I'm going to comment on this post:
Does he believe ethnic Israel will get the land promised to them in blessing for (at least) “a thousand generations” (Psa. 105:8)? Does he believe Ezekiel’s Temple is a physical temple like Solomon’s? If not, what is it? Does he believe the covenants God made to Abraham (Jer. 33:22, 26), David (Jer. 33:17, 21, 26), and Phineas (Jer. 33:18, 21) mean what they say, or did God intend to couch these promises as types to be properly understood many centuries later? And how does he know?
I understand this, but I see little or no proof of his thesis. Please take note of the fact that he completely bypasses the references I gave above. These examples, coupled with the others I have given (which were also bypassed), prove that the covenant promises were not viewed typologically as revelation progressed from one century to another. This is the OT interpreting the OT. It cannot be ducked because these passages do not comport with Hays’s argument. Think about it: There is well over 1,200 years from Abraham to Jeremiah; 800 years from Phineas to Jeremiah, but the promises are not symbolized or typologized in any way (please read the passages).
I don’t know why Henebury labors under the illusion that Jer 33 poses a special problem for covenant theology. After all, Henebury keeps appealing to the “face-value,” “surface meaning” or “plain sense” meaning of Biblical texts. He keeps harping on the fact that the text “means what it says.” Well, what does the text he leans on actually say? For instance:
17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”
Has a continuous succession of Davidic kings been ruling the Jews since the Roman Era? Likewise, has a continuous succession of Levitical priests been performing their sacerdotal duties since the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD?
Isn’t the dispensational interpretation a makeshift “reinterpretation”?
Covenants are not open to double-meanings (or typological fulfillments). Covenants are like contracts. If they don’t mean what they say what is the use of them?
Actually, we’re talking about covenant promises. Henebury is in no position to stipulate, a priori, that a promise can’t be fulfilled typologically.
If they do mean what they say then there cannot be motifs floating around that contradict them by what Steve evasively calls “recapitulation” and others call “reinterpretation” or “redefinition.”
It’s a category mistake for Henebury to act as though recapitulation is synonymous with reinterpretation or redefinition. Recapitulation can be a literary device or it can be a case of history repeating itself. In either event, that’s not synonymous with reinterpretation or redefinition.
Please read what I said in the last post, especially about Jer. 16.
Which I responded to.
2. While I’m at it I detect an equivocation on the word “type” in Steve’s argument. In biblical typologies – which have in mind the OT/NT relation – a type is a genre; “a biblical event, person or institution which serves as a pattern for other events, persons or institutions.” (D. Baker quoted in D. Moo, “The Problem of Sensus Plenior,” in Hermeneutics, Authority & Canon, 195). In semiotics it is part of a much broader linguistic sign system. Hays relies greatly on the latter. Most biblical hermeneuticians don’t; which accounts for the rarity of treatments of type/token in their manuals.
Since I’ve explicitly and repeatedly distinguished between type/token relations and type/antitype relations, there’s no equivocation in my usage or analysis. I haven’t used these two categories interchangeably.
Nope. And as I’ve had cause to say, Steve’s tendency is to deny what most CT’s are happy to affirm. Of course, I did not accuse Steve of not believing in shadows. I assumed he would. Hays once again puts himself outside the run of current CT’s by differentiating types from shadows.
If memory serves, G. B. Caird initially drew that distinction.
This again goes to show what I have said: there is a connection between one’s typology and one’s theology, although Steve has not admitted it.
Because it’s such a trite statement.
We’re back to motifs again. It is legitimate to inquire about what a temple represents. A temple represents a “sanctuary” and a sanctuary is a designated holy place where God and man meet (Allen Ross). There is more to it, but that will do for now. But knowing what a temple represents does not give one carte blanche to turn it into a type (or token) and redefine or reconceptualize a schematic for a physical building as something else (e.g., CT’s view of the “New Creation”). Recall that temples were built within the creation; they weren’t the creation itself. As I said, before we talk about what a temple may represent we have to decide what the temple is. Is the Universe a temple (Beale)? Is it a designated space on Earth (Ross)? Is it a physical or a spiritual temple?
Steve admits that there is a floor-plan in Ezekiel 40ff. (Actually, it’s more than just a floor-plan but we’ll go with it – see Ralph Alexander’s “Excursus” on these chs. in EBC Vol. 6, ed. Gaebelein). How did Steve arrive at the opinion that there is a floor-plan there? He read what it said and came to the obvious conclusion. Good. But the floor-plan is actually not really to be interpreted as a floor-plan. How does Steve know? Does Ezekiel tell us? No! It’s because of the presence of a “New Eden” motif. That’s what settles it. The fact that God made an everlasting covenant with Phineas, the descendant of Ezekiel and the Zadokites is insubstantial. The fact that Jeremiah speaks of this covenant in Jer. 33 and Ezekiel speaks of it in Ezekiel 37:26-27 is bye the bye. The fact that Malachi 3:2-4 speaks of a time when the Levites will be purified to offer before the Lord is passe. We need to read these prophets again with Frege’s glasses on our noses. Once we do that we shall know that God is speaking about the New Creation (which is the new heavens and Earth).
i) I never suggested that my interpretation is reducible to the sense/reference distinction. That’s a polemical caricature on Henebury’s part.
ii) Regarding Mal 3:2-4:
a) Since the prophet uses figurative imagery (derived from laundering and metallurgy), he may also be using Levitical terminology as a metaphor for true worship.
b) Moreover, even if we take it literally, nothing in the passage refers the fulfillment to the Second Coming of Christ.
Indeed, the dispensational OT scholar Eugene Merrill indexes the fulfillment to the first advent of Christ. Cf. E. Merrill, An Exegetical Commentary: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Moody 1994), 442-444.
iii) Henebury’s appeal to Ezk 37 is problematic for his own position:
a) For instance, Henebury has said:
I’m assuming Israel means Israel, Zion means Zion, Ezekiel’s Temple is a real temple; that the covenants mean precisely what they say, etc. To me, Steve’s position is like saying “a car is a car” is begging the question.
But in Ezk 37, we have a David redivivus motif (vv24-25; cf. 34:23-24). So does David mean David? Does Henebury deny the Messianic thrust of the passage? Or is David a type of Christ in Ezk 37?
b) The “eternal covenant” alludes to the Mosaic covenant (Lev 26:4). But dispensationalists don’t think the Mosaic covenant is perpetual.
iv) In his treatment of Ezk 40-48, Henebury commits a systematic level-confusion. This passage is a visionary narrative, like an extended dream. It has the basic elements of a narrative: (a) Setting, viz. the temple/city. (b) Characters. Ezekiel is a character within the visionary narrative. In addition, it has two speakers: the angelic tour guide (the man of bronze), and Yahweh (the Shekinah). (c) Plot (i.e. sequence of events).
v) An interpreter needs to differentiate the level of the visionary narrative from whatever real-world analogues that may have outside the visionary narrative.
This passage isn’t speaking directly to the Ezekiel’s readers. Rather, the reader is allowed to overhear what divine or angelic characters within the visionary narrative say to the character of Ezekiel.
vi) Ezekiel isn’t shown a work site for a future temple. Rather, Ezekiel is shown an extant temple (and surrounding city). Even on a “plain sense” or “face-value” reading, that’s a preexisting complex.
vii) Among other things, it symbolizes the holiness of God, in contrast to sinners. You have the architectural buffers which keep sinners at a safe distance.
viii) It also has a new Eden motif. Of course, Eden wasn’t literally located in Jerusalem.
ix) The temple is a house of God. A palatial temple. In that respect the architecture combines two themes:
a) Because God is holy, the building has a sacral aspect: a temple. Sacred space.
b) Because God is kingly, the building has a palatial aspect: a royal palace (41:1-2; cf. 1 Kgs 21:1; 2 Kgs 20:18). God’s dwelling-place.
x) The ostensible location is heaven: God’s heavenly palatial temple. It’s belongs to the genre of OT heavenly visions, viz. 1 Kgs 22:19-20; Job 1-2; Isa 6:1-7; Dan 7:9-14. As such, this is not to be equated with an earthly building.
xi) Like other OT examples, we’re dealing with anthropomorphic picture-language. It draws on concrete imagery to depict the invisible, intangible “abode” of God.
2. But I want to pause to ask a question: if that is true, why speak of sin offerings in the temple for the prince (45:22)? And what does one make of this:
44:10 ” And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity.
11 “Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, as gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them.
12 “Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them,” says the Lord GOD, “that they shall bear their iniquity.
13 “And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest,
nor come near any of My holy things, nor into the Most Holy Place;
but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they
14 “Nevertheless I will make them keep charge of the temple, for
all its work, and for all that has to be done in it.
15 ” But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept
charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from
Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall
stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood,” says the Lord
God makes a separation between non-Zadokite Levites and Zadokites like Ezekiel.
God makes a separation within the visionary narrative.
Non-Zadokite Levites can serve in the temple but cannot offer before the Lord. What’s all that about if the temple is the New Creation? What is a non-Zadokite? What does it mean that they cannot come before the LORD? What’s the point of all this misleading talk if this is a picture of Glory? Cf. also Isa. 65:20.
(e.g. Ezk 43:7)
In the world to come there will be a separation between the saints and the damned. We already have that theme in OT revelation.
The cross-reference is unfortunate because the chapter goes on to command:
10 ” Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.
11 “And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.
If (arguendo) we disregard the visionary narrative level and thereby erase the distinction between direct and indirect discourse, then the “command” is addressed to Ezekiel’s contemporaries. He is directed to tell them (i.e. the exilic community) what God told him.
If the text “says what it means,” then that’s what it says, that’s what it means. Far from sticking with the “plain sense,” “face-value” meaning of the passage, Henebury rips the passage out of its historical context and acts as if Ezekiel was directed to give this message to folks living at the tail-end of the church age–long after he died.
12 Steve may respond to this by pointing out the great time-gap between the Prophet and his first hearers and today. I have replied that this will happen after Christ comes in power to earth (not His first coming; ergo His second coming). This was the view of ancient Jewish Rabbis who believed that the temple would be built when Elijah returned (Cf. also Malachi 4 which many believe refers to the Second Coming). They are still waiting for him. Remember that although John the Baptist is like Elijah he flatly denied being Elijah (Jn. 1:21).
For yet more evidence that ancient Jews believed in a gloriously rebuilt temple and Jerusalem:
And that again God will have mercy on them, and bring them again into the land, where they shall build a temple, but not like to the first, until the time of that age be fulfilled; and afterward they shall return from all places of their captivity, and build up Jerusalem gloriously, and the house of God shall be built in it for ever with a glorious building, as the prophets have spoken thereof. – Tobit 14:5
Larry Helyer writes,
The Gospels must be read against the backdrop of a strong expectation that God would soon act to reestablish the Davidic Dynasty – Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period, 59.
Obviously Jews before and during the time of Christ (including Hananiah ben Hezekiah if Steve is to be believed) didn’t get the memo. They had a false expectation. Maybe if God would have said what He meant? Of course, He did!
i) This appeal is self-defeating at so many different levels. Compare it with Henebury’s own criteria:
The truth is, something outside the texts he uses is making him see types that are not there. Could that something be that he is “reinterpreting” the passages because of his commitment to letting his understanding of the NT dictate what the OT must say, and what God intended to say? Perhaps not. But in my experience and reading, that is what is going on.
But notice that Henebury is the one resorting to something outside the text to supply what he can’t find in the text itself. He’s making this extraneous material dictate what the OT must say.
My main concern in the “40 Reasons” was God’s intention. Second to that is the inspired author. As both are benign communicators, the assumption is that they wanted their first hearers to grasp their intentions. If that were not the case we could not say “truth” was being aimed at. Therefore, there could be no meaning. Of course, if they needed the NT…..
What I was trying to get across was; if the NT is needed to decipher the OT; or if Hays’s example of the land-promise was a type of something or other, then the meaning of the communication was not aimed at the original hearers of the prophet [emphasis mine].
But notice how he suddenly abandons the “first hearers” or “original hearers” as his frame of reference, instead citing Intertestamental pseudepigrapha and rabbinic literature.
Here are the first twenty of forty reasons (there could be more but it’s a good number) why a student of the Bible should not adopt the common tactic of reading the New Testament back into the Old, with the resultant outcome that the clear statements of the Old Testament passages in context are altered and mutated to mean something which, without universal prevenient prophetic inspiration, no Old Testament saint (or New Testament saint who did not have access to the right Apostolic books) could have known.
So it’s wrong to read the NT back into the OT, but it’s okay to read Intertestamental pseudepigrapha or rabbinic literature back into the OT.
iv) In addition, he also ignores the possibility (indeed, probability) that the rabbis and Intertestamental writers were frequently “reinterpreting” the OT.
4. It is essential if that’s what God requires. And God does require it in Ezekiel 43! Moses’ Tabernacle on earth was a pattern of one in Heaven (Heb. 8:2, 5; 9:1,11, 23-24. cf. Exod. 25:8-9).
Why is he citing Hebrews? Isn’t that interpreting (or “reinterpreting”) the OT through the prism of the NT?
Therefore, to say the pattern and building are not essential is not only to ignore what is right in front of us but to forget our place. The tabernacle on earth represented the one in heaven (not primarily, if at all, the universe).
Henebury is confusing a heavenly blueprint with a heavenly temple. The point is that Moses didn’t design the tabernacle: God did–just as God gave Noah instructions for the ark. That doesn’t mean there’s a heavenly ark.
5. I don’t know any commentator, whether he believes in a physical temple in the chapters or not, who doesn’t believe Ezekiel’s temple is prophetic. One of the first things most commentaries (liberal or evangelical) speak to is the strong eschatological orientation of the Book. According to Marvin Sweeney in The Jewish Study Bible of the Jewish Publication Society, (2004), because of the discrepancies between Ezekiel’s temple and the Tabernacle,
“’Jewish tradition regards these chs as Ezekiel’s vision of the Third Temple to be built in the days of Messiah (Seder Olam 26; Rashi; Radak).” (1118. Cf. 1126).
So Henebury is admitting that his eschatological interpretation is a face-saving device to shield Ezekiel from the indictment that his “prophetic temple” is a prophetic failure.
They missed His first coming. They will not miss His second (Matt. 24:27-31; Zech. 12). Steve thinks I’m interpreting from my historical vantage point, but my interpretation matches the ancient Jewish interpretation (remember the quotation from Hess?). The online Jewish Encyclopedia says Seder Olam is the “Earliest post-exilic chronicle preserved in the Hebrew language. “ I therefore judge Steve’s objection as a non-argument.
Ironically, Henebury is appealing to a “reinterpretation” of Ezk 40-48. An ad hoc reinterpretation designed to save face.
In Steve’s argument it is not the details in Ezekiel 40ff. which God SAID to observe that are important, but the underlying motif!
That’s a simplistic caricature of what I’ve written.
6. So what? That is a subjective opinion.
Henebury is quoting my initial statement without regard to my supporting argument.
He’s entitled to it. In fact, I believe that’s what’s driving his argument. But why not a physical building if a floor-plan for a building is being spoken about? If we have a floorplan and ceremonial details and commands to do them then surely the fulfillment must match the prediction?
i) The text isn’t commanding us. The text isn’t commanding the reader. That commits a level-confusion. That fails to distinguish what is said by characters to other characters within the visionary narrative from the audience for the book.
If, say, the Angel Gabriel tells Joseph in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, that doesn’t mean he’s telling the reader to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt.
ii) And even if, for the sake of argument, we ignore the visionary narrative framework and treat this as if it were direct discourse, the text wouldn’t be commanding the modern reader. Rather, God would be commanding Ezekiel to speak to his contemporaries. To tell members of the exilic community what will be required of them when they return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. That’s the context–not Henebury’s stopgap reinterpretation which transplants the command to a premillennial timetable.
If not, the tests of a prophet (Deut. 18) would be useless because the prophet could claim typological fulfillment!
Given the numerous discrepancies between Ezk 40-48 and the Mosaic cultus, if we take Henebury’s objection to its logical conclusion, then that would make Ezekiel a false prophet. If Deut 18 sets the bar, and Ezk 40-48 contradicts the blueprint which God gave Moses, then, by Henebury’s logic, Ezekiel should be stricken from the canon.
7. But Steve keeps ignoring the telos. It’s in the biblical covenants (e.g. Jer. 33:14-26). What I mean is, there is a goal for this earth; this history, before the New Heavens and New Earth. Steve, like Beale and most CT’s does not hold this view, and therefore expects the New Creation to happen at the Second Advent. They believe this creation will be cast off and destroyed without being returned to its pre-fall glory. That colors their reading of the OT prophecies. That’s why he places motifs above words in context. That is why he has ignored my references.
As usual, Henebury is fulminating against a position I haven’t taken. I haven’t said or suggested that the earth will be destroyed. A new Eden/new Jerusalem eschatology doesn’t require that.
The Bible uses both destructive and reconstructive imagery. So both sides have to figure out how to harmonize the conflicting imagery. Of course, if the imagery is figurative, then it doesn’t need to be literally harmonized.
8. A temple is normally a physical building. It is an example of a sanctuary (a “token” of a “type”). The arrangements and decoration of the Tabernacle and Temple recalled Eden. This is instructive as it tells us that God prizes the original creation. This earth, though fallen, is not to be thrown-off when Jesus returns. This earth will be restored.
i) You have a cosmic temple motif in Scripture. Likewise, Eden is a microcosmic “temple.” This has been documented by a number of scholars, (e.g. G. Wenham, T. D. Alexander).
ii) Once again, Henebury is attacking a position I never took. I haven’t said the earth will be destroyed.
Henebury needs to desist from his Quixotic skirmishes, dismount from Rocinante, and address himself to the actual arguments I’ve been presenting.
Yes, those who believe in a rebuilt future temple can accept this too! The reason Ezekiel 47 has a new Eden motif (Eden is not mentioned in the whole section, but we’ll play along) is because the land (in this case Israel) will be restored to Edenic beauty and productivity. Hays has difficulty with accepting the Israel-centered focus of the OT. What about the other lands? Well, they too will be blessed through Israel (e.g Isa. 11; Zech. 10; 12; 14).
Gentiles are blessed through the Abrahamic covenant. That’s hardly unique to dispensationalism.
As an aside, Jesus speaks of the (future) “regeneration,” (Matt. 19:28), and Paul speaks of this world being glorified when we receive our redemption bodies (Rom. 8:19-23). It is nor replaced until Jesus makes something of it (1 Cor. 15:20f.). Thus, the expectation derived from the OT is not altered in the New.
He keeps tilting at windmills (see above).
Once there was a Garden and in the future there will be a huge temple situated in an Eden-like Israel. That’s a recapitulation unacceptable to my brother.
Henebury is asserting his dispensational interpretation rather than arguing for his dispensational interpretation.
9. Paradise lost had no sin in it. Paradise regained (in the sense of Ezek 47-48) does have sin in it (Ezek. 45; Zech. 14). Steve is wrongly equating Ezekiel 40 with the New Heavens and Earth. We’ll see this next time.
Henebury is still committing a level-confusion by confounding the visionary narrative with what it analogizes. Ezk 40-48 is a figurative montage which combines a number of different, complementary themes. It’s not a photographic preview of the world to come. I’m not the one whose “equating” Ezk 40-48 with the future.
I’m going to do one more post after this one, with perhaps a summary of the main points later on. I have enjoyed and benefitted from this interchange. I hope Steve Hays can say the same, although his online manner is not encouraging. Readers only of his blog will come away thinking Henebury just doesn’t get it (e.g. “As usual, Henebury can’t follow the argument.”). I wonder how many other of Hays’ interlocutors would say the same thing? Indeed, I witness against myself I am told: “by his own admission, dialoguing with Henebury is futile.” I hadn’t realized until now that I’d said anything like that! Thanks to Steve Hays for spotting it. Maybe there was an underlying motif? Steve permits himself considerable latitude when speaking about fellow Christians. I do not. While disagreements are inevitable, the Lord holds us to certain standards of communication.
Actually, Henebury permits himself considerable latitude. Like lots of folks, he has acute hearing for perceived slights, but a tin-ear where his own tone is concerned.
For instance, when he chronically dismisses my explanations as a cover story to conceal my true beliefs, then by his own lights it is futile to dialogue with him. Indeed, he does the same thing in this very post:
Steve doesn’t like it that I think he is presupposing his view of the NT to inform his OT typology. He thinks I’m placing him within the lot of those who freely admit to doing just that (i.e. covenant theologians generally). He’s right, and I’m sorry if that irritates him. Nevertheless, I do concede the uniqueness of Steve’s alleged position. Indeed, he is a veritable Robinson Crusoe of biblical typology. I know of no one else who takes his OT-only typology position. Let us hope a ship full of CT’s will spot him and pick him up and promote his ideas. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. You see, though these men might agree with the results of Steve’s interpretation, I seriously doubt they would be so reckless as to pretend to convince academia that the Hays typology makes no assumptions based on the NT witness.
Likewise, in resorts to sarcasm, viz. “We need to read these prophets again with Frege’s glasses on our noses.” He also accuses me of using “recapitulation as an “evasive” euphemism or synonym for “redefinition” or “reinterpretation.” Now he’s entitled to indulge his imagination, and sarcasm doesn’t offend me, but don’t pretend that he’s the soul of charity.