The Cognitive Peripheral Vision Of Biblical Authors -- By: G. K. Beale

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 76:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: The Cognitive Peripheral Vision Of Biblical Authors
Author: G. K. Beale

The Cognitive Peripheral Vision
Of Biblical Authors

G. K. Beale

G. K. Beale, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, holds the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. This article is a revised version of his installation lecture given in September 2013.

I. Introduction

The problem that this article attempts to address concerns those NT uses of the OT that appear on the surface to have a very different meaning that is not consistent with the original meaning of the OT passage being referred to. One of the examples addressed below is John 19:36, which says that not breaking Jesus’ bones at the crucifixion was a fulfillment of Exod 12:46, which commands Israelites “not to break any bone of” the Passover lamb. The problem is that this is a historical description of a command to Israelites, not a prophecy about the Messiah. Another example is Matthew’s quotation of Hos 11:1 in Matt 2:15. The Hosea passage says, “Out of Egypt I have called My son,” and Matthew quotes it and sees it fulfilled in Jesus. The problem with this is that Hosea’s wording is not a prophecy to be fulfilled but merely a historical reflection on Israel’s past exodus out of Egypt. Furthermore, Hosea’s wording refers to Israel as a nation and not to an individual Messiah, as Matthew takes it. Many would say that Matthew has twisted the original meaning of Hosea’s words. Many examples could be added to these, but these will suffice for now.

How do we deal with such problematic texts? There are a variety of responses to these thorny passages. Some say that the NT writers were wrong. Others say that their interpretive approach was wrong, but what they wrote was nevertheless inspired. Still others contend that they were strange exegetes who cannot be judged by modern-day standards. And others affirm that their exegesis is legitimate, but their approach is so unique that we dare not try to copy their method. And then there are those who argue that with caution we can try to imitate their method.

In this article I will argue that OT writers knew more about the topic of their speech act than only the explicit meaning they expressed about that topic. If

so, there was an explicit intention and an implicit wider understanding related to that intention.1 It is sometimes this implicit wider intention that NT writers develop instead of the OT author’s explicit or direct meaning. These NT interpretations may seem strange at a first readi...

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