The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15 -- By: James M. Hamilton

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:2 (Summer 2006)
Article: The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15
Author: James M. Hamilton

The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15

James M. Hamilton

James Hamilton is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Havard School for Theological Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Houston, Texas. He received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Dr. Hamilton is the author of numerous scholarly articles, book reviews, and the forthcoming God’s Indwelling Presence: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (Broadman & Holman, 2006).


The use of the OT in the New has been much discussed, with some coming to the conclusion that, to put it simply, the authors of the NT wrongly interpreted the OT.1 This being the case, their exegesis cannot be legitimately imitated today. Those who come to this conclusion are sometimes mystified as to how the authors of the NT could possibly see a reference to the Messiah in texts the NT applies to him, at points even arguing that particular applications of OT texts to Jesus in the NT do not actually refer to him at all.2 Another argument against the imitation of apostolic use of the OT is that their hermeneutical methods are not valid today.3 This means that while an understanding of the hermeneutical milieu can help us make sense of what the authors of the NT were doing, it does not validate their method for us. Others would agree with Moisés Silva’s objection to this conclusion: “If we refuse to pattern our exegesis after that of the apostles, we are in practice denying the authoritative character of their scriptural interpretation—and to do so is to strike at the very heart of the Christian faith.”4

It seems to me that certain presuppositional starting points have the potential to ameliorate every intellectual difficulty with the way that the NT interprets the OT, regardless of the hermeneutical tools employed. I have in mind one thing in particular, namely, the hypothesis that from start to finish, the OT is a messianic document, written from a messianic perspective, to sustain a messianic hope.5 Adopting this perspective might go a long way toward explaining why the NT seems to regard the whole of the OT as pointing to and being fulfilled in the one it presents as the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Further, it might be in line with texts such as Luke 24:27, 44–45

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