Poetic Book Literature in the New Testament
Compartmentalizing Scripture is a contemporarily popular way to study the Bible and is very useful at times. However, Scripture tends to unify itself. Despite studious efforts to “divide and conquer,” perhaps a more appropriate approach would be to identify the areas where different sections of Scripture are sewn together and then further study how and why. One particular facet of sectional mingling is the way the Old Testament passages are quoted in the New Testament, specifically the poetic book quotations. The authors of the New Testament included approximately 250 express Old Testament quotations, and if one includes indirect or partial quotations, the number jumps to more than 1,000. “It is clear that the writers of the New Testament were concerned with demonstrating the continuity between the Old Testament Scriptures and the faith they proclaimed” (Gloer). The attempt of the writers was not specifically to show the continuity but indirectly they accomplished such a demonstration. The most significant Person to appear in the writings of the New Testament would undoubtedly be Jesus, the Son of God. Matthew, the author of the first book in canonical order in the New Testament, records Jesus quoting Poetic literature several times. It should not go unmentioned that though Matthew and others have recorded numerous quotations of Poetic literature, it can be assumed that more quotations took place but were simply not recorded and/or canonized. The Psalms most commonly occur out of all the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament (Green 2). In each gospel a psalm can be found cited. Usually it was not used directly as the author had intended but rather an applied use to fit the context of the situation. The Psalm however, was never taken wrongly out of context; the manner in which they were quoted was accurate. Some Old Testament texts are interpreted typologically. In this approach, the New Testament writer sees a correspondence between persons, events, or things in the Old Testament and persons, events, or things in their contemporary setting (Green 27). The correspondence with the past is not found in the written text, but within the historical event. Underlying typology is the conviction that certain events in the past history of Israel as recorded in earlier Scriptures revealed God's ways and purposes with persons in a typical way. Today numerous people quote the Psalms as direct promises readily available to today like or wherever they may desire to apply them. The psalms are not irrelevant in totality by any means, but it should be understood that they are to be interpreted for what they are, considering the poetic structure and historical context in which they were written (Henrich 4). No person better exemplifies how to apply a Psalm then Jesus. One particular quotation recorded by Matthew is found in Matthew 13.35, “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the World.” After reading this several questions are raised and numerous implications are made, necessitating further study. The context of this quotation by Jesus is when he was telling his disciple why he spoke in parables, which he doing through a parable. The portion of Scripture that Jesus used was Psalm 78.2 by Asaph. This particular Psalm is a reciting of Israel’s early history as a nation, serving as a warning against the repetitious unfaithfulness exhibited by Israel the nation (Ryrie). Green suggests that the first line of the quotation is quoted verbatim and is plainly stating that parables will be spoken. However, he further concludes that the second part of the quote is not verbatim but is actually a pun. For the same Greek word is not used for “the foundation of the world,” it is actually the same idea that carries the idea of “sowing seed” (Green 13). It is not of any error, it is simply Jesus using poetic portions from the Old Testament to...
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