The use of Scripture in Christian Zionism: a critical examination. Pt. 5
(Please be patient with my unfolding argument in the following posts. The line of reasoning is a little layered so it will take a few posts before I can really get to the meaty points of dispute)
I wanted to mention, by the way: With the previous post in mind, one may set the hermeneutical strategy of the New Testament writers in broader terms. It appears that some wanted to overstressed continuity between the Old Testament and the New in such a way that was unfaithful to the authors of the NT. The Ebionites can be seen as an example of this - as could the Judaisers, depending on how one approaches the complex issues involved in their identification. On the other hand, a damaging understanding of total discontinuity between the testaments can be seen in Marcion, for example. But the NT consistently avoids both of these extremes, and it is the process of understanding exactly how they do this that raises the question of hermeneutics, and consequently part of my problem with CZ. Right, hopefully that frames the problematic helpfully enough. On to the NT material.
I’m a Paul man, so apologies that my examples tend to be rather one-dimensional. I refer to Steve Motyer’s article for a fuller appreciation of the wider NT hermeneutical issues at hand. I shall upload it in the next few days as Steve has kindly given me permission to make it available here. So to Paul. In Gal 3:16 Paul controversially claims:
‘Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ’.
This is the NRSV translation which renders spe,rma as offspring. Perhaps better is simply ‘seed’. Motyer writes of this verse: ‘He asks, ‘who is the “seed” of Abraham to whom the promises are given?’—and instead of replying ‘Israel, of course, Abraham’s descendants,’ his answer is ‘Christ’ (3:16).’ (7).
So why can Paul so confidently use promises that explicitly relate to the Land, and use them in this way (Cf. Dunn, Galatians, on the ‘land’ issue here)? Motyer continues:
‘Paul does not feel that he is denying the ‘meaning’ of the texts he quotes. He thinks that the real heart and core of the promises to Abraham was the one in Genesis 12:3, which he quotes in Galatians 3:8, ‘All the Gentiles will be blessed in you.’ He thinks that this is the underlying purpose behind the whole election of Israel—the ‘blessing’ of the rest of the world. And that never happened in the Old Testament: it is only happening now, through his own ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessing is not coming to the Gentiles through Israel, but through Jesus—therefore Jesus must be the ‘seed’ to whom the promise is addressed, ‘in you all the nations will be blessed.’’ (8, italics his).
To be continued ...
Labels: Christian Zionism