Review: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G. K. Beale

5 out of 5 Stars
Author: G. K. Beale
Publisher: Baker Academic
Buy Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
Reading Level: Moderate

Beale tackles one of the toughest topics in interpreting Scriptures. What principles do the New Testament authors use when using the Old Testament? And how should we interpret the Old Testament in light of this? Beale offers a concise handbook on this topic providing a structure for interpretation but not fleshing it out always (see p. xvii).

He first examines the continuity and discontinuity (p. 1-ff he lands squarely in the reformed stream as expected) in the Old and New Testaments and understanding typology (p. 13-ff sees typology as “The study of analogical correspondences among revealed truths about persons, events, institutions, and other things within the historical framework of God’s special revelation, which, from a retrospective view, are of a prophetic nature and are escalated in their meaning” [p. 14]). These points are foundational for understanding the task at hand.

He moves forward by offering 9 steps to interpreting the NT’s use of the OT.

  1. Identify the OT reference. Is it a quotation or allusion? If an allusion it must fit the criteria mentioned earlier.
  2. Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.
  3. Analyze the OT context both broadly and immediately, especially interpreting the paragraph in which the quotation or allusion occurs.
  4. Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be of relevance to the NT appropriation of the OT text.
  5. Compare the texts: NT, LXX, MT, and targums, early Jewish citations (DSS, the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo)
  6. Analyze the author's textual use of the OT.
  7. Analyze the author's interpretive use of the OT.
  8. Analyze the author's theological use of the OT.
  9. Analyze the author's rhetorical use of the OT.

He then offers a methodological case study at the end of the book. Overall a helpful book for introduction into this topic. As you might expect, it may not be as helpful if you’re dispensational in your leaning unless you’re looking to better understand the approach of the other side. Or you have a speciality in the field. However, I would encourage serious theology students to take a swing at understanding the NT use of the OT better. It will enrich your Scripture reading and will open your eyes to the beauty of the gospel story’s progressive unity.

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