messianic kingship was           

nowhere so explicitly stated in the Old Testament that it became a        

basic tenet of ancient Jewish eschatological hope. Psalm 110 sug-

gests it strongly, but it is not entirely clear that the Davidic Cove-

nant by itself at the time it was given required a divine son for

fulfillment. Apparently David thought Solomon could be that son.

One must also reckon with the fact that Old Testament prophets

sometimes admitted that they did not understand their utterances

(Dan. 12:6-8; John 11:44-52; and esp. 1 Peter 1:10-12). Kaiser has     

admirably tried to deal with these passages; but his explanations

have failed to convince most scholars that he is correct in uniting

the authorial intent of the human and divine authors. Kaiser’s

concept of generic prophecy is a helpful one for this discussion; but    

what is unclear is whether the human author always intended all

the sense that emerges from the promise in the New Testament and     

whether the human author always understood all the referents in

the promise. The four qualifications stated in the preceding para-

graph concerning the human author's language are an attempt to

describe the various ways human and divine intent can be joined

without being a violation of the sense and promise of a passage.

So to try to limit the meaning to the human author’s intention

seems to be too narrow a view. However, to say that there is a clear

and definable connection between the expression of the human

author and God’s intention seems necessary, or else the text can be

made to say anything whatsoever in its fulfillment. Another impor-

tant point is that the nature of the connection between the two

passages can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including a

human author’s full intent. To try to limit the nature of the connec-

tion to one specific type of relationship seems to place a limitation

on the text that its phenomena may not sustain. Broadly speaking,

such a view places this writer in agreement with those of the

Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            309


second school (the human words school) and with some of those of

the third school (the progress of revelation or Jewish hermeneutics

school), who affirm that God could intend more than the human

author did but never at the expense of the thrust of his wording.

The New Testament fulfillment will either agree with or expand by

natural implication the human author’s wording. Whether it is

better to call this relationship sensus plenior or references plenior

or some other term, should still be discussed by evangelicals after a

renewed study of several sample passages from different authors of

the New Testament.6 The variety of relationships between the

divine and human authors naturally leads to a discussion of mean-

ing in these texts and the role of language, that is, it leads to

semantic issues of language and referent.




This specific hermeneutical issue deals with the question,

Where does meaning reside in a given utterance? Is it at the level of

sense (the definitions of the words within a passage) or at the level

of the referents? Is it at the level of the word or at the level of the

word in its context? This question raises the complex area of

semantics. Elliott E. Johnson grapples seriously with this area.

The works of Moo and of this writer have also attempted to raise

issues in this area.­­­7 In general the other schools have not dealt

with it in any detail. The area still needs much study, especially in

light of the acknowledged fact that words gain their sense not in

and of themselves but from their literary context, that is, from the

sentence, paragraph, and larger setting in which they are con-

tained.8 So the role of the context of a passage is crucial in deter-

mining the passage’s meaning.

An additional question is this: As the biblical theological con-

text of a passage is deepened, how is the meaning of that passage

affected? Much of the debate among evangelicals about

eschatology falls in this semantic area. Does a “heavenly” referent

for the New Testament fulfillment of passages like Psalms 2 and 110

nullify what appears to be an “earthly” reference in the original Old

Testament contexts? Amillenarians will answer yes to this ques-

tion, while dispensationalists answer no and covenant pre-

millenarians vacillate.9 Are New Testament fulfillments final, ini-

tial, or decisive-but-not-final?

If the “seed” example from Genesis 3 cited in the previous

article is any guide, then meaning deals primarily with the sense,





310   Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


not always with the referent, of a passage as that meaning is

defined by its literary context. For Kaiser, the literary context is          

limited to antecedent revelation. For the other schools, the literary

context of all of Scripture is to be used. But it is important to state

that when appealing to the whole of Scripture an awareness of

what is antecedent to the given passage and what is subsequent

must be maintained. 10

Within the Scriptures the following sense-referent rela-

tionships can occur: 

1. Referents of passages were made more specific, as in the

seed” example.        

2. Motifs were reapplied. For example the Exodus imagery was

reused and reapplied, sometimes with changes, by Isaiah and by

some New Testament writers; also Adam is introduced as the “first

Adam” by Paul, a change made in light of Jesus’ coming.

3. Language that was “earthly” in the Old Testament was 

expanded to include a “heavenly thrust.” For example, the king as

son” in a nonontological sense in the Old Testament is “the Son” in    

an ontological sense in the New Testament (Heb. 1); “kingdom” in       

some New Testament texts along with “Jesus as King” refer to  

something other than an earthly rule (Luke 17:20,21: Acts        

2:32-36). The eschatological debate turns on the question whether       

the Old Testament earthly sense is removed by the heavenly thrust       

of some New Testament texts. Premillennialists answer this ques-

tion with a firm no.   

4. Language that was figurative became literal. Examples are

(a) the righteous sufferer in Psalm 22 is described with figurative

language that Jesus, the righteous Sufferer par excellence, fulfills

literally; (b) Psalm 69; and (c) “the right hand” of Psalm 110.    

5. Language that is literal becomes figurative. For example

literal lambs were sacrificed in the Old Testament but Christ was

the Passover lamb” in the New (1 Cor. 5:7), and the literal first

fruits in the Old Testament refer in 1 Corinthians 15:20 figuratively    

to resurrected saints.

Though a variety of relationships exist at the level of the

referent, the basic sense of the passage is maintained.11 At what

level is the basic sense of the original passage determined? Is it at        

the level of the word, the phrase, the sentence, or the paragraph?

This question still needs to be dealt with in detail by evangelicals.        

Meaning as it relates to the use of the Old Testament in the New

and as it relates to the language of these passages is vitally con-

cerned with issues of sense versus issues of referent; but the exact

Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            311


limits of any approach to this issue are still unclear. One area that

obviously touches on this discussion is the progress of revelation,

the next area of concern.


                             The Progress of Revelation


This issue deals with historical concerns. The question here is

this: What effect did the history of Jesus’ life and ministry,

especially His resurrection and ascension, have on the church’s

understanding and the apostolic understanding of Scripture? The

revelation of Jesus, the living Word of God, helps specify the refer-

ents in the Scriptures and the exact focus of their promises. John

2:22; 12:16; and 20:9 confirm this. The life of Christ did help the

disciples understand what the Scriptures taught. What they did

not realize about the Old Testament before, the life of Christ made

clear to them.

As stated in the previous article in this series, knowing that

there are two comings of Christ and seeing Jesus as Lord in Old

Testament texts that referred to Yahweh are two examples of the

effect of this factor. These show an interaction between the life of

Christ and the Old Testament in which the revelation of the Person

helped make clear the revelation of the Book, by showing how the

promise came to fruition. It is here that the concept of pattern and

generic promise are helpful, because with the coming of the pat-

tern and the promise, many seemingly loose ends in the Scriptures

were tied together in one Person, bringing a unity to the whole

plan. Patterns were completed and promises were fulfilled in ways

that reflected a connection to Old Testament persons or events, or

in ways that heightened them. The “refraction” principle, which

was mentioned earlier, ­­­­12 rightfully belongs here.

Longenecker correctly takes the role of this historical factor

seriously in explaining how the New Testament authors saw some

of these texts as fulfillments. In short, they saw in the revelation of

Jesus Christ a revelation on revelation. Two points can be made to

those who object that such an approach seems to demean proph-

cy because the realization of a prophecy's full presence is limited to

the time of its fulfillment. First, a passage may not have been

recognized as a prophecy until it was fulfilled. So one must dis-

tinguish, then, between what the passage initially declared and

what one comes to realize later was ultimately meant by the pas-

sage. This distinction does not mean, however, that the passage

did not originally suggest the prophetic meaning the reader now


312    Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


understands it to have. Through the progress of revelation, he can         

come to understand what he could not originally comprehend,               

because the Old Testament passage or larger Old Testament con-

text only hinted at that meaning. This is much like a play in the

second quarter of a football game that many come to realize in the

fourth quarter was the turning point of the game. 

Second, many of the Old Testament passages the New Testa-     

ment appeals to were recognized as prophetic in Judaism, but the         

referent of those passages was disputed. 13The force of the passage      

was seen as prophetic, but who or what fulfilled it was an issue in         

the first century. In the context of the progress of revelation, the                      

disciples could point to recent historical events in the life of Jesus      

that fulfilled these passages and completed the promises. This is          

something that even the Qumran writings could not do with most

of their “pesher” fulfillments which still looked to future and thus        

unverifiable events. The clear strength of New Testament proclama-    

tion about fulfillment was its historical and textual base.          

A more controversial aspect of the historical emphasis school

is the role of noncanonical phenomena. specifically Jewish inter-

testamental theology and Jewish hermeneutics. Evangelicals have

often neglected the role of Jewish theology as the framework of

theological discussion in the first century. On the other hand the

New Testament use of terms from Jewish theology does not neces-

sarily mean the terms were appropriated without any change in       

meaning in the New Testament. Careful historical-grammatical                       

exegesis should trace both this background and any modification

of it in the New Testament. As stated in the earlier article, 14 certain    

developments in Jewish theology may well have reflected divine          

reality, not because Jewish theology as a whole was true and     

authoritative, but because on certain issues they accurately        

expressed or developed the teaching of Scripture. In a more      

extreme example Paul cited the Greek poet Aratus without endors-      

ing his pagan world view (Acts 17:28). God is sovereign enough to      

prepare the world for Christ in the conceptual realm of first-century    

Jewish religious expression as well as in the social-political realm      

of the first century with its Pax Romana.

The techniques of Jewish hermeneutics do appear in the New

Testament. The use of key words to link certain passages is clearly

seen in 1 Peter 2:4-10 and in 2 Corinthians 3:1-18. These are two of   

many examples. Longenecker demonstrates the repeated use of

these techniques in the New Testament. What is debated is (a) how      




Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            313


much the perspective of this hermeneutic has influenced the

interpretations of the New Testament and (b) how proper it is to

refer to New Testament quotations in Jewish terms such as

pesher” or “midrash.” With regard to the first issue, it is fair to say

that the key hermeneutical perspectives of New Testament inter-

pretation (its Christological focus, corporate solidarity and the

presence of pattern) all emerge either from the events of Jesus’ life

(Christology) or from perspectives already present in the Old Testa-

ment (corporate solidarity and the use of pattern).15 So the key

elements in the New Testament approach to hermeneutics, accord-

ing to Longenecker, are not found in Jewish hermeneutics but

rather in the history and theology of the Old Testament and Jesus’

first advent.

            Much confusion exists with regard to the use of the terms

pesher” and “midrash.” The definitions of these terms are not

fixed even in the technical literature.16 Often when these terms are

used, they are not clearly defined. Longenecker’s repeated use of the

termpesher exegesis” suffers from this problem. Is he referring to    

aneschatologically fulfilled and presently fulfilled” text or to a

technical style” of exegesis? Also is he using “pesher” in a descrip-

tive-analogical sense (in which the New Testament use is parallel

to this Jewish technique but with important distinctions) or is he

usingpesher” to refer to a New Testament technique in which the

technique and the theological approach of the two systems are so

identified that they are treated as virtually synonymous her-

meneutical systems?

Much of the reaction against this ancient hermeneutical ter-

minology grows out of a sense of excessive identification between

the Jewish and New Testament approaches in the writings of the

progressive revelation school, without careful qualification or with-

out a strong enough stress on the differences between the Jewish

and Christian approaches to the Old Testament. More important

than the choice of descriptive terms is what is meant by their use. If

the terms are merely descriptive and analogical, then a problem

does not seem to exist with their use; but if an identification of

hermeneutical approach is asserted, then the distinctives of the

New Testament perspective are minimized.

In summary the role of the progress of revelation in this discus-

sion is a major one. Consequently a careful reader will seek to avoid

being insensitive to the historical progress of God’s revelation.

Wrong emphases exist on all sides of this issue, including the

denial of the original Old Testament meaning, the denial of the




314    Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


influence of the events of Christ’s life on the New Testament

authors’ reading of the Old Testament, and an excessive or unclear

identification between the hermeneutics of early Christianity and

first-century Judaism.          


                                           Differing Texts


This issue is one about which the majority of evangelicals are   

most aware. The question is this: Do not certain New Testament           

uses of the Old Testament require an altering of the Hebrew text in      

such a way that fulfillments are possible only because the text has

been altered? The alterations are often used by nonevangelicals to        

show the nonprophetic, haphazard, and nonauthentic use of the  

Old Testament by the New, especially in passages attributed to 

Jesus and the earliest church.

Evangelicals have usually answered this charge in one of two     

ways. One reply is to assert that since first-century Palestine was         

multilingual, Jesus and the early church on occasion used the    

Greek text. This reply avoids the basic issue, which is this: If the          

inspired text is the original text (which is usually reflected in the

Hebrew version), then how could the New Testament authors have

cited a flawed translation? A second reply is to argue that whenever

the Greek text is cited against the Hebrew text, then ipso facto the

Greek text represents the original text or the Greek text represents      

what was an original but now lost Hebrew text.18

Another approach is to wrestle with the change by working at    

the hermeneutical and semantic level. Alteration of wording can be      

seen in one of several ways. The first is to distinguish between the       

textual form of the citation (i.e., what Old Testament text was used)                

and the conceptual form of the citation (i.e., what point the text is        

making). In making this distinction, a basic question needs to be           

asked: Could the point of the passage be made from the Hebrew           

text, given the speaker's understanding of Old Testament biblical          

theology and his understanding of the events of Jesus’ life up to the     

point in question? In all the passages treated in Luke-Acts, the  

answer to this question was that the theological point could have          

emerged from an understanding of the Hebrew wording, so the fact      

that Luke used a Greek Old Testament text is irrelevant as a charge      

against the historicity of the event. 19

Second, in other cases alteration of wording has clearly

occurred and the above basic question about a Hebrew origin for

the text can still be answered positively, and yet a question remains

Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            315


as to the legitimacy of the change (e.g., the use of Ps. 68 in Eph. 4,

the dual use of ku<rioj for two distinct Hebrew terms in Ps. 110, or

the change of meta tau?ta from Joel 2:28 to e]n e]ska<taij h[me<raij

in Acts 2:17). Acts 2:17 is a good example of an interpretive biblical

theological change, in which the “after this” in Joel is interpreted

correctly as “the last days.” No first-century Jew would deny that

Joel 2 dealt with the eschaton. His question would have been, Is

today that time? And that was the point Peter was trying to argue.

So a change may be interpretively grounded in larger biblical

theological concerns of history.

Third, sometimes the wording was changed because a larger

literary context, either around the passage itself or around the

theme of the passage, was being invoked without citing all the

verrses.20 So alterations could occur in New Testament texts for

biblical theological grounds (whether this biblical theology emer-

ges from historical events or other biblical texts or motifs) that were

broader than the verses being cited. The area of differing texts is a

complex one, but this need not raise charges of arbitrary her-

meneutics or a lack of historicity in these citations. 21




Recent discussions on the use of the Old Testament in the New

have resulted in four distinct evangelical approaches to this issue.

Also the debate has isolated four areas of concern for evangelical

hermeneutics: dual authorship, language-referent, the progress of

revelation, and the problem of differing texts. Work still remains to

be done, especially in the area of semantics, in historical issues

related to the progress of revelation, and in handling in detail all the

specific passages with these concerns in mind. But this outline of

the discussion shows that the framework for an overall satisfactory

approach to this issue does exist, even if some details still need

working out.

The theses of this article are four: (1) A distinction between

divine intention and the intent of the human author is to be made;

but both intentions are related in their basic meaning and that

relationship can be articulated. (2) Meaning involves the sense of a

passage and not primarily the referents of a passage; but the

language of an Old Testament passage and its New Testament

fulfillment can be related in terms of referents in one of several

ways. (3) The progress of revelation affects the detailed understand-

ing of Old Testament passages in specifying details about the

316    Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


completion of the promise and the completion of salvific patterns in

God’s revelation. But one should always be aware of (a) what was

originally understood by the human author at the time of the

original revelation and (b) what God disclosed about the details of       

that revelation through later revelation or through events in Jesus’        

life. (4) New Testament alterations of Old Testament texts were           

neither arbitrary changes to create fulfillment in the New Testa-           

ment nor reflections of later church theology placed back anach-

ronistically into the lips of Jesus or the early church; rather they

reflect accurate biblical theological considerations of the New Testa-

ment authors on the original Old Testament text. 

Of course the test of such theses is whether they can be related

to all the specific examples from the text. Several supporting exam-    

ples have been supplied, usually in notes or parentheses, for con-

sideration in evaluating this approach. It is hoped that this

overview has helped (a) present fairly the different approaches to         

this area within evangelicalism. (b) distinguish clearly the key   

issues facing evangelicals in this area of hermeneutics, and (c) 

suggest avenues of solutions for these issues, while recognizing           

the recent valuable work and contributions of many evangelicals of

different persuasions who have worked so diligently on these mat-

ters. The author also hopes that in being rather eclectic with the

various approaches, the wheat has been successfully retained from       

each view while the chaff has been left behind.




1   Darrell L. Bock, "Evangelicals and the use of the Old Testament in the New, Part

1” Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (July-October 1985):209-23.

2   This hesitation with regard to Waltke’s position results from the tact that he    

claims to hold to the original author’s intent: and yet in his example from Psalm    

2:6-7 he moves from an “earthly” to a “heavenly” reference between the old dispen-

sation and the new.  Such a shift in understanding seems to leave the Old Testament

prophetic intention somewhat unclear. So this writer places Waltke here with a    

question mark as to whether this description of his view is really an accurate one             

(Bruce K. Waltke, “Is It Right to Read the New Testament into the Old?” Christianity   

Today, September 2, 1983, p. 77).         

3   Walter M. Dunnett. The Interpretation of Holy Scripture (Nashville: Thomas          

Nelson Publishers. 1984), p. 60.

4   Ibid., p. 62.  

5   A full treatment of example texts is beyond the scope of this article. The        

description given of the relationship between the human and the divine author in   

these Old Testament-New Testament passages reflects studies by the present writer       

in Luke-Acts, his teaching of a doctoral seminar on the use of the Old Testament in         

the New, and teaching a course on the master’s level jointly with Donald R. Glenn.

whose aid in articulating these issues has been indispensable. The views stated

here are the authors and not necessarily Glenn’s.           



Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            317


A sample listing of texts reflecting the authors views might be as follows: (a) in

full consciousness (i.e., directly prophetic): Psalm 110; (b) in ideal language: Psalm

16 (where the psalmist is confident of deliverance but the details of the “how” of the

deliverance are not entirely clear in light of the language of the whole psalm) and

Isaiah 52:13-53:12; (c) in language capable of an expansion of reference and

context (i.e., in the progress of revelation): Hosea 11:1, with use of the concept of the

corporate solidarity of the Son with the nation; and (d) in language that involves a

pattern of fulfillment (i.e., topological prophetic); Isaiah 7:14: Psalm 2: Psalm 16

(possibly if the above categorization is not correct); Psalm 22; Psalm 69; Exodus

fulfillment language in the New Testament; Isaiah 52:13--53:12; and Deuteronomy

18. Often the difference between “ideal language” and “language capable of expan-

sion” is slight and debatable. Other passages make use of both “ideal language” and

pattern of fulfillment” (e.g., Isa.. 53 is classified as “ideal language” because by the

point of Isa. 53, the servant figure is described in highly individualized language).

The author sees “language capable of expansion” as drawing heavily on theological

concepts outside the passage in question (the theological presuppositions or her-

meneutical axioms of the New Testament author) to complete its fulfillment, while

ideal language” makes decisive use of only material in the cited text. If one prefers

to think of “ideal language” as a subcategory that can operate either in the progress

of revelation category or in the pattern category such an approach could be

defended. The author prefers the term “pattern” to typology for reasons he has

defended elsewhere (Darrell L. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern

[Sheffield: JSOT Press, forthcoming], chap. 1).

6   This area needs more study by evangelicals in light of recent discussions and in

light of issues raised in semantics and the history of hermeneutics.

7   Douglas Moo. The Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives (Sheffield:

Almond Press. 1983), pp. 75-78, 387-97. Moo probably belongs in the historical

school, but lie is certainly aware of the semantic issues.

8   J. P Louw. Semantics of New Testament Greek (Philadelphia; Fortress Press,

1982), pp. 39-66. See Bock. “Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the

New. Part 1.” p. 222, n. 16.

9   The basic question is the one raised by Waltke’s article in Christianity Today,

especially when he calls the New Testament fulfillment a “literal” fulfillment. Dis-

pensationalists have the best way to unify the Testaments on this issue, by arguing

for a “both/and” fulfillment rather than an “either/or” approach.

10   Dunnett is sensitive to this distinction in referring to the importance of

starting with the original context, while Waltke’s approach seems less sensitive.

Much teaching, exposition, and preaching can create a misimpression when it

insensitively and without qualification reads back a teaching into an earlier text

without making clear that that detailed teaching may not have been what the

human author had in mind for his audience at the time. Rather it should be clear

that this teaching is what God Was ultimately pointing toward, as His whole

revelation later clarified.

11   Some of these referential relationships do not deal directly with meaning but

with significance, that is, they deal not with what the passage meant or declares

(meaning) but why it is relevant to another situation (significance). Some of these

relationships between sense and referent are unclear as to which side of the

meaning/significance distinction they fall. More work by evangelicals is needed on

this issue as well.

12   Bock, “Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New, Part l,” pp. 216-19.

13   It is remarkable how often in key fulfillment passages in Luke-Acts, the Jewish

interpretation also had an eschatological strain that elevated either wisdom, the

Torah, the Messiah, or the end time in general as the final fulfillment (Bock,

Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern. chaps. 2-5).

318    Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1985


14   Bock. “Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New, Part I,” p. 223, n. 24.       

15   Corporate solidarity is seen in “the one and the many” concepts of the Old

Testament. An example is the servant figure of Isaiah. who is seen as the nation or

as an individual. The use of pattern is shown in the reuse of Exodus or creation    

motifs in the Old Testament prophets. These hermeneutical perspectives are part of

the Old Testament theology.      

16   A term like “midrash” is variously used in scholarly literature to refer to        

“Jewish exposition in general,” to “the application of the Scriptures to a new

Setting,” or to “a specific type of literary genre of Jewish literature.” A term like

pesher” can refer to “any eschatologically focused exegesis that declares that this          

form, where a direct reference to the mystery revealed by the pesher interpretation

is required. On midrash see Gary Porton, “Defining Midrash,” in The Study of

Ancient Judaism, ed. Jacob Neusner (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1981),

1:55-92. On pesher see M. Horgan. Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical

Books (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1979).

17   By authenticity reference is made to its technical meaning in New Testament  

studies, that is, that a passage is authentic if it comes out of the historical setting   

from which it claims to arise. Many critics argue that New Testament uses of the Old      

Testament that claim to emerge in a Semitic context from Jesus’ life or from the

Jerusalem church in Acts, but that use a peculiarly Greek wording from the LXX to        

make their point, cannot be authentic historically, since Jesus would have used a  

Semitic text with its Semitic wording, as the Jerusalem church would have done.  

The argument ignores the fact that it is inherently likely that a Greek text or         

tradition would use the Greek Old Testament to render Old Testament passages for

the sake of the audience rather than engaging in retranslation. This latter point,

however, simply pushes back the question to the level of the historical background

of the passage's argument; it does not answer the charge. Jesus’ authentic use of

Psalm 110 is often rejected by the use of this argument. But see Bock, Proclamation

from Prophecy and Pattern, on Luke 20:41-44: 22:69: and Acts 2:34-35.

18   The text-critical argument is complex because in the first century various

versions of both the Greek and Hebrew Old Testament text were in existence.

Therefore this argument is a possibility that must be reckoned with. However, it is

difficult to use this argument in instances where only the Greek Old Testament text

has the adopted reading, while none of the extant Hebrew manuscripts do--which

is often the case. For a recent work comparing texts and often using this argument,

see Gleason L. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New

Testament: A Complete Survey (Chicago; Moody Press, 1983).

19   Bock. Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern, especially the treatments of

Psalm 110: Psalm 16: and Isaiah 55. Of course, these examples do not deal with the

situations where the wording of the Greek text is used in a Greek setting to make a

point. For all such situations see points 4-10 in note 21.

20   Some say that this is what is occurring with Psalm 68 in Ephesians 4. The line           

cited is not so much a verbatim quotation as a summary citation drawing on the

rest of the context of Psalm 68, which suggests God blesses those who fought with

Him. However, some do not think Psalm 68 is cited at all in this passage, since the

introductory formula need not be invoking Scripture. W. Hall Harris III, a colleague

of this writer, has made this suggestion to the present writer. C. H. Dodd has

championed the view that often New Testament writers refer to the larger context in

citing a passage (According to the Scriptures (London; Collins. 1952)).

21   Moises Silva in his article “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament, in

Scripture and Truth, ed. D. A. Carson and John Woodbridge (Grand Rapids;

Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), pp. 150-57, lists eight possible approaches to

dealing with an Old Testament citation in the New to describe what might be

occurring. To his list, the writer after dividing one category (nos. 4 and 5 are

Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New                            319


combined by Silva) adds one more (no. 8).

1. Corruption in the transmission of the Hebrew text.

         2. Corruption in the transmission of the LXX.

         3. Corruption in the transmission of the New Testament text.

         4. The Masoretic understanding and pointing of the text are correct over that

of the LXX.

5. The LXX understanding and syntactical arrangement of the text are cor-

rect. (This is less commonly the case.)

6. Both the Masoretic text and the LXX are correct, that is, legitimate harmony


7. The New Testament quotation of the LXX has included an erroneous part of

the LXX translation which the New Testament author is not affirming.

8. The New Testament quotation of the LXX contains a figure different from

that in the Masoretic text, but the point made from the figure is exactly the same as

in the Masoretic text (e.g., Ps. 40 in Heb. 10) or is close enough to the Masoretic text

so as not to be a problem (perhaps Ps. 8 in Heb. 2 is an example).

9. The difference is trivial (and the biblical author affirms it). Silva rightly

rejects this category

10. The New Testament draws on an interpretive tradition about the passage

from Judaism. This tradition draws on a context larger than the passage itself.

including nonbiblical sources, and represents an interpretation of the text that the

New Testament author supports. (This last category is how Silva solves the Heb.

11:21 problem he discusses, thus revealing his agreement with the Longenecker

school.) This last category is much discussed, and more work needs to be done in

evaluating its validity.



This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204


Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:

         Thanks to Linh Tran for help in proofing.