A Further Response to Dr. Evans

Rather amazingly, Dr. Evans has responded to my post here. I say “amazingly” because most of the time when I critique seminary professors, they do not reply.

Firstly, he says that he did not say what I said he did: “He goes on to intimate that I view the WTS critics of Dr. Green as saying that ‘the fullness of understanding that we have in the NT’ was ‘completely present in the OT writer’s minds,’ and he characterizes this as a ‘straw man.'” Let me remind him of what he said in his original post:

Green’s critics, however, contend that such thinking effaces the “organic connection” between the Old Testament and the New. They believe that grammatical-historical interpretation is the normative method of biblical interpretation, and that the meaning of the text resides in the human author’s intention. However, the grammatical-historical method is redefined and expanded to include divine influence on the human authors’ psychology as legitimate considerations for interpretation. Thus they conclude that the NT meanings (i.e., the OT Christological content referenced by the NT writers) must have been present in the minds of the OT writers. The OT is, as one of Green’s critics puts it, “christomorphic,” in that references to Christ are objectively present in the text of the Old Testament and were intended by the human author. (emphasis added)

If he was not saying what I said he did, then he was a bit confused in what he said. It does not seem to me to be a terrific leap to go from saying that Green’s critics hold that the meaning of the text resides in the human author’s intention, and that the NT meanings must have been present in the minds of the OT writers, to saying that the fullness of understanding that we have in the NT was completely present in the OT writers’ minds. Maybe Dr. Evans is objecting to the word “completely.” The fact of the matter is that what was in the minds of the OT writers is a red herring. It is not relevant to the point at issue. See Rick Phillips’s reply to Dr. Evans’s piece. So, that whole paragraph that I quoted is evidence that Dr. Evans is locating the debate in the wrong place.

The reason I did not address the “similarities” between Ferguson/Poythress and the TRV is that these are not the points at issue. Ferguson/Poythress cannot be read as arguing anything more than simply taking the literary and historical context into account when we read the OT. As Rick Phillips has pointed out (link above), this is not the issue. Neither Ferguson nor Poythress advocate a TRV that posits a grammatical-historical exegesis devoid of typology (like McCartney advocates), or a TRV that divorces divine and human meanings. Maybe Dr. Evans could call up Drs. Ferguson and Poythress and ask them if they are advocating a Christotelic interpretation by their words.

The last point I will address is Dr. Evans’s misunderstanding of my point about ST. He writes, “Keister suggests that this two-readings view results in the ‘scorn of systematic theology.'” This is not what I said at all. I said, “The TRV is inevitably connected with a scorn of systematic theology.” The problem here is Dr. Evans’s use of the words “results in.” That is not my point. My point is that the TRV is connected with a scorn of ST. If anything, the scorn of ST is a contributing factor resulting in the TRV, not the other way around. In Dr. Evans’s understandable attempt to set the record straight with regard to himself, he (inadvertently, no doubt) set my record crooked. By the way, I was not accusing Dr. Evans of holding to Christotelic interpretation. Nowhere did I suggest this. Dr. Evans is defending people who hold to it. That is different from holding to it oneself. Given the fact that Dr. Evans is not defending the particular point that is actually in debate, and that Rick and I have a problem with, I have seen no evidence as of yet that Dr. Evans holds to the TRV. So, Dr. Evans’s example of himself and ST is beside the point. My experience is with Longman, Enns, Green, and McCartney, all of whom have in class or in writings, expressed their disdain for ST having any kind of impact on their exegesis. The only kind of shackles they want for exegesis is Second Temple Judaism, or ANE parallels. That is their grid for exegesis, not ST. This is not a unified encyclopedia such as Vos would have practiced. So, the point is far from baloney.

7 Comments

  1. Jay Ryder said,

    September 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    While I have found myself drawn to and greatly influenced by the Redemptive-Historical hermeneutic of Vos and Clowney over the years, I did recently come across an intriguing stance by Vos, which, in my opinion, could draw into question an overly staunch commitment to the unity of OT and NT covenant history. It was first brought to my attention in an article critiquing a work published by a WTS visiting Systematic Theology professor on the Reformation21 site, where the author is puts forth the questionable assertion that Christ was created.

    The author writes and quotes Vos’ Biblical Theology:
    “Two points here in order to fill out the relationship between a Chalcedonian theology of condescension and the unity of biblical history. First: Certainly the incarnation is unique in its redemptive efficacy, redemptive-historical significance, and permanence; for the salvation of sinners, the Son assumes, once and permanently, a human nature. But the uniqueness of the incarnation does not disqualify a Christological read of Old Testament texts which reveal the historical activity of the a se, eternal I AM. There is precedent here in the work of Geerhardus Vos (Biblical Theology):
    Vos: “Finally, in regard to the much-mooted question, whether the Angel was created or uncreated, a clear distinction between the Person and the form of appearance suffices for an answer. If, as above suggested, the Angel-conception points back to an inner distinction within the Godhead, so as to make the Angel a prefiguration of the incarnate Christ, then plainly the Person appearing in the revelation was uncreated, because God. On the other hand, if by Angel we designate the form of manifestation of which this Person availed Himself, then the Angel was created. It is the same in the case of Christ: the divine Person in Christ is uncreated, for Deity and being created are mutually exclusive. Nevertheless as to His human nature Jesus was created. The only difference in this respect between Him and the Angel is that under the Old Testament the created form was ephemeral, whereas through the incarnation it has become eternal (75-6).”

    His commitment to historical unity leads the author to make this conclusion:
    “With Vos, we say that relative to the divine essence, he is uncreated; relative to the human nature, created.”

    I see this as a distinctive flaw in Vos’ writings.

    It would seem that a Christotelic hermeneutic (and the two readings) would not constrain theologians to manufacture such unities and thus err.

  2. Reed Here said,

    September 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Jay, you didn’t mention the source sufficiently. Might you amend? Thx.

  3. September 30, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    It should be noted that Doug Green himself voiced his opinion that he and Ferguson are saying essentially the same thing (On William Evans’ Facebook page, August 16), so it is not as though Evans is just out to lunch on that point.

  4. Matt Here said,

    September 30, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Reading all of these comments, blog posts, etc. makes you realize this is quickly becoming a saga that never Enns….

  5. Jay Ryder said,

    September 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Yes, Reed. My apologies. The article was written by Nate Shannon on Reformation21 http://www.reformation21.org/articles/modifying-classical-theism-chalcedonian-theology-proper-and-reformed-tradition.php. The Vos quote comes from “Biblical Theology”, first edition, pages 75-6.

  6. Reed Here said,

    September 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks Jay.

  7. Nathanael Johnston said,

    October 1, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Reed, you may also be interested in this reply to the Shannon article:http://www.reformation21.org/articles/objections-to-k-scott-oliphints-covenantal-properties-thesis.php


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