Friday, December 19, 2008

Carson Reviews "Three Views on the NT Use of the OT"

D.A. Carson on Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament:
The book is thoughtfully set out, and the writing is clear. Many more details are evaluated than can show up in this brief review. One wishes that the editors had set the three principal writers not only five questions that they had to answer, but also, say, ten specific instances, of various kinds, where the New Testament cites the Old. One would have had a much better grasp of the outworking of theory in the less forgiving terrain of exegesis. In any case, the volume is useful for students first breaking into these debates, though they should be warned in advance that the three positions advocated here are far from being the only ones. It is doubtful that any informed reader will change his or her mind as a result of reading this book.

Inevitably, I kept wanting to ask my own questions to one writer or another. For example: Even if we accept that (at least some kinds of) types in the Old Testament are clearly predictive, would the human author of the first entry in a series of events/institutions that become a repeated pattern (i.e., a type) have understood that he was laying the cornerstone for a type? Doubtless God would know, and presumably the more discerning of later human authors would sooner or later discern the pattern, but why is it necessary or even plausible to assert that the author of the first entry would be so discerning? Or again: Is it not the case that the more one insists that the New Testament authors' interpretive methods exactly mirror those of Second Temple Judaism, the harder it is to explain why their understanding of what Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) actually says differs so much from theirs? If one responds that this difference is entirely explained by "Christotelic" commitments that are themselves entirely independent of distinctive exegesis, then neither the Jewish nor the Christian exegesis has much to do with the determination of meaning. More questions spring to mind, but perhaps it is unfair to give the impression the authors should have written a different sort of book.

Read the whole thing.