Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity

Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity

Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity

Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity

Synopsis

Professor Juel defends a simple thesis: "The beginnings of Christian reflection can be traced to interpretation of Israel's scriptures, and the major focus of that scriptural interpretation was Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah." He therefore proceeds to demonstrate how certain Old Testament texts came to be applied to Jesus as Christ. He argues that the interpretative application of such texts to Jesus was part of the interior logic of Christianity.
  • Introduction
  • Messianic Exegesis: Developing an Approach
  • Biblical Interpretation in the First Century C.E.
  • Christ the King: Christian Interpretation of 2 Samuel 7
  • Christ the Crucified: Christian Interpretation of the Psalms
  • The Servant Christ: Christian Interpretation of Second Isaiah
  • Christ at the Right Hand: The Use of Psalm 110 in the New Testament
  • The Risen Christ and the Son of Man: Christian Use of Daniel 7
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Passages

Excerpt

The thesis of this book can be summarized in a two-part sentence: The beginnings of Christian reflection can be traced to interpretations of Israel’s Scriptures, and the major focus of that scriptural interpretation was Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah.

The thetical sentence may seem disappointingly commonplace. Some commentary is necessary to explain why it should merit a book-length study. Most would agree, perhaps, that early Christian reflection made use of the Scriptures of Israel, though there is considerable disagreement about the manner in which the writings of Israel were used and for what reason. In his classic study of Christian exegetical tradition, New Testament Apologetic, Barnabas Lindars, following the lead of C. H. Dodd, argues that the earliest use of the Scriptures by Jesus’ followers was for arguing in behalf of the gospel. I contend that the earliest use of the Scriptures was rather to understand the gospel, to clarify the implications of faith in Jesus for one’s relationship with Israel’s God and with the world. Why the Scriptures were read and how they were read are questions that deserve more attention, particularly in light of the work done in recent decades on Jewish scriptural interpretation.

As for the second half of the thetical sentence, few would disagree that the major focus of early scriptural interpretation was “christological,” meaning that it had Jesus in view. Very few, however, have argued that what stands at the beginning of that reflection and provides a focus and a direction for scriptural exegesis is the confession of Jesus as Messiah. In fact, in most recent studies the image of Israel’s expected Messiah plays a minor role in comparison with other salvation figures like the Suffering Servant, the Son of man, the eschatological prophet, Wisdom . . .

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