A brief summary of our recent Trinity Symposium: “All That the Prophets Have Declared”… a book will be out through Paternoster in due course…
The first main speaker was Professor Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh), who looked at two case studies of the use of the Old Testament Scriptures by New Testament Christians. He noted that the amazingly novel readings of the Old Testament given by Paul could not be explained with reference to early Jewish interpretation; but arose because of Paul’s conviction that Jesus had risen as the fulfilment of Scripture.
The second speaker was Professor Roland Deines (University of Nottingham), who argued that scholars too often focus on the ways in which Matthew or Mark or Luke or John use Scripture, while neglecting to grapple seriously with the fact that they took their interpretative cues from Jesus himself. That is, the novel readings of the Old Testament that came about by the New Testament writers after the resurrection had already been pre-empted and prepared for by the ministry of Jesus, who knew the Scriptures to testify to himself.
The third main speaker was our own Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Allan Chapple (Trinity Theological College). Allan investigated the use of the Old Testament Scriptures in 1 Peter, and concluded that Peter understood Jesus himself to be the “hermeneutical key” to the Old Testament. That is, 1 Peter interprets the Old Testament with the conviction that it is about Jesus.
The fourth main paper was by Professor Mark Seifrid (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), who considered Paul’s use of the Old Testament Scriptures in Galatians. In sync with the other speakers, Seifrid urged us to see that the coming of Jesus transfigures the way that in which Paul reads the Old Testament: as an apostle who serves the risen Jesus, Paul is in a position to perceive that the Scriptures find their full story and meaning in relation to him.
There was, then, a central thread in the main presentations, which I believe is crucial to grasp, if we are to approach and understand the way in which Jesus and the apostles read their Old Testament Scriptures: they no longer read the Scriptures as though they are complete in themselves (if they ever did). Now that Jesus has come, believers re-read the Scriptures as the beginning of his story. This helps to explain the sometimes remarkable ways in which the New Testament writers read and interpret their Scriptures.