Hostname: page-component-7d684dbfc8-mqbnt Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-10-01T19:38:42.782Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForArticlePurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForBookPurchase": false, "coreDisableEcommerceForElementPurchase": false, "coreUseNewShare": true, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Beyond the Things that are Written? St Paul's Use of Scripture*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2009


It seemed appropriate that a lecture given to honour a scholar whose concerns have been centred on the Old Testament, by someone whose field is the New Testament, should link together these two topics. I have therefore chosen to consider one aspect of the problem of the way in which the Old Testament is interpreted by New Testament authors: more specifically, the authority ascribed by one of them – St Paul – to the Old Testament in relation to the revelation of God in Christ.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1981

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



[1] 1 Cor. 9. 9.

[2] 1 Cor. 4. 6.

[3] Hooker, M. D., ‘“Beyond the Things which are Written”: an Examination of I Cor. iv. 6’, New Testament Studies 10 (1963), 127–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

[4] It has been argued that Paul is here adapting an earlier Jewish-Christian midrash on Ex. 34, which extolled the figure of Moses and the Mosaic Law. See Schulz, S., ‘Die Decke des Moses’, Z.N.T.W. 49 (1958), 130,Google ScholarGeorgi, D., Die Gegner des Paulus im 2 Korintherbrief (Neukirchen 1964), pp. 274–82. But Paul's own Jewish background, together with his opposition to those who still gave a central role to the Law, is sufficient to explain his argument here.Google Scholar

[5] A similar interpretation is given in Philo, , De Vita Mosis, II, 70. Both Paul and Philo in fact go beyond what is said in Exodus, which is that the people were afraid to come near Moses.Google Scholar

[6] For the link between boldness and the absence of a veil, see van Unnik, W. C., ‘“With Unveiled Face”, an exegesis of 2 Corinthians III 12–18’, Novum Testamentum 6 (1963), 153–69.CrossRefGoogle ScholarBrevard, S. Childs, Exodus (London: S.C.M. Old Testament Library, 1974), p. 623, suggests that meekness might have been associated with Moses via Num. 12. 3, which is also an account of a theophany.Google Scholar

[7] E.g. Héring, J., The Second Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (London: E.T., 1967),Google Scholarin loc; Hanson, R. P. C., II Corinthians, London 1954,Google Scholarin loc; Hanson, A. T., Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (London, 1965), pp. 28 f.Google Scholar

[8] These inconsistencies do not in themselves provide evidence for the view that Paul has taken over an earlier midrash and failed to adapt it sufficiently for his purpose. Indeed, if he were doing this, one might perhaps expect him to produce a more consistent interpretation than he would if he were composing the midrash himself and incorporating traditional Jewish interpretations of the Sinai story.

[9] Cf., Childs, op. cit., pp. 618 f.Google Scholar

[10] Taigum of Onkelos, Deut. 34.7.

[11] Childs, , op. cit. pp. 621 f., suggests that Paul does not argue the point because his exegesis reflects a well-known Jewish tradition. However, there is no evidence for this.Google Scholar

[12] Many commentators understand καтοβтριζεσατ here to mean ‘behold’, but the parallel with Moses suggests that it is used with its alternative meaning ‘reflect’. The difference in meaning is not great. It is only as they gaze at Christ that Christians are able to reflect his glory. If they are said to be changed from glory to glory through looking at the glory of Christ, then they are clearly understood to be reflecting that glory.

[13] See Hooker, M. D., ‘The Johannine Prologue and the Messianic Secret’, New Testament Studies 21 (1974), 4058.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

[14] John, 5. 39.Google Scholar

[15] E.g. Bab, T.. Shabbath 88b.Google Scholar

[16] Cf., Rom. 8. 3 f.; 10. 5 ff.Google Scholar

[17] A full discussion can be found in Davies, W. D., Torah in the Messianic (Philadelphia, 1952).Google Scholar

[18] Rom. 3. 31.

[19] 1 Qp Hab. vii. 1–5.

[20] Dan. 2. 30.

[21] Dan. 4. 9.

[22] Cf., M. D. Hooker, The Son of Man in Mark (London, 1967), pp. 43–7.Google Scholar

[23] 1 Cor. 2. 7; Col. 1. 26.

[24] 2 Cor. 1.20.

[25] Op. cit., p. 624.

[26] ‘The Bible and the Believer’, Peake Memorial Lecture 1978, Epworth Review 6 (1979), 88.Google Scholar