Hope In The Old Testament -- By: David A. Hubbard

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 34:1 (NA 1983)
Article: Hope In The Old Testament
Author: David A. Hubbard


Hope In The Old Testament*

David A. Hubbard

*A paper read a the Decennial Meeting of the Institute for Biblical Research in Dallas, Texas, 4th-5th November 1980. The author wishes to express his indebtedness to Rev. Dr. R. W. L. Moberly of Knowle, England, for many helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

I. Introduction

All the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterward, also proclaimed these days (Acts 3:24).

Those words of Peter (cf. also 1 Pet. 1:10–12) remind us that the first Christians understood the Old Testament as promise and the New Testament as fulfilment. That note of hope and promise, which guided the early believers, is the centre of the observations that follow.

A. The Focus On The Prophets

This study has deliberately skirted the fertile soil of apocalyptic literature in order to traverse more carefully the terrain of the prophets. An occasional sidetrip, however, has been taken into other parts of the Old Testament, since the whole thing is a book of hope, a set of writings tipped toward the future.

In tackling the great prophet themes, I must ignore the rich vocabulary of hope, though W. Zimmerli,1 J. van der Ploeg,2 and H. W. Wolff3 have treated it in ample measure and handy form.

Further, because my aim has been to summarize and to some extent schematize the prophetic teaching, I have here

deliberately avoided both detailed exegesis of the relevant passages and extended engagement with the literature which debates their meaning. Some oversimplification, therefore, is unavoidable.

B. The Definition Of Hope

Since the subject is hope, we can gratefully bypass a technical discussion of what eschatology is with its debate over narrower and broader definitions. I lean toward the broader form, despite van der Ploeg’s caveat that eschatology should be restricted to the apocalyptic view of the end times.4 To be preferred is P. R. Davies’ recent definition. Eschatology a ‘dimension of belief—that history moves in a direction, that this direction is set by God, and that God acts within history to insure this direction.’5 In this perspective, prophetic hope and eschatology mean about the same ...

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