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"Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament"

G. K. Beale sets out to provide hermeneutical guidance for a consistent interpretation of New Testament citations and interpretations of Old Testament passages. This review is based on the ebook, released 1 SEP 2012, ISBN: 9780801038969 by Baker Academic.

G. K. Beale's task seems incredibly ambitious. The publisher's summary, at first glance, gives the impression that Beale has developed a checklist for the interpretive method, somehow managing to create a unifying theory of interpreting the diverse uses of the Old Testament in the New. However, this is not exactly what Dr. Beale proposes. He promises to present an approach that will provide cumulatively better insight into the meaning of God in Scripture. Although not likely to find a warm welcome among traditional dispensationalists, it should be of great appeal to those in the Reformed camp.

He does not seem to defend “original intent” so much from what the *original authors* intended, but more so of a broader and fuller examination of how God used the OT setting to enhance or emphasize a point made in the New Testament *through* the human author. In this way, Beale is not advocating a new, revised, updated approach, solely devoted to literal, historical or grammatical methods, but expert guidance on how to read those Old Testament references to glean as much insight, with as much integrity to the text as possible.

After establishing his theological presuppositions and thorough presentation of the idea of typology, the author proposes a “nine-fold approach” in practicing careful analysis of the text in question. His interpretive approach is presented in a thorough and thoughtful manner. He elaborates each of the nine suggestions systematically and in depth.

As an example of this advice, the author suggests seriously engaging one's own perspective on the intent of the NT authors. Beale demonstrates a real concern with the error of presentism (reading modern concerns into earlier writer's purposes).

However, one confusing piece of advice is where the author suggests that when “key redemptive-historical events are not repeated” in the New Testament, the passage from the OT could still be a candidate for a “type,” but only if the original OT passage's “central theological method” is redemptive-historical. This seems to be counter-intuitive. It's as if the author is arguing that if a NT reference of the Old is not primarily about redemption, then the OT passage must be primarily about redemptive motifs.

Additionally, I was disappointed a number of times when the author would propose a concept begging further commentary, but would end the thought abruptly with the admonition “there is not space enough” here or “this requires more elaboration.” I understand the importance of staying on task, but the issues were put forward so well, that I would have been perfectly pleased to keep going along with the thought.

Overall, I felt this was a comprehensive treatment of practical hermeneutical advice from an influential and well-reasoned theologian in the contemporary field. I believe this would make a terrific text for an intermediate level hermeneutics class in post-secondary environment or as an important guide for any pastor. The guidance offered is clear, leaving me wanting to read more.


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Non-Fiction Reviews | Christianity


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