Thursday, May 08, 2014

"Out of Egypt"

I'm going to post a my replies to a commenter on my "Feserettes" post because the issue is worth highlight in its own right:

Matthew 2:15"And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."

Tell me, what prophecy is this in reference to?

Isaiah 40:3"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."

Was Isaiah meaning to reference Elijah?

Matthew 13:35"That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."

Which prophecy is this in reference to?


i) Matthew is quoting Hos 11:1.

ii) That doesn't contradict Hosea's meaning. Hosea himself has a typological understanding of redemptive history. He recast the threatened Assyrian deportation in terms of second Egyptian bondage followed by a second Exodus. That's in play in the very chapter Matthew quotes (Hos 11:5,11), as well as other passages in Hosea (cf. 2:14-15; 7:16; 8:13; 9:3,6).

Therefore, Hosea already understood that the same past event can foreshadow an analogous future event(s).

Likewise, "divine sonship" in OT usage can have both a collective referent (Israel) and an individual referent (David or David's heir). Furthermore, in covenant theology, an individual can represent others. So the individual and collective aspects can (and often do) merge.

iii) Matthew is operating with the same typological principle as Hosea. A past event (the Exodus) foreshadowed an analogous future event (the childhood of Christ). Likewise, Christ is the Davidic son who embodies Israel.

i) Isaiah didn't intend to pick out any particular individual, be it Elijah, John the Baptist, or both. Isaiah didn't have a specific individual in mind. He didn't know who was going to fulfill that prediction. He lacks detailed knowledge of the future.

In the case of short-term predictions, a prophet might have something more specific in mind, but not in the case of long-term predictions. And a prophet didn't necessarily (or even usually) know if his prediction was short-term or long-term.

ii) Rather, Isaiah is describing a distinctive role which that individual will play. The role itself selects for the referent.

iii) In addition, more than one individual can play or reprise the same role under analogous circumstances.

iv) Keep in mind that, like Hosea, Isaiah also has a typological understanding of redemptive history, as can be seen in his new Exodus motif.

So the NT appeal to this verse doesn't contradict Isaiah's "meaning."

v) Apropos (iv), you need to distinguish between sense and reference. What it "means" and what it "refers" to are not interchangeable concepts.
i) Matthew is quoting Ps 78:2.

ii) Minimally, Matthew is seizing on the introductory formula. What Jesus does at this point is analogous to what Asaph did under similar circumstances, making Jesus a counterpart to Asaph in that respect.

iii) It's also possible that Matthew is making a larger point. Just as, according to Asaph, well-known events in Israel's history can have a latent significance that only becomes evident or more evident with the passage of time, the same principle holds true at this juncture in the life and ministry of Christ–which is an extension (and culmination) of Israel's history.

Matthew's appeal doesn't contradict what the Psalmist "meant."
First of all, let's recall how you originally framed the issue: "the New Testament quotes the Old in a way we know contradicts the original meaning of the OT author."

In your responses to me, you are conflating two distinct issues:

i) What did the author/prophet intend?

ii) What did the author/prophet not intend?

You're acting as though, if the author/prophet did not intend the oracle to have multiple referents, that he intended the oracle not to have multiple referents. But those are not convertible propositions.

An unintended consequence can be consistent with original intent.

Likewise, as I've noted, OT prophets already understood some past creative/redemptive events as paradigmatic models for future events. So the fulfillment was, to that degree, open-ended. The prophetic significance of a paradigmatic event lacks an automatic cutoff. For it sets a precedent for similar divine actions.

By the same token, the significance of a long-range prophecy can't be exhausted by the prospective viewpoint of the author/prophet, for the simple reason that he lacks the detailed foreknowledge to intend a precise set of historical circumstances which fulfill the oracle. To a great extent, the who, when, and how are opaque looking forward. The significance of long-range prophecy has to be completed by a retrospective viewpoint. For it's only by looking back on the outcome that a reader is in a position to fully discern the paired relationship between the prophetic description and the concrete event.

That doesn't contradict original intent, for that's the nature of long-range prophecy (or paradigmatic events which have prophetic value).
A fixture of the GHM is making allowance for differences in genre. In that respect, you're failing to draw another crucial distinction. Original intent has a narrower scope in prophetic literature than, say, epistolary literature or historical narration.

When, say, Paul writes Galatians, authorial intent determines both sense and reference. He chooses words to express what he wants to convey. And he also determines the identity of the referents. And that's because the identity of the referents is under his control.

But in the case of prophecy, that's only about half true. Authorial intent still determines the meaning of prophetic discourse (i.e. the meaning of a sentence).

However, the identity of the referent is independent of the prophet's intent. The referent concerns future events. That's out of his hands. That's up to God. In many cases, a prophet doesn't even know what the referent will be. His knowledge of the future is still quite limited. Compartmentalized.

A prophet is a recipient of knowledge about the future. He is privy to genuine, albeit limited knowledge of the future. He's basically a reporter. Take a seer. He describes what God showed him. Whether the referent lies in the near future or far future, whether the referent denotes one or multiple events, is not something he is even in a position to intend unless God's revelation is more specific on that point.

I didn't suggest "Hosea referencing Egypt makes the argument that Hosea personally expects his prophecy of Assyria to be a 'long-range' prophecy that will also have other referents."

You're repeating the same mistake you made before. Not expecting something to happen isn't equivalent to expecting something not to happen.

Why, moreover, are you assuming that Hosea even had expectations about how often the Exodus would have future analogues? Once an OT prophet accepts the principle that past events may anticipate future events, there's no intrinsic limitation on how repeatable that is. That's something to be discovered.
Gary Black
"If Hosea was intending to establish or use a previous paradigm, Israel still cannot be construed to be the Savior. For both in Egypt and Assyria, it is abundantly clear from the text that Israel refers to the people getting saved, not the savior. Matthew's interpretation cannot be construed to use the same paradigm Hosea is establishing/using. Asking me to think of Israel in a way that contradicts the plain meaning of the text is asking me to think of Israel in an analogical way."

i) That's not how Matthew is using Hosea. You equivocate on "salvation." "Save" can mean to redeem sinners or it can mean to deliver and/or protect from harm. The paradigm connotes divine protection. Just as Yahweh protects his "son" Israel from a murderous ruler (Pharaoh), God protects his Son Jesus from a murderous ruler (Herod). The Father is "saving" the Christchild in that sense, which is consonant with Christ (as an adult) being a Savior.

ii) In addition, you chronically collapse sense and reference. But what a word or sentence means and what it references are two different things.

Take "beagle." That means a particular dog breed. One kind of dog.

But that has multiple referents. All the beagles of the world.

i) One of the factors you fail to appreciate is that both Hos 11:1 and Mat 2:15 are special cases of a general principle. Hosea himself regards the impending Assyrian deportation and subsequent restoration as an exemplification of the Exodus motif.

It is therefore artificial for you to single out a specific application to the detriment of underlying exemplar which Hosea himself recognizes.

ii) In addition, if Mt 2:15 alludes to Hos 11:1, Hos 11:1 alludes to Pentateuchal passages. The "sonship" motif comes from Exod 4:22-23 while the "out of Egypt" motif comes from Num 23:22 and 24:8. In Num 23:22, the referent is plural (i.e. corporate Israel), but 24:8 is singular, highlighting a future king who will arise to defeat Israel's enemies (symbolized by Agag). So there's already a dialectical interplay between singular and collective referents, with a Messianic motif.

iii) Your final paragraph ignores my discussion of the prophetic genre. Additionally, you create a false dichotomy between the GHM and analogous events, even though Hosea himself relies on that principle.
i) You need to distinguish between analogical "interpretation" and analogical events. It's not that Matthew is interpreting Hosea analogically. Rather, the underlying events (i.e. the Egyptian bondage/Exodus; the Assyrian deportation/restoration; the Holy Family taking refuge in Egypt) are analogous. Hosea is an OT witness to that recurrent pattern.

ii) Moreover, the Exodus established a divine precedent, which–in turn–fosters the expectation God will do similar things in the future.


  1. Greg Beale has been addressing these two text over the past few years.

    I'm 2011:


    1. I'm still listening to the lecture (2011), but it's worth noting that Greg Beale agrees with me [that Matthew is not using GHM]. Perhaps Steve wouldn't consider him a careful NT scholar, but I found his arguments interesting and perhaps you would also. He begins the relevant section @15:03. He is done with the assertion by 15:36, but obviously he more clearly defends the point afterwards.

    2. Gary Black:

      "Perhaps Steve wouldn't consider him a careful NT scholar."

      Don't dissemble. You originally said: "The New Testament quotes the Old in a way we know contradicts the original meaning of the OT author."

      Is that Beale's position? To the contrary, Beale says:

      I contend that throughout the book of Hosea itself not only is the first exodus mentioned quite a bit, but so too a second exodus that was to occur in the latter days. The best example is Hosea 11. In verse 1 he mentions the historical exodus, but the chapter concludes with the prophecy that God will bring them out of Egypt in the future. In fact, in the middle of the chapter it even says they will return to Egypt a second time. There are a number of places where Hosea mentions a first exodus and elsewhere a second exodus, and he does this right in chapter 11 multiple times. If you asked Hosea “Hosea, did you see that the end of Israel’s history was to be shaped like its beginning at the exodus?” I think he would say, “Yes.” That’s why Hosea sees that there is going to be a future exodus that is replicating or recapitulating a first exodus. If that’s the case, then Matthew is just recognizing Hosea’s own typological method.

    3. First, I didn't claim Greg Beale agrees with my every thought. I claimed he agreed with me "that Matthew is not using GHM." On that point, Beale agrees with me. Or do you not take him at his word?

      Second, in addition to your reply being a red herring, I find it quite uncharitable that you reproduce my original wording and not include my clarification. I will reproduce that clarification below. As is clear from my clarification, I find not one thing objectionable concerning Beale's speech, including your quote.

      "I imagine we can consider "intent" narrowly or broadly. I could say Hosea's intent was to communicate a prophecy that Assyria would conquer Israel. I could also say Hosea's intent was to communicate prophetic revelation. Matthew is consistent with the latter but not the former. My first comment was about "meaning" or "intent" in that more narrowly constructed way. That was my meaning and I hope it has been clarified now."

    4. Gary Black

      "First, I didn't claim Greg Beale agrees with my every thought."

      "I find not one thing objectionable concerning Beale's speech."

      Which is it?

      "I claimed he agreed with me 'that Matthew is not using GHM.' On that point, Beale agrees with me. Or do you not take him at his word?"

      He's clearly defining terms differently than you are, so your appeal is vitiated by equivocation.

      "I find it quite uncharitable that you reproduce my original wording and not include my clarification."

      After you backpedaled. You reserve the right to update your original claim, but try to freeze my original statement about "careful NT scholars."

    5. First, there is no problem with both statements. I'm sure if Beale read what I wrote he wouldn't fully agree - not least of all because we might not agree on terms. It seems obvious that does not prevent me from listening to him, looking up his terms, and coming to agreement with what he said. It would be silly for me to assume what his interpretation of my words would be. It is perfectly reasonable for me to know what my interpretation of his words is.

      Your second point actually touches the substance of what I said. That's nice change of pace in this latest exchange. On that point, I'm sure Beale and I do use terms differently. However, the only relevant term to the quotation is the GHM. Are you now claiming that you, Beale, and I (or some subset of us) are using GHM in an equivocal manner?

      The reason I "froze" your statement about "careful NT scholars" is because you never offered an update; feel free to. If you did offer an clarification and I didn't include it to paint you in a bad light, you can then imply I am a hypocrite or likewise lack charity.

      I believe my clarification is consistent with my original claim. You can only claim I backpedaled if you have some secret and better knowledge about what I mean than I do. Unless you are going out of your way to prove my original point about your exegesis, that would be a dangerous thing to claim.

  2. The interlocutors from Feser's neck of the woods take a rather low view of Scripture methinks.

    1. Well, when you've got an infallible interpreter, giving you the "authentic interpretation", then you don't need the actual text.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. -Edited for Formatting-
    If anyone is interested in reading the entire exchange, it is here:

    After accepting many corrections and reformulating my position in words Steve accepts, my argument can be summarized as I said near the end of the exchange. Not meaning to rehash the entire exchange, I'll put my summary here for those who don't want to read the whole thing. Steve's response to my summary can be seen in the blog post above.

    "My argument was that given the context of Hosea 11:2, Jesus is only a somewhat fitting referent for Israel in Hosea 11:1. Because it is not wholly fitting, it is only “somewhat” or “like” or “analogical to” the author’s original sense. I don’t believe you ever addressed this discrepancy which is the main substance of my argument. ...
    On iiia), I thought I addressed your distinction of the genre. Going back you said, "Original intent has a narrower scope in prophetic literature..." You then went on to explain how in prophetic literature the author is not necessary privy to the full scope of the referent. I took that to be an explanation of what you meant by "narrower". By not assuming Hosea knew some univocal referent, I addressed the issue of genre as you presented it.
    On i) I would only say that my singling it out wasn't artificial - I singled it out because of Matthew's wording. On ii) I would say that generally agree that there is a motif at work. We seem to disagree about whether this makes Matthew 2:15 analogous or identical with the predecessor's prophecy."

    It should also be added for those who would like to make drive-by comments about my view of Scripture, that I agree with Matthew's interpretation. The argument was over GHM despite your conflation between the two. It should also be noted that I only represent myself, not an entire group of people despite your desire to mock them.

    1. Gary Black:

      "We seem to disagree about whether this makes Matthew 2:15 analogous or identical with the predecessor's prophecy."

      You persist in failing to distinguish between univocal/analogical meaning and univocal/analogical referents or univocal/analogical events. In addition, it is the typical event that underlies textual meaning or the extratextual referent. For instance, a common event (e.g. the Exodus) that's a harbinger of future counterparts.

      Are you just so conditioned by a particular way of viewing the issue that you're impervious to correction or refinement?

    2. The only reason I put up the summary was because it seemed strange to only have your words up in the blog post. I was merely re-presenting the "other side". Why you feel the need to respond when you already did during the course of the first conversation, I cannot say. Had you not already thoroughly debunked my case in the section of the blog post I referred the reader to?

      That being said, I already made the argument why I believe Matthew's interpretation is analogical to Hosea's meaning (sense). The sentence you quote is not the argument itself; it is a pithy way of asserting the conclusion of that argument. If it confusing to you, disregard it.

      I find it strange you would accuse me of being "impervious to correction or refinement." Of the two of us, only one of us has accepted correction and refined their ideas over the course of the conversation.

  5. Gary Black, I had this comment (of yours) in mind when I posted my opinion that folks (such as yourself) from Feser's neck of the woods take a rather low view of Scripture:

    My favorite part of the exchange is when Steve says "the purpose and practice of the GHM is widely attested in Scripture itself." Steve's argument is that we should use grammatico-historical method (GHM) and never allegory in our interpretation of Scripture. He states, "Incidentally, there is no such thing as 'moderate' allegorization ... Once you cut the text free from its historical moorings, you’re at sea without a map, compass, or coastline."
    I found this hilarious because the New Testament quotes the Old in a way we know contradicts the original meaning of the OT author.

    Perhaps you refined this somewhere during your exchange with Steve, but on my reading it seems plain enough that you think the Bible contains internally contradictory statements. How such thinking not consonant with a low view of Scripture eludes me.

    Furthermore based on the foregoing comment your accusation of my conflating your (low) view of Scripture with your broader critique of GHM seems unjustified. In fact they appear to go hand in hand.