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Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Handbook on the NT Use of the OT" (GK Beale)

TITLE: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation
AUTHOR: G.K. Beale
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012, (174 pages).

This is a companion volume that works like an introduction or primer to its larger volume predecessor published back in 2007. The old volume comprises more than a thousand pages of commentary from a collection of biblical scholars. This is a handbook, much smaller, and is written by one of the two editors of the previous volume. Take nothing away from the qualification of GK Beale, whose work here comes out of his passion and "great interest" for biblical studies of this type. While the commentary focuses on the "what is" aspect, this book focuses on the "how-to" area for pastors, teachers, and students to apply the exercise of interpreting the NT use of the OT. It is also a guidebook to lead readers to appreciate its big brother volume.

It does not go into all the allusions or details of OT references mentioned in the NT. It focuses on methodology, with the selected examples setting the pattern for readers to apply to other passages. In other words, readers can learn to "fish for themselves" after picking up some skills from this handbook. Some interpretive challenges are highlighted to let readers know of the multiple perspectives in this area of study. For example, what is typology to the apostles then, and for us now? Are we to read it like the Apostles or otherwise? How do we make sense of how the OT texts are quoted or paraphrased? How do we recognize allusions?

Beale also proposes the ninefold approach.

  1. First, identify the OT reference.
  2. Analyze the broad NT context of that reference
  3. Analyze the OT context broadly and immediately
  4. Check out how early and late Judaism interpret them
  5. Compare the various translations (NT, LXX, MT, targums, etc)
  6. Analyze the textual usage of the OT
  7. Analyze the author's hermeneutics of the OT.
  8. Analyze the author's theological usage of the OT
  9. Analyze the author's rhetorical usage of the OT.
There is also the constant mindfulness of whether the text is analogical or typological. How much of it is foreshadowing of the things to come, and how far is the analogy taken. Where and when is the symbolism?

My Thoughts

I am impressed by how the author is able to condense so much exegetical skills and interpretive paradigms into such a small volume. The book is written for the lay reader in mind, though theologically trained individuals will be more familiar with the terms used. It provides just enough detail to whet the appetite, and is not too overwhelming for any busy reader. It can also be used as a quick reference guide on how the NT interprets the OT. After all, it is a handbook. Like an index or a Table of Contents of a book, this guide immediately opens up the wealth of information that is packed into the larger volume. The bibliography at the end of the book is worth the price of this book. What I appreciate is the author's early acknowledgement of the problems and promises of studies of this nature. While the commentary is on a book by book arrangement of all the NT books, this book works on a methodological approach that readers can apply to ALL the NT books. This is an important resouce for anyone interested in the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and how they inform each other.

Handbooks like this ought to be vague on the details (for brevity and easy reference) and precise on the complexity (for accuracy sake). This book meets both requirements.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Academic in exchange for an honest review.

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