Last blog post I examined the theory where some say we need the resurrection in order to understand the Old Testament. Luke 24 tends to be the major proof text. Now that the entire story has been told, we need to read the entire OT “Christianly.”
But to read the NT into the OT seems to hijack the original author’s intention and purpose. Here are three presuppositions I believe to be true regarding the NT use of the OT:
1. We speak and communicate with the intention to be understood along a purely, literal, grammatical-historical hermeneutic. Not only should we read texts in their context and seek to understand the author’s intended purpose, but we speak in the same way. Most of us would cry foul to our spouse if he or she took a sentence out of context. In fact, the discussion about hermeneutics ironically takes place along G-H lines where men speak to be understood. Now one person reading this is thinking, “Well what about metaphors and other literary devices?” Good question. The way literary devices are composed, an author needs to communicate his intention to communicate through a literary device. If your simile lacks “like” good luck effectively communicating.
2. The OT should make sense and clearly points to the Messiah. The NT should not be read into the OT. The OT stands alone and clearly communicates. The only thing the OT did not clearly communicate is the timing of the events. Nothing has really changed in the NT. The future has been told, but when? Now of course some passages are harder to explain and understand, but that does not remove the fact the OT is meant to be understood.
3. Scripture writers were moved by the Holy Spirit to compose Scripture. But Paul says they knew what they were writing, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor 2:12-13). Because Paul and authors knew what they were writing, it seems to eliminate the idea that they wrote the text with one purpose, but God intended another purpose. This line of reasoning, dividing the authors into two seems weird to me. So God moved them to say one thing, while meaning something else and intentionally jettisons the way he hard wires us to communicate while inspiring two meanings?
There is a test case in Scripture proving the OT can be understood without presupposing the resurrection: the Bereans.
Paul and Silas came to Berea and preached to the Jews in the synagogue. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The Bereans seem to examine Scripture to verify Paul and Silas’ testimony about Christ. Did Paul and Silas speak about the resurrection? Probably. But the more important question is this, Did they presuppose the resurrection when they interpreted the OT?
If the Bereans presupposed the resurrection while verifying the preachers’ testimony, then the Bereans have already bought into the message and therefore, why verify? In other words, to presuppose the resurrection is to already believe the resurrection. It seems more likely the Bereans heard the testimony, then read the Scriptures, and concluded the Scriptures verify the testimony. This would support my second presupposition. The OT makes sense without reading the NT into it.
The Bereans become living proof to us the OT can be understood without “Christianly” reading it.