More on the Enns/Green Controversy

I was directed by a friend to read Tremper Longman’s thoughts on the WTS situation, and the comments on his posts by various people, and my jaw just about hit the floor. There are an awful lot of people over there writing as if they know the entire situation, when all they have is one side of the story. Anger can be righteous, that is true (though I think it misplaced in this case). However, I wonder how many of those people, before they got all fired up over Green and Fantuzzo (both of whom I consider friends, by the way), actually bothered to see if there was going to be another side to the story published. Have they kept in mind also that the board may not be at liberty to discuss things done in executive session? Are there mitigating factors here of which they may not be aware? In these situations, it is quite often the case that there are details which would change the complexion of the picture entirely in the public eye, but which may never come to light for various reasons, maybe none of which are nefarious! There’s a lot of “shoot first, ask questions later” going on here. There’s also loads of assumptions and motive-reading present as well. They want a less heavy-handed approach to be extended to Green and Fantuzzo, but they are not willing to extend any courtesy or charity to those people they believe are being heavy-handed. Anyone for the Golden Rule, folks?

As to the theological picture, it seems that in the minds of many people on those threads, Jesus was wrong when He said that Moses wrote about Him (John 5). Certainly, those of Jewish extraction are not going to agree with Jesus at this point. Whom should we believe? It would be easy (through Holocaust guilt, maybe, or through other motives) to introduce man-fear into the picture here. I’m against anti-Semitism, don’t get me wrong. It is wrong to hate Jews. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with them about the Old Testament! Is the Old Testament about Jesus or isn’t it? John 5 and Luke 24 say yes. The two-readings view says no and yes. And no, I am not flattening out the Old Testament at this point. There is a development and an unfolding. There are even some surprises. I’m okay saying that. But Jesus is still correct in John 5 and Luke 24 in saying that the Old Testament is about Him. The New Testament does not advocate a two-readings view, and Jesus never gave us any evidence that He did this. In all the instances in the New Testament where Jesus relates to the Old Testament, He makes a beeline straight to Himself. The Isaiah passage that Jesus reads in the synagogue is a good example. He doesn’t say, “Let’s do a first reading of this to make sure that the original context has nothing to do with me so that you can be really surprised when I read it the second time as being about Me!” He says flat out that He fulfilled that passage that day. He is saying that it was about Him all along. He doesn’t mention any other fulfillments.

I don’t see the apostles doing two readings of the Old Testament. I see the apostles saying that the Old Testament is about Jesus. They apply Old Testament language to Jesus and to the church as Christ’s body. I would challenge the two readings people to find one place in the entire New Testament where these two readings occur; one place where the apostles imply or say that the Old Testament wasn’t really about Jesus at all, but now that Jesus is here, we have to change the meaning of the Old Testament retroactively in order to make it fit. I just don’t see it.


  1. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for this update. It is interesting that Longman mentions anger. I had what I felt was righteous anger when the seminary I loved seemed under the thrall of people who lacked the militancy and solid Reformed commitment that was part of my blessed memories of WTS. Truth be told, there has often been a struggle between relatively ecumenical conservatives and militant conservatives. I think Clowney and Van Til crossed swords occasionally. I appreciated them both, though. In a formal way I understand the Longman-Fantuzzo frustration. If I somehow had a job at a conservative Baptist institution and was let go for not being dispensational, I might feel that some narrow theological pigheadedness had done me in. However, if I took such a job, I should know I was vulnerable. Was I less than honest when I was hired? Maybe. Not necessarily. Maybe a “tolerant” hiring committee looked the other way and they were less than honest. Carry that over to WTS. Someone decided that the old vision was not a priority. I have my theories on whom. Anyway, who owns WTS? Because I was drawn to the original vision, I feel like a shareholder whose interests had once been ignored but are not as ignored now.

  2. tominaz said,

    September 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Bravo, Stuart. This class of 1973 guy is glad the vision is being restored.

  3. September 18, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    From a non-WTS perspective it seems this whole situation has been lamentably handled by all parties and because of that it has led to the current state of rancor, which has born the wild accusations of everything from Phariseeism to Liberalism to Apostasy that have filled my FB wall and do nothing of actual substance other than besmirch the name of Westminster- PA.

    Frankly at this point I am just going to wash my hands of WTS-PA until some adults come on the scene.

  4. Joe S. said,

    September 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    One thing that I find interesting in the WTS situation is that everyone besides WTS recognizes that there are changes underway. If you read the document that Dr. Lillback wrote in regards to the Green situation he tries to make the case that WTS has not narrowed or changed. Everyone else recognizes that there has been a significant change at WTS. You don’t clean out a department because you want to stay the course particularly if the tenured professor has taught from the same perspective for the past 2 decades. Why won’t the administration be clear and talk about the changes?

    The administration might not be able to talk specifically about the Green situation because it was done in executive session. They could easily lay out the new distinctives of the new WTS to define where they now stand. One would think it would be a rallying point for their supporters. Instead there is radio silence that goes as far as having a closed town hall meeting with the WTS community. Its the administration’s silence on all points that makes me leery and weary. People with nothing to hid generally don’t hesitate to come to the light so their deeds can be seen by all.

    One possible reason for the silence is that their new direction for WTS goes counter to their financial goals which pose a problem for their institutional goals. A major solution to their financial problem the past few years was to increase the student population by around 100 FTE. A narrowing of your viewpoint generally leads to less students not more. While they may be breaking from teaching that can be traced back from Green, Groves, Dillard, Silva, Conn, and Clowney to name a few, they cannot afford to financially make that well known due to the potential drop in incoming students and the revenue that they generate on some of the professor’s writings.

    Is there another reason why the WTS administration will not come clean about the new ways that they are going to interpret the WCF? They could say many things to clarify issues without speaking specifically about Green, it is very confusing as to why they don’t do so, and it reflects poorly on WTS as a whole.

  5. September 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Christ and the NT authors did not (re)read the OT in light of Christ, they read Christ in light of it.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    September 18, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Joe, the recent volume on Scripture that WTS faculty put together does a pretty good job of telling us where they stand, and what they want to be known for on these issues in particular.

    I would dispute your claim that a “narrowing” (I would not use this particular pejorative term) of focus leads to fewer students. Many would call the change greater faithfulness to the Westminster standards.

    I would further dispute the claim that WTS is interpreting the WCF in a new way. They are going back faithfully to what the WCF actually says. That is a very old interpretation indeed.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    September 18, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Ben, I do not find your comments to be particularly helpful. Knowing what to do while in the midst of a situation is quite a bit more difficult than critiquing a situation after it has developed. How about praying for the situation instead of “washing your hands of it”? Specifically, how about praying for wisdom on the part of all concerned?

  8. September 19, 2014 at 12:09 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

  9. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 7:00 am

    I think it might be slightly less than charitable to conclude that those who support Christotelic hermeneutics think that Jesus was “wrong” in Luke 24 or John 5. I’m not convinced that the interpretations of those passages are as crystal clear as most people make them.

    Lane, you wrote:
    “Is the Old Testament about Jesus or isn’t it? John 5 and Luke 24 say yes.”

    In my experience, the Luke 24 verses are some of the most misused in this discussion. The two that are often used to argue that “the whole OT” is “about Christ” are as follows (in ESV):

    “27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

    “44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything [lit. ‘all the things’ pl.] written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.””

    You’ll notice that in neither verse does the text claim that “the whole OT” is “about Christ.” V. 27 specifies that the material mentioned was “in all the Scriptures THE THINGS CONCERNING HIMSELF,” and v. 44 refers to it as “ALL THE THINGS WRITTEN ABOUT ME in the Law…Prophets…Psalms.” (Sorry for the caps – not shouting, just don’t know if I can italicize in these comments)

    In both verses the material mentioned as being “about Christ” is not “the whole OT” but “the things concerning/written about him” throughout the whole OT.

    So yes, people that take a different approach than you have no problem affirming that Jesus and the apostles made a beeline from an OT passage straight to Jesus. This is perfectly fitting, since Jesus says that throughout the OT there are “things written about him.” The Isa 61/Luke 4 example is a pretty easy one to see. But it gets slightly more difficult to do this with passages like Judg 19 or Jer 48. They probably do not think that Jesus was “wrong” in this passage, they may just interpret it like I do above.

    If thoughtful discussion ensues, I’m glad to turn attention to John 5 should people want to, but I’ll refrain from adding to this already lengthy comment so as not to make it unwieldy.

  10. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 19, 2014 at 9:16 am

    oops–previously posted this on the wrong thread:
    A couple of things:
    Regarding post #4 and the “new direction for WTS”: As I suggested in post #1, for me the Enns stuff related thinking was the “new direction” of WTS that I am happy is now being dispensed with. Now that Enns has been “liberated” from the constraints on WTS faculty we see the true “trajectory” (he likes that word in I&I) of his thought. Paul erred by embracing a moveable well myth; so Paul can err about a real Adam and Eve. The latter is the same thing Van Til expressed dismay about when a “smart” fellow named Kuitert was teaching at the Free University of Amsterdam and regarded Adam as a “teaching model.” Van Til was not afraid of a slippery slope fallacy (see his article on the “Umkehr at Amsterdam”). Van Til’s message and militancy was the old direction at WTS that I remember. An internet article (FWIW) indicated Kuitert ended up denying the deity of Christ.
    Regarding post #8 and Christotelic: Maybe not everyone who uses that term thinks Jesus erred but it looks to me like Enns does. His association with the new label for a “new direction” is reason enough to be concerned. I suspect that initially what he was doing at WTS was close enough to the kind of biblical theology of Clowney, Vos, Gaffin, and Kline (and now Beale) that it raised no red flags and so some people are still wondering what all the fuss is about (e.g. Claire Davis). The discontinuity emphasis I see in Enns amounts to absolute difference, i.e. error, distortion, or lying on the part of NT interpreters of the OT. Since Paul actually believed the myth, it’s not lying. I don’t know as much about Green, Fantuzzo, or Longman but if they take the Enns approach, I am glad they are not at WTS.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Matt, there are many problems with your understanding of Luke 24.

    First of all, and of vast importance, you left out the most important evidence of the entire passage, which is verses 25-26: “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’” emphasis added. Jesus here clearly and unequivocally claims that the ALL of which the prophets spoke is summarized by the suffering and glory of Himself. The importance of these verses on what follows is almost incalculable, since it is the summary of which verses 27 and following are the details. In other words, the summary controls the details of verses 27 and following.

    Secondly, your understanding of verse 27 is flawed. The phrase “the things concerning himself” is the direct object of the verb “interpreted.” It does NOT modify “in all the Scriptures.” Rather, “in all the Scriptures” is adverbial, telling us where “the things concerning Himself” are to be found. In other words, the verse is not saying that there are things here and there scattered throughout the Bible that have to do with Christ. Rather, it is saying that the things concerning Himself are found in ALL the Scriptures. There is no easy way to translate this verse, in my opinion. But here is my best shot: “Then starting with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them the things concerning Himself that are in all the Scriptures.”

    Thirdly, verse 44 doesn’t say what you think it says, either. The emphasis of the verse is on the fulfillment of “all the things written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.” Those things are about Jesus (“peri emou”). That this understanding is correct is proven by the following considerations. Verse 45 uses “tas graphas” almost as a technical term to refer to the entire OT, which the two disciples were now to understand, having had their minds opened. They now understood the ENTIRE OT, not just parts of it here and there. Now, they understand the scope of the whole thing. Secondly, Jesus says that it is written, etc., in verses 46-47. That statement is not written down in so many words anywhere in the OT. What Jesus is saying is that verses 46-47 are the meaning of the entirety of the OT. Where is it written? In the entire “tas graphas.”

    Contextual and grammatical considerations just mentioned prove that your understanding of the passage is almost the opposite of what it actually says.

  12. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 9:46 am

    P.S. what I have just written is practically channeling Gaffin on this passage, as anyone who has taken much Gaffin will recognize immediately. This is what Gaffin has ALWAYS taught on this passage.

  13. Joel S. said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:00 am

    The primary questions being raised by Longman and others surround the treatment of Doug Green and Chris Fantuzzo. I vote for a new post title, “More on WTS (poor?) treatment of faculty”. That gets at the questions being raised.

    Also, please remember that Doug Green is an elder in the PCA. The session of New Life met with WTS to understand their perspective (so they heard from the other side). They’ve found WTS’s perspective wanting. Here’s their statement:

    Here is Chris Fantuzzo’s story:

  14. GLW Johnson said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I attended WTS beginning in 1978 graduated ThM in 1987 and finished the PHD program in 1993. I am taken back by Longman’s claim that WTS has forsaken it’s noble tradition that supposedly Enns, Green and Fantuzzo are its best representatives. It would be beyond belief to think that E.J. Young, Meredith Kline and Palmer Robertson would concur with Longman’s understanding of the WTS tradition. Does anyone really believe that Machen, O.T. Allis, John Murray, Paul Wooley, Ned Stonehouse and Van Til would agree with Longman?

  15. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Joel, you are presenting only one side of the story. What I am saying is that there is another side, which we have not heard yet. It behoves us as Christians not to judge before we know all the facts. There is a whole ream of facts yet to be known by us the public. This is the point I am making. You are just making things worse by emphasizing the one side of the story that we have already heard.

  16. Joel S. said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Lane – you speak as if you have seen and know of this “whole ream of facts”? Can you share them if more to this story exists? What are the facts that are being missed?

  17. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Lane (@10), I’ll try briefly to address your three points.

    First, vv. 25-26 do not necessitate that reading. It is perfectly plausible to read those verses as saying that Jesus’ hearers had believed SOME of what the prophets had spoken, but not ALL of what they had spoken, and that which they had failed to believe concerned messianic suffering and glorification. These verses don’t at all say that messianic suffering and glorification summarizes all that the prophets spoke.

    Second, yes, I’m well familiar with the grammar of the sentence. I don’t believe the verb is modifying the prepositional phrase. I was simply quoting the ESV, which maintains the Greek word order in this instance. I think your translation is fine enough, though the prepositional phrase does not appear in a relative clause, which you add to it. The following would be closer:

    “Then starting with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

    I would agree with you that “in all the Scriptures” tells us where “the things concerning Himself” are found, but it does not logically or necessarily follow that this is ALL that the Scriptures say.

    Third, in v. 44, Jesus doesn’t say that “all the things written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms” ARE “about me” (“peri emou”). That inserts a copulative verb into this verse that is not there. He says, as the ESV capably renders it:

    “everything written ABOUT ME in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

    Using your words but keeping the Scripture straight here, we see that “the emphasis of the verse is on the fulfillment of ‘all the things written ABOUT ME in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms.’”

    Regarding your supporting points, I agree that tas graphas refers to the whole OT, and I would affirm that when the whole OT is read and understood, Jesus’ messianic work is rightly seen in advance. But again, it does not follow from this that everything in the OT speaks directly to this. The same goes for vv. 46-47. I agree that “it is written” in the OT various revelations concerning messianic suffering, repentance and faith being preached to the nations, etc. But it is simply not a necessary inference from this that this is written everywhere in the OT.

    You may disagree with the interpretation, but perhaps you could extend a measure of humility and respect to others by at least acknowledging that, just because someone reads the text differently than you do, they’re not automatically claiming that Jesus was “wrong.”

  18. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Joel, I don’t know the ream of facts, but I’m fairly sure they are there. If I learn of any facts that I can pass on, I certainly will. There are two sides to every story, and right now the public is only hearing one of those sides.

  19. Joel S. said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Lane – a sincere thanks and I hope that comes to pass. If there is more, many of us (all of us?) would like to know and understand.

  20. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Oops! Should have been Lane @11

  21. tominaz said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

    My notes on New Testament Biblical Theology from @ 1971 taught by Dick Gaffin support Lane’s points about Luke 24. WTS-PA is re-affirming a long held position.

  22. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I’d concede that it’s long held… but that doesn’t make it right! :)

  23. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Matt, your response extends my arguments beyond what they actually say. For instance, I am not saying that Jesus is the only thing that the OT talks about. Nor would I claim that the entire OT directly talks about Jesus. What Jesus is saying is that the sum and substance of the OT is Jesus. The unfolding character of the OT reaches full flowering in Jesus Christ. He is the main point of the OT. Now to your exegetical arguments.

    I do not believe that your understanding of Luke 24:26-27 matches the sweeping tone of Jesus’ statement. Jesus is saying that it should have been obvious to them. Jesus’ fingerprints are all over the OT. You introduce a contrast between “some” and “all” that is nowhere in the text. Gaffin’s reading is far more natural.

    For your response to my second point, see first paragraph above. It is in ALL the Scriptures that the things concerning Jesus are to be found. The technical term that you acknowledge for “tas graphas” as referring to the entirety of the OT in verse 44 is also present in verse 27. Here again, there is no contrast between some and all. Jesus was explaining the whole meaning of the OT, not just parts of it.

    Regarding verse 44, the prepositional clause “peri emou” is at the very end of the verse, not in the middle like your translation suggests. The positioning of this is important, since the emphasis thereby falls on the fulfillment of the things written. You have further not answered my point about verse 45 in this regard. They understood tas graphas, not bits and pieces of it. Your objection to my position is here based on a misunderstanding of it (see first paragraph again). I am not claiming that every passage is a direct prophecy of Jesus, for instance. I am claiming that the entire OT, understood as a whole, is about Jesus.

    I forgot to add points about your introduction of Judges 19 and Jeremiah 48. Judges 19 is about Jesus in the following way: since everyone did what was right in their own eyes, and there was no king, the actions of the people are degraded to such an extent that a priest becomes an anti-priest, and an Israelite town becomes Sodom and Gomorrah. Israel needs a Davidic king. They need Jesus. As to Jeremiah 48, the judgment on Moab, which includes a promise of restoration at the very end of the chapter, is typological of the judgment and salvation that Jesus brings in His first and second comings. That’s a bit brief, but there are no dead ends in the OT that are not part of the unfolding story that climaxes in Jesus Christ.

  24. September 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

    It seems to me that the question ought to be what the NT views as the OT’s scope, target, or goal…that to which the OT as such points, why it exists, what it does as a whole on its own. As the WCF asserts, the scope of Scripture (OT and NT) is to give all glory to God. How does it go about doing that? Does the presence of the NT change how the OT brings all glory to God now that the NT exists? More specifically, does the NT demand a second read of the OT which infuses it with new meaning in light of the NT? It seems to me that there is a “this (i.e., the redemptive-historical acts of God in Christ) is that (i.e., what the OT said would happen)” motif in the NT. The NT interprets the sufferings and glory of Christ as the OT’s scope. This was the OT’s scope prior to the writing of the NT. The hermeneutic that got Christ and the NT writers to what we read in the NT predates Christ and the NT writers. It was employed by them but not invented by them. IOW, Christ’s sufferings and glory as the scope of the OT was such prior to us being told such in/by the NT.

  25. September 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Gaffin’s view of Luke 24 can be found in The Hope Fulfilled.

  26. September 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    PS: The NT motif is not “that [i.e., the OT] has now become this [i.e., sufferings and glory of Christ].”

  27. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Lane, re: Luke 24, I’m not sure that much agreement will be reached here. You think Gaffin’s reading is more natural; I think mine is just as natural. All I’m saying with the “some” and “all” language is that the text is not as clear as you’re making it to be. There is more than one plausible interpretation of it. That’s not to say that both interpretations are correct, but it is to say that to adjudicate between the two readings is not necessarily clear or easy. Perhaps a little humility and charity are in order.

    Re: v. 44, I know that the Greek prepositional phrase is at the end. And it’s not MY translation I was providing, it was the ESV’s, which smooths the grammar by moving the prep phrase forward, as does the NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV (need I go on?). The order of the words might shift emphasis to fulfillment, though that doesn’t mean you can ignore that the referent of the fulfillment is “all the things written…about me.”

    Re: v. 45, not think we’re going to see eye to eye on this.

    Re: Judg 19: I agree with your statement as its ultimate application, but would you say that there is no room for understanding the original, historical application of the book of Judges for the period for which it was written? There is an obvious critique of the Benjamites and Jabesh Gilead, which all agree is a polemic against the Saulide dynasty and implicitly apologetic for the Davidic dynasty. Are we not allowed to recognize this “first reading” while still understanding the ultimate application to Christ in a “second reading”?

    I do find it a bit ironic that the way your summarize your own interaction with Judg 19 and Jer 48, both of which I find plausible, is by saying that “there are no dead ends in the OT that are not part of the unfolding story that climaxes in Jesus Christ.”

    I agree that there are no dead ends, but this sounds an awful lot like saying “the unfolding story that finds its telos in Jesus Christ”

  28. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Matt, when Jesus says in John 5 (we need to bring this into the discussion, I think) that “Moses wrote about me,” how is Jesus not saying that the main point of what Moses wrote is Jesus?

    Climax can be different than telos. The question is whether the OT intends to go towards Jesus (like a passage of music that is headed towards a climax), or whether Jesus’ interpretation of the OT as being about Him is a wrenching of the context to say something that God did not at first intend to say.

  29. September 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    mattnewkirk, Does “the unfolding story that finds its telos in Jesus Christ” (i.e., the OT) become that when the telos appears or did it stand as that prior to His appearance and the explanation of it by Him and the writers of the NT? It seems to me that this is the issue.

  30. September 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The washing my hands certainly does not mean I’ll cease praying for WTS-East, It merely denotes that I am going to ignore the “two sides” screaming at each other for the time being.

  31. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Fair enough, Ben, although I only see one side doing the screaming at the moment. :-)

  32. Joel S. said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t hear any screaming . . . just crying out at injustice along with mourning at the loss of what once was.

  33. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Lane, it seems to me that two factors enter into this.

    One, saying that Moses “wrote about me” is not the same thing as saying, “I’m the main point of what Moses was writing about.” This is particularly the case if we assume that Jesus is speaking of himself in his dying/rising/reigning messianic role. I certainly affirm that Moses wrote about him (Gen 3:15 and 49:10 being some of the more obvious and direct examples), but it is an inferential leap to conclude that, simply because Moses wrote about Him, He was therefore the main point.

    Two, that said, the other consideration is to establish what point Jesus is trying to make here in this discourse with the Jews. As I read John 5, it seems to me that Jesus not so much making the case that the OT is “Christocentric” but rather that Jesus himself is YHWH. The issue is not so much the character of Scripture but the identity of Jesus. The narratorial comment that gives rise to Jesus’ “answer” of vv. 19-47 is the Jews trying to kill Him because He was “making himself equal with God” (v. 18). For Jesus to say, “Moses wrote about me,” is one way of saying, “I am YHWH.” Jesus will do the exact same thing while conversing with the Jews later by saying, “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58).

    Putting all this together, I would affirm that Moses wrote about “Christ” in the true messianic sense through obvious passages like Gen 3:15 and 49:10. I’d also affirm that there is a clear trajectory leading toward the redemption of God’s people first mentioned in 3:15. I would also affirm that the main point of what Moses wrote about was “Jesus” in the sense that Jesus is YHWH, which exegetically seems to be more the focus of John 5 anyways.

  34. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Rich, having a hard time following your question. If you’re asking, “Does the OT itself anticipate Christ as its telos?” then I would say yes.

  35. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Matt, I have read almost 50 commentaries on the passage, and I don’t remember seeing your interpretation represented anywhere. And that is for one simple reason: the immediate context about where the Jews think they have life. They think they have life in the writings of Moses (again, the ENTIRETY of Moses). Jesus answers by saying that Moses (no indication of ANY narrowing of scope) wrote about Him. Your interpretation requires a different referent to “Moses” in the first half of verse 46 and the second half of verse 46. Secondly, you are not doing justice to verse 47, which goes again to saying “his writings,” not part of them. If they do not believe the writings of Moses as a whole, how will they believe Jesus, since those writings are about Jesus? That is the scope of the argument. This is clear, and uncontroversial in the commentaries.

  36. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Verse 39 is very difficult for your position as well. The searching of the Scriptures implies a thorough-going reading of all the Scriptures, which Jesus turns right around says “testify concerning me.” The scope of the testifying is the same as the scope of the searching.

  37. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Post 22 looks like an important concession (I wonder if Claire Davis concedes this) that opens the question of why Christotelic suddenly became the rage. I don’t think the answer is that too many people doing biblical theology at WTS before Enns et al. were finding a DIRECT type of Christ in every detail in the OT. I believe Clowney (who may have said all 150 Psalms were Messianic) had a nice diagram that tied certain OT details to a more obvious type of Christ the way a tributary feeds into a river (making some such details less immediately Christological).
    I will speculate on an answer to my question. I think the hermeneutic described as Christoltelic is directed the problem of being too enamored of scholars like Kugel and N.T. Wright. I’ll put this bluntly and simply: What would Peter Enns say if you asked him if Kugel is going to hell unless he accepts Christ as Savior? I believe the gospel is at stake underneath all the clever academic manipulations that are going on. Why bother having a WTS if there is no gospel to defend? Why bother with a second Adam if there is not a first? Liberals are willing keep a sweet Jesus around (who is so human He may even be captive to Jewish methods of Midrash); and liberals may affirm some kind of resurrection; but why is the cross really necessary? The necessity of it is found in the OT according to Jesus. But we don‘t want to hurt the feelings of nice people with other religions, especially if we are attracted to their brilliant minds. So you have your reading of the OT (oops, Hebrew Bible) and I have mine. How convenient.

  38. September 19, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Matt, you are not the first who has had a hard time following me. :-) How about this: 1. Does the OT take on new meaning(s) in light of the NT? 2. Do the hermeneutical moves of Christ and the NT authors demand a sort of sensus plenior reading of the OT? 3. Is the scope (i.e., target, bulls eye, that to which it points) of the OT the sufferings and glory of Christ prior to and independent of the NT?

  39. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    @35 – Sure, of course it’s about where they think they have life – they need to find life in the one true God, which Jesus is claiming to be. Again, it just doesn’t follow to say that because the Jews sought life in the entirety of Moses, when Jesus says that Moses wrote about Him, He therefore means that the entirety of Moses is about Him (at least not in the Christo-Messio-centric sense). One can very easily read v. 46 as saying, “If you believed [all of] Moses, you would believe me, for [in various parts of his writings] he wrote about me.”

    Re: v. 47, all Jesus says is that they do not believe Moses’ writings. Even if this meant “all Moses’ writings” (which He does not say, but which I could easily see as being the case), it does not follow that all of Moses’ writing are about Jesus. If they failed to believe all of Moses’ writings, and only some of those writings pertained to Jesus in His Christo-Messianic role, then it does necessarily follow that they would fail to believe in Him.

    You can make general appeals to the sweep of commentaries all you want – that is not argumentation. Providing persuasive explanations of the text itself is argumentation.

    @36 – And yet again, v. 39 is no problem. Even conceding to your assumption that “searching of the Scriptures implies a thorough-going reading of all the Scriptures,” when Jesus says these Scriptures testify about Him, it does not follow that ALL the Scriptures do so. If only some of the Scriptures testify directly to Jesus in His Christo-Messianic role, the Jews are still missing Him there when they study ALL the Scriptures.

  40. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Rich @38

    1. Does the OT take on new meaning(s) in light of the NT?

    The terminology of “new meanings” is hard for me to affirm. I would follow Richard Pratt here and say that any given passage has (1) an original meaning, (2) biblical elaborations, and (3) legitimate applications. Do I believe that Genesis was originally written to address a situation in Moses’ lifetime? Yes. Do I believe that the text of Genesis has a certain eschatological slant that extends beyond Moses’ lifetime? Yes.

    2. Do the hermeneutical moves of Christ and the NT authors demand a sort of sensus plenior reading of the OT?

    In the sense that OT texts addressed contemporaneous issues that were not always one and the same as the emphases that NT writers bring out, sure. Though I would not affirm that NT writers violated OT contexts or forced their readings in unnaturally. This is a highly nuanced issue that, for me, really requires a case-by-case analysis.

    3. Is the scope (i.e., target, bulls eye, that to which it points) of the OT the sufferings and glory of Christ prior to and independent of the NT?

    I would say the scope/target/bulls eye of the OT is the establishment of the representative kingship of God over the fullness of the earth. Jesus certainly restores humanity’s ability to engage in this mission through His sufferings and glory and inaugurates this representative kingship through His resurrection and commission of the church.

  41. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Matt, I don’t see how you can introduce a different scope in between the searching that the Jews do, and the testimony that Christ adduces. You are reading into the text something that isn’t there.

    You never did tell me what your view was of how Luke 24:45 fit into your view. You agree that “tas graphas” is a technical term meaning the entire Scriptures, and yet you don’t seem to want to acknowledge that to understand Jesus in the OT is to understand the OT as a whole. That is the clear implication of verse 45.

  42. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Lane, I’d say you’re reading into the text something that is not there. I don’t know how to explain it better than I already have.

    Sorry if I missed v. 45. Yes, I agree that tas graphas refers to all of the OT, and if you don’t understand part of the OT, it can’t be said that you understand all of the OT.

  43. Roy Kerns said,

    September 19, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Stuart at post 37: regarding your comment that Clowney may have said all 150 Psalms are messianic. Not may have, but said. He told our class (yours and my) that more than once. Even if I were to admit I cannot specifically recall those exact words, I know that he repeated the idea enough different ways that I came away from his class cherishing it.

  44. Alan D. Strange said,

    September 20, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Clowney did indeed say that, and my OT colleague Mark Vander Hart not only heard it, but himself tells our students the same thing. And I said it quite recently myself from the pulpit. I greatly cherish that remark of his, along with some others, especially this one of President Clowney: “We gain more in Christ than we ever lost in Adam.”

  45. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 21, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Thanks Roy and Alan for affirming the quotation. I remember some WTS stuff from 1971-74 very clearly nut not all. I too cherish the insight.

  46. roberty bob said,

    September 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    It is common, even for professing Christians, to speak of the Christian Faith [Christianity?] as an offshoot of, or diversion from, Judaism. Those who agree with this misleading conception do not generally have eyes that look for Jesus in the Old Testament [Hebrew Bible]. If from the start it was God’s plan to reveal His three-personed being [the Father, the Son, the Spirit] and the establishment of a messianic kingdom through our Lord Jesus Christ and his church, then it logically follows that the Old Testament is God’s groundwork laying testimony regarding His soon-to-be-revealed Son. The New Testament proclaims the fulfillment of all that the [Old Testament] Scriptures pointed toward and promised. There only ever was one faith and one community of faith, not two. The true Jew of Jesus’ day did not convert from Judaism to Christianity [as if to reject one “faith” for another “faith”]; the true Jew simply recognized Jesus as the “one who was [promised] to come” and believed on his name; the true Jew kept the faith when he believed in, and followed, Jesus.

    God never meant for the Old Testament to be read / understood one way for by the Jews, and another way by Christians who have the added light of the New Testament.

  47. mattnewkirk said,

    September 23, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Those of you who think WTS has not changed, what do you think of this analysis?

  48. Joe S. said,

    September 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Have you guys seen this:

    Waltke only taught at WTS for 5 years before leaving, got into a little bit of trouble recently over comments about evolution, and apparently Waltke’s interpretation of Psalm 23 is very close to Green’s. But that doesn’t seem to matter… throw the guy a party.

    Green, on the other hand, who has faithfully taught at WTS for over 20 years needs to be shown the door….

    You can’t make this stuff up!!

  49. roberty bob said,

    September 24, 2014 at 11:42 am

    in reply to #47 . . .

    A sure sign of the Enns TImes!

    Or are we merely noticing messy Mr Westminster’s split enns?

  50. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 26, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Re #47: I lost track of this thread while reading and posting on the next one about TRV. I gave the Evans link there and I think he is probably inferring too much about change from the original approach at WTS (I was there in 1971-74). The impact of the two recent faculty hires has yet to be played out but as I have argued on the TRV thread, WTS did biblical theology quite well prior to Enns et al. without the aid of the neologism “Christotelic.” That term as used by Enns carries with it error (see the TRV thread for my backing of that point). Evans concedes that Enns (the originator or populizer of the neologism) has problems—read the link. Green’s situation or approach to Christotelic is harder to gauge because there is some behind the doors X factor that seems to be playing into the WTS decision. Until you know X, I don’t see how you answer the question. Gaffin’s response to Davis tells me there is no huge change of method. Much of what Evans argues (using Warfield, Hodge, etc.) seems beside the point to me. I think they were Christocentric without being “Christomorphic” (another neologism FWIW). Is Evans saying that Beale is “Christomorphic” because a friend of WTS is Christomorphic? Probably not, but that is the sort of inference required to begin the argument that WTS has changed.

  51. roberty bob said,

    September 26, 2014 at 11:20 am



    Christocentrifugal. Starting now, let’s see where this one leads us.

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