Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical MethodPreaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method by Sidney Greidanus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: this is not much of a book review, but more a collection of notes.

Who should read this book: Anyone who wants to see / share Christ in / from the OT without resorting to allegory (Rahab’s scarlet cord speaks of Christ’s blood) and irresponsible typology (on which see below). This book gives seven ways of moving from OT text to Christ responsibly and dare I say, exegetically.

Greidanus insists on two things: We must preach Christ, and we must preach from the OT. He gives some great reasons to defend the latter (e.g., the OT proclaims truths not found in the NT, p.27). A couple quotes will have to suffice:

Quoting Michael Duduit: “For us to neglect these books in our preaching is to abandon our congregations to theological shallowness and mediocrity” (p.28).

Quoting Bright: “The Old Testament holds the gospel to history. It is the surest bulwark against the assimilation with alien philosophies and ideologies, against a flight into a sentimental and purely otherworldly piety, and against that disintegrating individualism that so easily besets us” (p.32).

Willimon: “Unable to preach Christ and him crucified, we preach humanity and it improved” (p.34).

But there are difficulties in preaching Christ from the OT—a history of them. And so Greidanus surveys approaches from as early as the church fathers: allegorical (Justin Martyr and many others), typological (Chrysostom and others), Christological (Luther), theocentric (Calvin), and some modern Christological approaches (Spurgeon and Visher).

The literary context of the OT is the NT; therefore “every message from the Old Testament must be seen in the light of Jesus Christ” (p.51). And the reverse is true (p.53).

The most valuable contribution of the book is the seven ways of moving from an OT text to Christ:

* The way of redemptive-historical progression
* The way of promise-fulfillment
* The way of typology
* The way of analogy
* The way of longitudinal themes
* The way of contrast

Definition of typology: “New Testament typology is thus essentially the tracing of the constant principles of God’s working in history, revealing ‘a recurrent rhythm in past history which is taken up more fully and perfectly in Gospel events’” (quoting France, who quotes Lampe, pp.212-3).

Eichrodt: “Types are persons, institutions, and events of the Old Testament which are regarded as divinely established models or prerepresentations of corresponding realities in the New Testament salvation history” (pp. 254-5).

Three criterion must be met in order for a type to be recognized: correspondence, escalation, and theocentricity.

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