The Exegetical Method Employed in 1 Peter 2:4-10 -- By: Bradley Cooper

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 01:1 (Mar 2006)
Article: The Exegetical Method Employed in 1 Peter 2:4-10
Author: Bradley Cooper

The Exegetical Method Employed in 1 Peter 2:4-10

Bradley Cooper 1


The New Testament writers employed conventional Jewish exegetical techniques of the New Testament era to interpret the Old Testament, but contemporary New Testament interpreters often fail to identify correctly the exegetical methods being employed. Using 1 Peter 2:4–10 as a test case, this article demonstrates the process of identifying the exegetical method New Testament authors used to interpret the Old Testament. One key is for interpreters to rely less on formulaic introductions and phrases as keys to identifying exegetical methods and to take all facets of the methodologies into account.

1. Introduction

One of the greatest aids in studying and interpreting the New Testament’s use of the Old has been the examination of the Jewish exegetical practices of that era.

Biblical interpretation in the New Testament church shows in a remarkable way the Jewishness of earliest Christianity. It

followed exegetical methods common to Judaism and drew its perspective and presuppositions from Jewish backgrounds (Ellis1992:121).

Since the authors of the New Testament have left behind only the results of their hermeneutics, and not a detailed explanation of their processes, modern readers must often compare the Scriptures with contemporary Jewish writings in the attempt to gain a better understanding of their methods. Consequently, the discoveries at Qumran have been particularly valuable, as the exegetical methods employed there were both explained and demonstrated.

Unfortunately, the existence of such supplementary material does not always guaranty a clear picture of the exegetical method employed by the New Testament authors. In 1 Peter 2:4–10, for example, modern scholars have variously argued that the method employed by Peter is midrash, typology or pesher.2 These differing opinions may partially result from the uncertainty of the terms themselves.

Much confusion exists with regard to the use of the terms “pesher” and “midrash.” The definitions of these terms are not fixed even in the technical literature. Often when these terms are used, they are not clearly defined (Bock 1985:311).

Additionally, the occasional lack of textual keys, such as formulaic introductions or phrasing, serves to increase the difficulty of distinguishing between the similarities of certain methods....

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