Doug Green on Psalm 8

After reading Green’s articles on Psalm 8 and Psalm 23, there are a few things that stick out. One is that there is definitely a spectrum of opinion on the Christotelic scale, and that Green seems to be far less extreme in his views than Enns, or even McCartney. Secondly, the Psalm 8 article leaves more in the way of questions for me, instead of firm ideas on what Green’s hermeneutic is. There are indications, but they do not seem to me to be full-fledged. Thirdly, there are many, many things that I would agree with Green on in both articles. In fact, I would say that there is more I agree with him on than disagree. So the following is a set of questions only addressing possible areas of concern. From my experience with Green in the classroom, he is rather guarded in what he says, and says rather less than more. The article on Psalm 8 can be found online here.

The first question has to do with footnote 8, which I will reproduce in full:

Implicit in this statement is my conviction that biblical texts should be read (by and large) in the context of the unfolding story of redemption. The meaning of a text varies depending on the way it is related to the larger story in which it is embedded. Each part of the unfolding story (including individual psalms) “make sense” on their own as the story unfolds; they have provisional meanings, which are discerned through grammatical-historical exegesis. But these earlier parts of the story will “make sense” in a different way once the climax of the story is known. The meaning of the parts is shaped by the whole, which, in an unfolding story, means that the parts only “make ultimate sense” in the light of the climax of the story. Now I admit that the Bible is not quite an unfolding story, but it is a book that takes its general shape from the history to which it bears witness. This connection to the metanarrative of redemption means there are (at least) two ways of reading Old Testament texts. The “first reading” can be variously named: reading towards an unknown conclusion, reading without the benefit of the conclusion, reading a text in the context of the story as far as it has unfolded. It is like the way we read a novel or watch a movie for the first time: we make sense of the individual parts in the context of what we have read or seen so far. But there is also is a second way of reading Old Testament texts, one that is distinctly Christian. It is fundamentally an act of rereading, or reinterpretation of earlier provisional meanings, in the light of the (sometimes surprising) Christ-ending to the story of redemption. Just as scenes from a movie watched or book read a second time can have quite different meanings once the ending is known, the same is true for Old Testament passages re-read in terms of the whole canonical story of redemption (emphasis added).

I have bolded key sections of the quotation that I wish to ask questions about. On the one hand, statements like “the unfolding story of redemption,” “is shaped by the whole,” sound like a unified Bible. The statement, “Now I admit that the Bible is not quite an unfolding story, but it is a book that takes its general shape from the history to which it bears witness” is puzzling to me. What does Green mean by “not quite an unfolding story”? I must admit I have no idea what that means, especially since he immediately goes on to compare the Bible to a novel, which, presumably, is an unfolding story. How does the second half of that sentence qualify the first half? What does the unfolding nature of a story (or the “not quiteness”) have to do with “its general shape” being taken “from the history to which it bears witness?”

Then there are the remaining bolded sections, which are more problematic. The second reading is Christian, which seems to imply that the first reading is not. He says that the second reading can have quite different meanings, or “make sense” in a quite different way. What does Green mean by that? Does he mean a shifted meaning, or sensus plenior? In the phrase “reading towards an unknown conclusion,” is Green saying that the OT authors did not know Jesus? Did Abraham rejoice to see Jesus’ day? Did he see Jesus’ day? Green says that the Christ-ending is “sometimes surprising.” Does this mean it is not always surprising? If so, then how can the second reading be “distinctly Christian?” Some clarification on these questions would be welcome.

The other passage I wish to interact with is footnote 37, also reproduced in full with bold added:

Hebrews 2 shows how the provisional meanings of Old Testament texts are always subject to change in the light of the gospel. In Psalm 8, “being a little lower than the angels” and “crowned with glory and honor” are set in parallel. They are different ways of saying more or less the same thing. To be the true Adam (or David) was to be the true bearer of the divine image and so be a “little lower than the angels” (i.e., almost divine) and “crowned with glory.” In other words, both clauses describe a condition of royal exaltation. For the writer of Hebrews, however, “a little lower than the angels” is an entirely inadequate description of Christ’s exalted (i.e., post-resurrection) state because in that state he is decidedly not “a little lower than the angels. ” Therefore, exploiting some ambiguity latent in the Septuagint translation of Ps 8:6 (braxu/, brachu, can either refer to status or time), this writer cracks the verse open and reinterprets it to fit his Christology. Rather than allowing the two halves of the verse to be conceptually parallel, he makes them temporally consecutive: first Christ was “made a for a little while lower than the angels” (incarnation and humiliation) and then later (at his resurrection and exaltation) “crowned with glory and honor” (see Brevard S. Childs, “Psalm 8 in the Context of the Christian Canon,” Interpretation 23 [1969]: 24-26). Is this “reading into” the text? Yes … and no. Yes: the original meaning of Psalm 8:6 does not quite fit what the resurrection reveals about Jesus. So what does the author of Hebrews do? He interprets the psalm to make it fit Christ. It has turned out that Jesus is a surprisingly bigger, more incredible climax to Israel’s story than Israel could ever have imagined: the Messiah is in fact elevated above the angels. So the writer of Hebrews expands and breaks open (or “blows up”) Israel’s understanding of what the Messiah-figure would be like and in so doing he makes Scripture conform to Christ. On the other hand, we must also recognize that this interpretative move is true to the metanarrative of redemption. This “making Scripture fit Christ” is undergirded by a deep belief that the metanarrative of redemptive history has reached its initial climax in the enthronement of Christ and ultimately will reach the final climax in the submission of all creation to him. Above all, it is this “sense of an ending” to Israel’s story, rather than grammatical-historical exegesis, that controls apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament. See Dan G. McCartney, “The New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament,” in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic: A Tradition, A Challenge, A Debate (ed. Harvie M. Conn; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 101-16.

Here again, there are indications that are somewhat puzzling. There are statements that seem to assert the unity of Scripture right alongside statements that seem to mitigate unity. So Green says “he makes Scripture conform to Christ,” and then says that “this interpretive move is true to the metanarrative of redemption.” He seems to agree with McCartney that apostolic interpretation of the Old Testament did not include GHE. For more on that particular subject, see now Steve Hays’s excellent article on the Triablogue. Hays has a particularly good response to McCartney’s argument concerning the similarity of typology to allegory. Hays also has an excellent article on the “mystery novel” analogy. Anyway, back to Green. In the first sentence of the quotation, what does Green mean by “provisional,” and “always subject to change?” Does this imply that God is changing His mind on what something means? Again, is the meaning shifting with the NT, or merely growing naturally out of the OT? At the moment, my current impression of Green is that he is trying to straddle a number of positions at once. It makes his position less extreme, but also a bit more confusing.


  1. roberty bob said,

    October 3, 2014 at 11:11 am

    My Oh My, Mister Green, What Big Footnotes You Have!

    It’s the prime indicator that the guy has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

    Green is definitely not on the same plane as Hays.

  2. Matt Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Roberty, Green also doesn’t seem to be on the same plane as Clowney either. There’s a reason Ed didn’t title his classic book, ‘The Not Quite Unfolding Mystery’.

  3. Jay Ryder said,

    October 3, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    With regard to the Hays article, he surmises: “The question at issue is whether the ‘second reading’ finds something in the OT that isn’t really there. Is it like a crooked detective who plants evidence, then ‘discovers’ the evidence he added after the crime.”

    However, I would say that this issue cuts both ways. An overly wrought typology can similarly err by presupposing the very same evidence that the second reading “discovers”. (For an example, see my reference to Vos’ flawed reading of Christ and the Angel of the Lord in the earlier thread, which dovetails very well with this one, given the footnote references to Christ and the angels).

    In other words, either method will be equally flawed, depending on trajectory. If the theologian presupposes a heretical position, it doesn’t matter very much whether that is his initial, typological interpretive lens or their ancillary (second reading) lens. Granted, it appears that the latter approach might seem more convincing to the modern mindset of the Yale/Harvard academic, as is the case with Green.

  4. Jay Ryder said,

    October 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    John Calvin in his Commentary on Hebrews 2 seems to have agreement with Green regarding the use of Psalm 8:

    “I have already shown that the passage is fitly applicable to the Son of God; but the Apostle seems now to turn the words from that meaning in which David understood them; for a little, βραχύ τι seems to refer to time, as it means a little while, and designates the abasement of Christ’s humiliation; and he confines the glory to the day of resurrection, while David extends it generally to the whole life of man.

    “To this I answer, that it was not the Apostle’s design to give an exact explanation of the words. For there is nothing improperly done, when verbal allusions are made to embellish a subject in hand, as Paul does in quoting a passage in Romans 10:6, from Moses, “Who shall ascend into heaven,” etc., he does not join the words “heaven and hell” for the purpose of explanation, but as ornaments. The meaning of David is this, — “O Lord, thou hast raised man to such a dignity, that it differs but little from divine or angelic honor; for he is set a ruler over the whole world.” This meaning the Apostle did not intend to overthrow, nor to turn to something else; but he only bids us to consider the abasement of Christ, which appeared for a short time, and then the glory with which he is perpetually crowned; and this he does more by alluding to expressions than by explaining what David understood.”
    ref: CCEL, Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews

    And excerpted from one of Calvin’s footnotes (Appendix G):
    “Then the Apostle extends the idea, and refers to Christ as one who was to make good the grant made. The dominion promised to man, especially what that dominion was a pledge of, was not attained by man; but Christ, who has assumed his nature, and in this respect became lower than the angels, will yet attain it for him. It is through Christ indeed that we obtain a right to the things of this world as well as to the things of the next world. God promises both to his people; but in Christ only are his promises, yea and amen. The promise made to man as a believer, both as to this world and the next, is as it were made good only through Christ, who assumed his nature for this very purpose.
    By taking this view we avoid the necessity of making that prophetic which has no appearance of being so, or of supposing that the Psalm is referred to by way of accommodation. The fact respecting man restored to God’s favor is stated, and the Apostle teaches us that the dominion granted to him can only be realized through Christ, who has already attained that dominion in his own person, and will eventually confer it on all his people.”

  5. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    If the whole Enns mess had not happened I would probabaly read Green less warily. It has been pointed out that Green says “…he [the human author of Hebrews] makes Scripture conform to Christ.” I MIGHT say something like, “the author has been given the grace to see that God was setting forth Christ in a “peculiar” and largely hidden way in the original context. One major difference between Green’s statement and mine then would be the recognized controler of the relationship between OT and NT. In a pre-Enns mess reading of Green, I might view his way of expression as attermpting to account for the human author in the process and doing so in away that I would not be comfortable with but perhaps it’s no big deal. In the current environment, I am more suspicious that the human author is acting more arbitrarily (certainly one credible reading of Green’s words here) than as one under the superintending special providence of God. This then might be a human author that is following and is governed by uninspired conventions of human Midrashim. Now to the degree some 2TJ Midarash guys see or discover a proper hemeneutic that God himself intended, there is probably still no big problem. However, the way this stuff comes across post-Enns is that Apostolic hermeneutics are more dictated by Jewish human culture than any active involvement of the Holy Spirit. Whether this shoe fits Green I cannot say with certainty but obviously some at WTS had a concern and the Liilback position paper probably has some hints that remain to be fully developed. Beyond that, I wonder if Green’s Psalm 8 paper tends to ecclipse the major Pauline comparison of two Adams in a manner similar to how Wright and Enns turn Adam into a projection of Israel’s identity (a more Israel-centric than two Adam centric approach to our eschatological salvation).

  6. Matt Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Stu hits the hammer on the nail when he says, “If the whole Enns mess had not happened….”

    When WTS dismissed Pete in 2009, I recall a lot of the same ‘Tremper-like’ outbursts to ‘save our seminary’! Then Pete starts blogging [or rather (d)’evolving’] on the question of the historicity of Adam around 2011. Suddenly all of those crickets weren’t nearly so loud. At the very least, I think it did show precisely why Enns had to go. He himself has said recently that his views didn’t ‘evolve’….which tells me that all of this stuff about the historicity of Adam was probably the subject of much behind-the-scenes discussion prior to 2009.

    Now, I agree that Green shouldn’t be ‘retired’ just because he’s a FoP (‘Friend of Pete’)….but enough of that ‘messiness’ remains from the whole Enns debacle that it seems impossible to divorce that from the current proceedings.

  7. Joe S. said,

    October 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm


    I was under the impression that Enns’ position theologically has shifted quite a bit post WTS. I don’t know if evolved is the right way to describe it. In a recent conversation with someone on a social media site Enns rejected terms like drifted because it is pejorative and stated that he has made decisions that have lead him to his current position today. Some times I wonder if Enns current position is at least influenced, like a pendulum, by what happened at WTS much like a WTS graduate I know who became apostate in a large part due to their experience at WTS witnessing the politics, manipulation, and strife.

    I think that Green is on a very different trajectory. He was approved by his session as being inside the WCF and he is going to be teaching as a senior faculty at a school that is associated with the Presbyterian Church of Australia, has a high view of scripture, and also subscribes to the WCF. Neither of these would of happened if he was too far out in left field and they should make u stop and think.

    That is why it is important to judge Green not by Enns or McCartney but by Green. I think we have established that there is a spectrum under the heading Christotelic. Unfortunately many critics seem to view the extreme instead of the more moderate positions.

  8. mattnewkirk said,

    October 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Indeed, that is an excellent point, Matt. Let us not forgot that so far we have had two ecclesiastical courts that subscribe to the WCF who have investigated and affirmed Green’s views as in accord: (1) The session of New Life Glenside PCA, and (2) The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. The theological college where Green is going to teach is the denominational training institution of the PCQ and is under their direct oversight (I know, I used to teach there!).

  9. mattnewkirk said,

    October 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Oops, I meant “that is an excellent point, Joe.” He was addressing Matt and I got confused… but then again I’m easily confused.

  10. Joe S. said,

    October 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    No problem, Matt. I didn’t know that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland investigated and affirmed that Green was found to be in accord. It makes sense because I’m sure they had to do due diligence in light of the WTS charges.

    Matt, how many ecclesiastical courts affirmed that Enns was in accord post WTS? Again, very different trajectory. Why? I think that Green’s theological positions are different then Enns.

  11. Joe S. said,

    October 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    And now I’m creating confusion!!

    When I said ‘Matt’ the second time I was referring to Matt Here not mattnewkirk.

  12. Reed Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    And so here are again.

    Why can’t we simply discuss the views? Why not leave our opinions about the actions of WTS and Green out?

  13. Matt Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Sorry for the confusion….there seems to be a lot of that these days (self included).

    I actually agree that the seminary has backed themselves into a bit of an ecclesiastical juggernaut. At the very least, I think it deserves more of a response than the one we’ve received, especially as it relates to a seminary board that presumably has a problem with Green and a session that does not.

    But I’m still not convinced this is far cry from normal presbyterian practice. Consider, for example, a PCA assistant pastor. I can think of two examples right away I’ve seen in my own presbyteries where (a) said minister was hired by a session; (b) said minister eventually adopted views that the session disagreed with; (c) said minister was ‘let go’ by the session without a lot of explanation of *why* he was leaving.

    Now, there was part of me that didn’t like the process of the way someone *ordained* could simply be discarded by a simple session vote, but that’s reality of our polity.

    I guess my point in bring Enns back up is not simply to prejudge Green….but rather to say that it seems to me (in the absence of information about specifics w/ Green) we do have some historic precedent in *why* Enns was removed. If you concede that Pete did go off the reservation enough to warrant serious concern, even if he wasn’t removed in the best possible manner it’s hard to get around the fact that the board acted correctly at least insofar as removing him. And if the board judged Enns’ views correctly….

    Technically, I suppose it’s possible to take the line that WTS got Enns right but is getting Green wrong. The difference of course is that we’ve had 5+ years to judge that decision about Enns, whereas Green is still hot off the press.

  14. Joe S. said,

    October 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    My apologies, Reed.

    It is a difficult task because it is the context for our conversations. If Lane had read Green without the knowledge that WTS Board had reversed themselves and declared Green to be heterodox or that Green was at one point a colleague of Enns do you think he would have the same questions regarding Green’s publications? Maybe, maybe not…that being said I’ll try to do better.

  15. Reed Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Joe: I understand the connection. I also understand the concern some have (on both sides). Lane has cautioned, and I agree, that discussing the actions and motives, beyond what both parties have already said, is simply not helpful.

    So, with understanding that we come to the discussion with convictions about the validity of the actions taken, let’s leave that aside and seek to understand the hermeneutical issue. At the very least that can help us all.

  16. Jay Ryder said,

    October 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Reed, I’ve made the attempt.

  17. Bill Smith said,

    October 3, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Matt, if a Session just let a man go, that is not legal under the PCA constitution. The Presbytery establishes the relationship of the assistant to the session, and the presbytery must dissolve it.

  18. Bill Smith said,

    October 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Reed There, you ask: “Why can’t we simply discuss the views? Why not leave our opinions about the actions of WTS and Green out?” Y’all can keep saying you want only to discuss only view till the cows come home, and I will keep saying till they come home that the issues are intertwined and cannot much more succesfully be dissolved than the intertwining body and soul can be dissovled short of death. But I have a suggestion which I think will end the comments about Grren-WTS-Christotelic exegesis. Stop posting about it. Let it go. Surely there are other errors to expose and other subjects were considering. BTW, if it were possible, this continuing pursuit of Green, would give me Leithart sympathy.

  19. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    #18: Leithart or Wright? Check out .
    I mentioned Wright above and suspect that an Israelcentric hermeneutic might also be at work in the WTS concerns. Internal discussions going back in time about NPP and Wright. Interesting to me.

  20. Tim Harris said,

    October 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Moderator, I really think all the subtle maneuvering on fine points of hermeneutics misses the important point. These are men that deny creatio ex nihilo. The first article of all the creeds. End of discussion.

    Moreover, other than technicalities like contracts, tenure, and so forth (all of which are non-germane to what is being debated here), why can’t the Board dismiss any teacher for any reason whatsoever? Even, “you make us nervous.” Where did the idea creep in that so-and-so (whoever) just has a “right” to be here absent a bullet-proof case against him?

    (Yes, I know Green & Co. don’t deny creatio ex nihilo as a doctrine, they just deny “that it is taught by Genesis.” Fine. If you can explain it away in Genesis, you can certainly explain it away in Isaiah. Let’s stop playing word games. The doctrine won’t last more than a generation once the exegetical basis is dissolved.)

  21. Reed Here said,

    October 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Bill, I disagree. Can’t figure out how to say this with respect and gentleness so I’m amending my words and saying less.

    It is simple, talk about one and not the other. If for some reason you believe you are unable to do so, then don’t talk about either.

    What is so hard about that?

  22. Reed Here said,

    October 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Tim, you may be right, but that is not what Lane has been blogging about.

  23. Jay Ryder said,

    October 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I’m not sure why my comments, especially #4, have largely been ignored. Certainly it would seem that Green and Calvin have much in common with regard to the Hebrews 2/Psalm 8 question. It is quite curious to me that none have chosen to even consider Calvin on this matter or interact with his hermeneutic as compared with Green’s as I have suggested.

  24. Reed Here said,

    October 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    thanks for trying Jay.

  25. Bill Smith said,

    October 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Here’s a question about hermemeutics: Tomorrow I am preaching on St. Luke 7:11-17. After our Lord raises the widow’s son, the people say that “God hath visited his people.” Now I take this to mean that in the Person of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, God had visited his people and done a mighty work of salvation. But I know this in light of the NT testimony. I don’t think the people could possibly have exegeted that meaning from their own words. Now, as I have said before, I am a preacher, and my two primary interests are, “What does this text mean?” and “How shall I preach it?” So, on my first question, re what the text means. I want to ask, is my exegesis. grammatico-historical, redemptiive-historical, Christocentric, Christotlelic, bad, or what?

  26. roberty bob said,

    October 5, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    to #25 . . . you note that the people who witnessed Jesus healing the widow’s son, and exclaimed with astonishment “God hath visited His people!” could not “possibly have exegeted that meaning from their own words.”

    What I think you are saying is that you are 1000 salvation years away from being ready to preach the Gospel to your congregation.

    I hope God helped you pull it together today.

    Long ago in the the Day of Elisha the Lord visited his people in the village of Nain. Now He makes a second visit in the Day of Jesus! I’m sure that the villagers remembered the earlier visit, and thus regarded the wonders of Jesus as a similar — and even greater! — visit.

  27. Bill Smith said,

    October 6, 2014 at 6:02 am

    Roberty Bob: Let me try again. The people see the young man raised from the dead and restored to his widowed mother. They ask, “How do we explain this? What category do we put this in?” They knew (probably) the closely parallel story of Elijah and the less closely parallel story of Elisha. Both raised sons to life. In the Elijah case it was a widow’s son restored to his mother. So, “He is a prophet.” And, as God had in the OT visted his people in judgment (not often) and in redemption/blessing (more often), they conclude that this resurrection (to mortal life) must be a divine visitation. What they do not know, though I know it, is that this is Immaneul, God with us, the God-Man, God in the flesh. Had you said to them, “You said,.’God hath visited his people.’ What did you mean?” They could not have said what I said about the text, though I think the text means that when exegeted in light of the NT revelation. The sermon went well. If you’d like to respond further, feel free. Otherwise, I am content to leave it at this.

  28. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Getting back to the particular issues raised in Green’s take on Psalm 8:
    I have already, in previous posts, suggested that a problem might reside in an Israel-Jesus (Church) centric versus Adam-Second Adam centric approach to salvation history. Gaffin’s interaction with N.T. Wright (who Green seems to regard more sympathetically than I think Gaffin does) at a conference a while back, focuses on this issue. Enns likes to project back from Israel to Adam (as a sort of identity explanation for Israel). Thus he can dismiss Adam as real history and more of a theological projection of Israel. Green does not go so far in the Psalm 8 article but there are some interesting quotations that suggest an affinity of method:
    “… the man and the son of man in verse 4 are usually interpreted ‘in an entirely democratic fashion’ ….”
    Green wants to de-center this approach (legitimate but not the “best way” of reading it). By centering it in Israel and the Kings, the two Adam paradigm gets de-centered (not the sort of approach I remember from the Vos-Ridderbos-Gaffin approach to biblical theology and Pauline eschatology). This can also loosen the grounding of federal theology. If the “first reading” of Green (de-centering the common humanity in Adam focus) is the “best” but it is not the NT second reading, we have an unnecessary conflict, IMO, because the first reading requires some mind-reading of the original hearers and/or author of Ps 8 that appear to be naturalistic or culturally bound to Israel-centrism. BTW, Evans has a new response that has appeared on the Aquila blog. He seems to concede divine unity of mind behind the OT-NT. Is this something other Christotelic people tend to minimize in a desire to focus on the “human” factor does it suggest mean the divine unity gets contorted in ways God would not have contorted it? Evans seems sympathetic to Longman but what he says is hard to square (for me) with Longman’s “not a glimmer” comments on Isa 7.
    PS: One of the footnotes of Green (#4), might be worth following up.

  29. p duggie said,

    October 6, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    In Boice’s sermon on Psalm 8, he reads it first as making David’s point about the significance of human beings. Nowhere does Boice indicate that David was thinking along messianic lines.

    Then Boice gives it a christian reading,m relating it to christ at the end.

  30. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Re #29: I am not sure exactly how the Boice reference fits with Green (or against Green). I think Green is saying something more than that there is or can be a Messianic reading to Ps 8.
    First, the following Green statement fits my take that there is a de-centering from the two Adams paradigm (not anthropology but “Israelology” as he calls it … versus Rm 5; 1 Cor 15):

    “I do not think that the “democratic” interpretation does justice to the close connection that exists between the story of Adam and Eve and Israel’s story.”

    To the degree “Israelology” trumps the Two Adam construction, we open the way to a NPP view of redemption.
    As I read Green, the tie seems to be that David (et al?) are the second Adam. A Messianic tie enables viewing Christ as second David. This Messianic tie is no problem. Indeed it is a commonplace. Theologically, if you put the two notions together I suppose you could project and say this makes Christ the third Adam but that violates the Two Adam paradigm and does not look like what Green is trying to say (though he does make Christ the preeminent man). I think his thrust makes Israel more central and basic than Adam in terms of how Christ fulfills the OT. But the primal problem of the OT is the sin of Adam; not the sin of Israel or David. A connection of Adam and Eve to Israel’s story is fine but again, I think the “Israelizing” in his approach opens the door to de-historicizing that which has been de-decentered, viz. Adam and Eve. At least this what Enns has done. Also, redemption of the Gentiles really looks like an afterthought in this approach.

  31. RG Leverett said,

    October 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I understand the point in bringing in Boice. While not an OT scholar Boice was a competent pastor scholar.,the point is that the TRV or the Christotelic hermeunutic is nothing new and definitely part of normal exegesis. If we are going to divide over the Christotelic hermeunutic and cast men out of presbyteries and institutions then we might as well begin the process now of subdividing into ever small alphabet denominations.

  32. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 6, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Re 31: I thought through different posts and threads it was clear there is more than one “Christotelic” approach; so to speak of ”THE Christotelic “hermeneutic” does not tell me anything. Example, Lillback “THE Christotelic theologian says this in his position paper: What then does this have to do with the Christotelic hermeneutic? In one approach to Christotelic hermeneutics, there is no inconsistency at all. Christocentric and Christotelic may well be understood as mutually reinforcing. One way to say this would be to assert that Christ is the heart of the Bible’s organic message (Christocentric) and that Christ is the goal of every stage of redemptive history (Christotelic).

  33. Jay Ryder said,

    October 6, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    RG #31 Yes, I agree with the futility of casting men out on the basis of employing a TRV/Christotelic hermeneutic. As mentioned above, Calvin also seemed to embrace the Christotelic/TRV approach in his commentary.

    Furthermore, there is a new article at Reformation21 that is interesting and relevant, as I believe it touches on many of the same main points I’ve been trying to make in several threads:

  34. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    I’ve suggested potential issues in Green’s approach to Psalm 8 but WTS has the link to this article without direct criticism of it that I recall. Not so, it seems with his Psalm 23 article which evidently provoked some call for revision. See
    I guess this might be stuff for a new thread but I throw the link out there in case the article is of interest.

  35. Trent said,

    October 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I was open to hearing the christotelic interpretation but if Green is more of a ‘moderate’ on this and still says “he makes Scripture conform to Christ” then something is wrong.

  36. Jay Ryder said,

    October 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Trent, if that is a concern, then perhaps the argument boils down to a false dichotomy or a false hierarchy, since scripture = Christ? If one side is interpreting “scripture to conform with Christ”, is the other interpreting “Christ to conform with scripture”? If it seems so, then there is potentially something wrong with each of these approaches on their own.

  37. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 9, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Re #36: If it’s a false dichotomy then I guess Christ is in all of the Scriptures after all. So much for Christ not being in the OT first reading. Some ‘splaining needed.

  38. roberty bob said,

    October 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

    In one of our Lord’s references to the Holy Scriptures [OT], he said, “they are they which testify of me.” This does not necessarily mean that every OT text or passage points to Christ directly and explicitly, but it does mean that the same creative and life-giving Word that would one day assume our human flesh was continually Spirit-empowered to accomplish God’s good purposes. Even where Christ is not yet named, the very Word of God [proclaimed by the prophets, carried out by kings and commoners] moving events forward until the “fullness of time” when that Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

    The Christ must first be revealed to the world in order to be seen by the world and believed in. The OT does not reveal Christ, so an OT first reading does not bring Christ to light. We believers who have seen the revealed Christ can now comprehend how the OT serves as a witness [testifier] of Christ.

    Consider the following hymn, O Love of God, How Strong and True.
    Blue Psalter Hymnal #329

    vs. 4
    We read Thee best in Him who came
    To bear for us the cross of shame;
    Sent from the Father from on high,
    Our life to live, our death to die.

    We read Thy power to bless and save,
    E’en in the darkness of the grave;
    Still more in resurrection light
    We read the fullness of Thy might.

    Christ is not so clearly seen in the first reading of the OT [the reading of those who first read it or heard it] as Christ is seen in the OT now through the lens of cross / resurrection.

  39. Andrew Duggan said,

    October 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Excellent Point rb. — Post NT hymns are essential since Christ is not seen in the OT (and esp the Psalms) This was exactly Isaac Watts point with his hymns. One wonders how the reformed churches survived on the Psalms which don’t show Christ. So much better now that the unchristian Psalms can be dispensed with, and replaced by something Christian. /sarcasm.

    Anyone who sings any non-inspired “hymn” that is not found in the 150 Psalms is implicitly (even if uncritically and unthinkingly) agreeing with the TRV. That’s why Watts replaced the Psalter in the first place. Of course, Watts went one step further, in that even with a second reading the Psalms were unsuitable for Christian worship. So when you sing a song by Watts (or any of those that followed in his idolatrous footsteps, because who has required it at your hands to write songs for worship, laying aside those which Christ himself supplied for us) you are consenting to his doctrine that the Psalms don’t present Christ, that drove Watts to replace the Psalms. But for the past two centuries you’ve all been slowly boiled to the point where you uncritically accept something much worse than the TRV with your counterfeit psalms.

    The reason those counterfeits were written was because their authors believed the Psalms did not show Christ and were unsuitable for Christian worship. Every time you use one of those, you are in affect saying “Amen!” to something much worse than the TRV, that is that the Psalms even with a second reading don’t present Christ.

    Such is the allure of idolatrous worship, even when it carries with it implications we know are wrong (something worse than the TRV) we, like the children of Israel just can’t stop. Just like all the kings of Israel after Jeroboam, they made Israel to sin, departing not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat that made Israel to sin, so the reformed churches today will not depart from sins of Isaac Watts that made the church to sin.

  40. Reed Here said,

    October 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Andrew, really, exclusive psalmody on this topic? Got to admit I admire your determination, but please, stick to the subject of the post. Thanks!

  41. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Re #38: A couple of possibilities I see from your response: 1) It was wrong to say, “he makes Scripture conform to Christ” (a good response) or 2) There’s this general providence thing with God directing history that enables us to read Christ back into the OT or Mein Kampf for that matter (not such a good response). So go with #1 or more ‘splaining.

  42. roberty bob said,

    October 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    in reply to #41 . . .

    It’s not a matter of Scripture conforming to Christ or of Christ conforming to Scripture; the two are manifestations of the same thing. We call Scripture the Word of God, and we call Christ the Word of God made flesh. So there is no need of either to conform to the other. That’s what I was saying in #38. Also, since we recognize that God’s revelation is progressive, we can admit that the Christ remains unseen until he the born into the world. Even then, God the Father reveals his Son to those whom he chooses to reveal him; so it Christ’s identity and presence is not obvious to all.

    I don’t think the concept of reading Christ back into the OT is the most accurate way of stating what we, with NT knowledge, do. I think that what we do is recognize that the promises, types, etc. are fulfilled in Christ. For example, Jesus reads the scroll of Isaiah 61 and declares that TODAY is the day of their fulfillment. Christ reveals himself as the Spirit-empowered Servant of the Lord whose appearing Isaiah had prophetically proclaimed. Isaiah doesn’t proclaim this person as the Christ. But now we do, because Jesus revealed this persons true identity.

  43. roberty bob said,

    October 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    in reply to #39 [and #40] . . .

    Very good observation, Andrew. Watts and his progeny think that they can improve on the Psalter by Christianizing it. It’s hard to get today’s church into real Psalm singing.

  44. Joe S. said,

    October 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Have you guys seen the latest from Poythress?

    Click to access 2014DispensingJETS_57-3_481-99.pdf

    I think that it relates directly to the TRV hermeneutical discussion and is, perhaps, a pendulum swing away from it. Forget two readings Poythress seems to be encouraging people to not only use one reading but to disregard the human author and instead focus on the divine. Perhaps Bill Evans was correct when he coined the term “bibliological Eutychianism” when speaking of current WTS hermeneutical trends here:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around Poythress’ paper. Any initial thoughts about it and how it relates to TRV?

  45. Reed Here said,

    October 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    O.k. Joe, I’ll bite. Appreciate the Poythress article. Haven’t finished it yet, but so far I like what he us saying, a lot.

    Skimmed through the Evans article. Appreciate his point about the center of the debate being on the psychological dimension within the human author. While this may not be the only important difference, it may very well be the coordinating difference.

    I want to think a bit more about these both before commenting more deeply. For now though I can say I agree with Evans that “the incarnational analogy is inexact when applied to Scripture.” At this point I’m inclined to regard the Eutychianism comparison as nothing more than boogeyman reference. I don’t see it in what Poythress has written.

    But maybe I missed something. What are you thinking?

  46. Reed Here said,

    October 11, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Joe, P.S.: I think it much more likely that the Christotelic position is susceptible to a gnostifying influence, a dividing between human and Spiritual components.

    It is, to be sure, valid to distinguish human from divine components of Scripture. Yet this can only be done with the intention of then coordinating them. I.O.W. the isolated focus is temporary with the intention solely of understanding the parts better to comprehend the whole better.

    Never, however, can the meaning of one be fully understood in isolation from the other. Point of fact, the human author’s meaning cannot be divorced from the Divine author’s. Thus there cannot be a fundamental break between original audience meaning and canonical meaning.

  47. elnwood said,

    October 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I received the JETS article in print in my mail this past week, and just got around to reading Poythress’ article. It seems to me that Poythress is making a rather daring claim, and using only two examples (Zephaniah and Paul) isn’t sufficient to prove his point.

    I wasn’t persuaded at all regarding Poythress’ writing on Paul. For example, the difference in the relation between faith and works in Romans and James is more easily resolved when you understand that Paul and James use those terms differently.

    Also, Poythress was not forthcoming about whom he was critiquing regarding “isolating the human author.” So when he says there are problems by doing this, I’m not exactly sure what he is referring to or why it is problematic.

  48. Jay Ryder said,

    October 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    #37 Stuart (OPC), your response is an unfair characterization. If the debate was about someone making a blanket statement denying that “Christ is in all of the Scriptures” then you might have a point.

    The reason I made my statement is because the original post refers to an article by Hays which tries to characterize the TRV/Christotelic hermeneutic as equivalent to someone going back and planting evidence after the fact, then discovering it on a “second reading”. The trouble with Hays’ flawed logic is that it doesn’t account for the fact that the same thing can happen with one reading. I’ve seen presuppositionalists “plant evidence” that supports their position prior to investigation just as surely as a TRV could have planted it after the fact. (I even gave an example from Vos’ Biblical Theology, where his hermeneutical approach caused him to err with regard to the nature of Christ (Vos argued that Christ was created – see previous thread)).

    All of that said, I’ll add another thought to the discussion which supports the Two-Reading View from Luke 24, where Jesus appears to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus — but they don’t recognize Him. Luke writes, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Certainly the OT readers would not have seen Jesus more clearly than His very own disciples who actually walked with Him and talked with Him in the flesh. Without the Holy Spirit, the OT readers could only know and understand in part and as foreshadowings, but they certainly didn’t understand what the Apostles and the post-ascension Church understood. It’s hard to understand why this would even be contested.

  49. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 13, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Re #48: “It’s hard to understand why this would even be contested.” What is being contested? It is a straw man to suggest that I (or I think anyone else posting here) is say that OT saints understood Christ’s presence in the OT as clearly as NT saints. This is the “unfair characterization.” In #37 I am suggesting “false dichotomy” (per #36) is reasonably understood to mean that it was wrong to say “he makes Scripture conform to Christ.” But if you want to defend the latter statement, then I think the expression “false dichotomy” amounts to meaningless gibberish (but it sounds nice as an academic slogan). But perhaps the expression is suggesting some sort of “concession” or “clarification” that Christ is in the OT—just that OT readers didn’t see him there. In the Psalm 23 article link I supplied in #34 [see pg 34 in article] Green states that Trinitarian theology makes it natural for Christians to associate Jesus with Yahweh so we can read, “Jesus is my Shepherd.” Green then says he sees the undergirding rationale as not so much Jesus fulfilling a direct prophesy as the analogy of Yahweh-Israelite and Jesus-Christian. Now this, I would suggest, is a classic false dichotomy. It looks to me like we have two different theories of progressive revelation going on here. A (or “the” if you will) classical reformed theory that is progressive both in terms of objective revelation and subjective understanding; then there is the TRV of some folks (maybe not all) in which the subjective limitations of OT saints, as attested to by transgenerational mind-reading 21st century biblical scholars govern the question; these OT readers cannot grasp even a “glimmer” (cf. Longman on Isa 7) of the truth of Christ in certain (All? Which ones? How do we know?) OT passages. Thus it is only with the later Christotelic view that even a glimmer of Christ exists in Isa 7, etc. Why cannot we simply accept what that NT says: Christ was in the OT. To use Enns favorite verse, 1 Cor 10.4: “The Rock was Christ.” Not “the Rock was Christ in Paul’s imagination.” Not “the Rock was Christ but then again from another equally valid perspective it was not.” Once we say Christ is objectively in the OT, then the question becomes, “how can anyone avoid a glimmer” of seeing him there? The more I engage on this topic the more I sense a valid concern was at work at WTS. By privileging analogy over prophet fulfillment, it seems Green is injecting a dispensational-like disjunction between OT reading and NT reading creating an unwarranted epistemological gulf.

  50. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 13, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Re older thread #1 (Further response to Evans) and current #48: Jay, I am startled by what looks like a rejection of the hypostatic union—as set forth in Vos and church fathers before him—in the name of Christotelic hermeneutics. Is this what you a really saying? The quote from Vos on Ref 21 seems very unexceptional in terms of its orthodoxy.

  51. Jay Ryder said,

    October 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Stuart (OPC) (re:#50) again, you put forth a false dichotomy. Nothing I have said denies Hypostatic union. And Hypostatic Union certainly does not conflict with the Nicene Creed and Athanasius who refuted the Arian heresy that “Christ was created”. If you accept as”unexception in terms of its orthodoxy” the Ref21 article that directly states in several places that Christ was created then you are also in error, as this is not orthodoxy. In fact, my supposition here is that the WTS commitment to complete covenantal unity overlays the presupposition that drove Vos and others to need to state that Christ was created.

    I think this bifurcated view that WTS creates – in multiple manifestations – is the crux of the problem overall and perhaps one of the reasons why you and others to make errors in your arguments against people like Green (not Enns!), who are plainly orthodox.

  52. Jay Ryder said,

    October 13, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Stuart (#49): Definition: false dichotomy is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities: that is, if one is true, the other must be false, or, more typically, if you do not accept one then the other must be accepted.
    By saying that we either need to “make (our interpretation of) the scriptures conform to Christ” OR “make Christ conform to (our interpretation of) the scriptures”, given that Christ is The Word and The Word is Christ, is to show a key false dichotomy/bifurcation is at play.

    WTS doesn’t have a problem making Christ conform to their interpretation of the scriptures, but they have decided to take issue with making their interpretation of the scriptures conform to Christ. So, yes, I would say that IS a problem.

    Finally, I will not comment on any of your examples or quotes from Enns or Longman, because I do not see them as relevant to the original post.
    Thanks, brother.

  53. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 13, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Re #51: Hypostatic union of what then? Two uncreated natures? Here is the Vos quotation:
    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). – See more at:
    The PERSON (of Christ) present in the Angel of the Lord and in Christ per se, according to Vos, is not created. Only the human nature of Christ is said to be created. And the problem is ????

  54. Jay Ryder said,

    October 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Simple, the historic faith has declared that Christ is not created in any sense.

    From the Nicene Creed:
    “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”

    And this “anathema”:
    “[But those who say: … ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]”

    Chalcedon speaks of one Person and two natures: a divine and a human nature, but never declares the Son to have been created. “The Chalcedonian box” that defines the boundaries of orthodoxy by affirming four factors: deity, humanity, the unity of one person, and the distinction of the two natures. However, within the definition of the two natures, Jesus is never said to have himself been created (as all things were created by Him and through Him (Col 1:16)).

    Oliphint writes, “Since God the Father has no cause, then He has been the Father for eternity. He cannot have been the Father without a Son, which means the Son could not be a created being (as Arius taught, relying on Proverbs 8:22 for support) because that would mean there was a time when the Father was not actually the Father….. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten.”

    Kevin Giles writes in the Eternal Generation of the Son that the recent distortions among reformed evangelicals that Jesus was not the eternally begotten Son of God isn’t without historical precedent. Arius taught this as well: that the Son was a created being in time, not an eternally begotten being, and Arius’s doctrines were strongly opposed by the early church. The Nicene and Athanasian creeds, in no uncertain terms, oppose this theology.

    Arius’ claim that the Son is finite and created (even with regard to his human nature) was chief among his errors. R.C. Sproul writes, “This council produced the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Christ is ‘the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds,’ and that He was ‘begotten, not made.’ … With these affirmations, the church said that scriptural terms such as firstborn and begotten have to do with Christ’s place of honor, not with His biological origin.” – R.C. Sproul in ‘What is the Trinity?’.

  55. Joe S. said,

    October 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm


    Thanks for the bite!!

    I’m still trying to work through the Poythress article. I find a couple of things about it puzzling.

    I agree with you whole heartedly when you said that the human perspective and the divine perspective cannot be understood apart from each other which is what strikes me as odd about Poythress’ piece. Isn’t he arguing for the separation of the two or at least leaving one behind?Instead of focusing on the human author focus isn’t Poythress saying focus instead on the divine? How do you separate the two? Doesn’t both have to be taken into account?

    To be fair I do notice that he appears to be arguing against isolating the human author as the primary meaning not saying that it shouldn’t be taking into account with the diving author. But he then goes on to so heavily emphasize the divine author and deemphasize the human author he seems to leave the human author behind after all.

    Is clarity too much to ask for? Why is he writing this? Who is he responding to with his position? I can’t help but think that he is responding to an extreme case of TRV where he thinks the advocates of that position are arguing for the first reading to focus solely on the human author’s meaning. I don’t know of anyone putting that view forward.

    Another puzzling quote is on the top of page 287:

    “Scholarship tends to treat human meaning as if it were “there” as a fixed, limited object. Scholars ignore the fact that the human author intends the fullness of divine meaning.”

    Again it would seem that Poythress is responding to what he thinks is the TRV position. The problem is that he offers no support for the statement as it is made in a concluding section. This would also appear to go against the position that Lane has communicated where prophets spoke better then they knew. I think that the historical reformed position would be that the authors of scripture did, in fact, at times not intend the fullness of the divine meaning that God, in his providence, would bring to pass.

    I haven’t even really interacted with the section on Paul yet. I’m still trying to get my head around the separation of the of the human and divine author in the first section and if this view is helpful to those that engage it.

  56. October 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm


    While I’m with you in a lot of what you’ve been saying (and I’m not going to get back into the hermeneutical issues again here), I need to point out that there is really nothing substantially objectionable in that Vos quote, aside from possibly some less than ideal language. Vos is clearly not saying there that the person of the Son was created, nor that he was created as to his divine nature, but rather that the human nature that he took to himself was created. This is just good orthodox Nicene and Chalcedonian Christology. The point of the sections in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds that you cited does not have to do with the person of the Son in his humanity, but rather in his “proper” nature, that is, his divinity. The Nicene Creed itself affirms the createdness of Christ’s human nature when it says that the very Son who was “not made,” also came down from heaven and “was made” man. As Gregory of Nazianzus put it, “In the beginning he was, uncaused. But afterward for a cause he was born.” I don’t think Vos is getting at anything other than that.

  57. Jay Ryder said,

    October 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for the reply. I do want to note that I have great respect for Vos’s work in Biblical Theology overall and have benefited from him immensely. Yet, when it comes to that particular chapter, regarding his treatment of Christ and the Angel of the Lord, I’ve always been very uncomfortable.

    True, the Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed were primarily about the divine essence (homoousios) — but not the two natures, though.

    The Council of Chalcedon speak of the one Person and two natures: a divine and a human nature, but neither affirms that the Son was “created”. Remember: “The Chalcedonian box” defines the boundaries of orthodoxy by affirming four factors in Christ: deity, humanity, the unity of one person, and the distinction of the two natures. Yet, within the distinction of the two natures, while Jesus is “born” in the likeness of humanity, it is never claimed that He was created. In fact, all things were created by Him and through Him. (Col 1:16). Perhaps the misunderstanding is to think that in order for Christ to be born and to have a physical, spatial body, that He had to be created. But in the strict definition of ‘created’ (ex nihilo), we have to affirm that this is not so.

    Peace to you. — Jay R.

  58. October 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Jay, I confess I am at a loss as to what exactly you are suggesting. Are you claiming that Nicea and Chalcedon affirm an eternal incarnation? Because that is the only way I can see you having anything more than a semantic disagreement with Vos on the creation of Christ’s human nature. Vos does not say that *the Son* (the divine person) was created, but that his humanity was. I agree that *He* (the Son/Logos) was not created, because when we speak of *he*, we are speaking of the person, who is divine. Nevertheless, his *humanity* was created. This is just what is affirmed by both Nicea and Chalcedon (and the fourth and fifth century orthodox fathers). This is the point of Nicea’s juxtaposing of “begotten, not made” (divinity) with “and was made man” (humanity). It seems to me that suggest otherwise is to either confuse the categories of person and nature, or to affirm something like an eternal incarnation. (Or am I missing something?)

  59. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 13, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Re #55: I enjoyed the Poythress article and am thankful for it being posted. I suspect TRV is partially in mind but so is the whole notion of trying to do biblical studies the way modern SBL types do without reference to the One Divine mind which ultimately shapes the text of Scripture. The human minds God employed, though not robotic in how they arrived at their textual formulations, had a superintending Divine mind that ultimately disciplined or shaped their output. I think this does carry ironical implications for how limited we are when it comes to discovering intentionality in human authors. God whose mind is greater and incorporates more mystery and rich diversity of understanding than any creature is yet, more accessible when He decides voluntarily to reveal something of his mind or intentions to us (cf. my comments on trying to do transgenerational mind reading of human authors). Behind Poythress’s thinking is the philosophical problem of meaning which he, without going far down that rabbit trial, no doubt would see resolved in a Van Tillian approach to truth, meaning, and language. We have access to texts produced by humans. The texts may clues to the human mind or intentions but the hidden thoughts of a man are just that—hidden (cf. 1 Cor. 2:11). Some (all??) TRV approaches look like they fit the following critique, duly noted: “Scholarship tends to treat human meaning as if it were “there” as a fixed, limited object. Scholars ignore the fact that the human author intends the fullness of divine meaning.” By seeing God as the foundation and source of meaning from the outset (not simply the “end” of the story or telos), Poythress establishes the basis for the organic connection of revealed meaning from beginning to end. This Poythress sentence, just re-quoted here, looks like where the issue is joined. The sentence deserves some thought. I think “the intention” is primarily God’s intention, though the wording does not make this transparent; in any event most or all biblical authors want to convey God’s intention however limited they were in grasping it. There is the interesting kind of Delphic irony we find with some non-biblical prophetic types who get referenced by biblical authors (e.g. Jn 11:211- sort of a latter day Balaam oracle) but whatever their intentions (or unconscious speaking), God’s intention prevails.

  60. Jay Ryder said,

    October 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Jonathan, #58:
    The singular person of Jesus, the one person of his two (divine and human) natures is answered in the asymmetrical doctrine of enhypostasis. His humanity is not only or even primarily impersonal (anhypostasis), but it’s in-personal (enhypostasis), in that the very personhood of Christ is in the personhood of the eternal second person of the Trinity. The fully divine Son is the person who took full humanity and remains the “one person” of the God-man.

    Donald Macleod writes in ‘The Person of Christ’, “The import of enhypostasis is that the human nature of Christ, although not itself an individual, is individualized as the human nature of the Son of God. It does not, for a single instant, exist as anhypostasis or non-personal” (p. 202, ‘The Person of Christ’).

    While (symmetrically) Jesus is both fully God and fully man—and has fully divine and fully human minds, emotions, and wills—Jesus has been divine much longer than he’s been human (asymmetrically). As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus has been fully divine from all eternity. While he added full humanity to that divinity at a certain point in time, the incarnation, the eternal attributes of his divinity (including His aesity) have never been remitted (John 8:58).

    Macleod quotes Fred Sanders who summarizes the asymmetry together in the doctrines of enhypostasis and anhypostasis:
    “On the one hand, the human nature of Jesus Christ is in fact a nature joined to a person, and therefore enhypostatic, or personalized. But the person who personalizes the human nature of Christ is not a created human person (like all the other persons personalizing the other human natures we encounter); rather it is the eternal second person of the Trinity. So the human nature of Christ is personal, but with a personhood from above (p. 31, ‘The Person of Christ’).”

    We are talking about the fine distinction between 1) saying that Jesus became man by taking a human body, a human mind with human emotions, and even a human will, because “That which he has not assumed he has not healed” and 2) saying the Jesus was “created”. The theological point, although it may seem fine to some, is one that we must not get wrong.
    Thank you, brother.

  61. October 14, 2014 at 9:09 am


    I don’t see where you answered the question. I’m familiar with the orthodox formulations, but the question is this: Is the humanity which Christ assumed a created humanity, or something else? If a created humanity, then I do not see where you have anything more than a semantic difference with Vos. If a non-created humanity, then it was something other than *our* humanity, and so not consubstantial with us in the sense meant by Chalcedon.

  62. Jay Ryder said,

    October 14, 2014 at 9:12 am

    btw, Jonathan, I just clicked over to read your blog. Great thoughts there! I do think we are much inclined toward similar thought, so I hope my discussion about the Vos matter doesn’t stand in the way here.
    Perhaps, I’ve just studied the Colossians heresy so much lately that I couldn’t help from viewing Vos’s analogy between Angels and Christ and Jesus as a created being as problematic (and yet perhaps more problematic than he intended). So, that was really what stuck out to me and concerned me about his hermeneutic approach. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts. – Jay R.

  63. Jay Ryder said,

    October 14, 2014 at 9:15 am

    #61 Jonathan, again, to say “the humanity which Christ assumed is a created humanity” is something entirely different than saying “Christ was created”. Yes, it is a semantic difference. And yes, it has theological implications.

  64. October 14, 2014 at 9:25 am


    Ok, if that is all you’re getting at then I would agree with you entirely… But I really don’t think Vos means there anything other than that the humanity Christ assumed is a created humanity, though I grant that saying things like “Jesus was created” is an careful way of speaking at best. My reason for commenting here though was just to urge that we extend to men like Vos the charity we’ve been requesting in these discussions for ourselves and others — to read then in context and in the best light. Given all of what Vos says in that passage in question, I don’t find him guilty of anything but some uncareful language.



  65. October 14, 2014 at 9:40 am

    oops, sorry… Second sentence, after the comma should be, “though I grant that saying things like “Jesus was created” is an UNcareful way of speaking at best.”

  66. elnwood said,

    October 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    @GreenBaggins, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on Douglas Green’s papers on Psalm 8 and 23. It is certainly wisest to judge Douglas Green based on his own writings (rather than others’ writings, or what is attributed to him by others).

    I was expecting you to comment on whether those papers were within bounds of the Westminster standards, and I was surprised that you did not make such an evaluation.

    As a Teaching Elder who has vowed to uphold the Westminster Standards, do you consider Douglas Green’s papers within confessional bounds of the vows he made as a Ruling Elder also committed to the Westminster Standards? Or do you think those papers are outside of confessional bounds, and that it is necessary to revise them to be within bounds of the Westminster Standards?

  67. Joe S. said,

    October 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm


    elnwood makes a great point…. would you say that Green’s papers are within the confessional bounds of the WS?

    If not are there specific points where Green’s hermeneutics seem to err?

    I know that you want to focus more specifically on hermeneutics but I think that there is a context for the conversation (not involving WTS staffing) that can help bring a context to the situation at hand and help a reader understand where Poythress, for example, is coming from.

    Click to access ns06-InterviewWithJimPaytonJackSawyerPeterLillback.pdf

    This document is a really intriguing read. It may not be that far off the mark to say that the administration is trying to take WTS back to a pre-Clowney state where, instead of being more broadly evangelical, it is more narrowly focused on the historic reformed traditions.

    Just a thought…..

  68. roberty bob said,

    October 15, 2014 at 6:52 am

    in reply to #67 . . .

    Intriguing indeed! Taking WTS back to the time when Norman Shepherd was highly esteemed? I don’t think so.

  69. Frank Aderholdt said,

    October 19, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I’m late in entering this conversation, and now it seems to have ground to a halt. I have followed all the threads with great interest, with more confusion than clarification in my mind when it was all over. (That may be my fault, of course.)

    Most of my questions were finally answered after listening to the latest “Christ the Center” episode from Reformed Forum,, titled “Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics, Divine Authorship, and the Christotelism Debate.” Dr. Lane Tipton of Westminster Seminary Philadelphia does a magnificent job in a discussion format of laying out the issues, drawing fine distinctions, and showing us the way forward. There are at least a dozen “Notable Quotables” that I need to write down on a second listen and archive in my files.

    Listen to this discussion, brothers (the opening panel of last week’s Reformed Forum Theology Conference). It makes many of the back-and-forth posts in I read on this blog seem like a confused muddle.

  70. Joe S. said,

    October 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Lane and Reed… you guys pulling a play from the WTS administration’s playbook?? What’s up with the radio silence?? The question raised is pretty simple… is Green inside or outside of the Westminster Standards??

    The link below is documents Dr. William Barker’s thoughts on the Green situation:

    He main comment is that Doug is being judged by a narrower subscription to the westminster standards then held WTS past as well as the PCA and the OPC is both interesting and, I think, valid.

  71. Joe S. said,

    October 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Lane and Reed, let’s face it… this thread is pretty much dead. So I thought I would paste in something that Dr. Logan wrote on his facebook page regarding Green’s hermeneutics or the TRV as Lane calls it.

    Towards the end of the quote below you will see that Dr. Logan describes a conversation with a WTS board member where the board member acknowledges that Green is current within the WS but some day may not be. What is implied is that the board member could have voted against Green for some future potential views.

    I’ve said it before… you can’t make this stuff up!!

    Here is the quote:

    Sam Logan Kim – Several of us have talked with present Faculty and Board members and have tried to get specific answers to questions about Doug Green and have been turned away. Since this is a public Facebook post, I won’t name him, but one Faculty member specifically directed me not to contact him any further with questions about Doug. Two different Board members to whom I spoke declined to provide any direct evidence regarding Doug and instead talked about Pete Enns. The only specific answers to questions were provided by a Westminster representative to the Session of New Life Church in Glenside and, after their meeting with that representative, the New Life Session voted UNANIMOUSLY that Doug Green was completely in accord with the Westminster Confession of Faith. I was at Westminster when Norman Shepherd was required to leave the seminary and I know that very full and complete statements were provided describing precisely what was perceived to be wrong with Norman’s teachings. Citations were given of Norman’s statements which made it clear what the precise problem was. Many of us did not agree with the interpretations which were placed on Norman’s teachings but there was no doubt what the problem was – Norman said things that made it sound as though our evangelical obedience somehow contributed to our justification. And before Norman was required to leave the seminary, his ecclesiastical judicatory, the OPC Presbytery of Philadelphia, had full opportunity to give input into the process. Their conclusion about Norman was VERY different from the conclusion of the New Life Session about Doug. The final vote on Norman was a tie vote, which meant that half of those voting thought that Norman was NOT in accord with the Westminster Confession. Having said all of this, however, I would encourage you to contact Westminster Faculty members and/or Board members. Ask them your questions. Ask them to provide specific quotations from Doug Green’s work that clearly demonstrate that he is out of accord with Chapter One of the Westminster Confession. One current Westminster Board member to whom I spoke specifically said that he did not think that Doug was NOW out of accord with the Westminster Confession but that he was on a trajectory that would PROBABLY take him out of accord at some point in the future. So I would encourage you to ask your questions directly of present Westminster Faculty members and Board members. Maybe you will have more success than Clair Davis, Will Barker, Bill Evans, or I have had. Maybe you will get answers that will convince you that every member of the Session of New Life Presbyterian Church was wrong. I know Clair and Will and Bill well enough and I think I know myself well enough to say that we are open to being shown that Doug is wrong and that his teaching is out of accord with the Westminster Confession. We just have not seen evidence of that and our attempts to get folks at Westminster to provide that evidence have been rebuffed.

  72. Joe S. said,

    October 23, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    It is a really fascinating thought that Sam Logan, Dr. William Barker, Dr. Bill Evans, and Tremper Longman, and Clair Davis are asking WTS for an open conversation about Green’s dismissal and inquiring about supporting evidence in regards to the charges levied against Green. Regardless if you agree with them or not these guys aren’t the bums from down the corner. But WTS won’t even have a conversation….

    Very strange times….

  73. De Maria said,

    December 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    roberty bob said, #42

    October 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    in reply to #41 . . .

    It’s not a matter of Scripture conforming to Christ or of Christ conforming to Scripture; the two are manifestations of the same thing. We call Scripture the Word of God, and we call Christ the Word of God made flesh. So there is no need of either to conform to the other…..

    This is true. But the Church Fathers said that Christ was hidden in the Old and revealed in the New. So, to the mind unaided by grace, it isn’t readily visible.

    We can see that our Lord acknowledges this since He told the Jews that the Scriptures spoke of Him but they couldn’t see it. He taught the Apostles and they couldn’t understand it. But then:

    Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

    But they couldn’t recognize Him, until:

    30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

    So, this seems related to that which followed. Without a work of grace, the Apostles could not recognize Christ.

    And it also took a work of grace for Christ to open the minds of the Apostles to recognize Him in the OT:

    Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

    Now, here’s what I’m trying to say. In my opinion, we receive the grace to understand the Scriptures, in our participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist:

    30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

    Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. Because, as you said:

    the two are manifestations of the same thing.

  74. Tim Harris said,

    December 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    #72. Actually, yes, that is a rather motley crew theologically. Country Club theologians.

    I always felt Green was even more radical than Enns when I was there in the mid-2000’s. What’s there to talk about? The double minded’s don’t like Westminster’s original purpose. Fine; let them start their own seminary. Why keep badgering the administration about it?

  75. Joe S. said,

    December 12, 2014 at 12:25 am


    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. WTS can do whatever it wants and people have the right to disagree with it. You reap what you sow, God is not mocked, and time will tell what exactly has been sown at WTS recently.


  76. De Maria said,

    December 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Jason, #76,

    I get that you don’t agree with Catholic Teaching. I’ve heard your objections before and I think I have thoroughly addressed them all, both in the “Shaking things up” thread and before that on the “Legal Fiction” thread.

    If you want to begin a discussion with me on this thread, address my comment.

    I began discussing with Roberty Bob one of the ideas presented in the OP:

    “So Green says “he makes Scripture conform to Christ,””.

    I believe that it is a gift of Grace that opens the mind to this understanding that Christ is hidden in the Old and revealed in the New.

    I welcome any discussion on this line or another in the OP.

    If you want to have another free for all, I invite you to my blog. I take all comers and I will gladly show you the inadequacy of your understanding of Scripture. But I will not help you to disrupt this thread with your Catholic bashing.

    Is that fair?

  77. Reed Here said,

    December 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    DeMarie, fair.

  78. Tim Harris said,

    December 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I want to recommend that Roberty Bob, de Maria, Kevin Falloni, and Jason Loh be permanently banned. These guys know how to hijack a thread even while claiming to be doing the opposite. It’s becoming quite tedious.

  79. Reed Here said,

    December 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I thought fruits of repentance followed a believer’s apology. No more off topic comments.

  80. John Drake said,

    December 13, 2014 at 11:04 am

    What we have hear is worse than a lack of communication. A few people have hijacked the discussion section of this blog and are ruining it.

  81. roberty bob said,

    December 13, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    It is interesting that David [Psalm 8:4] quotes the suffering Job [Job 7:17ff.]. David is in awe of the Lord God for being mindful of man, while Job feels awful that Lord God pays so much attention to him — targeting him, so to speak — because each visitation brings more pain.

    This aspect — the righteous man who is made to endure unrelenting suffering under God’s watchful eye — is not evident in David’s use of Job’s quotation. I wonder. however, if it simmers under the surface?

    If the Spirit of Christ is moving through David in Psalm 8, then maybe there is something to this. David sees the end result of man / son of man attaining unto glory. The New Testament reveals that the path toward glory take us through the vale of tears and suffering; it was the path that was ordained for Christ, and now for us who would follow in His steps.

  82. De Maria said,

    December 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    And RB, concerning #81,

    This remains a case of the OT Scripture conforming to Christ. Job, is a type of suffering servant. A type of Christ. A type of mediator:

    Job 42:8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

    I can plainly see, in Job, a prefiguring of the One Mediator between God and man.

  83. December 16, 2014 at 9:55 am

    DeMaria said , i can see Job prefiguring the one mediator between man and God.” How about in the Catholic religion, do Job’s buddies prefigure the other mediators between man and God. And maybe his wife prefigured the mediation of Mary. And maybe when God restored everything to him he merited it by his behavior? Allot of symbolism there. And Mary is the mother of the church, but wait the church is the bride of Christ so Mary can’t be mother, but motherinlaw, but the Holy Spirit was married to Mary, so God and Mary are man and wife. I’m trying to figure this all out, forgive me. K

  84. roberty bob said,

    December 16, 2014 at 11:44 am

    From the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries . . . JOB . . . by Francis I. Anderson . . . page 293 . . .

    “Job’s vindication over against them [his accusing companions] is made public. Their roles are reversed! In the course of their speeches, not one of them even hinted that they, not Job, might be the object of God’s wrath and in need of His grace. Now they discover (it is a delightful irony) that unless they can secure the patronage of Job (the very one they had treated as in such need of their spiritual resources), they might not escape the divine displeasure. The effective prayer of a righteous man to turn away God’s anger from the wicked adds another meaning to Job’s suffering that no-one had thought of. ”

    #82 DeMaria . . . Yes . . . I see it, too . . . Job being a type of Christ in his priestly work of mediator. Also, the Job story begins with a portrayal of him in this same priestly role as he presents burnt offerings to the Lord on behalf of his 10 children.

    #83 Kevin . . . Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on Earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

    That’s what the Lord said about Job’s behavior. Job was a righteous man. In the end Job was vindicated and bestowed with the highest honors! What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you visit him?

    I re-read Green’s article, and he makes no reference to the Job 7:17ff. passage.

  85. roberty bob said,

    December 16, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    The righteous Job parallels Jesus in these ways, too:

    1. Job was a righteous man who was seen by others as a sinner, and accused of various sins which he had not committed.

    2. Job’s suffering was seen by others as a God-inflicted punishment of which he was deserving.

    3. Job, being patient in affliction, was justified at the end of his ordeal; like Jesus, he declared openly [in public] to be a righteous man.

    4. God honored His faithful servant by exalting him high above his fellow men; all that he had lost was restored to him in abundant and glorious measure.

    5. Job was blessed with a bountiful inheritance to bequeath to his beautiful children [his daughters received as well as his sons!].

    What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you visit him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor . . . !

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