David Waltz continues to use diversionary tactics to defend himself:
Now, contrast Beale’s and Carson’s own words with what Hays and Bridges have been saying within their recent threads (and comments) specifically directed at me (THREAD 1; THREAD 2; THREAD 3; THREAD 4; THREAD 5; THREAD 6; THREAD 7), and then come to your own conclusion as to which of us throughout the discussion/s has been the better representative of what Beale and Carson were attempting to convey concerning their approach to apostolic hermeneutic (BTW, though Hays links to the CT interview, one must wonder if he actually read the entire article.)
And what “contrast” would that be?
However, as the editors point out in the Introduction, the volume does NOT “survey contemporary debates over the use of the OT in the NT” (p. xxiii).
How is that a “contrast” with what I’ve been saying? Did I ever claim that this book would be a “survey contemporary debates over the use of the OT in the NT”?
No. I cited this book to document the harmony between apostolic exegesis and grammatico-historical exegesis. It doesn’t have to be a survey of contemporary debates to do that, now does it?
Rather, it documents apostolic exegesis, showing how NT writers interpret the OT in a manner consistent with the context or original intent.
So this sentence doesn’t “contrast” my position with the position of the editors.
Waltz then quotes a longer passage from the book. I’ll begin here:
The distinction between those who think that the citations bring with them the OT context and those who think that the NT writers resort to prooftexting. For the evidence is really quite striking that the first disciples are not presented as those who instantly understood what the Lord Jesus was teaching them or as those who even anticipated all that he would say because of their own insightful interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. To the contrary, they are constantly presented as, on the one hand, being attached to Jesus, yet, on the other, being very slow to come to terms with the fact that the promised messianic king would also be the Suffering Servant, the atoning lamb of God, that he would be crucified, rejected by many of his own people, and would rise again utterly vindicated by God. Nevertheless, once they have come to accept this synthesis, they also insist, in the strongest terms, that this is what the OT Scriptures actually teach…Rather, they keep trying to prove from the Scriptures themselves that this Jesus of Nazareth really does fulfill the ancient texts even while they are forced to acknowledge that they themselves did not read the biblical texts this way until after the resurrection, Pentecost, and the gradual increase in understanding that came to them, however mediated by the Spirit, as the result of the expansion of the church, not least in Gentile circles. This tension between what they insist is actually there in the Scriptures and what they are forced to admit they did not see until fairly late in their experience forces them to think about the concept of “mystery”—revelation that is in some sense “there” in the Scripures but hidden until the time of God-appointed disclosure…
How does that “contrast” with anything I’ve said?
i) To begin with, what do the editors say about the viewpoint of the NT writers? “Nevertheless, once they have come to accept this synthesis, they also insist, in the strongest terms, that this is what the OT Scriptures actually teach…Rather, they keep trying to prove from the Scriptures themselves that this Jesus of Nazareth really does fulfill the ancient texts.”
How does that stand in “contrast” to my own position?
ii) Waltz evidently thinks it’s significant that NT writers didn’t always understand Jesus to be the fulfillment of OT Messianic promise. How does that admission stand in “contrast” to anything I ever said?
a) For one thing, Waltz is confusing reader intent with authorial intent. Meaning is a property of authorial intent. The fact that NT writers, when they used to read (or hear) the OT scriptures, before they knew Jesus, didn’t see Jesus as the fulfillment of OT messianic promise, is irrelevant to the meaning of the OT passages in question.
b) Waltz also confuses sense with reference. Take Isa 7:14. Did Isaiah know when the Messiah would be born? No. Did he know that Jesus would be the Messiah? No. Did he know that Mary would be his mother? No.
Now, Isaiah did know some things about the Messiah. And about his mother. But God didn’t reveal to him many other details.
The NT writers know something that Isaiah didn’t: the actual referent. They live in the age of fulfillment. They interpret Isa 7:14 in the light of fulfillment.
That’s something they couldn’t know in advance of the fact. They have some information Isaiah didn’t.
But does this imply that they are adding something new to the sense of Isaiah 7:14? No. Those old words still mean what they always meant.
Suppose a police detective gets a tip from an anonymous informant. Over the phone, the informant says: “Meet me at the docks at midnight tonight. I have the goods on Tony Romano!”
When the detective actually meets the caller face-to-face, he’ll learn something about caller that he didn’t know from the cryptic phone call. But that additional knowledge doesn’t add anything to the meaning of the phone call.
Here’s something else he quotes from the same book:
We sometimes need reminding that the NT authors would not have understood the OT in terms of any of the dominant historical-critical orthodoxies of the last century and a half. (Pages xxvii, xxviii - bold emphasis mine.)
i) Once again, how does that “contrast” with anything I said? Was I discussing the history of the grammatico-historical method? Did I refer Waltz to a 19C commentator like H. A. W. Meyer? Did I refer him to Patrick Fairbairn’s 19C monograph on typology? Did I tell him that was the sort of thing I had in mind? No. I specifically referred him to modern scholars who represent my position.
Suppose Waltz asked me what I mean by a “car.” And I cite the example of a 2008 Alfa Romeo to illustrate what I mean by a car.
Suppose he then mentions the model-T Ford as a counterexample. He trumpets the model-T Ford as somehow disproving my example.
But how would the model-T Ford function as a defeater? Did I ever claim that all cars resemble a 2008 Alpha Romeo? Does the fact that there are differences between a model-T Ford and an Alpha Romeo prove that an Alpha Romeo is not a car?
Waltz resorts to the same ploy in some of his other quotes, as if the point at issue was the history of the grammatico-historical method.
ii) Moreover, the “historical-critical method” is not synonymous with the “grammatico-historical method.”
The historical-critical method is “traditionally” defined by certain metaphysical presuppositions which don’t define the grammatico-historical method. For example:
“All events historical and natural occurring within it [reality] are in principle interconnected and comparable by analogy…humanity’s contemporary experience of reality can provide objective criteria by which what could or could not have happened in the past can be determined,” R. Soulen & R. K. Soulen, Handbook of Biblical Criticism (WJK 2001), 78.
iii) The dumbest part of this exercise is that Waltz is attempting to position himself against my own position, as if he speaks for Catholic hermeneutics in contrast to Protestant hermeneutics. Needless to say, the historical-critical method represents mainstream contemporary Catholic scholarship.
Indeed, Joseph Fitzmyer, the present doyen of Catholic Bible scholarship, just published an entire monograph on The Interpretation of Scripture: In Defense of the Historical-Critical Method (Paulist Press 2008).
Waltz is just another half-breed convert to Catholicism. Someone who’s out of touch with his adopted denomination.
Then he treats us to the same quote from Beale that I already corrected him on. Beale is not claiming that NT writers interpret the OT semi-contextually. Rather, he allows for the possibility that they sometimes quote Scripture “ironically or polemically” as part of an ad hominem argument.
Waltz is unteachable. He misrepresents a position. When he’s corrected, he repeats the same misrepresentation.
Then we’re treated to his selective quotation from the interview with Beale and Carson. Now, there’s nothing wrong with selective quotation if your quotation is representative of their overall position. But Waltz distorts their position.
To begin with, Waltz originally said, “Steve’s approach has been criticised by an Evangelcial scholar.” He then quoted a passage from an article by Peter Enns. So that’s how he framed the issue.
I responded by referring him to works like the book edited by Beale and Carson. How do they characterize their effort?
Beale: It's evident in our book that the New Testament writers use the Old Testament with the context of the Old Testament in mind. That's a real debate between evangelicals and non-evangelicals, but it's also an in-house debate. Some evangelicals would say Jesus and the apostles preached the right Old Testament doctrine but from the wrong Old Testament texts. They believe that what the New Testament writers wrote was inspired, but their interpretative method was not inspired, that it was just as wild and crazy as the Jewish method at the time. Our book proceeds on the presupposition that of course their conclusions are inspired. But we also show that Jesus was not a wild and crazy Jewish interpreter like those at Qumran or elsewhere, but he interpreted the Old Testament in a very viable way.
If you want a good example of someone who would disagree with our method, there's a recent book by Peter Enns called Inspiration and Incarnation. In one of the concluding chapters, he contends that Jesus and the apostles preached the right doctrine from the wrong texts and that we should do the same. I have written a lengthy review of that chapter in the periodical Themelios. Enns responded, and then I wrote a surrejoinder just on this very issue.
This is part of the interview that, unsurprisingly, Waltz didn’t quote. Now how does my position stand in “contrast” to what Beale just said? Where’s the “contrast” between my appeal to Beale and his own intentions in editing this book? There is no contrast.
The explicit point of contrast is between Beale’s approach and the approach of Enns. Waltz appealed to Enns and I appealed to Beale and Carson (among others). My appeal is directly responsive to his.
Finally, he quotes a little snippet from Carson without bothering to reproduce Carson’s actual critique of the way in which Enns tried to drive a wedge between apostolic exegesis and grammatico-historical exegesis. Here is some of what Carson has to say in response to Enns:
Enns rejects solutions (a) that try to show the New Testament authors really do respect the Old Testament context; (b) that concede the New Testament author is not using the Old Testament text "in a manner in which it was intended," but which then argues the New Testament author is not really interpreting the Old Testament text but merely applying it (115); (c) that concedes the Old Testament text is being stretched way beyond its context, but which then simply appeals to apostolic authority to cover the breach. Enns is happy to summarize his alternative:
1. The New Testament authors were not engaging the Old Testament in an effort to remain consistent with the original context and intention of the Old Testament author.
Yet the more one insists on the commonality of Jewish and Christian hermeneutics in the first century, the more urgently one faces two crucial needs. (i) One should try to identify differences as well as similarities in their respective hermeneutical approaches. For instance, many have pointed out ways in which New Testament pesher interpretation is rather unlike pesher found in 1QpHab. But we’ll let that pass. (ii) It becomes important to raise a question of warrant. If Paul’s way of reading the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, is methodologically indifferentiable from the way of reading deployed by his unconverted Jewish colleagues, how are they managing to come to such different conclusions while reading the same texts? We’ll see in a moment that it is inadequate simply to say, "Well, Paul now believes Jesus has risen from the grave, and is the long-promised Messiah." That is true, but, as we shall see, not sufficient to address the question. To put it differently, how does Paul think his own reading of the Old Testament has changed from three months before his Damascus Road experience to three months after? Is there any change in his hermeneutics? Or is it only that his answers are now different, so that he manipulates the hermeneutical axioms in rather creative ways? What hermeneutical change in his thinking warrants the Christological readings of the Old Testament he adopts?
That is an important question. It is possible to identify several hermeneutical differences. I can take the space to mention only one, and it needs much more development than I will give it here. First-century Palestinian Jews who were asked the question, "How does a person please God?" were likely to answer, "By obeying the law." This answer they could apply not only to figures such as Hezekiah and David and Moses, all of whom are found this side of Sinai, but even to figures such as Abraham and Enoch, who are found on the other side of Sinai. After all, Genesis tells us that Abraham kept all God’s statutes, and we know what they must have been; Enoch walked with God, and we know full well what is required for that to take place. One must infer that they received private revelations of the law. What this does, hermeneutically speaking, is elevate the law to the level of hermeneutical hegemony: it is the grid that controls how you read the Old Testament. It is, in substantial measure, an a-historical reading. But when Paul as a Christian and an apostle reads the same texts, he insists on preserving the significance of the historical sequence. Thus in Galatians 3, Abraham was justified by faith before the giving of the law, and the promise to him and to his seed similarly came before the giving of the law. That means that the law given by Moses has been relativized; one must now think afresh exactly why it was given, "added" to the promise. Again, in Romans 4 Paul analyzes the relation between faith and circumcision on the basis of which came first: it is the historical sequence that is determinative for his argument. Nor is this approach exclusively Pauline. In Hebrews, for instance, the validity of Auctor’s argument in chap 7 turns on historical sequence. If Psalm 110, written after the establishment of the Levitical priesthood at Sinai, promises a priesthood that is not tied to the tribe of Levi but to the tribe of Judah, and is thus bringing together royal and priestly prerogatives in one person, then the Levitical priesthood has been declared obsolete in principle. Moreover, if this new king-priest is modelled on ancient Melchizedek, himself a priest-king, there is also an anticipation of this arrangement as far back as Genesis 14. In other words, where one pays attention to links that depend on historical sequencing, one has laid the groundwork for careful typology. The argument in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 similarly depends on reading the Old Testament texts in their historical sequence: the fact that Psalm 95, written after the people have entered the Promised Land, is still calling the covenant people to enter into God’s rest, demonstrates that entry into the land was not itself a final delivery of the promise to give them rest. Moreover, the reference to "God’s rest" triggers reflection on how God rested as far back as Genesis 1-2—and thus another typological line is set up, filled in with a variety of pieces along the historical trajectory.
Ultimately, this insistence on reading the Old Testament historically can be traced back to Jesus himself. But the only point I am making here is that this is one of the hermeneutical differences between the apostolic interpreters of Scripture and their unconverted Jewish counterparts. But none of this is unpacked by Enns, even though such considerations must play a considerable role in any evaluation of how the New Testament writers are reading Scripture.
Second, as a result of these points being ignored, in quite a number of Enns’s discussions I wished the presentation went in slightly different directions. I will not here treat the use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2, as I have discussed that quotation at rather too much length in my commentary on Matthew in the EBC series. But consider how Psalm 95:7-11 is used in Hebrews 3 and 4. Enns makes much of the shift in the position of diov: he thinks that this means that, whereas in Psalm 95 God is angry with his people for the forty years of the wilderness wanderings, in Hebrews 3-4 God’s anger comes only at the end of the forty years of wilderness wandering (140-142). But this is seriously overstated. Even in the account in Hebrews, it is clear that during the forty years the people are hardening their hearts, rebelling, and testing the Lord and trying him. That is why (diov) God was angry with that generation—i.e. because of this rebellious behavior during the forty years. The assumption, surely, is that God’s response has been wrath as long as there has been rebellion. The text does not say that God was not wrathful during the forty years, but suddenly became wrathful at the end of forty years: the latter way of taking the text demands an antithesis that is simply not there. Instead, what one finds is a small difference in emphasis. One can even venture a guess as to why this small difference in emphasis has taken place: in Hebrews, Auctor wants to show his readers how God’s wrath finally issued in his refusal to let his covenant people enter the Promised Land. The readers are thereby warned that they, too, might not enter into the ultimate rest, if, like the generation of the exodus, they begin well, but do not persevere to the end. Of course, that lesson was already there in the words of Psalm 95; all that Auctor has done is strengthen that point. And meanwhile, what Enns has overlooked in Auctor’s brilliant exposition of Psalm 95 is (as we have seen) the way he situates the Psalm within the trajectories of redemptive history to show that even the Old Testament writers did not think that entrance into Canaan constituted the ultimate rest. Collectively they generated a typological trajectory that necessarily outstrips the rest of Canaan.
It would be tedious to go through all of Enns’s examples, but I cannot forbear to mention that readers would do well to compare Enns’s treatment of "Paul’s movable well" with that of, say, Thiselton.
(g) Enns draws attention to Luke 24:45: the resurrected Jesus "opened the minds" of the two Emmaus Road disciples "so that they could understand the Scriptures." Enns takes this to be the kind of claimed revelation the Teacher of Righteousness enjoyed at Qumran, re-orienting the reader to a new understanding of Scripture along lines that are not transparently there on the surface of the Old Testament text. But the context shows another dimension to this exchange between Jesus and the two Emmaus believers that must not be overlooked: toward the beginning of the conversation, Jesus tells them, "‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (24:25-26). Toward the end, Jesus adds, "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (24:44).
This is quite striking. On the one hand, even the apostles and other disciples did not understand, before the cross and resurrection, that the Messiah would be crucified and would rise the third day, even though Jesus had told them. They simply did not have the categories to absorb such information. Transparently, when they had become convinced of his resurrection, they had to undergo a transformation of their understanding of the Scriptures. In other words, in the psychological development of their understanding, the resurrection of Christ comes before their Christianized understanding of the Old Testament text. That is the point Enns is making. But on the other hand, even before his resurrection Jesus himself holds his followers responsible for understanding the Old Testament text in a Christianized way, and labels them foolish when they fail in this regard. He himself, and all the major New Testament writers, speak of the events of his life as fulfilling what the Old Testament says, not as adding brand new meaning to what the Old Testament says. (This, as we shall see, is one of the dominating themes in Wright’s book.) Enns never explores what this side of things might mean.
Sometimes the two points come together in dramatic ways. For instance, in Romans 16:25-27, Paul’s gospel is in line with "the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past"; but it is also "now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings." On the one hand, the gospel has been long hidden; but when it is revealed and made known, this revelation takes place through the prophetic writings. Quite a number of the "mystery" passages of the New Testament turn on unpacking some things that are genuinely there in the biblical texts, but which have been "hidden" in the past until the great revelatory event of Jesus Messiah has taken place. Because they truly are there in the text, readers can be berated for not having seen them—i.e. the assumption is that if it were not for their moral turpitude and their ignorance of God, they would have seen how the texts are put together, would have grasped more clearly what this God is truly like, and would have understood their Bibles properly. That is also why the New Testament writers do not restrict their apologetic to the stance: If only you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that he rose from the dead, then you will be transformed and come to read the Bible the way we do. Rather, they urge upon their Jewish counterparts the right way to read the Bible. Their apologetic often consists of showing from the Scriptures that Jesus Messiah had to die and rise again. Their hermeneutic in such exposition, though it overlaps with that of the Jews, is distinguishable from it, and at certain points is much more in line with the actual shape of Scripture: it rests on the unpacking of the Bible’s storyline.
(h) The failure to get this tension right—by "right," I mean in line with what Scripture actually says of itself—is what makes Enns sound disturbingly like my Doktorvater on one point. Barnabas Lindars’s first book was New Testament Apologetic. The thesis was very simple, the writing elegant: the New Testament writers came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had been crucified and raised from the dead. They then ransacked their Bible, what we call the Old Testament, to find proof texts to justify their new-found theology, and ended up yanking things out of context, distorting the original context, and so forth. Enns is more respectful, but it is difficult to see how his position differs substantively from that of Lindars, except that he wants to validate these various approaches to the Old Testament partly on the ground that the hermeneutics involved were already in use (we might call this the "Hey, everybody’s doing it" defense), and partly on the ground that he himself accepts, as a "gift of faith," that Jesus really is the Messiah. This really will not do. The New Testament writers, for all that they understand that acceptance of who Jesus is comes as a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14), never stint at giving reasons for the hope that lies within them, including reasons for reading the Bible as they do. The "fulfillment" terminology they deploy is too rich and varied to allow us to imagine that they are merely reading in what is in fact not there. They would be the first to admit that in their own psychological history the recognition of Jesus came before their understanding of the Old Testament; but they would see this as evidence of moral blindness. As a result, they would be the first to insist, with their transformed hermeneutic (not least the reading of the sacred texts in salvation-historical sequence), that the Scriptures themselves can be shown to anticipate a suffering Servant-King, a Priest-King, a new High Priest, and so forth. In other words, Enns develops the first point but disavows the second. The result is that he fails to see how Christian belief is genuinely warranted by Scripture. No amount of appeal to the analogy of the incarnation will make up the loss.
How does that “contrast” with my position?
After you subtract his diversionary tactics, and after you restore the material which Waltz suppressed, I would indeed invite the reader to “come to your own conclusion as to which of us throughout the discussion/s has been the better representative of what Beale and Carson were attempting to convey concerning their approach to apostolic hermeneutic.”