Isa 7 & Use of OT in NT
Re the use of Isa 7 in Matt 1 and the larger issue of the use of OT
in NT --
As an OT professor, after taking students through an exegesis of
Isa 7 (it's not what they thought) and the LXX (not what it might
appear to mean on the surface), we invariably come to Matt 1 with
the students' question, How could Matt 1 say that Isa 7 is
"fulfilled"? Even discussions of typology and sensus plenior leave
students somewhat alienated from Matthew.
Not wanting just to leave this issue for my capable NT colleagues
to deal with (although I am not adverse to this in principle!), I
have come to suggest that the NT's "fulfill" may not be unlike
arguments that we may hear used today. If you will allow me, please
let me try out a few examples.
(1) When political leaders argue pro and con a potential invasion
(Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda, etc.), the arguments do not just deal with
the objective facts of the situation. The emotionally charged
language seeks either to compare the particular invasion with the
quagmire of Vietnam (on the negative side) or WW II's restoration
of freedom (positive side). Could not a modern day political
"Matthew" say that Haiti (or whatever) "fulfilled" Vietnam/WWII?
(2) In the health care debate, arguments seek to draw parallels
either with big government that taxes and spends and runs the Post
Office (negative) or with other industrial nations that have
universal health care (positive). Wherever the debate leads, the
result will likely "fulfill" some expectations.
(3) The field of sports today constantly alludes to parallels in
past seasons that may explain or shed light on present events.
(4) In the OT itself, Yahweh's ability to help his people at a
particular point in time "fulfills" (concept, not necessary a
technical word) his role as the God of the exodus. The debate in
Jeremiah's day seems to focus on whether God will use the
Babylonians to defeat or deliver Israel -- i.e. "fulfill" the
Northern Kingdom's defeat by Assyria or "fulfill" Judah's
deliverance from Assyria.
Please pardon this long post. But I wonder if the NT's fulfillment
language might be *in some way* similar to language used in OT and
possibly even today.
With cross-disciplinary regards,
David B. Kennedy
Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, MI