Monday, December 19, 2005

The ultimate context for any given passage: the canon

“Uppermost among the presuppositions to be aware of is the concern for broad historical patterns or significant individuals (prophets, priests, kings, etc.), institutions and events which integrally formed a part of such patterns. Such a perspective should steer us away from illegitimately focusing on minutiae as typological foreshadowings (like the scarlet thread which Rahab hung out of her window in Joshua 2 being a type of Christ’s blood, or the trees which Israel cut down in the promised land as a type of Satan whom Christ would slay)...

“…typology by nature does not necessitate a non-contextual approach (although like any method it can be misused in that way), but it is an attempted identification of Old Testament contextual features with similar escalated New Testament correspondences (many evangel­ical scholars would want to restrict the identification of what Old Tes­tament texts are typological only to those so referred to by New Testa­ment writers, yet, on the other hand, they would not be willing to acknowledge these as non-contextual uses of the Old Testament)...

“One may not reply that this is an inappropriate method on the basis that the authorial intention of Old Testament writers, especially of historical narratives, would never have included such New Testament identifications. This is because we are also concerned with divine intention discernible from a retrospective viewpoint, which is fuller than the original human intention but does not contradict its contextual meaning. The larger context of canonical, redemptive history reveals how such narrow human intentions are le­gitimately and consistently developed by other biblical writers (and ul­timately the divine author) to include wider meaning, so that the whole canon of Scripture becomes the ultimate context for interpreting any particular passage.” -- G. K. Beale, The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts: Essays on the Use of the Old Testament in the New, p. 400


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