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New Testament Authors & the Hebrew Scriptures, Part II

Jessup Think
Jessup Think
New Testament Authors & the Hebrew Scriptures, Part II

In this episode Mark is joined by New Testament and Theology Professor Matthew Godshall to further discuss the topic of the New Testament authors use of the Hebrew Scriptures. Matt brings his extensive New Testament knowledge to the discussion as they explore the topic from the perspective of the NT authors. They also note how the NT authors actually provide a way for us to approach and apply Scripture in our own lives.


All right, welcome to Jessup think I’m your host, Mark Moore. And today on the show, I’m delighted to be joined by friend of the show and fellow member of our faculty of theology, Matt, gotcha. Hey, Mark, hey, it’s good to have you back on. And that’s why your friend of the show, I like the title. When you’re returning guests, you now become friends. We’re friends. Now.

It’s so surprising you have me back.

So it’s good. We had Libby, on the show recently talking about the way the New Testament authors use the Hebrew Scriptures. And Libby provided wonderful insight into the original Hebrew context of the passages. So I just thought it’d be great to have you on the show, to kind of look at it maybe from the perspective of the New Testament authors, maybe looking at the gospel writers looking at Paul thinking about how are they maybe specifically using the Hebrew Scripture? And, and, and what we can learn from that, and maybe what we can learn from that for our own, maybe hermeneutical initiatives are and what we’re doing and, and in the episode with liberty, we talked a lot about Richard Hayes. And and that’s kind of where I come from in it. And I think it’s helpful to maybe define some of these terms as we get going. That’s, that’s one thing that we scholars like to do first, right is define define terms, which is helpful in scholarship, not as helpful in other things in your lives, right, like maybe in a conversation with your spouse, and you want to define terms, not the best time to define terms, then we got too close to home, right? Yeah. I know that home, I live there, my friend, I live there. But so with Hayes, he talks about, you know, the New Testament writers are kind of doing three things. They have direct quotations, and we see that throughout Paul’s writings, we see that with the gospel writers where they directly quote, Isaiah, directly, quote, Deuteronomy. But we also have direct illusions, where the biblical writer is making a pretty explicit allusion to the Hebrew Scriptures, whether it’s Paul talking about Adam, and Jesus being the new Adam, or john starting out his gospel by saying in the beginning, and he is he’s assuming lightbulbs and sirens are going off. And we’re making that connection, and then also echoes, and that’s kind of, you know, Hayes has really played off of that word, echoes of Scripture. He has, you know, his work that goes with Scripture, and Paul, and then echoes of scripture in the Gospels. And I love his definition of echo. He defines it as different from a quotation or an explicit illusion, in the fact that an echo evokes the wider context of the text to which it alludes. Beyond which is even directly cited, it establishes an intertextual correspondence between two or more texts, allowing illuminating arcs of hermeneutical electricity to travel across the intervening spaces, as just so well,

so well written so well said something like, hey, it’s only Hayes can say, right. And it actually makes sense when you read them. And then you step away, you’re like, what is that?

Yeah, you’re like, yeah, you’re like an illuminating arc of hermeneutical electricity. Probably not too many people when they approach hermeneutics don’t feel like there’s any electricity involved in hermeneutics. But yeah, does such a good picture of this intertextual correspondence, and allowing, yeah, those illuminating arcs of hermeneutic electricity to jump from the pages of Genesis to the pages of Paul’s writings.

Yeah. And even within that, metaphor, it, it’s getting out. This goes both ways. And where it’s, it’s the new helps us to better understand the old and the old is absolutely essential for understanding the new so is that that electricity goes, it’s not a one way current, I would imagine it’s right, um, scientific thing would be right where it’s going. Yeah, it’s gone both ways to, and that’s what the power of the Echo, though. I would, I think he would say that illusions and direct quotations have that power, as well. Right? But it’s that echo. That’s the subtle, it’s subtle, but it shows the deep level in which the, that Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures is me quoting or idea or word is just in the mind of the author and When when he writes it, it evokes this whole context and just that’s the power. Yeah, power of the echo is this electrical current,

right? Yeah. And that’s so good to point out too, that it it goes both ways that it is the Hebrew Scriptures, informing the New Testament, and also the New Testament authors helping us understand better what was happening with older scriptures, especially specific connections that are being made and, and it’s okay, I know you I saw you correct yourself on Hebrew Scripture Old Testament, we had that discussion with Libby. Yeah, we don’t offend anyone until we will, we will bounce back and forth. And feel free to use my trademark. The vintage testimonial. So as you know, as Paul is referencing the vintage testament, think it just has a ring to it to get that going. Now we’re, I’m I’m working with Zondervan on trying to get something we can get, you know, if you’re listening, Zondervan, we can make that happen. Oh, come on. One thing that Hayes also notes is that within all three of those within quotations, within allusions, and within echoes, a certain literary technique is being employed. And he, he references that, that these are met ellipsis, that meaning, right, that, I think it’s good to define that as well, that it’s a literary technique of citing or echoing a small bit of a precursor text, in such a way that the reader can grasp the significance of the Echo, only by recalling the original context of the first touch, right? So it’s, he’s, it’d be the story. And, and I like that his notes that in all three of those, this meta ellipsis is happening.

Yeah, that’s good to point out. And that’s that electric current, kind of intertextual connection going both ways, but, and we’re used to met ellipsis or intertextuality. Right, though we may not always be aware, but yeah, it’s everywhere, right? I mean, this these connections, are music, there in commercials or in other literature, right? Definitely in movies. And so you get these allusions to other texts, or other movies or other songs that

when you make the connection, and can appreciate the original context, brings so much more meaning to this new text, this, this new, this new movie, and it sheds new light on what the author or the director or the writer intended, right, that’s so true, yeah, when you hear something referenced in a movie, or a song, and you’re like, wait, I know that this is referencing an older song or an older movie. And, and you can make that connection. And by remembering the first one, it helps you understand the power of how the new sighting of it is being used. And for that, and I think it’s great just to, to remind ourselves that this is happening all around us all the time. And so it would make sense that the New Testament writers are going to do that they are going to, to speak into a culture and use these echoes and allusions and quotations in a way that is able to recall what was said before, and maybe provide a new context and a new understanding. But the only the new understanding only works if you understand the original.

Yeah, yeah. And they expect their readers to be able to make those connections. And they that’s part of their way of communicating meaning in their message is for those connections to be made. Though, I think to be fair, we would say the texts ended up on their own have a level of meaning we can understand without making the intertextual links, right. However, seeing those links and appreciating those links bring so much more meaning and in significance to what what the writing or how they’re saying it or why they’re saying what they’re saying just like with movies today or songs, you can appreciate a song without making some of the intertextual links. Right But when you do becomes all the more meaningful and powerful or something may make sense that didn’t like what is that? What reference there? I don’t know when right seems really confusing. Then you Oh, wait, okay, it’s connecting there. Now. It makes perfect sense. Yeah.

Yeah, really.

We do it all the time. And for some reason, it’s taken. Scholars like Richard Hayes and others Gk Beale, and there’s a wealth of scholarship out there on this topic to kind of help us to see how this is relevant for the our New Testament hermeneutic or biblical hermeneutics. It’s, it’s kind of almost stating the obvious, but we’ve kind of missed lost sight of it. It seems like prior generations Yeah,

yeah. Yeah. And maybe, maybe perhaps like, do you think we’ve lost sight of it? Because in some of the, the usage of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially maybe the usage of prophecy, we’re looking for that predictive capability of, of the prophecy. And so we were looking for that direct maybe connection, and and that fulfillment language, but but maybe that makes us miss some of the subtleties that the New Testament authors are doing. Mm hmm.

Yeah. I think for a long time, New Testament used to the Old Testament was done within the context of apologetics. Right? It’s Look at all these prophecies that Jesus fulfills. He has to be the Promised Messiah and you know, a good, that’s not a bad boy to come at it, right. But within that context, the end goal is simply showing that Jesus is the Messiah. So looking at all these prophecies, so it’s this prophet, prophecy fulfillment, or prophetic fulfillment, right framework for for understanding the New Testament use of the old. And so it’s valid, but it’s not the only framework, right? That, that we should be looking at these texts. So if, if we think of the biblical testaments as a story, continuous, continuous story, it’s really the continuation of the old in the new, but then the new as the climax of the old. And so then you’re getting this this metal lips is electrical currents going back and forth, where it’s more than just Isaiah prophesied. And here’s the fulfillment. Well, Isaiah said some things that maybe weren’t prophetic at the time, maybe he’s accusing Israel of their hardness of heart. I, Isaiah six, nine and in the early chapters of Isaiah, and then Jesus comes along and applies it to his generation. Yeah, son of prophecy. When Isaiah spoke, it was a critique of his contemporaries. But now that the climax of the story comes, that critique has more meaning, more significance. And so Jesus saying, hey, what you all what you were doing to Isaiah in his day, you’re doing to me in rejecting God’s work and who he is and the message he’s come to bring. And so it’s not always prophetic fulfillment, but it’s what Hayes would call figurative or type of logical, okay. The language I like to use with students is read contextual hermeneutics. It’s, it’s seen these vintage texts and their trademark. Yeah, that’s right. Within this new context, it’s the context of the climax of the story, the arrival of the kingdom, the age in which the promises have begun to be fulfilled. And now that forces us to see the old or the vintage light of the new. And that’s and that’s so much of the way New Testament writers and Jesus Himself seem to be using the Old Testament.

Yeah, like that kind of re contextual reading of of placing that, hey, you know, this story of Israel’s hard heart, guess what this is happening again. And, and using that, in the story, within that kind of prophetic language, a lot of times the New Testament authors will use maybe the word fulfillment like this was done to fulfill what was written, how I’ve heard that maybe you, if we take just have a narrow view of fulfillment to be predicted that kind of maybe, you know, doesn’t help us understand. How do you think the New Testament writers are using that word fulfillment?

Yeah, sometimes it is that predictive idea,

right. And that was something maybe for my summer living. And we, we talked a little bit kind of said this, at the end of the show, that this is not to negate the predictive power of prophecy, or the predictive nature of aware. And also even to note that it doesn’t mean that Isaiah had to be conscious of something being predictive for it to be used as fulfillment, you know, later. And so it’s not to negate that. But yeah, to maybe just try to understand, the New Testament is writers using the word fulfillment. They may be meaning something other than what we maybe assume or first think of when we think of fulfillment.

Yeah, I think I think that’s, that’s fair to say, um, and it’s, I think, the idea or the image of filling Something up, take that idea of filling up a glass or filling up, you know, to something to where it’s it brings it to its intent or where it was always meant to go since the beginning and so that that idea of fulfillment definitely resonates with some of the use of that word fulfilled, especially in Matthew’s beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, where he uses fulfilled many, many times right time. It is a main theme and predictive thing with the birth of the Messiah and Bethlehem that seemed to be predictive prophecy. But other times Matthew is using it to say this theme in the Old Testament story is being brought to its fullness. It’s It’s It’s being brought to its tell us where it was always intended to go. Usually, it’s the theme of God’s relationship with his people. See, Think of the Matthew saying, Jesus and Mary and Joseph coming out of Egypt fulfills Hosea 11. out of Egypt, I’ve called my son. Yeah, look at the context of Hosea 11. It’s clearly not predictive of Messiah coming out of right with his parents, it was actually looking back on God rescuing his people from Egypt. And and so it’s Hosea looking back and kind of reflecting on Israel’s history. And it doesn’t have a predictive element in another self least it doesn’t appear from the original context. But Matthew seen that theme of Jesus, or of God’s relationship with his people, is being brought to its fullness with Jesus, who is the true Israel, who, who is the true son who brings who continues Israel’s story but brings its to brings it to it’s quite magic moment. So Matthew, there seems to be looking at Jesus as the new Israel, the true sun. And therefore, that Hosea passage has new meaning in this new context. He recontextualizes it, he fills up this theme of God and His people and God bringing his people rescuing his people from their plight. from Egypt. Yeah,

yeah. And the filling up, I think is a great is a great image of that, and helping, and Libby was offered the illustration of, you know, filling up a coffee cup, you don’t want to like, hey, that sounds good. That sounds great. Right now, that’s right of the full cup of a little a little, and then this fulfillment of it. And that seems to be really helpful in trying to, to understand, especially maybe what the gospel writers are doing, like, hey, know, Matthew really seems to be stressing this fulfillment. And and there are predictive nature that even if it’s, and I think this is where Hayes goes, where Hayes would know that the, the, the Hebrew Scripture writer doesn’t need to be conscious of something to be predictive within the New Testament writer to say, hey, wow, look at this connection. That’s right. Look, and and it would be maybe much harder for Matthew, if Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, and and he wasn’t born to marry a virgin. He wasn’t even within for Matthew to see all those things and make these connections like, hey, look, this is there. There is room in Hebrew Scripture for this. This is this is a completion of this story. Yeah. Now, you’re maybe with that. And I’ve often thought about this, of how the New Testament writers are using, especially times when we look back at the original context. I mean, they will How did they get that? Yeah. You know, and sometimes we see that with Paul and with the with the gospel writers, what role do you think inspiration plays in their youth?

Yeah, good question. And I guess on the negative side, it’s sometimes used this this topic is used to say the New Testament writers didn’t care about the original context. They ignored it in somehow maybe even denigrate the Old Testament, Ryan’s are just proof texting to get their points and Right, right. And that would undermine inspiration in that context or that interpretation.

Yeah, what I like how I like I like your point there because you’re saying it would denigrate kind of inspiration of both Hebrew Scripture and you know, it would, it would maybe denigrate what the New Testament writers thought about the Hebrew Scriptures as inspired. You know, I like kind of

connect kind of how we think of, for honest, mean, the vintage testament of the Old Testament today, it’s it’s this, you know, we’re kind of using it, how we want and, and in fitting within kind of using our context, then how All right, we’ll pick and choose what we want. And that method in and of itself, could undermine this idea of a it’s inspired Word of God, which Jesus in the New Testament writers over and over again saying this is God’s word. So they, they didn’t integrate it that way. But I think within this idea of the, the old and the new, both inspired, yeah, God’s words can have meanings that extend beyond its original context, or even speak into new context. Yeah, that doesn’t undermine or even alter the meaning of the original. It just shows it can be extended, to speak in new and powerful ways, which is actually what we hope for. Right? As we read the Bible today, right? We’re not just reading ancient words for former people or this people way back then. But somehow, these words to these original audiences are words to us today. And so I think, when we look at the way the New Testament writers use, the old, it actually encourages us to say, God’s word can still speak afresh, to our context. Now, you don’t get to make it mean, whatever we want. We don’t, I thought that was the fun. That would be kind of nice. Now, I actually wouldn’t be right. But within kind of the hermeneutic, or the theological perspective of New Testament writers, we too can appropriate these texts and, and see the God’s word extending to us today. Even new context, yeah,

yeah, it’s funny, sometimes students, I’ve had students in Romans class, I was teaching and you really see Paul, using the Hebrew Scriptures all through Romans. And in many times, when you when you look up the original context, you’re like, I need help on how this connections being made. And and I’ve had students, you know, who are writing their own kind of hermeneutical paper, exegetical paper. And, and if I, if I’ve marked them down for, for using something out of context, or using something just as a proof text, there, you know, that sometimes the cry is why Paul did this all the time. And it’s so it’s really interesting, because it’s, it’s not that, you know, and some people will be like, well, you’re not Paul. So you know, he gets a pass. But I like what you’re saying is that, that, actually Paul does provide a model for us on how we can approach scripture, I mean, that that hope is that scripture, will speak to us today, that scripture has an original context. But it also speaks to our context now,

partly because we’re in that same story, right? We’re not that different story, we need to know the act or the chapter of the story we’re in, right. And that will influence how we see and maybe even apply some of the old testament to our own context. But it’s, we think of our act as the church act, going from the resurrection and the return of Jesus, we need to look back at the Old Testament through the lens of the previous Act, which is Jesus, right. And so we read, in light of who he is the rival of the kingdom that he brought about his death and resurrection as the climax of the story, and that we’re now continuing in that as we’re connected to him. And so it’s as the texts of the old applied to Jesus, they could even be extended in some ways to us as we carry on his kingdom work and seek to be his witnesses or his body, as Paul would say, in our own our own context.

Yeah. And, and it’s still the same, right, that it’s understanding the original context helps us. That’s right, apply it to our the act right now. And so, I do like that, looking back through the lens of Jesus into Hebrew Scriptures. And it’s understanding the context of both of them, you know, and that’s maybe often where students run into trouble, where pastors run into trouble is when we miss, we maybe apply something and we completely disregard the original context. Again, it’s not to say that scripture can’t be saying a new thing to us in our context, but to connect the power, we have to kind of know that that original context and so in some ways, it is that kind of both and then there and we can, that that Paul does model something for us to be able to how we can use scripture. He also is stressing, you can’t just while they misuse the the Hebrew Scriptures, you know, and maybe some well often need to remind ourselves that these these New Testament writers were steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures. They just knew them. And so they were able to make those connections. And, and so that they would be viewing them as sacred and something to use not just use for their advantage or use for their argument. But they were wanting to show that connection like, hey, look at all of these places where Jesus continues this story. It’s not a new story.

Yeah. And then brings it to its fullness or its climactic moment. Yeah. It’s like, if we think of Force Awakens, right, this is episode. There we go.

Which is canonical? Yeah, that’s right.

So there are many who, for whom the Star Wars movies. That’s, that’s the world in which they live right there. They know, especially the original three and even familiar with the next three that come out. So by the time you get dark, there’s a dark period in. That’s right. Yeah, I guess I’ve heard that. But by the time we get the Force Awakens, this new movement in the story, these, the director, the writers are doing so much to connect back to the original Yeah, say, Hey, we’re part of the same story.

How many echoes?

Yeah, that’s right. And there’s so many echoes, and you can appreciate maybe force awakens in and of itself, but right, it’s, again, it when you see the connections, it makes so much more sense. And it’s exciting and beautiful, and in most fans, I think, would appreciate those connections. But also, what Force Awakens does, it now provides a new kind of lens through which to look back on the old because we know how the story continues, right? The old gives new perspective, to the new or gives perspective or framework context to the new but now the new comes in kind of helps us to see the old and in a different way. It’s like a mystery novel. When you get to the end. You see how it ends, and you’re like, Oh, that’s how it ends. And you go back and look at the story through that lens. And things start to you see things a little differently. And I think that’s exactly what the New Testament writers are doing to say, yes, story continues. But it’s actually reached a high point, which forces us then to go back and relook at some things. And Jesus said to the disciples on the road, do amaze for his disciples at the end of Luke 24. They’re all talking about me and the scriptures are all about me. Doesn’t mean every verse is about Jesus. But every every verse in every paragraph is part of this story that culminates in Jesus climax, right? And so we need to see it now, through this context, or through this new lens.

Yeah, not to the Force Awakens idea of it actually helps you, then this new lens helps you re understand the older lens or the original lens, right? You might Oh, that’s it all makes sense. Now, it’s all connecting. And so you do need the the new part of the story to help you read back. And, and, and the New Testament authors are, I think, just providing that for us. They’re, they’re helping us. And one thing that we said in the last episode that I just I think is still an encouragement for us, is when we see those quotations to take the time, or those illusions, take the time, to to go back to the original context and do some digging and say, Hey, what’s going on? You know, one of the things and you and I both teach New Testament, one of the things that I know I encourage my students is that to really understand the New Testament, you have to understand the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament writers are assuming its readers. That’s right, or going to know these connections. And so I think as a church, we need to really understand that, hey, this is a vital part of our story, that we need to know to understand this new lens. Now we need to, I think, read this original lens with the new glasses on Right, right. So we don’t understand, but connecting them drawing that bigger, and and seeing to where, where God is taking us on maybe in the new story and and giving us that one other thing kind of before we wrap up. What I think is interesting, I’ve just started kind of noticing, this is particularly Jesus’s use of the Old Testament. So it would be Jesus is used through the lens of of one of the gospel writers, right so Jesus’s use of Hebrew Scriptures, through the lens of Matthew, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, and, and, and where he gives us the kind of familiar phrase Of Love loving your enemies that that teaching. So the end part of Matthew five. And Jesus all throughout Sermon on the Mount has been making kind of either explicit illusions or direct quotations like you’ve heard that it was said, but I tell you, Aaron, sorry, gives us a quote or a law from the Old Testament. And that one is always struck me as interesting. He says, you know, you’ve heard that it was said, Love your neighbors and hate your enemy. But I tell you to, you know, to love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you. When you look back at that original context, it doesn’t say hate your enemy. And actually, when you look back in all the laws, you can’t find a command in the Hebrew Scriptures that says, hate your enemy. And it seems to be I think Jesus is showing us how you can maybe take what was originally written, and we just subtly or not so subtly add to it. Yeah, and can we and mislead us that it might seem logical to go from love your enemy to Okay, then that means I’m, I can hate my, I mean, love your neighbor, to hate your enemy. Like, I’ve just I was only commanded to love my neighbor. That’s obviously I don’t need to. But I liked it, that Jesus notes, hey, we also within our teaching, within, maybe, for our context, within the maybe leadership or church or teaching a church or teaching, we can subtly add to, and I think Jesus is highlighting that. And so that was, for me, and really interesting way of how he was using the Hebrew Scriptures to show Hey, sometimes even us, in our context is first century context, we actually have forgotten the original context. Yeah. And he may be highlighting, hey, let’s go back and look at that does does it say it without having to say it? He’s kind of saying, does that really say hate your enemy? Like, if you really look back there, you’d realize, oh, it doesn’t?

That’s right. And this and this whole topic actually forces us to think if we let it creates the question, even the question, why is it the text being used this way? So it if we jump to media conclusion, hey, the wrong or Jesus got something out of context? Or Paul like, Alright, that kind of shuts the conversation or the thought process?

Yeah, didn’t allow

us to explore it more. But if we let it kind of think, critically think why why is he using it this way? Is there a text that even refers to this? If not, what’s going on here? Right? A little more hermeneutic of trust in the way the New Testament authors use the old, I think would go a long way than this hermeneutics of suspicion that would say, Oh, we know how to exegete Yeah, we’ve got you know, how are critical methods that right, definitely kind of do do better than they had at the time. And, and that, when we do that we miss out on right, on thought process, kind of thinking theologically, which is what the New Testament writers are doing as they use the old and or even forcing us to rethink, like you said, our own maybe presuppositions about the text or biases or even false texts that we’ve created think, right? Maybe not really isn’t in the Bible. So yeah, that’s that’s fascinating example. Yeah,

yeah, we all have maybe so many that that we have created. And if you ask people on the street, they’d be like, yeah, I’m pretty sure that the Bible Yeah, might not be. Let’s read

that. We all have those. Yeah.

Well, and I love I think that’s a great place to kind of land. The plan that this approach to understanding how the New Testament writers use the Hebrew Scripture is really encouraging us to think, which seems fitting for a podcast called Jessup. Right is good time.

Sexual connection.

Yeah, we’re having illuminating our hermeneutical electricity just happened. I felt it. Yeah, it was. I felt in the room. That’s nice. The Yeah, is it doesn’t it makes you think more critically with the text, or not, maybe critically of the texts, like your point that it’s, it’s maybe too easy to just say, Oh, they were wrong. Moving on, and like Well, no, what is what what is Paul doing? What are the gospel writers doing? Because as you explore that, it just opens our knowledge of both the Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament up so much and it makes these connections and it helps us actually show effort particularly for the gospel writers. it deepens that story of Jesus, that connection of who he is of making them. So thank you so much for coming on the show, and kind of combo in this with the episode with Libya, I think it’s just so important for us to think about how we are approaching scripture, how the New Testament writers were approaching Old Testament net, and how we can maybe understand how the two come together, all the while, viewing it as something that is providing an example for us of how we can make those connections and what what God may be showing us now through the lens of the New Testament into Hebrew Scripture. And he’s showing us that to speak into our context now, to continue in that at that word of God is continuing to speak today. That’s great. Thank you so much.


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