One of the last courses I took in my senior year at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1976 was entitled “The New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament.” I had always been taught that the reason we were dispensationalists is that the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah were all fulfilled literally (whatever that means), and so the prophecies of His Second Coming would be fulfilled the same way. That course demonstrated to me that such was not the case at all. My study of the Old Testament predictions of the Christ (I tried to find them all but no doubt did not succeed) convinced me that two-thirds of them were typical, analogical, of LORD as applied to Christ, or other matters, but not literal. Thus, I stopped being dispensational two years after graduation from what is otherwise a fine seminary to this day. Since that course, I’ve been interested in the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.
Enter this book I’m reviewing, edited by fellow seminary student, Greg Beale, who is the editor of the above work. He is not dispensational anymore either. Each chapter was written by a different author, some conservative, others more to the left, but with good men responding to their views, and some have passed away (J. Barton Payne is one example). Beale writes three chapters. One of my favorite chapters in this study of the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament is how Matthew handles the Old Testament in chapter two of his Gospel. In this line, I was especially interested in R. T. France’s handling of the four quotes from the Old Testament in Matthew 2, for it is this chapter that first challenged my thinking on this issue, and regarding dispensationalism. It has been my contention for several decades that much of the Old Testament is anticipatory of the New Testament, and the relationship is bud to flower, not only with many types of Christ in the Old Testament, but also types of fulfillment of the people of God and their mission from Old Testament to New Testament. In other words, the mission of Israel is upgraded and continued in the Church (Romans 9:25- 26; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:11-22, etc).
Moreover, it is encouraging to see such continuity from Old Testament to New Testament, which, in my humble opinion, reveals the one divine Author behind these works, separated by hundreds of years, but rooted in history. Who but the omnipotent God could inspire such? As Leonhard Goppelt points out in his excellent book, Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New, the New Testament is full of allusions and “fulfillments” of the New Testament in types. Goppelt says a type has historical continuity between something in the Old Testament and something in the New Testament, and then escalates that thing. One example he uses is the first Adam and the Second Adam. Another example Goppelt cites is the number twelve, which James uses in 1:1 of his epistle, where he equates the Church with the twelve tribes of Israel. I would add Galatians 6:16, Romans 9:25-27; Revelation 21:10-14, and so on. The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts? covers such topics as these and also includes the context of the Old Testament passage cited and the use of typology. Passages handled in detailed are 2 Corinthians 3:7-14; 6:14-7:1. Some disappointments were that 1 Peter 2:4-10 and Ephesians 2:11-22 were not considered in detail, both of which are full of Old Testament quotes and/or allusions. Yet I highly recommend the work, which is readable if you have a cursory knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.