Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament


Beale and Carson explain what they will not cover in their preface to the Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament:

We have not summarized the extraordinarily complex developments in the field of typology since Leonhard Goppelt wrote his 1939 book Typos. (xxiii)

I must say. Sounds like a hilarious book, but I’m not sure what poor proofreading has to do with exegesis. Ah well.

Beale and Carson asked each of the contributors to this thick volume to keep in mind six questions:

  1. What is the NT context of the citation or allusion?
  2. What is the OT context from which the quotation or allusion is drawn?
  3. How is the OT quotation or source handled in the literature of Second Temple Judaism or (more broadly yet) of early Judaism?
  4. What textual factors must be borne in mind as one seeks to understand a particular use of the OT? Is the NT citing the MT or the LXX or a Targum?
  5. What is the nature of the connection as the NT writer sees it?
  6. To what theological use does the NT writer put the OT quotation or allusion? (xxiv–xxv)

I like the story Carson tells of his father to illustrate one possible answer to the fourth question:

One of the editors had a father who was much given to communicating in brief biblical quotations. His mind was so steeped in Scripture that Scripture provided the linguistic patterns that were the first recourse of his speech. If one of his children was complaining about the weather, he would quietly say (quoting, in those days, the KJV), “This is the day the LORD hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” In fact, he knew his Bible well enough that he was fully aware that the original context was not talking about the weather and our response to it. He knew that the verse occurs in one of the crucial “rejected stone” passages, and the “day” over which the psalmist rejoices is the day when the “stone” is vindicated (Ps. 118:22–24; note v. 24 in the TNIV: “The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”). Nevertheless the passage provided the verbal fodder for him to express what he wanted to say, and granted what the Bible does actually say elsewhere about God’s goodness and providence, he was accurately summarizing a biblical idea even though the biblical words he was citing did not, in their original context, articulate that idea. Are there instances, then, when the NT writers use biblical language simply because their minds are so steeped in Scripture that such verbal patterns provide the linguistic frameworks in which they think?

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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