Off The Record
Which biblical promises are for Christians? God’s promises play a vital role in helping believers grow in sanctification and suffer with hope, but should we claim all OT promises as our own, seeing as God gave them to a different people and under a different covenant? This article considers why and how every promise is “Yes” in Christ and seeks to empower believers to faithfully appropriate OT promises without abusing them. In the process it supplies five foundational principles that clarify the Christian’s relationship to OT promises, and then it gives three guidelines for hoping in OT promises through Christ.
In Genesis 3:15, the Lord announces the future coming of a “seed” (זֶ֫רַע) who will bruise the head of the serpent. While many have long considered this verse the protoevangelium, or the first gospel, others have been quick to doubt its “messianic” intention. However, when one examines Genesis 1–3 in context, an anticipatory expectation emerges as the most viable option. Furthermore, once the interpreter understands the promise God gave to Abraham concerning his “seed” (22:17–18) as a contextual allusion to 3:15, it becomes clear that this verse stands as the fountainhead of the Old Testament’s anticipatory hope. Therefore, although the book of Genesis uses neither the noun מָשִׁיחַ nor the verb מָשַׁח to refer to this coming individual, due to the anticipatory hope found within, Genesis 3:15 is best understood as the protoevangelium.
This article examines the meaning of blessing as expressed in the structure and narratives of Genesis. After highlighting the pattern of blessings offset by curses embedded within the “generational” structure of Genesis, the nature of blessing is explored in its varying contexts. Given the quantity of blessings in Genesis, it is natural to expect fulfillments, partial or complete, of the blessings; thus, the article considers the degree to which readers are shown fulfillments and the degree to which they are pointed on towards future fulfillments. Finally, the human role in blessing is considered, both the human blessing of other humans as well as the human blessing of the Lord.
In appreciation of the renaissance of christocentric and redemptive-historical hermeneutics and homiletics in our generation, this article selects an OT text, Psalm 15, that appears on the surface to be maximally resistant to a Christ-centered reading and preaching of Scripture. The article makes five overarching preliminary reflections in approaching a text such as Psalm 15 in a whole-Bible way, and then offers several specific observations about the text as an offering of one way to handle a text such as this. The purpose of the article is to encourage readers and preachers to handle every nook and cranny of Scripture in light of Christ, yet to do so in ways that avoid errors such as crass moralizing or strict Lutheranizing.
Many churches seem to have lost the art of singing lament. This article urges a recovery of this forgotten practice, firstly, by demonstrating from within the Psalter itself the importance of singing the psalms (including the laments) and setting them to music; secondly, by exploring some of the obstacles to singing in times of distress; thirdly, by examining the way in which lament enables a singing of pain and sorrow; fourthly, by investigating what can be known of the manifold powers of music and song (for proclaiming and recalling God’s word and consoling and uniting God’s people); and, finally, by articulating something of the important relationship between lament and praise.
This article explores the function of Paul’s citation from Psalm 44:22 within the rhetoric of Romans 8:31–39. It offers a brief discussion of the meaning of Psalm 44:22 when the verse is read within its original historical and canonical contexts, then a summary and evaluation of the two main answers typically given by scholars to the question of whether and to what extent that meaning is retained in the verse’s new context in Romans 8. The final section of the article argues for a reading of Romans 8:36 in which the psalm-citation retains its original force and meaning as an expression of protest and lament, reinforcing the validity of the question in verse 35 before Paul answers it in verse 37.
Claiming to stand on the shoulders of the later Origen, in Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective, Francis B. Watson makes a compelling case that all attempts to address alleged contradictions and establishing historical truth in and between the four canonical Gospels must be abandoned. Watson proposes that the later Origen’s preference for deeper spiritual and theological truth, in the wake of alleged empirical falsehood, should be embraced as a new paradigm and more ‘comprehensive approach’, subverting and destroying previous approaches. In this article, I test Watson’s relevant interpretations of Origen, focusing on his Commentary on John, Book 10 (Comm. Jo.); Against Celsus (Cels.); and On First Principles (Princ.). In addition, I offer evidence challenging Watson’s claim that the later Origen’s return to addressing some contradictions and establishing historical truth in Cels. reflects popular apologetics for the wider public, in contrast to more radical thoughts on hermeneutics in Book 10 of his Comm. Jo. It is argued that a more comprehensive and persuasive understanding of Origen’s approach to Gospel differences and historicity, requires a close reading of his early and later treatises, resulting in a nuanced middle position.