NT Use OT: Reformed Consensus?

Unique Name

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello. I am currently reading Zondervan's NT Use of the OT debate book. The three views represented are as follows.

Single meaning, unified referents: accurate and authoritative citations of the OT by the NT (Walter Kaiser JR.)
Single meaning, multiple contexts and referents: The NT's legitimate, accurate, and multifaceted use of the old (Darrell Bock)
Fuller meaning, single goal: A Christotelic approach to the NT use of the old in its first-century interpretive environment (Peter Enns)

I started with Enns (being drawn to the title) and his views resonate with me. His hermeneutical-historical approach offers the counterweight I was looking for to 'historical-grammatical' interpretation. I find that the latter method is lacking the spiritual depth on display in the NT author's use of the OT. Furthermore, I understand 'Christocentric' (i.e., Christ in nearly every verse) and 'historical-grammatical' methods somewhat incompatible. This is not to say that the historical-grammatical method is crud; Enns himself points out, historical-grammatical method entails the study of historical context, which includes second temple literature; NT authors use of LXX and thus LXX criticism; second temple interpretive lenses, etc. The point, however, is that historical-grammatical method is not a principle that the NT authors kept in the back of their mind most likely, rather a Christotelic one (possibly an outgrowth of second temple creative exegesis). And that is significant for me, and a refreshing take on the subject; instead of working out perceived 'tensions' (a possible result of being a Westerner with Western methods of interpretation), we should let the text speak organically on it's own terms. I know that last point is fuzzy, but you get the point.

I am aware of Enns' unorthodoxy leanings, and I am not endorsing him outright. I am deeply curious as to what the Reformed take is (if there is one) on the NT use of the OT. Is there a way to adopt Enns' view without becoming a heretic? Please chime in, even if it's just to pick one of the above three views. Thank you!
 
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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
@greenbaggins
But, this whole recent thread may be helpful:
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The main problem with Enns's view is that he doesn't find any Messianic meaning in the OT. It is always something that NT authors have read into the OT by means of rabbinic methods. Reformed authors believe that Messianic meaning is what the OT is all ultimately about (Luke 24 and John 5). In my view, the best way of understanding the OT is as an organic unfolding Scripture. Imagine a room that is dark yet full of objects. The objects are there, but you can't see them. Then, imagine the process of revelation as a door being opened extremely slowly (over the course of 1500 plus years!). You start to see the objects in the room more and more clearly as the door opens wider and wider. The objects were always there, but not always clearly visible. You bump around in the dark, stumble over things, etc. But when the light comes, you can see much more clearly.
 

Jeff Low

Puritan Board Freshman
I would recommend this book: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis And Interpretation by Gregory K. Beale.

He touches on the various contemporary debates about the use of the OT in the NT (a more extensive debate and treatment is given in an earlier book he edited) and how one should properly interpret how the NT uses the OT. What I found helpful was that Beale deals with and discusses some of the hermeneutical and theological presuppositions of the NT writers, and while I personally would hope for more elaboration (which he would do in his other books on certain themes through the Bible), it is deeply insightful in explaining the seemingly varied ways the NT writers used the OT.

And not to mention, Beale is a much safer guide than Enns. The bonus is that he is also much more satisfying to read.
 

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
The main problem with Enns's view is that he doesn't find any Messianic meaning in the OT. It is always something that NT authors have read into the OT by means of rabbinic methods. Reformed authors believe that Messianic meaning is what the OT is all ultimately about (Luke 24 and John 5). In my view, the best way of understanding the OT is as an organic unfolding Scripture. Imagine a room that is dark yet full of objects. The objects are there, but you can't see them. Then, imagine the process of revelation as a door being opened extremely slowly (over the course of 1500 plus years!). You start to see the objects in the room more and more clearly as the door opens wider and wider. The objects were always there, but not always clearly visible. You bump around in the dark, stumble over things, etc. But when the light comes, you can see much more clearly.

I think that's a great analogy, not only for the nature of unfolding revelation from the earliest OT writings to the wrapping up of the NT, but also of the way special revelation as a whole shines light on general revelation.
 

Unique Name

Puritan Board Freshman
I think that's a great analogy, not only for the nature of unfolding revelation from the earliest OT writings to the wrapping up of the NT, but also of the way special revelation as a whole shines light on general revelation.
But Enns uses a similar analogy: "It is helpful to think of the process of reading a good novel the first time and the second time. The two readings are not the same experience... The fact that the OT is not a novel should not diminish the value of the analogy: the first reading of the OT leaves you with hints, suggestions, trajectories, and so on, of how things will play out in the end, but it is not until you get to the end that you begin to see how the pieces fit together" (Enns in Three views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by Zondervan). I get the concern that he seems to suggest Christ is read into the OT using second temple creative methods. But keeping matters in mind like the incoherence of historical-grammatical method (the dispensationalists favorite method when reading the OT) combined with a Christocentric method (reading Christ into nearly every paragraph per Enns definition); and keeping in mind of course the NT use of the OT, particularly the angles and the law issue; Mathew's use of Hosea 11:1; Galatians 3:15 etc., I don't find much to complain about with Enns' view (hermeneutical-historical).

I think he is being treated a little unfairly on this topic (NT use of the OT; not other topics) but I don't know enough to say. I would like to bring it back to my initial post. What would you all say is the correct view of the NT use of the OT according to the views presented in the book? They are as follows.

Single meaning, unified referents: accurate and authoritative citations of the OT by the NT (Walter Kaiser JR.)
Single meaning, multiple contexts and referents: The NT's legitimate, accurate, and multifaceted use of the old (Darrell Bock)
Fuller meaning, single goal: A Christotelic approach to the NT use of the old in its first-century interpretive environment (Peter Enns)
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
John, the difference between Enns's analogy and mine is that, for Enns, the OT is not about Christ, whereas in mine it is. I had him as a professor at WTS. Christ has to be read back into the OT through the NT authors, who use rabbinic methods of exegesis in doing so. I would part ways with him here. To use my analogy, Enns would believe that the objects are not in the room at all, and have to be imported there once the door is opened.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think he is being treated a little unfairly on this topic (NT use of the OT; not other topics) but I don't know enough to say. I would like to bring it back to my initial post. What would you all say is the correct view of the NT use of the OT according to the views presented in the book? They are as follows.

Single meaning, unified referents: accurate and authoritative citations of the OT by the NT (Walter Kaiser JR.)
Single meaning, multiple contexts and referents: The NT's legitimate, accurate, and multifaceted use of the old (Darrell Bock)
Fuller meaning, single goal: A Christotelic approach to the NT use of the old in its first-century interpretive environment (Peter Enns)
I think Enns' readings are highly problematic, especially, in light of his rank and file liberal trajectory. Perhaps they lead him there?
 
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Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
John, the difference between Enns's analogy and mine is that, for Enns, the OT is not about Christ, whereas in mine it is. I had him as a professor at WTS. Christ has to be read back into the OT through the NT authors, who use rabbinic methods of exegesis in doing so. I would part ways with him here. To use my analogy, Enns would believe that the objects are not in the room at all, and have to be imported there once the door is opened.

I'm not surprised to hear that about Enns' view, except that he still professes to be a Christian while believing that. I'm not saying that view is heretical/blasphemous (althought I'm not not saying it...) but it just seems incoherent. All the reading I've done of Enns seems like he says, "All the naturalistic assumptions are true! And my faith tells me that Jesus is Lord, but not my reason." I just don't get it.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
I'm not saying that view is heretical/blasphemous
I think it is. It is a direct denial of the witness of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.—1 Cor. 10:1-4
 
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