Roger Nicole: NT Use of the OT

From the 1959 volume ed. Carl F. H. Henry, Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought. The contrast with some contemporary evangelical thought (c. 2005–09) is striking (HT: Justin Taylor).

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  1. Well, textual scholarship and archaeological understanding of the 1st century only continues to advance. So I would certainly hope we have refined beliefs compared to 50 years ago! =)

    • Aaron,

      The difference to which I alluded was that between the principles on
      which Nicole was operating, how he regarded Scripture, and the
      principles on which too many contemporary “evangelical” scholars are
      operating. I don’t think 50 years of archeology etc has really changed
      our principles has it? I think Reformed folk operate with essentially
      the same hermeneutic as our forefathers.

      I’m not discounting modern scholarship or the need to be intelligent
      and thoughtful about the difficulties we face, but it’s interesting to
      see how Nicole handles the same difficulties faced by contemporary
      “evangelical” bib studies folks.

  2. Hi Scott,

    Actually, I would say ‘yes,’ our archaeology does effect our principles. The Reformers didn’t know about the Epic of Gilgamesh, Sumerian suzerainty treaties, etc. If they had access to such things, their hermeneutics would be just as effected as our modern contemporary ones. To say otherwise would be looking down our noses at our forefathers in chronological snobbery.

    And we don’t use the same hermeneutic as our forefathers, because one of the chief hermeneutics in the earliest times was allegorical. Even Paul himself employs an allegorical hermeneutic in holy scripture itself, in Galatians 4: “Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants….”

    In summary,, I would say that (1) archaeology DOES effect our principles of interpreting scripture, and (2) we absolutely do NOT operate with essentially the same hermeneutic as our forefathers.

    To make the assertion otherwise in either of these two cases would be casting a blind eye to huge swaths of church history.

    • Gee, Aaron, I almost never think about church history. I guess I
      should do that sometime.

      My point was the exact opposite of chronological snobbery. When I
      speak of the principles of our hermeneutic, as I read the Reformed
      tradition, I see them operating in a way that is quite like Nicole.

      As to chronological snobbery, it seems to me that you assume a good
      deal about what the ancients knew or didn’t know. They actually knew
      more about suzerainty treaties than you assume. They lived in a world
      that still had them or analogues to them. That’s part of what allowed
      them to see the the federal/covenantal themes in Scripture.

      Perhaps we’re speaking past each other? When I say “hermeneutics” I
      mean those foundational principles by which we make sense of
      Scripture. I’m speaking about the fundamental relation of the
      typological to fulfillment, the relation of the OT to the NT, the NT
      use of the OT, the NT pattern of interpretation the typological
      revelation, the unity of the covenant of grace and the like.

      I don’t know that any of the modern discoveries, as useful as they’ve
      been have changed those foundational commitments any more than they
      would necessarily revolutionize covenant theology or the doctrine of
      the Trinity.

  3. I didn’t say that the “ancients” didn’t know about Gilgamesh et al., I said that the “Reformers” didn’t know about them. So yes, we are definitely “talking past each other,” because you are responding to assertions I never made ;-).

    John Calvin is pretty much the greatest and smartest theologian in all of history, including the 500 years after him and the present day. If he had access to some of the different material we now have access to today, he would certainly work it into his thinking.

    When we discovered the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, we interpreted the Bible differently. When we discover Gilgamesh et al., we should indeed interpret the Bible differently.

    “Gee, Aaron, I almost never think about church history. I guess I
    should do that sometime.”

    Scott, I’ve visited your blog on a handful of occasions. One consistent theme that I noticed many months ago was your haste to resort to a snide attitude toward those who comment with a different opinion. At first I thought nothing of it, but it kept happening so consistently I couldn’t help but notice a pattern. It is in fact possible to hold a courteous debate with an irenic tone.

    On that note, I’m afraid I can’t allocate any more time to this type of “discussion.”


  4. Aaron, perhaps it may help if you specified which principles of Scriptural interpretation have changed due to archaeology, and why exactly contemporary Reformed hermeneutics is not essentially the same as our Reformed forefathers (whom I think Scott meant by that term, considering the context of the posts).

  5. Aaron is one of the members of the S.O.S. crowd, who exist to defend Pete Enns against anyone who dares to question his infallible positions.

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