Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Review: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

I have long been interested in the New Testament’s use of Old Testament texts and prophecies. I believe that each use is both legitimate and instructive, even if it is not always clear how or why a NT author alludes to or quotes the OT text. I enjoy studying Messianic references in the OT and seeing how the NT authors treat those prophecies and their related texts. This present volume, edited by Drs Beale and Carson is a virtual goldmine for those of us interested in studying this subject and especially individual passages.

This work actually claims to be exhaustive in that it goes from Matthew through Revelation and provides comments on every quotation and allusion to the Old Testament. Obviously, there is some subjectivity involved because not every allusion is universally recognized as such but the intent is to cover everything. You can think of this book as a one-volume commentary on the New Testament with the unique feature that it only comments on verses or passages that are based on OT Scripture. It turns out that there are a very large number of OT allusions in the NT and it really goes to show how critical it is to understand the OT if we are to properly understand the New.

The actual commentary for each NT book is supplied by one of seventeen or so authors, most of whom have written whole commentaries on their particular book. We have, for example, Craig Bloomberg on Matthew, Andreas Kostenberger on John, Moises Silva on Galatians and Philippians, Philip Towner on the Pastoral Epistles, George Guthrie on Hebrews, D. A. Carson on the General Epistles, and G.K. Beale on Revelation. These guys are generally conservative but not always as conservative as I would like. Bloomberg, for example, does not take Isaiah 7:14 as referring exclusively to a virgin birth (although he does note that some “very conservative” scholars do). I have not had the time to do anything but briefly skim through their comments but my familiarity with many of the individual contributors leads me to expect much helpful content.

Indexes do not normally get me very excited but in this case the index for this volume is of immense value. The index of OT verses provides a near exhaustive list of which OT passages show up in NT Scripture. You can even see at a glance which OT passages get the most “play” over in the NT. These passages would seem to be very important for understanding NT doctrine and the passage at hand. Conversely, when you get to the index of NT verses, you can tell immediately which passages depend most heavily on OT authority. I found it fascinating just browsing through the index and looking up the occasional, oft-used verse.

I look forward to using this reference book as I study and prepare lessons in the future.

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At 1:23 AM, Blogger Don Johnson said...

Hi Andy

This is particularly interesting to me. Our series through the Bible chronologically taught me how vital the OT is to our spiritual understanding. There is such a rich treasure there that is largely untapped. We are NT believers, after all, but we can get myopic about it.

This one will be going on my wishlist!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Frank Sansone said...


Thanks for the review. I have been particularly interested of late at noticing how the Old Testament was used in New Testament preaching. (My initial reaction is that we would probably blast the preacher today for not being expository enough :) ).

My book buying is limited currently, but this may be one I need to pick up.

Quick question: Do you have any of the commentaries by the men who contributed - and if so, does their comments on the passages for this book differ (for instance, add details) than their comments on the same passages in their individual commentaries?

Thanks for the good work. Good to see an article up here.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

The nice thing about RSS feeds is that even if I don't post for nearly half a year, my blog is not totally forgotten. :)

Frank, that is a good question and one that I haven't checked on, yet. I do have several of those commentaries so I ought to do some spot checks. I'll let you know what I find out.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Frank Sansone said...

Great. I will look forward to hearing what you discover.

(And, yes, RSS feeds are nice, I saw your article thanks to Bloglines.)

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

My spot checking in Matthew, John, Hebrews, and Revelation reveals the following:

First, there are places with some word-for-word correspondence, but even in those places the authors tend to add additional details not found in thier commentary.

Second, most places I checked looked to be completely new material. Kostenberger's treatment of John 1:23 in his commentary consisted of two paragraphs, but his treatment of this verse in the present volume ran on for over 5 pages. I found similar results, though not as dramatic, for John 12:38 and 19:36.

So, I would say for the most part, the contributors did not just copy their material from their commentary, although if you compared both you would certainly notice similarities in some cases. My impression is that they approached the passages with a fresh look to deal with the particular emphasis of OT background, quotation, and allusion.

One thing I forgot to mention in my initial reveiw was the overal approach that the contributors were to take with each passage. They were supposed to go through a six step analysis that covers (1) The Immediate NT Context, (2) The Original OT Context, (3) Relevant Uses of the OT Reference in Jewish Sources, (4) The Textual Background, (5)How the OT Passage is Understood and Used in the NT Passage, and (6) The Theological Use of the OT Material.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Jason Button said...

Thank you for the review of this book!

...list of reviews...

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Chris Anderson said...

Looks great, Andy. For all my blogging buddies looking for a gift for me for Christmas, this would be a great choice! :-)

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Frank Sansone said...


Thanks for checking on this. I am definitely interested. I guess I should start a "wish list" on Amazon or something so that when family ask me what books I want I can point them to some suggestions.


I'll get you this, if you get me what I have showing on today's post over at A Thinking Man's Thoughts.


At 11:44 AM, Blogger Chris Anderson said...

Nice. What a humbug. :-)

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Andy Efting said...

Chris, maybe as a church planter you should hold out for this, or for more recreational reading, this.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Chris Anderson said...

And people say fundamentalists don't publish...

I love how Amazon recommends buying Hyles & Spurgeon together. I'm thinking the Hyles book would be all black & blue after they spent a couple days in the box together. Like a modern day "Dagon experience." :-)

As for the U of M book, I wonder if they'll be putting out another to commemorate this season? No. I guess not.


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