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

  • Morna D. Hooker

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.

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[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.

[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,Georgi, 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.

[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.

[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.Brevard, 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.

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

[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.

[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.

[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.

[14] John, 5. 39.

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

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

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

[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.

[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.

* The Henton Davies Lecture delivered at Regent's Park College, Oxford, on Wednesday, 14 March 1979.

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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
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