Archive for the ‘Greg Beale’ Tag

We Become What We Worship: Review – I

Greg Beale‘s biblical-theological acumen is remarkable. Although a self-proclaimed maximalist (24), Beale leaves no stone unturned whether he is tracing an exegetical arguments or redemptive-historical themes. His latest book We Become What We Worship: a biblical theology of idolatry is no exception. The seeds of this book were sewn through several of his seminary courses, including his Use of the OT in the NT, which proved quite challenging my first year of seminary. It required a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, and I only had Greek at the time. I eventually dropped the 10 day course. However, I recall spending considerable time in Isaiah 6 tracing its influence on the NT and its description of “sensory organ malfunction,” the pattern of Gentiles and Jews being rendered spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb. Beale makes this text the seminal starting point for a biblical theology of idolatry in WBWWW.

In chapter one, Beale takes Martin Luther’s definition of idolatry and slightly tweaks it: “whatever your heart clings to or relies upon, that is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol.” Beale adds “whatever your heart clings to or relies on for ultimate security.” (6) This is an excellent definition of idolatry, both heart-focused and God-centered, perceiving idolatry to be a matter of heart not just action. The rest of the chapter outlines Beale’s hermeneutic, which is a good, concise introduction on how to do biblical theology. WIthout wading into the frey of sensus plenior debate, Beale notes his hermeneutical preferences summarizing his position as canonical, gentic-progressive, and intertextual. Typical Bealian verbosity!

Chapter Two lay the biblical-theological groundwork for his thesis: “we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or for restoration.” Isaiah 6 portrays Israel as deaf and blind, like the idols they worship. Their idolatry has rendered them idol-like, a judgment for idolatry. We become like what we worship. Beale convincingly traces this dynamic throughout the rest of Isaiah. Chapter three extends this examination to the rest of the OT, overtuning a host of exgetical gems through rigorous biblical digging. In particular, Beale notes the prominence of the Golden Calf rebellion in Deuteronomy 29 as programmatic for idolatry themes and dynamics in the rest of Scripture. Chapter four continues tracing the become what you worship dynamic through Judaism, with chapter five turning the corner into the New Testament. It is in the Gospels that we begin to see the resemble what we revere for restoration more prominently. I will pick up with the review here in the next post.

For another review, see Josh Otte’s blog.

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Beale on Jesus and the Law

We could picture Christ as a hermeneutical filter through which the Law must pass in order to get to the new creation. Those parts of the Law which are nationalistic in nature or are overt nationalistic tags distinguishing Israelites ethnically form other people-groups are too large or misshapen to be able to pass through the filter. Those parts of the Law more moral and less ethnic in nature are able to pass through the filter.

In other words, Beale sees Jesus as the filter for discerning what parts of the OT law remain applicable and those parts that do not. It is worth noting that he is not taking Calvin’s approach on the three uses of the Law. Keep the Moral (Decalogue/Ten Commandments) and dispense with the Ceremonial and Civil parts of the Law, which in turn leads to sabbatarianism (which I do not know if Beale observes). Rather, Beale is advocating Christ as a certain type of filter, a typological filter:

This is why Paul quotes only form the moral law, or when he quotes from other facets of teh Old Testament law (such as the civil), he uses it in a typological or non-theocratic manner in employing it withing the covenant community of the church (e.g., see his use of Deuteronomy in 1 Cor 5:13). Consequently, understanding how Christ has instituted the new creation also gives insight into understanding what parts of the Old Testament Law relate to the new age and what parts do not.

Quotes taken from, Greg K. Beale, “Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology” in Eschatology in Bible and Theology (Downers Grove: IVP, 1997), 38.

Beale’s Old in the New Categories

With the dawn of Beale and Carson’s New Testament Use of the Old Testament Commentary I thought I would post Greg Beale’s Old in the New hermeneutical categories for exegesis. These are taken from his Old in the New course taught variously at Gordon-Conwell and Wheaton College.

I. Proof-texting for fulfillment

A. Direct prophetical fulfillment – Basic understanding of Prophecy.

B. Indirect fulfillment/ Event prophecy – (Mt 2:15/Hs 1:10) This is first Exodus that Hosea is reflecting on as an anticipation of Christ’s exodus to Egypt. Jesus is central, fulfilling everything that Israel failed to do. Corporate solidarity in action.

II. Analogical/universalizing – this use may be conceptual or textual as will be seen below.

A. Rev 2:14,24 – Balaam’s prophecy indicative of a group of false teachers. Moabites and Israelites combine to produce harlotry which is spiritually pictured here. This is motivated by economic motive just as Balaam was.

B. I Cor 9:9/Deut 25:4 – “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely pantws he says this for us, doesn’t he?”

III. Symbolic Use – difference from analogical use is that there are not 2 things compared. The symbol may or may not describe an event. Could be a subset of II.

These symbolic uses denote continuity from the OT to the NT.

IV. Abiding Authority – Rm. 3:4/Ps God is trustworthy; 3:10 Man is sinful and fallen.

V. Stock-in-trade – something done often, repeated use of a word/phrase so much that it comes to have a common meaning without reference to the original context. Ex. That was her waterloo. Many would recognize that this has to do with a loss, fewer would know the original context. This occurs in the OT “Edom, Moab and the Sons of Ammon” is used to refer to the enemies of Israel even though the enemies are dead. Seen in II Macabees etc.

VI. Rhetorical Use – impressive language included for rapport and inauthentic, but not necessarily. Paul may have incorporated the OT texts for rapport, this would not disqualify the use.

VII. Midrashic Use – Scripture interpreting Scripture. “Literature about literature,” Prabhu, p. 117. There may be 4 or 5 uses…. 1QM the Q War Scroll, in the beginning of the scroll the author explains in apocalyptic language the last battle of time, drawing from Dan 11, Zech 14, Is 41, etc…there appears to be a main text. In this case it is Daniel 11, the hermeneutical magnet. Both outline and content follow Daniel, see handouts. Mt 24 synoptic eschatological discourse is dominated by Daniel.

VIII. Textual Use – Authors quote from various texts in order to bring out an intended theme more explicitly

IX. Assimilated Use – author expresses biblical language simply because it is a function of the way he thinks. Scripture becomes a way of speaking.

X. Ironic Use – saying of one thing to intend the opposite in order to ridicule, often to stress ironic judgment or redemption. Rev 5:6 the 7 horns of Christ contrasted/compared with the 7 horns of the beast/Satan in order to emphasize the superior power of Christ over and against Satan. This is an example of judicial irony.