Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Lord's Use Of Scripture

The latest article I have read concerning the Old and New Testament relationship is "Our Lord's Use of Scripture" by Pierre Ch. Marcel, available in the April 2009 archives of . To be honest, I found Marcel's style eccentric; there were sections which I simply could not quite grasp his meaning. Too bad. I think that if the article were better written it would have been more useful. Included here are some of its highlights.

How did Christ refer to the Old Testament: Scripture, the Law, the Prophets, the Law and the Prophets, It is written, etc. While Christ's various designations of the Old Testament does not describe the scope and limitations of the Scriptural Cannon, they do indicate that He believed the Old Testament existed as a complete, sacred collection of Jewish writings distinct from all other literature.

Christ interpreted the Old Testament in various ways:

He engaged in what we would call "Free Interpretation"; summarizing various Old Testament Scriptures in one or two sentences. Jn. 8:17, Matt. 19:5, 22: 37-39.

He gave interpretation to Old Testament passages: Matt. 11:10, Lk. 7:27.

Sometimes He would focus on one segment of a Scriptural passage, emphasizing its meaning: Matt. 26:31, 15:7-9.

Christ also practiced what Marcel calls "Exegetical Profundity". Two examples: In Matt. 15:9, which quotes Is. 29:13, Jesus combines both Hebrew and the Septuagint. In Matt. 13: 14-16, quoting Is. 6:9-10, Jesus shows a preference for quoting the Greek because of this passage's historic aorists.

In The Sermon on the Mount, in chapter 5, when Jesus states "It is said", He is not quoting Scripture, but man-made traditions which corrupted Old Testament interpretation.

When religious groups sought to trip up Jesus with their questions, such as in Matt 19:3-9, Jesus demonstrated unsuspected resources of Scripture for those who know Scripture and use it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus points to a wisdom, a profoundness which His disciples can escape dilemmas that human casuistry and rationalism propound.

Marcel emphasizes that Christ's use of the Old Testament establishes an important principle: Scripture interprets Scripture. In following this principle, Christ overruled contradictions and revealed heresies which spring from a lack of proper Scripture synthesis or any true spirituality. Examples: Matt. 19:6, Matt 22:36.

Here is a quote from Marcel's conclusion: "From the manner in which Christ quotes Scripture we find that he recognizes and accepts the Old Testament in its entirety as possessing a normative authority, as the true Word of God, valid for all time."

The bibliography at the end of this article refers to two other articles on this subject, one by R.V.G. Tasker and another by J.W. Wenham. I will read these two before I precede to the third article I had decided to read on the relationship between the Testaments.

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