Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Can one really read EVERY OT passage in light of the NT?

Under a previous post, a reader asked the following question:


"I've a question about connecting the OT to the NT. Although I do agree that the OT is connected to Christ, for instance, the institution of the sacrifices in Israel's worship; is it possible to interpret every single passage in the OT as pointing towards Christ? For example, how is it possible to interpret the deep friendship between Jonathan and David in the light of Christ?"

So, good readers, is it in fact possible to interpret every OT passage as pointing forward to Christ? If so, how? And what about the example of David and Jonathan's friendship?

12 comments:

james said...

The framing of this question in regards to "every passage" makes the question sticky in my mind. Perhaps not every verse can be exegeted to point to Christ but certainly the further we step back the clearer it becomes that the OT in part and in whole points to Christ. Also, there are two questions that seem to be intertwined, and probably properly so, here:

1.) How do we look "forward" to Christ from the OT?

2.) How do we read the OT through the lens of Christ and the Gospel?

In regards to Jonathan and David, I am not nearly familiar enough with the account of their relationship to rightly interpret this text, so I'll leave that final concern to other readers who are more informed than I am.

Jordan said...

My first reaction is no, not every single passage can be interpreted in light of Jesus. Yet, I don't feel I have a clue as to what boundaries to draw. Perhaps it depends on one's understanding of OT typology (or types) and the aspect of what equivalence can be made between the OT and Jesus. If cautious, I don't think it hurts to look for links (or types) in the OT that reflect Christ as long as they don't go outside the boundaries of the NT and clear OT understanding(s) of Jesus.

Regarding Jonathan and David, I think it'd be a stretch to throw Jesus into the mix, but I'd be interested to hear any interpretations/viewpoints.

Matt Harmon said...

Perhaps the link to Christ in the David and Jonathan friendship would originate in the fact that David as (future) king is a type of Christ. As such, perhaps the fierce loyalty that Jonathan shows to David is a model for us in showing faithfulness to our Davidic king. Or perhaps Jonathan's belief in David as the rightful, God appointed king in whom the destiny of his people rests is typological of the type of faith that we as Christians are to have in Christ for our eternal destiny.

Just some nascent thoughts; nothing I'm willing to die for though :)

Jordan said...

That's some great connections though. Very insightful.

Tony said...

One thing that has helped me to see this is to look at scripture not as Old and New so as to set up, even if not purposefully, two separate books but see it as one book from God with a central theme. Since God has ordained that literature, and the preaching of that literature, would be used to reveal the message of His Son then we can look more intently at how each book (even that word can cause problems) of this one larger unified book can be looked at to see how it reveals Christ.

Thus, while the writer of Samuel may have not have seen the tie between David and Jonathan the ultimate author, God did. (By the way Matt those were some good thoughts on the subject of David and Jonathan) So it is the stepping back that allows us to see more clearly how each passage in some way ties into the central theme of all of God’s word. I hope this makes some sense.

To the question at hand I would say is that if you do step back you can find that each passage may have an immediate meaning to the immediate author but ultimately God’s purpose is to reveal His Son and this is what we see when we step far enough back to see the OT in light of the NT and then look more closely at each passage.

Of course the danger in this is to simply say each passage is about Jesus and not spend the time to truly see how it is so.

Scott said...

I have a strong Christ-centered view of the OT. But, no, even Goldsworthy and Jensen would agree, not EVERY text in the OT is about Christ. But using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic (or Gospel-centered hermeneutic) will allow for right usage for texts in preaching and teaching.

Tony said...

Maybe, how one answers this question depends on how one views the question. Obviously not every individual text directly about Christ but can we say that every text is part of the bigger context that is built by God to speak to Christ? Like good literature, and God would produce the best, not each individual part may speak specifically and directly about the main theme but when looked at in the larger context it is what is used to develop the theme.

An example may be some of the genealogies in Chronicles as in the individual instances of the passages that list many names Christ is not necessarily seen. But the larger picture is how God provided for the lineage and works of these people to accomplish the redemptive purposes of God.

So it is probably not correct to say every text speaks to Christ but may be better said that every text is part of the larger text/passage that speaks to Christ. How big a bite of text or how far you have to stand back to see Christ varies according to the text.

Ignatius said...

In view that God is Trinity and of redemptive-historical hermeneutic (or Gospel-centered hermeneutic), though not every individual OT text speaks directly about Christ, if the text points to God, does it make any differences? :)

Yingrou said...

Actually, I do agree with Ignatius, that even though not every passage in the OT may point to Christ, ultimately the Bible reveals God and His work and His purposes in the world. As for what Tony mentioned about speaking to Christ, do you mean something like foreshadowing Christ?

I do think that it is sort of stretching it to see Christ in every OT passage, even though it is difficult to name a reason for why it is so.. But those are interesting thoughts on the link between Jonathan and David and Christ..

In addition, just out of curiosity (though it is sorta out of point), how do theologians classify OT passages as Christological?

Tony said...

I guess foreshadowing is part of it. Some texts may be more explicit than others and still others simply forshadow. The main things is not to force texts to say what they do not say but also to seek out how the text fits into God's overall message of scripture, OT and NT.

I by far have not got this figured out but looking at Biblical Theology has helped me to tie all of scripture together. I look forward to learing more through the interaction on this blog since I am pretty new to the whole concept of Biblical Theology.

mrclm said...

Is reading the OT in light of the NT the backwards way of going about this? I do believe it is one extended story about God reconciling Himself with sinful man. But the NT writers wrote in the context of a culture that was well aware of the OT. Their writing was first filtered through the OT, as was Christ's teaching. Christ went back to that over and over in His confrontations with the religious leaders of His time. So while I see the Gospels and Christ as central, I struggle to read the NT back into the OT instead of reading with the view of the OT as the foundational influencing the NT. Make sense? Probably not.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

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