Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text -- By: O. Palmer Robertson

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 42:2 (Spring 1980)
Article: Genesis 15:6: New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text
Author: O. Palmer Robertson

Genesis 15:6:
New Covenant Expositions of an Old Covenant Text*

O. Palmer Robertson

Paralleling the current crescendo of interest in hermeneutics has been a developing consciousness of the treatment of the Old Testament by the New. For some, honest interaction between these two areas cannot fail but establish the absurdity of attempting to learn from the New Testament how to go about interpreting the Old in a modern context.1 Other scholars of international renown have concluded that the New Testament treatment of the Old provides the very “substructure of New Testament theology.”2

No short-cut methodology can resolve the question of the relevance of hermeneutical methods exercised within the New Testament for current questions of biblical interpretation. As a matter of fact, affirmations or denials concerning the “normative” character of the hermeneutic inherent in the New Testament have questionable value. For it generally would have to be

* This study is a revised form of a lecture delivered in celebration of Westminster Theological Seminary’s Jubilee, September, 1979.

admitted that a praxical grasp of New Testament ways of interpretation hardly exists. To this point, it is even unclear as to whether one should speak of a “method” or of “methods” of interpretation in the New Testament.

Portals to a noble task now swing open to the biblical exegete. Over the next decades attention must focus on the very practical task of analyzing those Old Testament passages which themselves are the subject of New Testament interpretation. It is not as though these materials have not been investigated by the church previously. But current concentration on the hermenentical question demands fresh investigation in the light of present problems. At the same time, the atmosphere of the hour provides a catalyst which may lead the church into deeper appreciation of older assumptions, and into heightened visions of the grandeur of God’s truth.

The present study intends to focus on Genesis 15:6 as a pivotal passage which receives extensive treatment in new covenant scriptures. Explicitly quoted by two different authors of new covenant documents, this text affects major questions of theological orientation both in the Old Testament and in the New. We shall consider first the function of Genesis 15:6 in the context of old covenant forms. Then we shall analyze the “fulfillment” of Genesis 15:6 in the li...

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