From Prophecy to Testament: The Function of the Old Testament in the New

By Brown, Walter | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2005 | Go to article overview

From Prophecy to Testament: The Function of the Old Testament in the New


Brown, Walter, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


From Prophecy to Testament: The Function of the Old Testament in the New. Edited by Craig A. Evans. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004, xx + 280 pp., $29.95.

Since at least the second century of the Church's existence, Christians have struggled with the place of the OT in their faith and life. With the rise of newer "sacred" writings, some of which became accepted Scripture as the NT, the issue was recast in terms of how the OT was to be understood in light of the NT, and vice versa. In recent years, the area of study has attracted renewed attention. This book of essays reflects this trend while following in the venerable tradition of the work of scholars such as C. H. Dodd and Barnabas Lindars, who stressed the "significance of the contribution that the OT made to the theology of the NT writers" (p. 1). The continuing relevance of that fact is reflected in Evans's declaration: "There is simply no significant element in NT theology that is not in some way a development of a tradition or theology expressed in the sacred writings that eventually came to be what Christians call the Old Testament (OT), Jews call the Tanakh and scholars call the Hebrew Bible (HB)" (pp. 1-2).

The volume serves at least two basic purposes: first, as a summary introduction to the field of study for beginning students; and second, as a more limited reflection of the "state of the study," through selected examples, for the wider world of biblical scholarship. The first purpose is fulfilled, to a great degree, in Evans's introduction. After succinctly stating the task of this area of study, he makes a crucial point: when NT writers were at work, they did not have a finalized canon of Scripture. This context of canonical fluidity provided the atmosphere for the function of inspiration-the process through which ancients answered the question of which writings spoke "with a prophetic voice, conveying the will and mind of God" (pp. 3-4). The sources so identified became recognized as Scripture; all others fell into lesser categories.

Evans then treats "Versions of Scripture" (Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, Latin); "Interpretive Approaches" (Midrash, Pesher, Allegory, Typology); and "Cognate Literatures" (Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Rabbinic Writings, NT Apocrypha, and Early Patristic Writings). He offers a brief survey of each component of each section as well as a substantive beginning bibliography on each component, except for the discussion of interpretation where no bibliography is given.

The collection contains eleven essays, bracketed by Evans's piece, "From Prophecy to Testament: An Introduction," and "From Prophecy to Testament: An Epilogue" by James A. Sanders. The essays, in order, are "From Aramaic Paraphrase to Greek Testament," by Bruce Chilton; "The Aramaic Psalter and the New Testament: Praising the Lord in History and Prophecy," by Craig A. Evans; "Immanuel: Virgin Birth Proof Text or Programmatic Warning of Things to Come (Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23)?" and "The Gospels and the Text of the Hebrew Bible: Micah 5:1 (Matt 2:6) in Tatian's Diatessaron," by Robert F. Shedinger; "Torah, Life, and Salvation: Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and the New Testament," by Simon J. Gathercole; "The Significance of Signs in Luke 7:22-23 in the Light of Isaiah 61 and the Messianic Apocalypse," by Michael Labahn; "'No One Has Ever Seen God': Revisionary Criticism in the Fourth Gospel," by A. J. Droge; "The Festival of Weeks and the Story of Pentecost in Acts 2," by James C. VanderKam; "Stephen's Speech (Acts 7) in Its Exegetical Context," by James L. Kugel; "Hagar between Genesis and Galatians: The Stony Road to Freedom," by Brigitte Kahl; and "The Culpability of Eve: From Genesis to Timothy," by Gary A. Anderson. The volume also includes a preface, a list of contributors, a list of abbreviations, an index of modern authors, and an index of ancient sources, the latter including OT and NT references.

As with most collections of essays, the whole is a diverse lot, on more than one level. …

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