Part 2: Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New -- By: Darrell L. Bock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 142:568 (Oct 1985)
Article: Part 2: Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New
Author: Darrell L. Bock


Part 2:
Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New

Darrell L. Bock

[Darrell L. Bock, Assistant Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary]

In a previous article1 this writer discussed four schools of approach within evangelicalism with regard to the use of the Old Testament by the New. In the interaction between these schools of thought four tension points will be raised in this article concerning dual authorship, language-referent, the progress of revelation, and the problem of the differing texts used in Old Testament citations by their New Testament fulfillment(s). In isolating these four areas of concern, it is important to recall that in any passage being discussed all these concerns interact with one another. That is why this area of hermeneutics is so difficult to discuss. Nevertheless by isolating the key issues, discussion of problem texts may become more manageable, since the area of concern can be more easily identified. In this article the state of the debate will be evaluated and a suggested approach will be offered.

Dual Authorship

The question of dual authorship is the basic one to be considered. Can God intend more in a passage than the human author intended? For Kaiser and also, it seems, for Waltke the answer to this question is no.2 What the prophet intended, God intended; and He intended no more than what the prophet intended. God may have a greater understanding about the intention of the passage; but the prophet must understand what he was trying to

say. The concept of “generic promise” is especially important to this view.

For those who make a distinction between the human author’s intention and God’s intention, a variety of approaches exist. Appeal is made to sensus plenior or references plenior. S. Lewis Johnson and Elliott E. Johnson try to establish a firm link between God’s intention and the human author’s intention so that the Old Testament prophet’s message remains demonstrably the basis for the divine New Testament fulfillment. This limitation prevents a charge of arbitrary fulfillment being raised against the New Testament. Their limitation is either “the implication of the words” in light of the progress of revelation (S. Lewis Johnson) or the “defining sense” of the human author’s words (Elliott E. Johnson).

Those who emphasize the historical perspective of the use of the Old Testament in the New (the third school of thought) generally do not discuss dual authorship in any detail. They simply regard this dis...

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