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Quote of the Week

G. K. Beale reminds us that there is much more at stake than we realize if we do not duplicate the hermeneutical method of Jesus and the his apostles.  

If the contemporary church cannot exegete and do theology like the apostles did, how can it feel corporately at one with them in the theological process?  If a radical hiatus exists between the interpretative method of the New Testament and ours today, then the study of the relationship of the Old Testament and the New Testament from the apostolic perspective is something to which the church has little access.  Furthermore, if the Jesus and the apostles were impoverished in their exegetical and theological method and only divine inspiration salvaged their conclusions, then the intellectual and apologetic foundation of our faith is seriously eroded. What kind of intellectual or apologetic foundation for our faith is this?  M. Silva is likely correct when he states that “if we refuse to pattern our exegesis after that of the apostles, we are in practice denying the authoritative character of their scriptural interpretaion and to do so is to strike at the very heart of the Christian faith.” (Beale, “Did Jesus and His Followers Preach the Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?” in The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts, 404)

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Categories: Quotes
  1. Bush Smith
    April 29, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I found your blog about a week or two ago and it is very good, helpful and informative. Keep up the good work. Regarding this post, how extensively or to what degree do we follow the example of NT authors in hermeneutics w/o taking liberty upon the text and making it say what we want it to say(forcing our presuppositions)?

  2. Chad
    April 29, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Bush,

    Thanks for reading the blog and I am glad you find it helpful.

    That is an excellent question.

    This issue is an ongoing debate, so I don’t take it lightly.

    1.) It is clear that the apostles (and Jesus) interpreted the OT in light of Christ (Matt 2, 12-13, Luke 3-4, 24, John, Acts 2, 13, 28; Heb, etc). Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT and the final word of God (Col 1:15ff; Heb 1:1-2). The early church was fed on the doctrine of the apostles (Acts 2:42) and we should seek to understand this doctrine (and hermeneutical method).

    2.) The same Spirit that led the apostles to understand the text in light of Christ is the same Spirit that indwells us. John makes it very clear that the Spirit takes the things of and things about Christ and reveals them to us (John 16:13-14). The place of that revelation is the Scriptures. By no means are our interpretations inspired, but the Spirit guides us to the same beliefs and conclusions about Jesus

    3.) I think there are some practical steps to follow to think about how the Bible fits together. I have written a couple of posts that allude to this topic (check under preaching and hermeneutics), but I think there are two big keys: A.) We should make the same connections the NT writers do. Most people would not disagree, but what about places where it isn’t as clear? B.) I also believe that every connection must be textually warranted to avoid allegory. For example, the scarlet rope of Rahab is not a picture of the blood of Christ because we don’t find scarlet ropes as a type of blood sacrifice in the text. However, take the temple theme and something like that can be traced very clearly through Scripture. Can I clearly trace something in Scripture from type to anti-type and promise to fulfillment? God’s revelation is the interpreter of history; thus, God has already made these connections for us in the Bible; we just have to understand the Bible on its own terms. History is always linear; thus, we have to read the Bible from beginning to end and see how these themes and ideas originate, develop, and fulfill in Jesus. We must be careful not to confuse the means of God (Israel) with the ultimate purpose of God (Christ and his Church).

    We have to understand the big picture and understand these major themes of Scripture. I don’t think it is an easy process nor do I think it is an overnight process. I think it takes a lot of work in the text, understanding how the Bible fits together, being immersed in the Word, and seeing it put into practice (either by preaching or writing). I have written several posts providing examples of doing biblical theology; however, more are needed. Finally, I would say that we should surround ourselves with skilled thinkers who can help us understand these things. God has provided the church with so many gifted writers and thinkers in this area (e.g., Beale, Carson, Strom, Goldsworthy, Dumbrell, Longman, Vos, Clowney, etc.). Many are concerned with someone shooting off into left field with these things, but this is why we do our theologizing in the context of the church. We keep each other accountable with the Word, challenge one another, ask hard questions, seek consistency, and be open to correction and feedback.

    In the end we must fully embrace the apostles hermeneutic. By looking at their understanding of the OT and our constant work in the text we will rightly reflect this hermeneutic without committing gross errors in interpretation. I do not think the apostles are merely proof-texting from the OT, but recognizing that the OT was ultimately and always about Jesus. I wish there was a simple formula to ensure our interpretations were correct, but there isn’t. I think there are clear boundries and steps that help guide us; however, nothing is quite as good as faithfully pouring over God’s Word daily and allowing Scripture to train us in regard to these matters of interpretation.

    I know I’ve been all over the place with my response, but I hope this helps some.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Chad

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