The Eschatological Hermeneutics Of “Epangelicalism”: Promise Theology -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 13:2 (Spring 1970)
Article: The Eschatological Hermeneutics Of “Epangelicalism”: Promise Theology
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.


The Eschatological Hermeneutics
Of “Epangelicalism”: Promise Theology

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.*

1. The Problem

Amongst Biblical scholars, no question has begged more insistently for an answer than the problem of the Christian interpretation of the O.T. No other issue seems to get closer to the heart of the problem than the concept of prophecy and the Old and New Testament allusions to specified fulfillments, for “whether modern scholars like it or not, prediction was the way the New Testament writers themselves related the testaments … “1

Evangelicals have not doubted, at least in theory, that there is a unity to be found between the testaments and that verbal prediction of the future was one of the ways this unity evidenced itself. This admission immediately scandalizes a large segment of Biblical scholarship which feels that the Claus Westermann collection of Essays on O.T. Hermeneutics (Richmond, 1963) has effectively said “no” to that type of intra-testamental and inter-testamental correspendence; rather the relationships are now to be sought on a level of a typological correspondence; between the events of history (not the words) of the two testaments.2

Evangelical scholarship, while acknowledging O.T. revelation to be a revelation in a person and in historical events, also has found a Biblical claim to revelation on the verbal level. This increases the complexity of the answer to the problem of the amount, and kind of continuity/discontinuity between the Old and New Testament. The questions come quickly: What parts of the text are to be jettisoned and on what bases? What about Israel and the Church? Does our Lord have two peoples or one at a time in the history of redemption? Certainly there is growth and progress in the unfolding of revelation since Hebrews uses the comparative word “better” and Jeremiah and Hebrews talk about a “new covenant.” Wherein, then, lies the continuity? In a covenant? In a system of redemption? Or are there distinguishable and conditional economies laid out in stages of testing and failure? What of the mass

*Associate Professor in Old Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

of O.T. predictions made to Israel and reflected in such N.T. passages as Romans 9–11? Does the Church fulfill them? Interrupt them? Or partially continue them?

2. The Potential Solutions

Two solutions have dominated the theological scene for the past century: Covenant Theology and Dispensatio...

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