Luke’s Use of the Old Testament -- By: Bruce A. Baker

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 07:21 (Aug 2003)
Article: Luke’s Use of the Old Testament
Author: Bruce A. Baker

Luke’s Use of the Old Testament

Bruce A. Baker

Doctoral Student
Baptist Bible Seminary


Some of the most challenging aspects of Biblical hermeneutics are the difficulties associated with New Testament citations of the Old Testament. In addition to the “somewhat more than two hundred and fifty express citations”1 in the New Testament, there are numerous allusions of various kinds. In fact, when Old Testament allusions are added to the direct citations, the total number of Old Testament references in the New Testament expands to 401.2 As of yet, no single hermeneutical principle has been found to adequately describe the different ways New Testament authors have handled the Old Testament Scriptures. This should almost be expected when one considers that numerous authors contributed to the New Testament Canon. Any attempt to classify the Old Testament quotations has to deal with not only different genres, but also vastly differing writing styles.

Even though this issue has defied (at least so far) a comprehensive explanation, it remains a topic of great interest. This interest is due in part to the enormous implications that automatically follow any proposed solution. Bock observes that “this issue is of high importance since both Christological claims and theories of biblical inspiration are tied to the conclusions made about how the phenomena of these passages are related to one

another.”3 Fairbairn correctly concludes that the hermeneutical principles employed by the inspired authors of the New Testament provide “an infallible direction for the general interpretation of ancient Scripture. For there can be no doubt that the manner in which our Lord and His apostles understood and applied the Scriptures of the Old Testament, was as much intended to throw light generally on the principles of interpretation, as to administer instruction on the specific points, for the sake of which they were more immediately appealed to.”4 It is no wonder that Silva states, “It should be obvious by now that the hermeneutical problem of the Old Testament—underlined by the use that the New Testament writers make of it — is the central and foundational interpretive issue that the church has had to wrestle with throughout the centuries.”5

These natural conclusions have not been lost on critics of the Bible. As Johnson ob...

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