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Quote of the Week

Dan McCartney of Westminster Theological Seminary wrote an excellent essay entitled, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament” in Harvie Conn’s book, Inerrancy and Hermeneutic.  This quote concerns how Samuel Levine in his book, You Take Jesus; I’ll Take God: How to Refute Christian Missionaries, attempts to equip the unbelieving Jew with methods for refuting Christians.  I really like what McCartney says because he exposes how evangelical hermeneutics by in large gets it wrong concerning the Old Testament.  His essay is worth getting if you have not read it.  I have put Levine’s comments in bold.

The book aims to equip Jews with a knowledge of the OT which will enable them to escape the force of Christian references to OT prophecy.  It does so not by systematically interpreting all the OT passages that might be used by a Christian, but by teaching a general method whereby any Christian reference to prophecy can be refuted.  I quote:

This book is simply an elaboration of a few key procedures which will enable anyone to see the inadequacy or falseness of any Christian “proof.”  Here are the procedures:

1. If they quote from the OT, then:

a) Look at the entire context of that verse–usually this alone will suffice.

b) See if the verse has been mistranslated–you should always try to look up every quote in the original Hebrew.  If you do not know Hebrew, find a friend who does. 

c) See if the verse seems to be mis-interpreted–see if the interpretation is forced into the words artificially.

d) See if the verse points exclusively to Jesus; see if the verse could apply to another person as well . . .

Do these words not echo the very words of our hermeneutical textbooks?  The “method” of which we approve is getting the wrong results.  And how do we know they are wrong results?  Only by the further revelation of the NT and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that the new revelation is revelation. 

This is not to say that OT interpretation prior to the NT could not be a proper interpretation.  It could still be compatible with biblical world view and have a correct hermeneutical goal so far as it was known.  But it is to say that without the NT a complete and whole picture of the meaning of the OT was not possible.  Now, however, not to accept the NT is to reject the NT.  And the rejection of the NT is a rejection of its hermeneutical goal, which consciously redirects interpretation away from even a partial proper understanding.

The NT writer did not have our problems; they knew that the OT spoke of Jesus, and proceeded to understand it in that light.  We too, we may be bold to say, know that the OT speaks of Jesus.  Did he not tell us so (Lk 24)?  And are we not therefore justified in seeing him in its pages?  This is no “skeleton in the closet.”  It is our skeleton key to open all the doors in the inerrant word of God. (McCartney, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament”)

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