I was having a conversation with some individuals yesterday regarding Old Testament hermeneutics and the relationship between the Old Testament and the New.
As we were discussing the interpretation of the Old Testament, and particularly an insistence on literal interpretation of the Old Testament, I brought up the fact that too often of this sort discussion neglects how the New Testament develops and progresses what the Old Testament said. Further, it ignores the New Testament’s very use of the Old Testament (e.g., citations, allusions, calling things “fulfilled,” etc.).
Although the New Testament doesn’t violate or contradict the Old Testament voice, it often interprets and applies the Old Testament in non-literal ways (if by “literal” we mean an exact correspondence in meaning). Again, I would argue that the New Testament doesn’t violate or contradict the Old Testament. But it does use it and relate to it in such a way that it develops it, complements it, and applies it in light of the progress and unfolding of God’s plan in Christ and the Church.
In Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy, two prominent argument-themes emerge. For that sake of organization, I’ll present this review according to those two categories.
The Kingdom Pattern
The fact that God acts in the history of men and interprets his acts means that these historical events will form a pattern that relates to the purpose of God [pg. 42].
And the central pattern that spans Biblical history, for Goldsworthy, is the concept of kingdom .
For Goldsworthy, the kingdom of God involves (a) God’s people, (b) in God’s place, (c) under God’s rule [53-54]. Both the content of the central Biblical covenants and the goal of redemption history is this kingdom of God . Therefore, as an implication, under various Biblical covenants and within various eras of redemption history, different forms or stages of development of this kingdom exist on a trajectory ultimately consummating in the final realization of this kingdom in the Jesus Christ.
Just a few days ago I tweeted the following:
I’ve decided to expand upon and explain these tweets in further detail in this post. Allow me to do this by providing an illustration.
In a lecture on Biblical theology, Dr. Edmund Clowney states the following,
Now…I was taught that…you can’t find any type in the New Testament that’s not identified as a type in the New Testament. But…that’s certainly safe. You know, it’s like you got a book of math or something; and you can’t solve any problem if it’s not given in the back of the book. I mean, you know the answer’s right ’cause it’s in the back of the book; but you say [conclude], “you can’t work any of the problems yourself; you can only look in the back of the book.” It’s kind of a confession of hermeneutical bankruptcy from one perspective. It’s saying, “the New Testament writers can interpret these things; but we don’t have a clue on how they did it. If we knew how they did it, we could do it. But we don’t know how they did it, so we can’t do it. So to play safe, we won’t identify anything as a type if it’s not already identified as a type.” And see, my argument is that they [the New Testament authors] have taught us a lot by the way they identify types.
If you’ve had some theological education, or have been around someone who else who has, you may have heard of the terms dispensationalism or covenant theology (or reformed theology). But maybe you’re not entirely sure as to what they mean, to what they refer, or what these systems of theology propose. Maybe you are somewhat familiar with these systems, or one of them, and might benefit from a concise and precise summary. Or, maybe these terms are foreign to you and your curiosity has been tickled.