Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, Carson

I recently purchased “Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” by Beale, Carson, et. al. After reading Carson’s contribution to the “catholic epistles,” I decided to reproduce here one interesting observation from one verse in each chapter. I will probably do something similar for the other authors and chapters, although there is no way I could even begin to include all the information each packs into his notes on one verse, let alone the whole chapter.

James 2:23, NT Context: The Nature of Abraham’s Faith

“…The verb rendered by the NIV as “was made complete” (eteleiothe [from teleioo]) does not mean (despite Calvin’s support) that the actions revealed Abraham’s faith to be perfect (tetioo never has that sense); nor does it mean that works were somehow tacked onto a faith that otherwise would have been incomplete, for James’s point is that such faith does not really count at all, it is simply useless. Rather, to follow James’s argument we must recognize that although the expression teleioo linked with ek (i.e., Abraham’s faith “was made complete… [lit.] out of” works) is found nowhere else in the NT, parallels found elsewhere are illuminating. Philo tells us that Jacob “was made perfect as the result of [ek] discipline” (Agriculture 42); alternatively, he “was made perfect through [ek] practice” (Confusion 181). In other words, he grew in maturity as a result of the stresses laid on him. In Philo, however, the maturation take place in a human being. Jacob; here in James this “maturation” takes place in an inanimate object, faith. This prompts Moo (2000: 137) to suggest that the closest conceptual parallel is 1 John 4:12: “if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete [teteleiomene estin] in us.” Transparently, God’s love is not somehow lacking something, intrinsically deficient, until we love one another; rather, “God’s love comes to expression, reaches its intended goal, when we respond to his grace with love toward others. So also, Abraham’s faith, James suggests, reaches its intended goal when the patriarch did what God was asking him to do” (Moo 2000: 137)…”

1 Peter 2:6, Theological Use

“We too readily overlook how fundamentally divisive Jesus Christ is, even though that point is repeatedly made not only in the NT but also in OT prophecies concerning him. Peter here (in 2:4-12) insists that everyone is affected by the coming of Christ, positively or negatively, depending on whether they too are “living stones” or, alternatively, simply reject him or stumble over him. They will find that he crushes them. That point is not quite made by this quotation from Isa. 28:16, but the links with the other “stone” quotations in the ensuing verses make the conclusion inescapable.
Yet Peter’s first readers might find this peculiarity encouraging. For those who may have suffered major physical dislocation, and who certainly have suffered social rejection, Peter’s quotation, in its context, would reassure them that their painful situation did not reflect the displeasure of God. Far from it: God’s plan includes a division of people around his Son, this cornerstone rejected by so many, and the most important thing, both for this life and for the life to come, is to be living stones along with him in the temple of which he is the cornerstone.
Perhaps it should also be mentioned that Peter leaves no hint that he saw himself as in some way a special or foundational stone in the church, despite the name that Jesus himself had given him (see Matt. 16:17-18).”

2 Peter 2:22, Peter’s Use of the OT in 2:22

“Peter does not have in view people who have been enthusiastic false teachers from the beginning of their professional lives, nor is he thinking of genuine Christians who, sadly, have lipped into some sort of temporary backsliding. The context shows (esp. 2:20-22) that these people once lived sinful and debauched lives but then for a time “escaped the corruptions of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:20), but now they are again entangled in the world and all its corruptions. This is so serious a retrogression that Peter can declare, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2:21 TNIV). And so the two proverbs prove true (2:22), which means that the true nature of these people never changed. A dog may leave its vomit for a while but will return to it; a sow might well be spruced up and look clean but will still find a mud pit enticing.”

1 John 2:27, John’s Use of the OT in 2:27

“Assuming (rightly with, e.g., Brown 1982: 341-348) that the “anointing” is “an anointing with the Holy Spirit, the gift from Christ which constituted one a Christian” (Brown 1982: 248), then the fourfold structure that we saw in the Jeremiah oracle (see letter B. above) is nicely paralleled here in 1 John. This anointing, (1) whereby one becomes a Christian, is bound up with the forgiveness of sins (1:8-2:2), such that Christians do come to know the truth (2:20-21), (2) establishing an abiding new-covenant relationship in which we remain in Christ (2:24), (3) and in which all who enjoy this relationship genuinely know God (2:23-3:1) (4) with knowledge independent of what must be passed on by mediating teachers. In other words, for John’s readers to rely on these (false) teachers is to admit that their own knowledge of God is somehow faulty or inadequate, which is to undercut all the power and reality of the new covenant. John is not denying the proper place of teachers; rather, he is denying the place of mediating teachers under some tribal-representative structure of covenant, for under the new covenant, in direct fulfillment of the promise articulated by Jeremiah, the place of mediating teachers is forever passed.”

Jude 8, NT Context: The False Teachers’ Lust for Authority Not Rightly Theirs

“According to Jude 8, not only do these teachers “pollute their on bodies” but also “reject authority” and “slander celestial beings.” There is good reason to think that the “authority” they rejected was that of Christ or of God (see Bauckham 1988: 56-57). But what does it mean to say that they slandered the doxas (NSRV: “glorious ones”)? In the MT the Hebrew equivalent can on occasion refer to famous people (e.g., Ps. 149:8; Isa. 3:5; 23:8; Nah. 3:10; similarly IQM XIV, 11; 4Q169 3-4 II, 9; 3-4 III, 9), but the LXX never uses doxas (“glorious ones”) to refer to famous people. If these “glorious ones” are angels (cf. the usage in Exod 15:11 LXX), they are unlikely to be evil angels (only good angels are in view when the expression crops up in passages such as 1QH XVIII, 8; 11Q5 XXII, 13; 2 En. 22:7, 10). The verb for “slander” (blasphemeo) has to do with dishonoring or shaming someone, speaking insultingly about someone, or the like. Angels sometimes are seen as the guardians of God’s established order and thus his authority, or the ones who have mediated God’s revelation to us (e.g., Acts 7:38, 53; 1 Cor. 11:10; Heb. 2:2). To “slander” them, then, looks like rebellion against God’s authority, which not only admirably fits the context but also is in line with the rebellious tendencies of the false teachers. So Jude goes on in our verse (v. 9) to give an example of a dispute in which even the archangel Michael is careful not to outstrip his authority.”

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