Sunday, January 23, 2011

Old Testament Perspicuity

Luke 16:31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

31 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ· εἰ Μωϋσέως καὶ τῶν προφητῶν οὐκ ἀκούουσιν, οὐδ᾽ ἐάν τις ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῇ πεισθήσονται.

As I wrestle with the big issue of hermeneutics, I am trying to decide which set of presuppositions makes the most sense. To me, it makes more sense to give the NT priority over the OT. This then leads to seeing the narrative of Scripture as God calling a people to Himself. He started with Israel and then added the church. The church does not replace Israel, but adds to it. This seems to stand up better to tests than the classical dispensational hermeneutic of reading everything through the lens of Israel.

One of the results of this hermeneutic for me is that I see the NT as being a vital part of proper OT interpretation. My thesis on Matthew 2:15 has convinced me of that as I don't think it is reasonable for anyone to see Christ in Hosea 11:1. My advisor disagrees and wants for me to take a deeper look at how the OT was constructed to show Christ through its structure. This verse makes me think of that question.

Here Jesus is giving a parable about a rich man who ends up suffering eternal punishment and he wants for someone to go back from the dead to tell his family about what awaits them if they do not repent and believe. This statement is very profound. Basically, it tells him that they have everything they need in what we call the Old Testament ("Moses and the Prophets is an idiom"). I can see that as there is plenty in the OT to point us to Christ. In fact, we can point to fulfilled prophecy as an apologetic for the inspiration of Scripture.

I see all of this as a both/and rather than an either/or. I think we can say that there are glimpses of Christ in the OT. Some of them are more obvious than others. However, I also think that we can now read the OT as Christians rather than as Jews. Therefore, with the benefit of the first advent of Christ we have a better interpretive grid than they did. We can see how the suffering servant of Isaiah was Christ. We can see how Christ was the better Moses. Basically, we understand Him to be the Messiah that they were looking for and, if they are faithful Jews, still look for.

I think what this parable tells us is that the Jews had to really believe the OT so that they would understand that Jesus was indeed Messiah. I rejoice that we no longer have to look through types and shadows and have the benefit of the NT and, most importantly, the Holy Spirit. Amen?

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