Why the Two-Readings View of the Old Testament is Wrong

The two-readings view (hereafter TRV) says that we should first read the Old Testament as though the New Testament did not exist, and as though Christ had not come. The reasoning typically runs along the lines of seeking to ensure that we understand the text in its original literary and historical context. How would this have sounded to the original audience? What impact would it have had? Now, there are certainly important points here which we cannot afford to ignore. We need to know context, literary and historical. The Old Testament writings were written at a particular time and place, and there is a good reason for why those writings were written just then. It is good to seek answers to those questions. At this point, I might add a gentle reminder to TRV folks that opposing views do not necessarily ignore the context. That is not primarily where our disagreements lie (although how much weight we give to ANE materials in determining the nature of Scripture is certainly an issue of disagreement. On this I will only say that there is a difference between using ANE materials to understand how a text would have sounded to an original reader versus using the ANE materials to determine what Scripture actually is). It is not primarily the context of the OT that is under dispute (with the caveat just mentioned) but rather the intention of the OT that is under dispute. As Rich Barcellos helpfully put it to me, does the Christological reading of the OT predate the NT or not?

The second reading of the TRV is what we do after we re-factor Jesus and the New Testament into the equation, usually as a surprise ending. The apostolic hermeneutic is often likened (in the TRV) to rabbinical methods of interpretation (key-word exegesis, etc.). Oftentimes, the meaning that the NT writers see in the OT has little or nothing to do with what the OT itself actually says in its original context. There is often (not always!) a radical break between the meaning of the OT in its own context and the meaning that the NT authors assign to the OT text.

The problem with the TRV comes in the area of what the Old Testament actually intends. On a TRV, it is possible for a New Testament author to twist the meaning of the OT into something it was never originally intended to say. Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 is an excellent example. We may ask the question this way: is Matthew’s use of Hosea a legitimate way of understanding what Hosea intended to say? Or, better yet, what God intended to say through Hosea? The standard Vossian way of interpreting Matthew’s use of Hosea is simply to note that Matthew everywhere describes Jesus as reliving Israel’s story, but in a righteous way (thus contrasting with Israel). Matthew treats Israel as not only typologically pointing to Jesus, but also as being embodied (in a faithful way) in Jesus. So, when Matthew looks at Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I called my son,” in the original context plainly speaking about God calling Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus), he sees Hosea not only talking about the old Exodus, but also talking about the new Exodus that Jesus brought into being by embodying faithful Israel. It is what he understands Hosea to be saying. The TRV would say that Matthew’s interpretation has nothing to do with what Hosea meant (and notice here how divine authorship fades very quickly from view here).

The deeper problem with the TRV lies in the character of God. If God has written the Bible, then God has changed His message from the OT times to the NT times. That means that God changes His mind and is open to the future. The TRV cannot avoid an ultimately open theistic view of God’s character. They would probably respond that it’s okay that God does this because the changeability resides in the humanness of Scripture. This is just God using the messiness of humanity to communicate to humans. This is a smokescreen, unfortunately. God inspired humans to write the Bible in such a way that there are no errors in recording God’s words. Yes, humans are fallen and sinful. That does not mean that they distorted God’s message in any way. They were carried along by the Holy Spirit. For the TRV to be correct, the message had to have been garbled in transmission. Yes, we see humanness in the Bible. Paul does not sound like John. We can tell the difference. God used the personalities of each writer. But He did so in such a way that there are no garbled transmissions. In short, the TRV is ultimately incompatible with our doctrine of inspiration, and it is incompatible with our doctrine of God.


  1. roberty bob said,

    September 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    There are established patterns — or repetitions — in the redemptive events proclaimed in the Old Testament which culminate in Christ [or God-in-Christ] bringing about the final / ultimate repetition. Hosea, in harking back to the original out-of-Egypt-I-have-called-my-son event, is not necessarily foretelling the future exodus of Israel through Jesus; but he is opening up that possibility. Hosea’s mention of the original exodus is evidence that God does not give up on Israel / Ephraim. God does not give up, even as He calls upon His Son Ephraim to repent / return to the Lord. Matthew sees Jesus as the Captain of the repentant Israel of which Hosea spoke. Repentant Israel is embodied / incarnated in this Jesus. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit showed Matthew the connection between Jesus’ sojourn and return from Egypt and the first Israel exodus. While many OT texts speak of the first exodus, Matthew sees Hosea’s exposition of it as most relevant to the exodus God was leading through his Son Jesus.

    Promise and Fulfillment!

  2. September 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Christ, the Apostles, and others came to their conclusions without reading the OT in light of the NT.

  3. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    It is an interesting phenomenon that, as far as I have been able to see, it has been non-OT specialists who have made these firm conclusions about the proper nature of OT interpretation. Does anyone else find that odd? I wonder how the church history dept would feel if OT scholars began defining the proper methodology for the study of patristics!

  4. September 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Terrific. How can you not read the early part of a book in the light of its conclusion? That would be madness.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Matt, what are you pointing out is actually the utter failure of Old Testament studies (by and large) to relate their discipline to systematic theology, historical theology, and practical theology. The same people who advocate the TRV are those who basically despise systematic theology, and believe it should have zero impact whatsoever on their discipline. And your conclusion is not entirely correct, by the way. Vos was an expert in OT exegesis (as he was in all the theological disciplines!). Iain Duguid would definitely agree with the above, as would Ben Shaw from Greenville, both OT professors. And, fyi, I am hoping to obtain an OT Ph.D. myself.

  6. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Lane, sure, I’m not saying that there are not OT scholars who take a different approach. But generally it hasn’t seemed that OT scholars are the ones pointing out the alleged errors and slamming doors on people. And, of course, from a different perspective it could be said that it is the failure of certain systematicians to incorporate properly various insights from OT studies into their dogmatizing that is generating the issues. Oh, but how will we ever know…

    Where do you want to study?

  7. September 19, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    matt, here are a few thoughts: The problem of over-specialization is a modern one. That’s why we would not be having this discussion if we lived prior to the enlightenment. Also, Christ as the scope of the Scriptures is clearly taught by the Reformed orthodox of the seventeenth century. Our Lord is the best interpreter of the OT. His hermeneutical method was learned not invented. He learned how to interpret the Bible (i.e., Tanak) by reading the Bible (and possibly from others in His day) and the special ministry of the Spirit. His study of the sacred text drove Him to the conclusion that He was its scope or target. IOW, the proper nature of OT interpretation was settled long before modern specialization came on the scene. In fact, interpreting the OT is connected to our view of the authority of Scripture. IOW, our hermeneutic must be in subjection to our view of sola Scriptura. If God interprets the OT for us, that interpretation is both inspired and infallible; and He does this as recorded for us in both the OT (i.e., OT use of the OT) and NT (i.e., NT use of the OT).

  8. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Matt, on the contrary, the OT guys have most definitely been pointing out errors (most of the time not errors!) and slamming doors on people. Take Bruce Waltke as a good example. He said (I am paraphrasing a bit here) that if the evangelical world doesn’t start believing in theistic evolution, we will devolve into a cult.

    Apeldoorn is the school of choice for me at the moment. Everything is tricky though, in terms of admission and pre-requisites, and so I’m not sure about anything.

  9. September 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    If you believe Berkeley talmudist Daniel Boyarin (The Jewish Gospels), the christological interpretation of the OT (eg Daniel 7, Psalm 110) preceded Christ himself. In that case, the question to us is: how do we relate Second Temple midrash to our own more rationalistic reading of the OT?

  10. greenbaggins said,

    September 19, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Bowman, interesting thought. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by “our own more rationalistic reading?” Specifically, who is the “our” and what constitutes “rationalistic reading”?

  11. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Rich, increased specialization is due to, among other things, the enormous proliferation of secondary literature that now exists that didn’t in prior generations. It is simply impossible for one person to master all of the relevant literature in any one of the disciplines these days, let alone meaningfully master more than one discipline. Hence my comment about the oddity of nonspecialists critiquing OT hermeneutical methodology. More than interpretative method can affirm the validity of Jesus’ approach to the OT. No one has a corner on that market.

  12. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Sorry, more than ONE interpretative method can affirm the validity of Jesus’ approach.

  13. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Lane, not exactly what I was talking about. Waltke didn’t go and legislate the firing of everyone who disagreed with him.

  14. September 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Jesus’ interpretive method does not need affirmation by OT scholars or anyone else to be valid. It is valid because it is His, as is that of the writers of the NT and any interpretations in the NT affirmed as correct by the NT (e.g., John 2:17).

  15. mattnewkirk said,

    September 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Yeah, didn’t really claim that Jesus needed our affirmation. All I meant was that more than one approach can reasonably claim that they are consistent with Jesus’ interpretative approach.

  16. Richard Cronin said,

    September 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    “On a TRV, it is possible for a New Testament author to twist the meaning of the OT into something it was never originally intended to say.”

    Why does it have to be twist? Why can’t it be the NT author finds sees two meanings, one that the original author was aware of and one he was not?

    “The TRV would say that Matthew’s interpretation has nothing to do with what Hosea meant (and notice here how divine authorship fades very quickly from view here). ”
    If you say they do- ok. But again would it be wrong if we said that Matthews interpretation finds “another” meaning? Both of which come from God but only one of which was intended by the original author?

  17. September 19, 2014 at 10:45 pm


    Great article. I have a question.

    Many OT verses were treated in a Messianic way in the Jewish writings pre-Christ. For example, Psalm 110.

    I have always wondered where (what passages) the NT writers would have surprised these Jewish writers in interpreting select texts in a Messianic way out of line with the body of Jewish commentators in Old Testament times? For instance, many Jewish writers spoke of a promise of Messiah being advanced in Psalm 110, so when NT writers quote Psalm 110 in a Messianic way, it should not have been a surprise. But like the Hosea/Matt. example above, where did the NT writers take an OT passage that had never been treated Messianically and then applied it to Christ? Where would they have surprised these OT commentators looking forward to Messiah?

  18. Don said,

    September 19, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Lane, I think I’m missing something in the One-Reading View (can I call it that?) that you advocate. Let me ask it this way: Are you saying that Hosea was consciously referring to the Messiah when he wrote 11:1? Would, or should, his audience have known of the Messianic reference?

  19. Nate Shannon said,

    September 20, 2014 at 7:58 am

    As to question (2): maybe, maybe not – doesn’t matter. Question: Would we leverage our interpretation of a NT passage on the popular interpretation of it? “What does this saying of Paul mean? Well, let’s ask around!” Nope. So: What the original audience understood is interesting and potentially helpful (what they knew about agriculture, for example), but it is not determinative in any sense; Scripture interprets Scripture, since God is the singular author of the whole. And remember that many were not to be saved. So we should ask the reprobate how to read the Bible?

    As to question (1): I don’t know if that matters, except that I would say this: necessarily, Hosea would NOT DENY, were he to have been shown the fulfillment of his prophecy, that ‘out of Egypt’ is a redemptive-historical theme fulfilled in eschatological salvation in Christ. But what’s important is that if you limit the meaning of the text to what Hosea thought, you are (1) deliberately ignoring divine authorship and taking the Bible as a godless book; and (2) decidedly taking a phenomenological approach to historical facts. (2) is most dangerous, and most unChristian.

  20. Don L. said,

    September 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Greenbaggins,

    Thank you for this stimulating discussion on your blog.

    I have a question:

    So, when Matthew looks at Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I called my son,” in the original context plainly speaking about God calling Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus), he sees Hosea not only talking about the old Exodus, but also talking about the new Exodus that Jesus brought into being by embodying faithful Israel. It is what he understands Hosea to be saying.

    In contrast, Sinclair Ferguson wrote:
    An interesting illustration of this is the use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15: ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son’. These words, Matthew says, are fulfilled in Christ. But isn’t this either an esoteric or naïve approach to reading the Bible? Hosea is talking about the historic event of the people of God coming out of Egypt in the Exodus, not about Jesus going to and returning from Egypt in his infancy. So what is going on in Matthew’s mind? Is he saying Hosea 11:1 is fulfilled in Jesus just as Isaiah 53 is? Yes. But not in the same sense. Rather Matthew, writing in the light of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognises that the divine pattern in the Exodus (delivered from Egypt, led through the wilderness, given the covenant bond and kingdom-code) constitutes a pattern to be used in the experience of the true Israelite, Jesus Christ. In doing this Matthew provides us with a key to reading and expounding the entire Exodus narrative in a Christo-centric way, and indeed his own narrative against a background that enriches our understanding of Jesus’ identity and ministry.

    Click to access doc-sferguson-peachingchrist.pdf

    Do you think that Sinclair Ferguson is confessionally out of bounds?

  21. Mark Traphagen said,

    September 20, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Or how about present WTS faculty member Vern Poythress, who wrote:

    “…the meaning of a discourse for St. Paul or for his hearers can depend only on what Paul and his hearers know and remember about their language and culture. It cannot depend on (say) the etymology of a Greek word, unless Paul or his hearers are aware of that etymology. Neither can it depend directly on (say) the events behind the Exodus story, but only on Paul and his hearers’ understanding of those events, an understanding influenced by the interpretation of Exodus by their contemporaries.”

    Scottish Journal of Theology 32/2 (1979) 113-31

  22. roberty bob said,

    September 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    in reply to #20 . . .

    That is exactly what I was saying in my opening post, #1, and I hadn’t even read Sinclair Ferguson on this point. It’s the divine pattern that Evangelist Matthew discerns, as led by the Holy Spirit!

  23. Nate Shannon said,

    September 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Nah, Ferguson is good. Even if you wanted to read all kinds of stuff into this quote or pretend he had the vocabulary of this debate in mind, you still can’t infer anything about his basic hermeneutic about the OT. Plus you could still just ask him; last I heckled he’s still around.

    Don’t be petty. It’s about the view, not who has the coolest friends.

  24. Nate Shannon said,

    September 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Cheap gotcha tactics, Mark. Do you seriously think Poythress is a two read guy? Nobody believes that. But anyway, what do you say we talk hermeneutics instead of personal grudge and conspiracy theory? And I should ask: what’s your view of the nature of Scripture, so I know where you’re coming from? Even a crumb of divine origin in it left for you? Mark, you’re a case in point. Please do tell us whose view of scripture you find compelling.

  25. Don L. said,

    September 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Nate, have you read the whole article? It’s not a matter of interpreting Ferguson’s quote. The whole article is about Ferguson’s Christological hermeneutics. Before you comment on what you can and cannot infer about Ferguson’s hermeneutic, you owe it to yourself to read the whole article.

    Immediately preceding the above quote, Ferguson writes:
    But this principle of type and antitype operates in another, less technical
    sense, in what we could call the divine patterning of redemptive
    history.When we put ‘the Christ event’ under the microscope we see
    that there are basic patterns expressed which are first seen in the Old
    Testament. In the light of that discovery, when we re-read the Old
    Testament wearing the lenses of the New, we see these Christ-patterns
    more opaquely.The divine footprints are already visible.

    It’s worth noting that the last time Westminster Theological Seminary offered a course on the Westminster Standards (January 2009), it was taught by Sinclair Ferguson.

  26. Nate Shannon said,

    September 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Are you copying the quote correctly? The last few sentences appear confused. “In the light . . . we see . . . more opaquely”?

    Anyway, on the worst possible read, this does not represent the two-read-view.

  27. Nate Shannon said,

    September 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Traphagen: As an atheist (https://plus.google.com/+MarkTraphagen/posts/ZCB9VCua6V2), you are by self-identification not to be trusted in any of these matters. By your own self-identification–according to what you say about yourself, I should view you as unable to discern spiritual matters.

    You examined the Christian faith and judged it worthy of rejection. And now you want to preach about the ethics of running a seminary and on biblical hermeneutics? Dude, sort yourself out. What a mess.

  28. Alan D. Strange said,

    September 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm


    Thanks very much for the link in re: Mr. Traphagen’s current state of belief.

    I used to read him on his blog during the Enns’ controversy (Peter Enns and I were classmates at WTS). I am sad to see where Mark T. has gone and what he’s embraced. I knew that things had happened with him but did not know that he had openly professed atheism.

    You are quite right that a self-professed atheist lacks the integrity and, frankly, the ability (I Cor. 2:6-16) needed to comment on an internecine hermeneutical discussion and its implications for a Christian institution.

  29. Craig H Robinson said,

    September 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I read Peter Enns’ blog regularly. While I know he wrote an Exodus commentary, I find it interesting that he rarely if ever makes an exegetical blog post on some OT passage or verse, unless he is pointing out some supposed error or inconsistency. He continuously blogs on support for evolution, bashing evangelicals, and mocking inerrancy. He spends all his time telling his readers what the OT doesn’t say, but never spends any time telling what the OT does in fact say and mean. So he never really demonstrates himself to be an expert on the OT, yet dogmatically insists that the NT writers are reworking the OT Scripture.

    It comes across as a continuous attack on the word of God with no interest whatsoever in edification of the church.

  30. Don L. said,

    September 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Nate, if you want to know if I copied it correctly, and if you really want to determine what Ferguson’s hermeneutic is, you should read the article for yourself, as I encouraged you to do.

    When Ferguson writes, “when we re-read the Old Testament wearing the lenses of the New, we see these Christ-patterns …” I think the plainest interpretation of his words is that we read the Old Testament first without the lenses of the New Testament, and then we read it again with the lenses of the New Testament.

    This fits within the context of the whole article, and he directly applies it with respect to Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15. Regarding the first read, Ferguson writes, “Hosea is talking about the historic event of the people of God coming out of Egypt in the Exodus, not about Jesus going to and returning from Egypt in his infancy.”

    Regarding the second read, Ferguson writes, “Matthew, writing in the light of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognises that the divine pattern in the Exodus (delivered from Egypt, led through the wilderness, given the covenant bond and kingdom-code) constitutes a pattern to be used in the experience of the true Israelite, Jesus Christ.”

    As far as I understand the current debate, this seems to be the same hermeneutic that Douglas Green applied to Psalm 23 in his paper, which should read in its entirety as well.

    Now, I could be wrong about this. If you think I am mistaken, please read Ferguson’s whole article and tell me how you interpret Ferguson’s hermeneutic. If you think Green’s hermeneutic in his Psalm 23 paper is problematic and different than Ferguson’s hermeneutic, I’d like for you to show that as well.

  31. Sam Logan said,

    September 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I wonder how you might distinguish between a “two readings approach” to interpreting the Old Testament (with which method you disagree) and the following suggestion by Vern Poythress which argues for what he calls “approach (a)” and “approach (b)”? Having worked closely with both men and having read most of what each of them has written, it seems to me that they are saying very similar things.

    In scholarly research, we may begin with approach (a) as a control. For Psalm 22, we focus narrowly on the original historical context, and what is known within that context. We do grammatical-historical exegesis as the foundation for all later systematizing reflection. We try to avoid simply “reading in” our total knowledge of Scripture, or else we lose the opportunity for the Bible to criticize our views. As a second, later step, we relate Psalm 22 to earlier canonical books and finally to the NT. Whatever we find at this stage must harmonize with the results of approach (a). But we come to “extra” insights and deeper understanding as we relate Psalm 22 to the NT. These extra things are not “in” Psalm 22 in itself. They are not somehow mystically hidden in the psalm, so that someone with some esoteric key to interpretation could have come up with them jut by reading the psalm in isolation from the rest of the Bible. Psalm 22 in itself gives us only what we get from approach (a). The extra things arise from the relations that Psalm 22 has with earlier canonical books (approach (b)), with the NT, and with the events of Christ’s death. These relations, established by God, provide the basis for our proceeding another stage forward in understanding. [Vern Poythress, “Divine Meaning of Scripture,” in The Westminster Theological Journal 48 (1986), pp. 272 – 73.]

  32. roberty bob said,

    September 20, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Sinclair Ferguson’s hermeneutic resonates with me. Ferguson is sound!
    How else would a good preacher want to preach, if not this way?

  33. Don said,

    September 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Not entirely sure if Nate Shannon 19 is responding to my comment #18, but I’m reading his rather dismissive response as, “Who cares what the original author or audience thought?” That’s not a hermeneutic I’m interested in.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    September 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Wow, lots of interesting things to talk about here.

    Let me address first Matthew’s use of Hosea one more time. I think it is clear from Peter’s writings that the prophets did not always know the full implications of what they were saying. See 1 Peter 1:10-12. However, that very same passage indicates quite clearly that it was revealed to them that they were serving a later generation of the faithful (verse 12). So, what did Hosea know? From Peter’s passage, it seems clear that he would have understood that there is “something more” to the statement “out of Egypt I called my son.” He might not have known exactly what that was. But the Messiah is such a common theme in the Old Testament, that Hosea could very well have understood that there would be something about the Messiah in what he meant.

    In addition to this, it must be kept in mind that God is the ultimate author of the Old Testament. I reiterate what I said in the post (and which none of the two-readings guys have yet addressed at all) about the character of God: could God possibly have changed the meaning of an OT text to make it say something completely different, even contradictory? Surely God meant, in the OT, what the NT authors would say it meant, even if the human author might not have seen it as clearly.

    Dr. Logan, welcome to my blog. On the surface of reading your quotation of Poythress, it looks similar. However, we need to dig deeper and ask some very important questions. Poythress does not talk, in that quotation, about what God meant in the OT. Would Poythress have said (even 18 years ago!) that the Old Testament itself doesn’t mean what the NT authors say it means? I don’t think we can tell just from that quotation. One could also read the quotation as saying simply that we have to pay attention to the context of the OT, something I also advocate (I am, after all, a Poythress student in hermeneutics!). The quotation was written long before these debates surfaced at WTS. I wonder what he would say today about that quotation. Did Poythress’s view develop, for instance? Today, he has consistently voted against the TRV, to my knowledge.

  35. mattnewkirk said,

    September 21, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Approach a and approach b? First read and second read? Personally, I have no problem affirming that quote from Poythress on Psalm 22 or the paper I read by Doug Green on Psalm 23. Certainly seems quite similar to me.

  36. September 22, 2014 at 12:03 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 […]

  37. Don L. said,

    September 22, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Greenbaggins, a comment if I may … you’ve written two recent blog posts describing the Two-Readings View, and why it is incorrect. And yet, you have not cited Douglas Green (or any other TRV writer) even once in these two blog posts.

    I suggest that if you want to continue talking about what the TRV says, you really ought to cite the sources themselves, such as Green’s article on Psalm 23, rather than simply state what they believe. Doing so would prevent you from potentially creating a straw-man argument.

    Green’s article on Psalm 23 very similar to the hermeneutics that we see from Sinclair Ferguson and Vern Poythress. If you were able to show why Green’s interpretation of Psalm 23 was out-of-bounds, but not Ferguson’s or Poythress’ hermeneutics, that would be extremely helpful.

    Again, thank you for hosting this discussion, and I hope it can continue in a civil manner.

  38. John said,

    September 22, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Hi Don,

    Here are some excerpts, copied and pasted, from one of Green’s course syllabi. Notice that he associates his view with another course, Old Testament Introduction, and distinguishes what he is teaching from what is taught in another course, Hermeneutics. OTI was taught by Enns, and Hermeneutics by Poythress. Here are the excerpts:

    (7) General Comments
    This paper is an exercise in reading and re-reading your text. By “reading” I mean that your primary task is to set your text in its “original” literary, cultural and redemptive-historical setting. By definition, this reading intentionally avoids a “Christian” interpretation of the text. “Rereading,” on the other hand, is a process of “Christian reinterpretation.”

    The second reading assumes that that metanarrative has found its climax in the life, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth. This “sense of an ending” invites you to return to your text and reinterpret it with this new (and from an Old Testament perspective, somewhat surprising) ending to Israel’s story clearly in view.

    To the extent that the Pentateuch anticipates a climax to the story of redemption, it adopts Israelite, rather than Christian definitions of redemption. (You cannot interpret a text from the Pentateuch as if it were a statement of Pauline theology!) Put negatively, at this first level of reading, you should interpret your text without knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the climax of the story. In fact, you must cast that information from your mind . . .

    Any reading of a biblical text must, at some point, honestly wrestle with the theologically challenging reality that God has chosen to “embrace” the messiness of history and speak to humanity through many authors writing from quite different points in redemptive history (e.g., Kings and Chronicles).

    Finally, and crucially, as Christians we believe that this history of redemption reaches its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is what distinguishes us from Jewish readers of the Hebrew Scriptures. And so your second (or maybe it is your third) reading should reinterpret your text in the light of this ending. The climax of Israel’s covenantal history in the story of Jesus Christ gives to the Old Testament a new unity or coherence. It is an “eschatological coherence,” one that is perceived (and to some degree created) from the standpoint of the end of the story, the gospel.

    Reading the Old Testament from this perspective can generate surprising new interpretations of texts – as you have already learned in Old Testament Introduction [taught by Enns]. Often, the “original meaning” and the “climactic meaning” of a passage may remain the essentially the same.

    Often a passage might have a much richer meaning in the light of the gospel, but one that remains in essential continuity with its meaning at the earlier stage of the story. (This is what Westminster students are most comfortable with and what they expect to find when they write a “biblical-theological” paper).

    Indeed, the “Christ-ending” to Israel’s story may end up “contradicting” – the quotation marks are crucial – earlier parts of the narrative or resolving in a surprising way a tension or ambiguity inherent in the story (e.g., how does the gospel resolve the “tension” between Ezra-Nehemiah and Ruth?)

    I want you to consider the possibility that the gospel can render your text less significant than it was at the first reading, or show it to be located on a redemptive-historical “dead end” or even “contradict” its original meaning!

    The task I have set before you is different from the one you faced or will face when writing the term paper in Hermeneutics [with Poythress]. I also want you to probe discontinuities and disruptions between the original meaning and the “canonical” mean­ing of your text. Your gospel-centered reassessment of the meaning of the text creates the possibility of (a divinely intended) manipulation, subversion or “contradiction” of its original meaning!

    (9) Inclusive Language: I strongly encourage you to use gender inclusive language where appropriate.

  39. Reed Here said,

    September 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Type-AntiType, characterized by a progression of less clear to more clear, IS the standard hermeneutic of the Reformed Standards. It is also the hermeneutic approach espoused by Ferguson.

    The TRV reading sounds to me like an attempt to explain the mechanism being used to make things clearer from type to antiType. As Lane noted in his post, not all the TRV says is necessarily a problem, but indeed helpful.

    Any formulation of the TRV that requires a conflict between original human author (e.g., Hosea) and later referencing human author (e.g., Matthew), is proposing a contradiction within the divine Author. Even if this is nothing more than a rabbinical, “aha, wasn’t expecting that,” it leaves an impression of deception via confusion on the part of God. It is this aspect of the TRV that I think is an aberration, and one not necessary to the rest of the concerns addressed by it.

    Why not simply leave it at unclear to clear? Hosea, along with the angels (1Pe 1:12), does not have complete knowledge of God. Hosea was discussing God’s promise to redeem His people, like He did in the Exodus. As to the details, the clarity of the antiType pictured in the type, this was yet to be seen from Hosea’s point of view.

    If Hosea were asked what he thought of Matthew’s treatment, he would not have said, “nope, that’s not what I meant.” (the TRV reading) Instead he would have said, “yeah, that makes things clearer.


    Aside, comments regarding WTS-Philly and Dr. Doug Green’s mutual decision (or any other related employment considerations), IS off topic on this post. Kindly stay away from such here. (Lane’s previous post is the appropriate place for such discussion, in a manner that comports with godliness.)

  40. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Interesting quotes from his syllabus. I dont; really have much of a dog in this fight (other than the misuse of WCF I.IX to keep people from reading texts)

    I suppose it seems more damning as an expression of greens own “view” but I submit a more charitable consideration might be that what is done as a pedagogical exercise might be something someone doesn’t actually hold to.

    I mean, I’m attracted to a christian reading for psalm 137, where the joy at dashing in the skulls of little babies (original meaning) is revealed in view of Christ to be the incorporation of the children of pagan nations into the church through having them ‘fall on the rock” of Christ in baptism.

    But few TRVers or anti-TRVers would be compelled by such ‘allegorization’ probably. But either way we’re left with a difficult text to exegete in its original or in a ‘second’ reading.

  41. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 10:19 am

    “Any formulation of the TRV that requires a conflict between original human author (e.g., Hosea) and later referencing human author (e.g., Matthew), is proposing a contradiction within the divine Author. Even if this is nothing more than a rabbinical, “aha, wasn’t expecting that,””

    So everybody is saying they’re ok with ‘surprising endings” but now you’re saying you’re not?

  42. Reed Here said,

    September 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Paul: the key word there is “contradiction”. Generic surprise at the “solution” seen in Christ is not the point I’m making. Rather surprise at a solution that rests on a contradiction between human author’s intent.


  43. rfwhite said,

    September 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Let me try that post again.

    Green Baggins:

    You state: On a TRV, it is possible for a New Testament author to twist the meaning of the OT into something it was never originally intended to say.

    Is there any more we can say about the definition of these “twists” in the TRV; that is, can we say anything other than that twists are contrary to the OT original meaning?

    From John’s citation from one of Dr. Green’s syllabi in #38, we can say that a “twist” is defined substantially as (a divinely intended) manipulation, subversion or “contradiction” of [the OT’s] original meaning. What is the point of the parenthetical reference to the divine intention?

    Reading this discussion, it’s hard not to be reminded that in general the apostles rested the authority of their preaching, not just on the historicity of the Christ events, but also on the accuracy of their OT interpretation.

  44. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Can I ask if the fact that Jews and Gentiles were to be included on equal footing in the covenant, in one new man, was something any human author of the OT realized?

    if so, how is it a ‘mystery hid in long ages past”, and BTW which OT text teaches it?

  45. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    that’s fine, but Green never allows that it rests on a contradiction. I think the charitable read of those scare quotes is that he means “seeming” or surface contradictions.

    I also don’t see any deception if Mom lets you think you’re getting one gift and gives you an even better gift that you’re happier with. Its certainly nothing like Jeremiah 20:7 for example in giving the impression that God is deceptive.

  46. roberty bob said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    I do not see any conflicts or contradictions between the original human [OT] author and the later [NT] referencing human author. Matthew, for instance, is not telling us what Hosea, even unknowingly, was intending to say. Hosea is not foretelling the coming of Jesus when he references out-of-Egypt-have-I-called-my-Son. Hosea calls to mind Israel’s exodus to remind his unfaithful contemporaries that God’s commitment to them is unwavering; God will not abandon Israel / Ephraim because He had loved them from their infancy onward. Ephraim, therefore, ought to repent and return to the Lord, so that they might enjoy the fullness of His favor. Hosea is not predicting another exodus by the one who was to come. However, when Matthew proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he cannot help but see that God has finally manifested His steadfast love to His Son Israel through a Jesus-led exodus [from repentance of sin unto newness of life].

  47. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    But Paul, You seem to discount the fact that the entire plan of salvation and history of redemption were foreordained before creation, including God’s own acts of revelation. It seems as though you also discount the fact that as part of that, that revelation of the Scriptures is simply the execution of the decree in providence. and is all one unified Word of God, the primary author being God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was directing all from day one. God the Holy Spirit was the agent whereby the message was communicated to the human authors of Scripture, but God the Holy Spirit didn’t add or subtract anything from the exact contents of the message that Christ intended. John 14:6 doesn’t start applying in the NT, but has always been the case, no one comes to the Father but by Christ, from day 1, forever.

    How much of the full sense of what they were saying each prophet may or may not of known is really not the point. Christ during his earthly ministry said lots of things that the disciples didn’t under understand, but should we use a two-reading approach to the Gospels as well?

    What the human authors of the OT did know is that what they were saying was specifically at the direction of God, who had a plan and their prophesy was part of the execution of that plan. They also knew that it was always about that plan of salvation and way that it would come about, through the various ways that Christ administered his mediation through the history of redemption. Christ is the way the truth and the life, and since no one comes to the Father but by Him, every aspect of Christ’s mediation regardless of the administration is not only under his control, but is actively about Him. It is about Him because it is about his work as mediator. The OT reveals in the manner that Christ determined for his people during that time, the one and only way of salvation, but that one and only way of salvation itself as always been Christ himself. That God, prior to the incarnation chose to do that indirectly, mostly in sundry ways and in divers manners, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son directly. But Christ has always been that one way of salvation. Therefore the OT is about Christ, it simply can’t be about anything else. Even if people during the OT administration didn’t correctly understand a lot of it, doesn’t mean that the message as intended by the first Author, that is Christ, is anything other than what He meant.

    Just who do you think was the redeemer of God’s elect in the OT? Hint: The only redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the eternal Son of God, became man and so was and continueth to be both God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever.

  48. Nate Shannon said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I think that’s a helpful emphasis. The unity of Scripture is not inferred a posteriori. And Scripture is not one among many ancient ways of looking at the world. It is the single, inspired record of redemption. Yes, Scripture is revelation, but not of truth(s) otherwise not present, true, or real, not of a narrative imposed upon brute historical phenomena, entirely without unique truth value or authority. Scripture tells the singular coherent truth about our world and our history, and about redemption in Christ.

    I think that this is a necessary a priori when reading any part of Scripture as Scripture. By contrast, the conscious methodological decision to shelf the a priori of the Bible as Christian Scripture (that is, as TRUE and SINGULAR authoritative revelation) is simply to read the Bible as though it were not Christian revelation – as a matter of method! And so the implication is that this is also a decision to treat history itself–culture and everything else–non-theistically. And this is a direct affront to Gen 1:1 and the theism assumed in every word of the Bible.

    I can understand wanting to do that in the field of religious studies, religious anthropology, ANE studies, comparative literature, something like that – because the methodology in these fields is naturalistic.

    But I can’t imagine defending that methodology in the church or for the training of ministers.

  49. Nate Shannon said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    And to suspend ST when you approach the Bible is simply to jettison any and all a prioris, including what we usually mean when we say “Bible” instead of “book” and “Scripture” instead of “writing(s)”.

  50. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Well, just because I don’t state something explicitly doesn’t mean i discount anything. I find nothing to disagree with in anything you wrote, Andrew, so I’m not sure where I’m supposed to (except perhaps, that I *do* think the issue is what did the OT writers understand)

    BTW, John Owen wrote this on the way types and shadows were *poor communicators* of the plan of salvation, and I actually think he’s much to pessimistic. Relating this to the Green issue, it would be very odd if we affirmed that the writers had a clear vision of the messiah to come, but could never really tell anybody in a way that would make it clear

    “Such was the poverty of the types that no one of them could so much as shadow out or represent all that advantage which we really enjoy and therefore they were multiplied and the work distributed amongst them which they were to represent. This made them a yoke and that grievous and burdensome. The way of teaching in them and by them was hard and obscure as well as their observation was difficult. It was a hard thing for them to learn the love grace and mind of God by them God revealed himself in them by many parts and pieces according as they were capable to receive impression from and make representation of divine wisdom, goodness, and grace; whence our apostle says that the law had but a shadow and not the image itself of things. It had some scattered shades which the great limner had laid the foundation of symmetry in but so as to be discernible only unto his own infinite wisdom. A perfect image wherein all the parts should exactly answer unto one another and so plainly represent the thing intended, that it had not. Now it was a work beyond their wisdom, out of the scattered pieces and parts of revelation, especially being implated upon carnal things, to gather up the whole of the grace and good-will of God”

  51. p duggie said,

    September 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    A question: does the Ethiopian Eunuch have a legitimate question after reading Isaiah? Or should he have understood it apart from a NT preacher explaining it?

  52. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    September 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    There’s a whole lot of reading into words and uncharitable interpretation going on around here. Regarding “contradiction” in that syllabus, Paul is correct to interpret the quotes as indicating the meaning “seeming contradiction.” I know this because Green told me it himself.

    Also, re. the first read being “non-Christian,” far too much is being made of that. The point there isn’t to deny that there was a (albeit shadowy) Messianic hope in the OT. I mean, Green clearly implies this himself in the syllabus quotation given above where he writes, “Often, the “original meaning” and the “climactic meaning” of a passage may remain essentially the same.” Further, in his Ps. 23 essay, Green argues precisely for the Psalm connsidered in redemptive-historical and canonical context in the completed Psalter as *messianic prophecy* *prior to* the coming of Jesus, and only fulfilled in Jesus.

    The point of the first read also is not to deny that this gram. hist. meaning is divine revelation at the level of its original composition. In truth, the men in question never actually say or imply such a thing. Rather, the point of the first read is to understand it as it would have been understood in an ancient Israelite context *prior to* Christ’s coming — shadowy, less clear, often related to specific events in the life of the ancient Israelites — It is in fact to seek to understand redemptive history *as history*. The second read builds on this and sees how that original context connects to the actual fulfillment/telos of the text in Christ. And yet, at each level of reading the text is considered divine revelation from the beginning, and thus essentially coherent and not contradictory in fact. (McCartney is particularly clear on this last point, but Green and Fantuzzo would agree with this as well.)

  53. Reed Here said,

    September 22, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Paul, no. 45: ah, but you’re inferring that I was expressly speaking of Dr. Doug Green. I was not.

    You’ll note I did not reference any particular individual, but the TRV principle, as described by Lane in his original post. There, he too, does not reference Dr. Green expressly.

    To be gracious here, I can understand why you made that inference, in light of the discussion. To be clear, I expressly did not reference Dr. Green out of charity to him. In class with him I heard him say some things that could only be understood from the perspective of type (less-clear) to antiType (more-clear) principle I outlined. As well, I heard him say some things that clearly inferred the TRV principle Lane is describing here, one in which the notion of contradiction between original and subsequent authorial intent is essential.

    My charitable read of that was and is that Dr. Green was developing his thought. As to where he stands now, I don’t know. He may be comfortable with what I’m denying, or he may mean something else. I don’t know, nor do I think it is relevant to the point I’m seeking to make:

    If a TRV position postulates contradiction between 1st and 2nd meanings then it is an aberration and wrong. Observing that does not mean animus toward any who disagrees (i.e., any deficiency in charity). On the contrary, I offer this observation in charity; I think to affirm any position resting on contradiction in the end leaves one without any sure grip on the Scriptures.

    FWIW. Thanks.

  54. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 22, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    But Paul, even the writers of the Gospels didn’t know what was happening even as it was happening. The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t know until Christ opened the Scriptures to them and pointed it all out. The message of Isaiah didn’t change.

    Then you have John 2:18-22. John records they didn’t understand what Christ meant until after his resurrection. Certainly the disciples listening to Jesus speak directly where in no less proximity to the author of the entire scriptures than the OT prophets, (you might even argue they were in much closer proximity and for a much longer time) and they didn’t understand everything either. So if the disciples might not 100% understand what Christ meant, why would you expect that the OT prophets would understand 100% of what Christ meant when he gave them a message to deliver? It doesn’t change the actual meaning of the message one iota.

    Really, if the disciples had understood, they would have been at the tomb prior to the resurrection, waiting for it to happen. Just because perhaps everyone except himself misunderstood that Christ was speaking about the temple of his body, didn’t mean that wasn’t what he was talking about. So why do you hold the OT prophets to a higher standard of understanding what Christ is saying than you do the disciples?

    The OT prophets didn’t have any preconceived specific meaning for anything they said in mind when they said it because the idea (as well as the words) were not sourced in themselves, and they were fully aware that the they were not the source of the idea or the words. They had no original authorial intent in and of themselves. They knew the source was God and that it was His message they were conveying, and they might not have understood 100% of God was saying, just like the disciples didn’t understand 100% of what Christ was saying. That doesn’t mean that the text has ever meant anything other that what the author Himself, that is Christ, intended.

    To try to reconstruct the various ways in which peoples of the past might have misunderstood (or been blind to its meaning) scripture, and then to suggest such misunderstanding (or blindness to its meaning) is the actual original meaning of the text is sinful. Then to suggest that NT writers (or Christ himself) co-opted the text to mean something different than the original Author meant is to double-down on that sin.

  55. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    September 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Nobody is saying “NT writers (or Christ himself) co-opted the text to mean something different than the original Author meant.” You may disagree that it is valid to make a distinction between the understanding/intent of the divine author and the human author(s), but please don’t make false, unsubstantiated accusations. The point of the Christotelic hermeneutic (at least of the variety advocated by Dan McCartney, Doug Green, and Chris Fantuzzo) is precisely that Christ *is* the full meaning intended by the original (*divine*) author, but that becomes more clear (from a human perspective) with the progress of redemptive history, and ultimately the coming of the Telos/Substance in Christ.

  56. Nate Shannon said,

    September 22, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I’m not sure you’re catching the real issue, Bemoano. Notice that nobody says that “the OT does not point to Jesus.” Nobody says, “there is no history, just different refractions of redemption accomplished.” And if nobody is saying those things, then saying “Scripture points to Jesus” or “redemption develops,” or “the story of the Bible is, in the historia sense, incomplete until the fulness of time,” can’t really be anyone’s distinctive emphasis or point of view. So your description of the ‘Christotelic’ hermeneutic can’t be all there is to it, because you haven’t really said anything. (So if you think that’s all there is, you’re missing the point.) ‘Telic’ must mean something that the alternatives don’t mean. Here’s some Aristotle for you: We understand a thing by distinguishing it from other things. You haven’t distinguished it, so you haven’t helped us understand it or know it at all. I hope you’re not doing that deliberately, because that would be lying, which is uncharitable.

    You’ve got to get this, and I mean it super charitably: the two-read emphasis says that the (observable) history, the real-time context–the contextual phenomena alone, in other words–should constitute a properly ‘redemptive-HISTORICAL’ read of OT Scripture. What redemption we find there must be constituted by the purely historical.

    This notion of leveraging our read of the text on history is 100% a posteriori. As you know, Green tells his classes, “leave your ST at the door.” That’s called ‘phenomenalism’. But if you completely divorce historia from ordo, you don’t know what it is a historia OF, which is exactly what is lurking behind the vagueness in the two-read view, and why it often sounds harmless.

    So there is ambiguity here: we can’t just say “history,” “historical context,” etc.; we have to specify which history: history from the autonomous, finite point of view, or history from the revealed, divine point of view? History from the divine point of view presupposes the activity of the divine behind all phenomena, and affirms that the only reason there is any history at all is because by his grace, his redemptive purposes and historical covenants are sealed by the intra-trinitarian covenant in eternity. The two-read view says “well hold on, we don’t know that.” At that moment it declares historico-hermeneutical, finite autonomy.

    It’s confusing because the two-read view will say things that are unobjectionable–“the OT points to Jesus”–but what it means (here’s the distinction) is that the OT is not ‘on its own terms’ and in substance Christian. This is ‘pure historia’, which means it’s NOT history in the Christian sense; its just phenomenalism. The quote from Green supplied by John says that the second (or third) read distinguishes us from a Jewish read of the OT. But we should NEVER do a non-Christian read of ANYTHING, least of all of the Scriptures.

    Can we study history as history?? Here’s the point: NO, not if by “history” you mean non-theistic phenomenalism. But why would you ever want to do that? But if you mean study history in order to understand better what God in Christ was up to, then by all means, that is exactly what Scripture enjoins.

    What do you think?

  57. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Jonathan, That raises another problem, because the meaning of any portion Scripture is not something that can be known solely from a “human perspective”. While you didn’t use the word solely, it has to be implied because no mere human being can be privy to the inner working of God the Holy Spirit in the heart of another. To try to figure out Scripture from a human perspective is at best a waste of time,

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    1 Cor 2:14

    Jonathan, you wrote earlier,

    Rather, the point of the first read is to understand it as it would have been understood in an ancient Israelite context *prior to* Christ’s coming

    There is nothing to be gained by that at all, Christ has come. Any attempt to do so is a fantasy on your part, because you can’t roll back the clock to before Christ came. The types and shadows were not for their own sakes but only as they revealed Christ, that was always their point, which is exactly what the epistle to the Hebrews tells us and warns us against reverting back to those shadows. You seem to be advocating doing as a “thought-experiment” what the epistle to the Hebrews says not do in actuality.

    Then there is the problem of Deut 29:29.

    The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

    All Scripture was written for all the generations of the church from the time it was written forward until the consummation. That has always been the case from Moses onward.

    If what you’re really trying to figure out is how God the Holy Spirit was applying the scriptures in the hearts and minds of the elect Israelite in their time, given the incompleteness of the Scriptures, I don’t see how you avoid trying to peek into the secret working of God, which is forbidden.

  58. Jonathan Bonomo said,

    September 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Nate, you are out of line, brother. Is it now acceptable practice in public discourse in your circles to insult your interlocutors at the beginning of every response? (A response that I guess was supposed to be substantial… I won’t know because I refused to read beyond the first sentence.) You have shown yourself utterly incorrigible both here and elsewhere. I refuse to play your games. Peace.

  59. Nate Shannon said,

    September 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm


  60. mattnewkirk said,

    September 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Nate, I agree with Jonathan. I’m not sure if you think being insulting and sarcastic helps your case rhetorically, but you come off as arrogant and condescending, which certainly does not. It reflects immaturity, not intelligence.

  61. Nate Shannon said,

    September 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    In ‘The God-Breathed Scripture,’ Ed Young tells a story. I’ll paraphrase, since I don’t remember the whole story. He was on a plane, and sat next to a guy who called himself Smith and said he was going to San Francisco. But Young noticed that the guy was holding a ticket that said “Chicago,” and he had a brief case with the letter B on it. So, he concluded: this guy’s testimony about himself was not consistent with the phenomena. Actually he said he decided that the guy must be lying. In the end, it turned out that the guy had a layover in Chicago on his way to SF, and he was taking the brief case to a friend whose name began with be. So it turned out that the self-witness was correct, and the phenomena minus the self-witness had led Young astray. (Of course the story is fiction.)

    Young is contrasting the purely a posteriori interpretive method with the method that takes seriously the self-witness. In Young’s story, he ignored the self-witness and ended up with a defensible but FALSE interpretation. But the point is not that the interpretation was false. The point is that his interpretation was REVISABLE. And it was revisable because he rejected the a priori, programmatic statement of self-witness.

    This is another way of getting at the phenomenalism I tried to describe above. Phenomenalism means “what I observe is all there is.” So whenever you observe something new, there is more. Or if you observe better or in different light, things change. So if all you have are phenomena, you have nothing, essentially, because everything is utterly revisable.

    So, Jonathan, it’s not so much that anyone is affirming steadfastly that the “NT writers co-opted the OT” or whatever; the problem is that, since the methodology prioritizes a phenomenology of religious history, the possibility that the NT writers did violence to the original meaning of the OT cannot be ruled out. So the methodology offers NO DEFENSE, NO GUARANTEE, no sanctity, for the doctrine of Scripture. There IS NO doctrine of Scripture on the first read. I would call that a non-Christian methodology – but its defenders already do that, so they stole my thunder.

  62. roberty bob said,

    September 22, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    in reply to #54 . . . . “why would you expect that the Old Testament prophets would understand 100% of what Christ meant when he gave them a message to deliver?”

    So, for example, the Word of the Lord comes to the Prophet Isaiah telling him to deliver a particular message to a particular king of Israel.

    I, for one, would expect that the Prophet Isaiah fully understands the message he is delivering, and that he believes that the particular king who will hear the message will understand its meaning fully. I would say that if the prophet preaches to the king and the king understands what the prophet means, then Christ [the message originator] is being 100% comprehended. There is not some hidden layer of meaning that neither the prophet nor the king could possibly have discerned.

    The inspired New Testament evangelist or apostle was at complete liberty to draw from or quote any particular Old Testament passage when proclaiming Christ and his kingdom. When this happened — and it happened frequently — the New Testament writers in no way implied that the Old Testament prophets lacked a complete understanding of the message that Christ, by his Spirit, gave them to deliver. Rather, they were showing that in Christ and his kingdom the fulfillment of the ages has come — and that all of THIS is built on THAT foundation God had laid through His prophets.

  63. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 23, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Re the Green syllabus material in post 38: On a first reading (my first reading), I do not find it very alarming. However, from an Ennsotelic view (reading in the light of the coming of Enns’ articulated view of Christotelic in I&I which is dismissive of grammatical-historical exegesis) there is some justified concern. All of this is to say I think there are some straw men arguments for the Christotelic idea. In another thread I have referenced the Clowney position and I won’t bother repeating it here. Let me add here my paraphrase of the Van Til position: The Triune God of Scripture (or the self-attesting Christ to be specific), is the presupposition of the possibility of any meaningful prediction. Without Christ there is no “meaning” period. Thus any first reading apart from Christ is meaningless. What gives an OT text like Gen 35:18 “meaning?” A second reading of this text and episode (before 2TJ literature) is in Jeremiah where Rachel sees her children going into exile and refused to be comforted (a reading before Christ that admittedly is surprising and not very predictable using grammatical historical exegesis if you lived in Moses’ day). A “third reading” of Gen 35:18 is in Matthew 2:18. Neither Gen 35 or Jeremiah are very “meaningful” without Christ. Another woman dies in childbirth and is bitter about it. Another nation goes into exile and if the female ancestor is watching she shares in their bitterness. Ditto mothers of Bethlehem in about 4 BC. So what? Life stinks. We could substitute a tragedy from any other piece of literature and point out that sometimes life stinks. The cross is not much fun either. The point is that there is an organic covenantal tie that unites these texts in a way that they are not as immediately related to the most recent shooting of a young man in Missouri. For us grammatical-historical exegesis is the only approach to the text that avoids turning the vain arbitrary imaginations of so-called scholars into new revelation. The discontinuity between our ability to build a bridge from Gen 35 to Christ is mediated by God’s own revelation, not some Midrash practitioners lacking inspiration. Perhaps if so many of the biblical studies people had not joined ranks with Enns in their votes several years ago, they would not be tainted with suspicion of being Ennostelic in their hermeneutic.

  64. Don said,

    September 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Stuart(OPC) 63,

    What gives an OT text like Gen 35:18 “meaning?” … Neither Gen 35 or Jeremiah are very “meaningful” without Christ.

    I assume/hope that you do not mean to say that the Old Testament was meaningless for the first several centuries of its existence. But that seems to be where your words are heading.

    Of course there are many messianic prophesies in the Old Testament, and of course God inspired the Old Testament and the New. Or rather, with the New to be a unified, coherent whole. But I do not see how anyone can say that the Old Testament believers in general could have known in much detail how the messianic prophesies would be fulfilled, e.g., whether the Messiah would spend some of his formative years in Egypt. Hosea might have had some glimpse of that as he prophesied, but I don’t see how his audience could have picked that up from the words Hosea wrote.

    So as far as I can tell, the Two Readings View is about treating the Old Testament from the point of view of an Old Testament believer, based on what they had available at that time (i.e., the Old Testament scriptures, without the interpretation/reinterpretation/application/whatever you prefer to call it of a New Testament perspective). Is that a bad thing for a Bible student to do? Am I missing something here?

    PS I’m not writing this to defend the Two Readings View. I’m writing because WTS is asking me to continue supporting them/their bookstore. I would be willing to do that if there is something unconfessional about the TRV (as opposed to something unconfessional about an uncharitable straw-man version of it, e.g., ignoring the quotes around “tension” and “contradict” in the syllabus above), but I am not interested in supporting an institution which finds an excuse to perform a faculty purge.

  65. Andrew Duggan said,

    September 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Stuart wrote

    The Triune God of Scripture (or the self-attesting Christ to be specific), is the presupposition of the possibility of any meaningful prediction. Without Christ there is no “meaning” period. Thus any first reading apart from Christ is meaningless.

    100% exactly right. Without Christ there is no “meaning” period!

  66. Don L. said,

    September 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Nate, you wrote:
    There IS NO doctrine of Scripture on the first read. I would call that a non-Christian methodology

    Have you read Sinclair Ferguson’s article yet? How do you understand Ferguson when he writes, “when we re-read the Old Testament wearing the lenses of the New”? Do you understand that as a non-Christian methodology?

  67. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 23, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Perhaps thinking through 1 Cor 15:17 is the easiest way to think about your query to me. If you simply try to read the OT as “meaningful” without Christ and his finished work, you are in a quandry. Where is all of this going anyway? To some degree I think OT believers were in a bit of a quandry and yet Heb 11:17-19 suggests that even Abraham made a deduction based on his quandry that pointed, however darkly to Christ and his resurrection. Abraham knew his God was bigger than the quandry (death and promise). The pre-incarnate Logos gives meaning from the beginning (Jn 1.3,4) and the end allows the beginning to have clearer meaning (Jn 1.16-18) for us. The Ennsotelic hermeneutic tends to remove God’s supernaturalism as the connecting link between the veiled presence of Christ in the OT and his fully revealed presence in the New. The Midrashers get more credit than they deserve, IMO. If Paul’s hermeneutical method looks like something a Midrasher is doing, maybe it is because Mr. Midrasher has formally or superficially grasped God’s mode of packaging his revelation. The whole philosophical debate about “meaning” requires a Christian worldview for an answer and this begins with a big picture pre-commitment that does not pretend to be neutral about Christ at any point in history. No doubt people, including OT Midrashers and pre-modern philosophers, contented themselves with a naive acceptance of the meaning of meaning and could muddle on for a while. I think guys like Derrida, however gibbersih-centric they may be, point to the naivity of pre-modern assumptions about meaning. These are the kinds of assumptions I think are operating in the TRV camp.

  68. Reed Here said,

    September 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Don: please, no comments off topic. Your opinion of WTS and Dr. Green’s mutual decision is not appropriate on this thread. Thanks!

  69. Don said,

    September 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Reed Here 68,
    If I may, the point of my postscript in 64 was to clarify that my opinion of WTS’s recent actions is uncertain. I felt it was on topic in that it explains my specific motivation for questioning those opposed to the TRV, that this is not just an academic exercise to me. I am trying not to judge WTS’s actions, as Lane encouraged in another post, but if–if–TRV is fully confessional then the WTS actions reflect poorly on the administration.

    Thus, it concerns me that no one is explaining why it’s bad to attempt to read the OT as OT believers would and understand what they could. I believe the “Two” in “Two Readings View” makes it explicit that we are not supposed to stop at the OT believer’s understanding? Can anyone show that a TRV advocate is claiming that the first reading is supposed to show the whole story? Can anyone provide any references or quotes that show, as claimed, the TRV “tends to remove God’s supernaturalism as the connecting link between the veiled presence of Christ in the OT and his fully revealed presence in the New”? Can we do better than inventing ad fontes insults like “Ennsotelic hermeneutic”?

  70. Reed Here said,

    September 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Don, the point of Lane’s post is about criticism of the TRV, NOT the actions of WTS. You are free to use your interaction to help decide your own opinion on those actions. BUT (repeat), please kindly refrain from reflecting aloud in your posts on this thread. Thanks.

    As to to Stuart’s coined phrase, “Ennsotelic,” rather than assume an uncharitable motive (i.e., to insult), maybe first ask Stuart his reason for the coining. It might be something other than with the intention to insult. Whether you think that wise or not, at least you will not fall prey to taking offense unnecessarily.


  71. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 23, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Re your queries in #69:
    D: Can anyone show that a TRV advocate is claiming that the first reading is supposed to show the whole story?
    S: Straw man. I am not saying that.
    D: Can anyone provide any references or quotes that show, as claimed, the TRV “tends to remove God’s supernaturalism as the connecting link between the veiled presence of Christ in the OT and his fully revealed presence in the New”?
    S: First note a distinction between the supernatural Christ (which Enns may, I hope, still believe in) and the supernatural link that I reference (i.e. revelation). So with that in mind, see Enns I&I, p. 161: “…the historical contexts of the biblical authors played a DETERMINING ROLE [caps added] in the shape that God’s revelation took, ….”
    p. 159-160 “…the Second Temple evidence cannot be ignored [i.e. in accepting Christotelic over grammatical-historical] –or better; it can be ignored only by means of a willful choice to disregard the plain evidence we have.” [Sola Scriptura? Analogia fide?]

    p. 160 “Both the interpretive methods and traditions employed by the New Testament writers were embedded in the Second Temple culture.”
    Please note the nuance: “tends to remove God’s supernaturalism….” That is just what the Ennsocentric hermeneutic is doing. That is how he can have Paul guilty of perpetuating a Jewish fable regarding 1 Cor 10:4. Paul is just using (captive to) the tradition of his day. That is how he can regard Paul setting forth error about Adam’s historicity. Paul is subject to natural constraints of his exegetical culture. The supernaturalism of God actually shaping history for purposes of revelation is missing. The supernaturalism of God enables Paul to rise above his culture, to know a Jewish myth when he sees one and to reveal Christ as the TRUE fulfillment of the OT. Enns keeps harping on the humanity of Scripture as if the essence of humanity is error and freedom from the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.

    As to “Ennsotelic”: If he can invent terms to distinguish positions (e.g. himself from Longenecker or Beale), so can I. I know only a little of Green. Perhaps his position entails a version of Christotelic that is not Ennsotelic. As I indicted above my “first reading” of the Green syllabus material posted is not so alarming to me as the Enns stuff has been. In short, I am willing to be charitable to Green.

  72. Don said,

    September 24, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Reed Here 70,
    Let’s see. Stuart has taken a certain phrase relating to Biblical interpretation, and has replaced “Christ” with “Enns.” Given the situation, i.e., given this audience, I have a hard time seeing how a charitable or neutral interpretation of this term is possible.

  73. Don said,

    September 25, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Stuart 71,

    D: Can anyone show that a TRV advocate is claiming that the first reading is supposed to show the whole story?
    S: Straw man. I am not saying that.

    I didn’t say you did. I deliberately backed up my first question far enough to a point where I hoped everyone could agree.

    As for the rest of your response, I don’t particularly disagree, but why are you talking about Enns? I’m asking about the Two Readings View, which in the present context, the more relevant former faculty would be Green, right?

  74. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 25, 2014 at 7:12 am

    On a “second reading” there are two Stuarts commenting on this thread. Stuart (OPC) is obviously the right one if there is any true discontinuity among the Stuarts :-)

  75. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 25, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Oops, I see that Stuart 71 was referring to post 71 now. There are two Stuart’s that sometime comment on this blog so Stuart (OPC) misread post 73. In an earlier post I mentioned that taking Green on a “second reading”, i.e.the context of the Enns mess at WTS, raises legitimate concerns. I vaguely remember a comment about that time (I forget who from), that the matter was not closed with the firing of Enns. It led me to believe some other people would be let go. My guess was that Green would be next. It was concerning to me at the time that 2/3 of the faculty (mostly from biblical studies) did not have the discernment to see the problem Enns posed. I do not know what document or positions of Green WTS used to justify their “retirement” of Green but I am not at all surprised. I think WTS is on its way back to its earlier mission with the new direction and for that I am happy. In this context Enns is relevant for me because he seems to be the inventer of the “Christotelic” neologism and related line of thought and was the cause which some people (Green inter alia) mistakenly supported a few years ago.

  76. Bill Smith said,

    September 25, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I am late to this, and I am most definitely conversant with the scholarly literature/discussions of the subject. But, as a working pastor whose concern is with what to preach, something has been fairly clear to me in terms of preaching from the OT: The message had to have some significance to the writer and original audience. What did they hear and what use did they make of it? That message is usually something short of what becomes clearer after the the incarnation and accomplishment of redemption and the apostolic understanding and testimony. So, I consider my work to include asking, “How did the original audience hear this, and what use can we make of that by putting ourselves in their places?” Then to ask, “What more is here that we can learn and use that is made explicity or implicitly clear by Christ’s coming and work and by the Apostolic testimony?” So is that a two-meaning approach? If so, I surely did not learn it from Dr.. Green whom I have never read or heard. As I see it I am using the redemptive-historical hermeneutic I learnd in the classes of Palmer Robertson at RTS about 45 years ago. It seems to me that there is a difference between the way the OT saints understood Psalm 72 and the way we do in the light of Christ? On that I remember hearing with OPR a series of sermons that took Psalm 72 as wholly prophetic and messianic. I asked OPR about this, and he said something to the effet that he thought it had to have an OT contemporary significance as well as a prophetic one.And, it has always seemed to me that this approach to interpretation of Scripture and its preaching is not controversial.

  77. roberty bob said,

    September 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    #76 . . . you are SO right!

  78. greenbaggins said,

    September 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    All, there is quite a difference between saying that the meaning of the OT grows versus saying that the meaning of the OT shifts. I would agree with the first and disagree with the second. Everyone would (probably) admit that the OT readers did not know the full meaning of what they wrote. 1 Peter 1 already shows that rather clearly. To use an analogy, the proper way of understanding the meaning of the OT is that it is a growing tree that started from an acorn in Genesis, and reaches full flowering and maturity in the NT. The TRV sees it more like a tree that grows up from an acorn but when it reaches full maturity, we discover that it is a unicorn. What is the nature of the growth of the OT meaning? That is the question here, as I see it.

  79. Stuart (OPC) said,

    September 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Since none of us, I presume, know exactly all the discussion that went into the Green “retiring” I suspect there is more than what we have in the syllabus excerpt or other papers that are public. William Evans makes SOME recent comments on his blog (given at the Aquila blog) that I can agree with (http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/has-wts-changed/). However a comment I heard once, among other things, would leave me open to the possibility that a discussion took place to clarify the meaning of a paper or an oral elaboration of Green’s views were a legitimate concern. Unless Evans knows what went on behind the doors, I see no reason to think WTS is condemning an approach to the OT that has long been practiced there before Enns et al.(as per post 76). if “Christotelic” or TRV is only describing what has always been done or accepted at WTS, why the need for this “Christotelic” neologism? If the term had been invented simply to say special revelation brings an “extra” that cannot always be fully deduced by some discursive exegetical method, fine. However the originator (I&I, p 154) or populizer of the term is someone whose views are wrong and the purpose of the term for him seems to have less to do with the “extra” or the “mystery” factor of unfolding divine revelation than the similarity to human midrash conventions. Interesting choices about who to afford charity to here. I am affording a judgment of charity to WTS. I also hope Green is used of the Lord and avoids falling into the path Enns has taken.

  80. Joe S. said,

    September 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I think that Bill Smith (76) is spot one in his analysis which is why the condemnation of the TRV can be confusing if it is not nuanced and clarified like Lane did in post 78.

    It would be interesting for someone to build the case of how Green’s approach is significantly different then the approach that Bill Smith outlined because I see many many similarities between the 2. I don’t see anyone claiming that Bill is heterodox. Does it really just boil down to the verbs “grow” versus “shift”? Why is Bill’s TRV acceptable but Green’s TRV is not?

    I think that there is one significant theme in the Bible where the acorn turned into something not anticipated (I don’t know if I would go so far as to say unicorn!!) It is the inclusions of gentiles into God’s people by being members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:5,6). Yes the Lord promised that the nations would come to Israel but jews and gentiles being part of one body where the walls were broken down between the two being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ?? This mystery, which Paul says was not made known in previous generations, working itself out is the back drop for the NT and the early church. Is it acceptable for the apostles to look back at the OT, through the lens of the revealed mystery, and see it in a different light? Is it acceptable to say that the mystery being revealed created a shift in the apostles view of scripture? If you put yourself in their position I don’t see how it wouldn’t. I can’t help but think they would view the meaning of the OT as BOTH growing and shifting so the wild olive branch could be grafted in.

  81. Joe S. said,

    September 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Risking getting yelled at that this thread is only about TRV….

    Stuart(OPC), I think that Green’s future is very different the Enns. Green is going to be teaching at Queensland Theological Seminary which is associated with PCA of Australia. They have a high view of scripture and subscribe to the WCF. This is a very different course then the one that Enns has charted post WTS and I’m hopeful that the Lord will use Green mightily for His glory over In Australia.

    The fact that Green has been approved by his local PCA session and has been offered a senior faculty position with Queensland Theological Seminary but is not considered by the WTS board to be fit to teach for reasons that haven’t been made entirely clear (and thank you for having charity on both sides) is saddening.

  82. Reed Here said,

    September 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Stuart and Joe, enough guessing about WTS and Green. Stick with assessing the position.

  83. Joe S. said,

    September 27, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Yes sir!! (I knew it was coming….)

  84. Don said,

    September 27, 2014 at 8:55 am

    greenbaggins 78,
    Is the acorn-to-unicorn imagery something that Green or some other TRV advocate uses to explain the unfolding of the Old Testament story, or is it your own characterization of TRV?

  85. Reed Here said,

    September 27, 2014 at 9:07 am

    We’ll Joe, then next time …

  86. Rick Phillips said,

    September 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm


    Have you seen Willem van Gemeren’s ditty to describe the christotelic approach? Augustine said, “Christ is in the Old concealed and in the new revealed.” Here’s the christotelic version:

    “The Old is by the New restricted and the New is on the Old inflicted.”

    I do not think that is unfair. It shows how sweeping a change is involved in the christotelic approach.

  87. rickchaim@juno.com said,

    September 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    What’s “ANE” mean? You start using an acrostic with no advance notice whatsoever in this article. greenbaggins posted: “The two-readings view (hereafter TRV) says that we should first read the Old Testament as though the New Testament did not exist, and as though Christ had not come. The reasoning typically runs along the lines of seeking to ensure that we understand the t”

  88. Reed Here said,

    September 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Sorry Rick, the acrostic is quite common in discussions here, hence Lane’s not thinking to explain. It stands for “Ancient Near Eastern”, referring to historical-cultural sources of information that are contemporary with the various books of the Bible. The debate then is what role these have on determining the meaning of the relevant Biblical point.

    E..g, a common example is the “Enuma Elish,” the Akkadian creation narrative, purportedly contemporary with the Mosaic creation narrative in Gen 1-2. The Enuma Elish is an ANE source that has some relationship with the biblical account of creation. What the nature of that relationship is a matter of debate.

  89. April 23, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    […] comment. Typology involves analogy and does not deny the type when explaining the anti-type. Matthew’s citation of Hosea 11:1 does not deny that God also called the nation of Israel out o…, but Paul here denies the plural was ever intended by the promise and argues only for the singular. […]

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