KERUX: A JOURNAL
Editor: James T. Dennison, Jr.
Assistant Editors: Steven M. Baugh and Jack L. Smith
INTRODUCTION ...………………………….………………………………………… 2
KERUX is a publication of Kerux, Inc. and appears three times each year. Editorial offices are located at 1131 Whispering Highlands Dr., Escondido, CA 92027. Correspondence should be directed to the editor at this address. Subscription rates for one year are: $15.00 (U.S. and Canada); $20.00 (elsewhere). Costs per issue are: $5.00 (U.S. and Canada); $7.50 (elsewhere). All remittances should be made payable in U.S. funds.
ISSN 0888-8513 Vol. 3, No. 1
We are pleased to feature another previously unpublished sermon by Geerhardus Vos. This message demonstrates Vos's insights into the personal dimension of the Psalter–particularly the sense of God's glory. Our readers are reminded that Vos wrote an essay on "The Eschatology of the Psalter" in which he elaborates many of the themes described in our sermon. This essay has been reprinted as an appendix of Vos's Pauline Eschatology (1952), pp. 323-65.
You will also notice the change in our editorial board. We welcome the Rev. Jack L. Smith of the Church of the Servant Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Irvine, California. Dr. Richard A. Riesen has taken a position as instructor in English at the Quingdoa Medical College, Quingdoa, People's Republic of China. Dr. Riesen served KERUX from its inception and we are delighted to have a book review from his pen in this issue.
In our recent survey, our readers overwhelmingly indicated their desire to have us publish an occasional biblical-theological exposition, in addition to our biblical-theological sermons. We are pleased to include the first article of this type by William C. Davis. His exposition of Proverbs 8 is aptly followed by a sermon on Proverbs 9 by one of our assistant editors, Steven M. Baugh.
A Sermon on Psalm 25:14
The Psalter is of all books of the Bible that book which gives expression to the experimental side of religion. In the law and the prophetic writings, it is God who speaks to his people; in the Psalter, we listen to the saints speaking to God. Hence the Psalter has been at all times that part of Scripture to which believers have most readily turned and upon which they have chiefly depended for the nourishment of the inner religious life of the heart. I say that part of Scripture and not merely that part of the Old Testament, for even taking the Old and the New Testament together the common experience of the people of God will bear us out in affirming that there is nothing in Holy Writ which in our most spiritual moments–when we feel ourselves nearest to God–so faithfully and naturally expresses what
we think and feel in our hearts as these songs of the pious Israelites. Our Lord himself, who had a perfect religious experience and lived and walked with God in absolute adjustment of his thoughts and desires to the Father's mind and will; our Lord himself found his inner life portrayed in the Psalter and in some of the highest moments of his ministry borrowed from it the language in which his soul spoke to God, thus recognizing that a more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.
Undoubtedly it is in the Psalter that the specific work of inspiration which the Holy Ghost performs in inditing the Scriptures and the more general task which he performs in sustaining, directing, stimulating and guiding the religious thoughts and aspirations of believers are most closely united. Inspiration for the disclosure of truth is not always accompanied by the subjective appropriation of the truth in a saintly experience (a Balaam and Caiaphas were among the prophets); but nevertheless it remains the more natural and ordinary procedure of God that the instrument through which his truth is brought to man should be a mind in intimate touch with his own; a mind responsive to that personal revelation of God himself which lives and throbs in the truth. And consequently we see that the great prophets (like a Moses, an Isaiah or Jeremiah) appear at the same time as the outstanding examples of a wonderfully rich and tender religious intercourse with God. But in the Psalms we can more clearly than anywhere else observe the interaction of these two things: supernatural reception of truth and spiritual nearness to God. Possibly the fact that in David's case the prophetic disclosures of truth that he received were so vitally connected with his own life and destiny may have something to do with the presence of this feature in the Psalms, whereas the other prophets sometimes stood more or less apart from the development of things to which their words applied. And then the prophets of course in many instances spoke to and for the nation collectively, whereas in the Psalter it is the individual soul which comes face to face with God.
Hence the lessons and encouragements which we draw from other parts of the Old Testament frequently are to be drawn indirectly by
a process of inference for which we are not always in the right frame of mind and the proper spiritual mood. But in the Psalms, whatever our mood, whether we be exultant or downcast, vigorous or weary, penitent or believing, in the Psalms we always can find ourselves back directly. It needs no process of reasoning to make their sentiments our own. Here the language of the Bible comes to meet the very thoughts of our hearts before these can even clothe themselves in language and we recognize that we could not have expressed them better than the Spirit has here expressed them for us. At first sight, this may easily seem strange to us when we remember that the Psalmists lived under the conditions of a typical and preparatory dispensation; that on many points they saw through a glass darkly, whereas we, who live in the full light of the complete gospel, see face to face. But for the very reason that the Psalms reflect that experimental religion of the heart, which is unvarying at all times and under all circumstances, we need not greatly wonder at this. The influx of the divine light whether more or less strong must always produce the identical effect of joy and hope and peace in every soul to which it comes. The well at which we drink may flow more abundantly than that at which the Psalmists drank, but the experience of thirst and of drinking and of satisfaction must still be the same as it was in the time of David.
Psalms of the Heart
Now regarding the Psalms from this point of view as an inspired record of what goes on in the heart of man where the religious consciousness is under the influence of the Spirit of God, its thoughts are purified and directed into their normal channels, we must be at once struck, I think, by one characteristic of the (spiritual) experience here portrayed. This is the predominance of the element of personal communion with God. In a variety of ways this finds expression. Sometimes we observe it in actual exercise, as in those instances where the Psalm is a formal prayer, or even more strikingly than this where it develops into something like a dialogue between God and the soul.
Compare for example the touching episode which David records in the 27th Psalm: "Thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee: Thy face Lord will I seek." At other times, it is not the actual exercise of this privilege, but the strong elemental desire for it which finds utterance. The examples of this will immediately suggest themselves to all of us. It is unnecessary to quote more than the opening verses of the 42nd Psalm: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"
At still other times, it is neither the actual exercise nor the desire for it, but the remembrance of what has been enjoyed in the past or the reflection upon what may still be enjoyed in the future that moves the writer: "These things I remember and pour out my soul within me, how I went with the throng and led them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday" (Ps. 42:4). This is the case in the passage before us: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." The "secret" means the secret counsel, the homilia as one of the old translations has aptly rendered it. It is the intimate converse between friend and friend as known from human life where there is no reserve, but the thoughts and feelings of the heart are freely interchanged. And the notion of the covenant here expresses the same idea: the covenant being conceived not as a formal contract for the specific purpose, but as a communion in which life touches life and intertwines with life so that the two become mutually assimilated. Evidently the Psalmists recognize in this private intercourse with God the highest function of religion–the only thing that will completely satisfy the child of God. And this becomes all the more touching if we remember how much there was in the old covenant, with its complex system of ceremonies, which necessitated a sort of indirect service of God; and remember further how even where a more direct approach unto God was permitted, this had to remain partial and to be exercised under restrictions because the fresh and living way into the Holy of Holies had not yet been opened up.
Psalms of the Presence of God
We may well believe that it was with something of this (consciousness) in mind when the saints followed hard after God and sought to penetrate in their inner spiritual life into that immediate presence from which in the public service of God in the tabernacle or temple the restrictions of the old covenant excluded them. It may be frequently observed in sacred as well as in natural affairs that where a thing is partially possessed and still partially missed there is the keenest appreciation of its value and the most intense longing for its full attainment. It is certainly striking that these expressions of passionate desire to come into living fellowship with God are found in the Old Testament rather than in the New. Is it not possible, brethren, that we, because we have the privilege of approaching God at all times without restrictions, are sometimes in danger of underestimating its value or even neglecting its exercise? Must not a David put us to shame when he cries in Psalm 63: "O God, thou art my God, earnestly will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and weary land where no water is. Because thy loving-kindness is better than life–my lips shall praise thee." If he longed like this for the less, how much more earnestly ought we to cultivate the greater?
And another point to be noticed in the same connection is this: how concrete and familiar, one might almost say how realistic, some of the figures are in which this personal intercourse with God is described in the Psalter. In this respect, the passage before us, expressive though it be, may be called sober and restrained as compared with other statements drawn from the same source. Figures are borrowed from the intimacies of human life, nay of animal life; figures which in point of picturesqueness and forcibleness go far beyond that of a covenant or a secret counsel here employed by the Psalmist. Such is the figure of the common house in which the believer desires to dwell with Jehovah in order that there may be between God and him something of that same closeness and intimacy of fellowship as binds the members of one household together. Of course this attaches itself to the typical expression God had given the thought of religious fellow-
ship with himself in the structure of the tabernacle or the temple. But after all it remains interesting that precisely in the Psalms this divine thought embodied in the sanctuary is most clearly apprehended and most eagerly responded to. "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Ps. 84:10). "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the day of trouble he shall keep me secretly in his pavilion: in the covert of his tent shall he hide me" (Ps. 27:4,5). And even this is surpassed in a number of other passages where the Psalmist chooses figures based on physical, bodily contact in order to satisfy himself in describing his vivid experience of standing in real personal communion with God. The two modes of statement are joined together in the 61st Psalm where David first says, "I will dwell in thy tabernacle forever" and then adds by way of climax, "I will take refuge in the covert of thy wings"; as elsewhere we read the petition, "Hide me under the shadow of thy wings" (Ps. 17:8) and three times the avowal, "Therefore, men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings" (Ps. 36:7).
Now it is to be noticed that, notwithstanding the concrete, realistic character of such expressions, the sentiment expressed remains well within the bounds of conscious, intelligent fellowship with God. There is no lapse into false mysticism here; no desire to lose one's self in God. What the Psalmist strives after is nothing more nor less than that mutual revelation of person to person, that grasping of God himself in the various forms of his approach unto us which is the culminating act of all religion. It is safe to say that both in the guarding of this idea from every kind of mystical excess and perversion and in the thoroughness on the other hand of its application within the proper limits imposed by the personality of God, the biblical religion stands unique among the religions of the world. You may find enough elsewhere of absorption into the deity as you may find plenty in other quarters of coordination between the gods and men as if the two had separated spheres of life. But you will find nowhere such a clear grasp
upon the principle that from the very nature of religion man is designed to hold converse with God and to become practically acquainted with him. Nor is it merely a subjective aspiration of man which underlies this idea of religion. At the basis of it lies the conviction that there is in God himself the possibility, nay the desire for this. Notice how our passage expresses it. The secret intercourse of the Lord is with them that fear him and he will teach them his covenant.
It is a condescension of God not an aspiration of ourselves which renders real this crowning act of religion. The Psalmists are convinced that God himself desires to enter upon close fellowship with man; that if he institutes a covenant for his servants, it is because he is in his very nature a covenant God. In the saints upon the earth is all his delight. We have no right to say that there was any lack or deficiency in God to be supplemented by the creation of man in his image and for communion with him for that would be inconsistent with his character as God. The Scriptures teach that he is all-sufficient unto himself and forever blessed in himself. Nevertheless having created man, it is natural in God to receive man as an inmate of his house and companion of his own blessed life. God himself takes pleasure in the immediate personal fellowship with us to which he invites us. There is that in him which corresponds to the highest in our religion. The prayer of his people comes like incense before him; the lifting up of their hands as an evening sacrifice. And it is because the Psalmists realize this that their own desire to meet with God and speak with God obtains that intensely passionate character to which reference has been made. The opinion is gaining vogue nowadays that a considerable portion of the Psalter was composed during the period of the later Judaism. It would be an interesting question to pursue whether this atmosphere of religious nearness to God in which the Psalmists so naturally breathe was actually the prevailing atmosphere of that late period which was wont to complain that God had withdrawn from his people, that there was no voice of prophecy heard any longer and which had almost settled down to serving God by indirection through punctilious obedience of his law. Certainly it is difficult to believe that two so entirely opposite spiritual attitudes should have
belonged to one and the same age.
Psalms of Longing for God
A last point to which I would briefly call your attention in connection with this subject is the high disinterestedness to which occasionally the Psalmists rise in their longing for communion with God. Of course it is in no sense to the discredit of our religion if we seek contact with God from motives of self-interest and self-preservation. Our very position as dependent creatures and God's very character as the source of all blessings render it absolutely of the essence of all religious approach to him that it should be accompanied and colored by the consciousness of our need. But from this it by no means follows that the desire to obtain something from God distinct from himself can rightly be the only or the supreme motive impelling us to seek his face. Such is the attitude of the unregenerate man; the form which true religious instinct takes under the influence of his selfish isolation from God. But when the Spirit of God moves the center of our life transferring it from self to God, there immediately a longing awakes to come in touch with God and possess him and enjoy him for his own sake. We can best illustrate this from the relation of a child to its parents. We do not blame the child because it many a time turns to its father or mother for the simple reason that it wants something which in no other way it can procure. But what would you think of a child which never sought its father's arms or climbed upon its mother's lap unless there were some such external want to be supplied. The true child will spontaneously, instinctively turn to the presence and smile of its parents as a flower will seek the face of the sun. And in the same way the true child of God will have moments in which he turns [to] his Father in heaven unconscious of any other desire than the desire to be near unto God. And it is on this point that the Psalms most touchingly and most eloquently express the filial spirit as it surmounted the barriers of the Old Testament form of religion and made its way straight to the heart of God. "Whom have I in heaven, but thee? And there is none upon the earth
that I desire beside thee: though my flesh and my heart shall fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Ps. 73:25-26). This and nothing else underlies all the passages in which the Psalmists speak of their love for the house of God or deplore their compelled absence from it. Their attachment to the house of God is at bottom an attachment to the person of God himself, just as the love which we cherish for our house would, when analyzed, ultimately appear to be a love fed not so much from association with the material structure but from that intimate contact with the spirit of our kindred and friends of which the house is as it were the external embodiment.
And most touching of all I think is the form which this sentiment assumes in the mind of the Old Testament saints in view of the mysteries, so much greater to them than to us, of the state after death. Did you ever observe what is the thought that seems to have most acutely distressed and perplexed the writers of some of the Psalms when they tried in vain to pierce this veil of mystery enveloping to them the future world? It was the fear that in these strange regions there might be no remembrance of God, no knowledge of his goodness, no praise of his glory. We may be assured that when a religious want is in this way projected into the world to come so that the fear of its not being satisfied proves stronger than the fear of death in itself, we may be sure that there it has been recognized as the supreme, the essential thing in religion.
The Life in Communion with God
And now, finally, what is the lesson we ought to draw from the prominence of this feature in the spiritual experience portrayed by the Psalter? Are we sure that we feel with the frequency and intensity which our greater privileges demand the desire to meet with God? Or are we satisfied with that indirect relation to him which our service of him in his kingdom and our daily study of his word leads us to sustain? I need not tell you that there is a tendency at the present day to make the religious life seek the surface, the periphery;
to detach it more or less from its center which lies in the direct face-to-face communion of the soul with God. The devotional is not so much in evidence as it has been in other periods of the church's history. There are two causes for this. The former of these may perhaps but little concern us. It is found in the modern reluctance to lay emphasis upon any religious practice which at all involves the idea of a clear, definite, personal knowledge and experience of God–in other words in agnostic tendencies. Its watchword is we can know little about God, but we can know what our religious duties are towards our fellow man. With this, I say, you and I may have little to do, although to some extent of even this we may feel the reflex influence.
But the other course concerns us directly. It lies in the stupendous multiplication of the out-going activities which the present practical age makes it incumbent upon every minister of the gospel to pursue. With all these centrifugal forces playing upon us, what wonder if sometimes the one centripetal force which ought to drive us to the heart of God for the cultivation of our own devotional life is less felt in our experience. And yet it is absolutely essential for us that we should not only have our seasons of communion with God, but that all the time in some degree we should carry with us into the outward and public work a living sense of our nearness to God and of his nearness to us because in this way alone can we make our service in the Lord's kingdom truly fruitful and spiritual. If the savor of this is wanting in our work, if we do not bring to the world when we come to it the unction and peace acquired in prayer, we cannot hope to impart any permanent blessing or to achieve any lasting results. Let us endeavor to cultivate diligently the devotional spirit of the Psalmists. Or, better still, let us take for our example the spirit of Jesus himself for whom notwithstanding the busy scenes of a most public career no distractions existed, to whom every call upon his strength became an occasion for meeting with God, a real contact with God, because the fountains of his strength lay hidden deep in the recesses of his inner life where he and the Father always beheld each other's face.
Preached October 15, 1902 in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey
The Garden of Jesus' Agony
DERKE P. BERGSMA
A garden can be a place of beauty and peace and quiet reflection. A certain tranquility of spirit accompanies those who withdraw from busy pursuits to stroll slowly through a garden surrounded by plants and flowers patiently growing in their natural setting. Perhaps the popularity of national parks at vacation time is attributable to their garden-like character on a larger scale. But whether the gardens we visit are small or large, they are most pleasant when they are enjoyed together with friends and loved ones. The presence of those we love always makes an enjoyable experience more precious.
For our Lord Jesus, the garden of Gethsemane frequently served as a quiet place of peaceful reflection and especially of intimate fellowship with His heavenly Father. Luke 22:39 implies that Jesus went as a frequent visitor to this garden on the side of the Mount of Olives. He also craved the supporting presence of his disciples whenever he visited that garden. But the last time our Lord visited Gethsemane, it was the very opposite of a place of peace and refreshing renewal. Rather it was a place of lonely agony, an experience of grief and abandonment by both his human companions and his heavenly Father.
May the Holy Spirit help us to do justice to this powerful biblical theme as we consider:
Its Painful Circumstances
Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane is seldom given the attention it deserves when we consider the Lord's suffering as the Redeemer of his people. Admittedly it does not stand out as prominently in the gospel record as the agony of the cross. Yet the Gethsemane experience is a crucial part of the passive obedience of our mediator in his redemptive work. Seen in biblical-theological light, it is an event which demonstrates the completeness and perfection of the savior's work. It helps us comprehend the depth of the riches of our standing in Christ and to praise God for the grace revealed in Jesus' perfect obedience to the Father throughout his suffering.
Several circumstantial factors contributed to the intensity of Jesus' agony. One of these factors was the utter loneliness of our Lord. He who bore our sins did so alone. It was a lonely path that the one "despised and rejected of men" had to walk. The "man of sorrows, familiar with suffering like one from whom men hide their faces" knew the loneliness of the abandoned.
Our Lord had left the upper room in Jerusalem where he had
instituted the Holy Supper of remembrance. Leading the disciples out of the city, they arrived at the garden on the west side of the Mount of Olives, about a half-mile west of the Temple Square, across the Kidron Valley. Though the garden was not very large (an acre or two at the most) and the disciples could not have been very far away, Jesus still wanted three of them closer. He desired the support, comfort and close presence of Peter, James and John. His sense of loneliness must have been intensified by their apparent indifference to Jesus' suffering. They slept while he prayed. Though he aroused them from sleep after his first session of prayer, it was obviously hopeless to call them back after the second. Then the mob, bent on Jesus' capture, arrived and one of the disciples made a futile effort at resistance with a sword. Jesus' mild reprimand of the aggressive disciple was followed by the desertion of all of them. Jesus was left alone–alone in the clutches of the enemy, abandoned. The song says it well, "He bore it all alone."
A second significant factor which contributed to the intensity of our Lord's suffering was the mental anguish of anticipating the cross. The grief of Gethsemane must have been intensified because Jesus knew what was coming. Via dolorosa: it was the way to the cross and he knew it. So awesome did the crucifixion appear that the anticipation of it caused him to recoil in horror. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." He sweat drops of blood. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association of March 21, 1986, the extremes of stress and dehydration can cause blood to be lost through the pores of the skin. Jesus was at such an extremity of human endurance. Only his perfect commitment to the Father's will determined his victory.
A third factor important for our understanding of our Lord's suffering in Gethsemane is seen in his obedient surrender to the Father's will. No form of resistance would be tolerated. He was being "led like a lamb to the slaughter."
Jesus refused to resort to either swords or angels in his defense.
Let the eternal purpose of redemption be fulfilled as the Scripture had declared it! This was his attitude. If there was to be blood shed, it would have to be his own. If angels were to be involved, let them be ministering servants for their master's needs, not warriors in his defense. Swords and clubs (instruments of earthly power) and angelic hosts (emblems of heavenly power) must be set aside. Jesus would do the Father's will. The prophetic word must be fulfilled. Nothing on earth (swords) or heaven (angels) would be enlisted to prevent it. Redemption would be accomplished.
Its Redemptive Meaning
The deeper meaning of our Lord's work in Gethsemane cannot be understood unless the "garden theme" of Scripture is understood. Geerhardus Vos in his book entitled Biblical Theology observes that the symbol "garden" stands in the biblical record as a place of fellowship between God and his people. It identifies the divine/human encounter that is played out in salvation history. "Garden" therefore represents the context of covenant life, the relationship of harmony and unity between God and mankind. In the garden of Eden fellowship between God and mankind was established. Human beings, as divine image bearers, were created to live in covenant fellowship with their God. A garden was prepared by God as the arena of this happy divine/human fellowship. God was man's friend. They walked together as Friend with friend in unity and peace. Everything for human life and well-being was provided.
But then came the FALL. Falling for the Devil's lie the original humans declared their independence from God. They broke covenant. The God/man relationship was shattered. They, therefore, had to be evicted from the garden. There was no place remaining for Creator/created harmony and peace. The Great Divorce had taken place.
The rest of the Bible, after the event of the fall, recounts for us
what God determined to do, in His mercy and grace, to right the wrong of man's corrupting rebellion. Accordingly, there are repeated anticipations of the restoration of fellowship with God under the symbol of restored gardens. Psalm 23 describes a garden scene with green pastures and quiet waters, where the Shepherd will restore the soul. Ezekiel 36:35 speaks God's word of promise to the restored exiles that the "land that was laid waste will become like the garden of Eden." Ezekiel 47 records the vision of a river flowing from under the temple entrance bringing verdant vegetative life to the valley. The vision closes with "garden" terminology.
"Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both sides of the river bank. There leaves shall not wither nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." (v. 12)
Isaiah 65:25 uses "garden" language to describe the ultimate place of fellowship God will provide, where "the wolf and lamb will feed together–they will not harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain."
The garden of Gethsemane occupies a crucial place between the broken fellowship of Eden and the restoration of fellowship that the prophets' visions anticipated. To restore mankind to fellowship with God, the divine Son had to endure the agony of Gethsemane; he had to endure the alienation that the sin in the first garden caused. Jesus went to the garden craving fellowship with his heavenly Father. He prayed a heart wrenching prayer: "Father, don't forsake me now. Let this cup pass, for to drink it I'll have to cry 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!' To live apart from you is death. Don't leave me now."
Gethsemane was the second Eden. The Second Adam in the second Eden endured the consequent rejection of the Father that the sin in the first Eden caused. But Gethsemane is also the reverse of Eden. In the first Eden, Adam forsook God and God had to evict
him from the garden, for fellowship was broken. In Gethsemane, God forsook the God-man, the second Adam, and man, in the form of an unbelieving mob, evicted the divine Son from the garden. It had to be. He who bore man's sin must bear its penalty: alienation from God, forsaken, death. There was no other way. It was the Father's will.
And, like the first Eden, there was temptation in Gethsemane too. Jesus was tempted to avoid the cross, tempted to move contrary to the Father's will. But the second Adam did not yield to temptation. The perfect representative man knew well the power of temptation even as he spoke to his garden companions, "Pray that you do not enter into temptation."
The garden theme of Scripture continues from Gethsemane, to the cross, to the garden tomb.
Jesus was buried in a garden from which he triumphantly arose. "Death could not hold its prey." He arose. The resurrection garden assured the restoration of fellowship between the offended Lord and his offending people. In the resurrection the heavenly Father placed the stamp of divine approval upon the savior's work of redemption. So that now, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
The Covenant Mediator has restored covenant fellowship for his covenant people, because where Adam failed, Christ prevailed. Where the first Adam failed, Jesus prevailed. The note sung by the angels at Jesus' birth rings now with realized joy. God and sinners are reconciled. "You who were once afar off have been brought near by the blood of the cross." Enemies have been made friends.
But there is still more to come. The Bible closes with a description of a garden scene. Like the first garden in Scripture (Eden), it is God who provides it. But unlike Eden, nothing impure will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful. And
there will be no more curse, no more demonic temptation, no more fall.
The heavenly garden includes a "river of the water of life, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb" and "the tree of life yielding its fruit, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations." The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there and "his servants will serve Him. They shall see his face and his name will be on their foreheads; and they will reign forever and ever" (Rev. 22:1-6).
The Claims of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:1-36
WILLIAM C. DAVIS
The ancient church controversy over the deity of Christ involved the church fathers in a discussion of the implications of Proverbs 8:22-31 for Christology. Their formulation located Christ, the Wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24,30), in the Proverbs account of creation. However, the Christological import of Proverbs 8 is not exhausted in the references to Christ as creator. The writer of Proverbs also presents the Wisdom of God as claiming to be the Way and the Life as well. In the course of this exposition of Proverbs 8:1-36, connections will be drawn between the claims of Lady Wisdom and the reality of Jesus Christ.
The Unity of Proverbs 8
The first problem requiring attention in a treatment of Proverbs 8 is the boundaries of the unit involved. Since vv. 4-31 are generally accepted as the words of Wisdom (working off of v. 3), these surely are to be taken together. Problems arise, however, concerning vv. 1-3 and vv. 32-36. The potential problem with including vv. 1-3 with vv. 4-31 is that it is not a quotation of Wisdom, but rather the narrator's rhetorical question calling attention to the fact that Wisdom calls. Verses 32-36 are evidently the words of Wisdom, but the opening–"Listen to me my son"–seems formulaic and thus shifts back to the narrator (cf. 5:7 and 7:24).
It seems that both of these difficulties can be resolved by considering the relation of chapter 8 to chapter 7. Throughout the first nine chapters of Proverbs, the author is drawing a contrast between the two ladies: Wisdom and Folly. The comparison is most clearly drawn in the final three chapters of the introduction, with chapter nine contrasting the houses of Wisdom and Folly and chapters 7 and 8 contrasting their call and ways. Chapter 7 is structured with the father's exhortation to the son bracketing the picture he presents of Folly's vain promises (7:1-5, 24-27). Chapter 8 can be arranged in a similar manner with the exhortation (now by Wisdom herself instead of the father) bracketing the account of the substance of Wisdom's claims (4-11, 32-36). The formulaic beginning of 8:32 in the mouth of Wisdom identifies the wisdom inherent in the father's instruction in chapter 7 and the parallelism of structure reinforces the identification.
The inclusion of 8:1-3 with the rest of the chapter is less certain, but can be established as a connector between the images of chapter 7 and 8. Having just presented the vain enticements of Folly, the narrator turns to Wisdom's promises with rhetorical question, "Does not Wisdom also call?" I will treat vv. 1-3 with 4-36 because of the striking extent to which the vocabulary of 1-3 coincides with that of 32-36 (see below).1
This passage exhibits a broad A:B:B:A structure. The A sections (1-11; 32-36) constitute the call of Wisdom; the B sections (12-21; 22-31) present her self-identification. A major theme in the book of Proverbs is the "way" (Hebrew derek) one is to choose. Four of the 27 uses of derek in the first 9 chapters are in this passage, each at the beginning of the sections. In the A sections, Wisdom stands at the crossroads (derek) and calls to the hearer to choose her blessed way (derek).
The division of the two middle sections is difficult, but a number of considerations favor our proposed construction. In the B sections, the way is described first negatively (8:13) and then positive-primally (8:22). The two middle sections are both concerned with Wisdom's self-identification, working off of the word "I" (Hebrew ani), with both sections utilizing this word to focus a chiasm. Verses 12-21 center in Wisdom's "I am understanding. Power is mine." Verses 14b-16 focus on Wisdom as the maker of kings and princes (wisdom and the king is a major theme in Proverbs).
The integrity of 8:22-31 as a unit is attested by the great number of articles devoted to its explication. Its important role in the Arian controversy renders it a hot subject of study and the structure of the passage (many have been presented2) does seem to focus on the creation image. But the creation imagery and the location of Wisdom in that image is not the end in itself, as so many of the treatments seem to assume. The center of the section is the statement: "I was there." The two center sections are identification sections.
As indicated above, vv. 1-11 and 32-36 are related thematically as the exhortation-command by Wisdom to be heard. There are seven significant vocabulary repetitions between the two sections: "way," "man," "lest," "hear," "wisdom," "find," "door." The last of these reinforces the house of wisdom image that is so prominent in chapter 9.
It should be noted that both the passage as a whole and 8:22-31 have strong linear characteristics as well to highlight other important themes and images. The passage as a whole builds with ever-increasing claims by Wisdom, claims which culminate proximately in the claims surrounding the creation, and ultimately in the claim in v. 35 to be life itself. The linear arrangement of 8:22-31 develops the creation image from pre-history to Eden, with the central act of creation architecture sandwiched between the two.
Before moving to translation and commentary, it is necessary to clear up some broad exegetical issues regarding the passage. In the first place, even vv. 4-31 contain some lines easily considered to be commentary by the narrator in the middle of Wisdom's dialogue. This would possibly include vv. 11 and 13.3 Even if these are properly narrator insertions (and it does not seem necessary to take them out of the mouth of Wisdom), there is still no need to remove them from the text. The narrator is trying to show the unity of his instruction and that of Wisdom. Nor should such an admission of narrator intrusion alter the apparent structure.
Second, it should be maintained that the primary reason in the mind of the author for the personification of Wisdom in this and other sections of Proverbs (cf. 1:20ff., 2, 4:6ff.) is the usefulness of the literary device. Thus the intent of the human author was personification and not hypostatization. The author does not seem to be asserting an hypostasis of Folly; Wisdom, as a figure, is the contrasting character to Folly. But this is not to say that the Holy Spirit did not have the Second Person of the Trinity in mind in the inspiration of the passage. The New Testament authors join Christ in seeing that as a reference to himself and the Old Testament saints were not without contact with the Second Person in the guise of the "Angel of Yahweh." Derek Kidner puts it well:
It will also be the primarily metaphorical character of the image that will relieve some of the Christological pressures that can arise in the translation of "to beget" (Hebrew qanah) in 8:22.
Translation and Commentary
Unlike Folly who lurks for her prey in the dark corners (7:12), Wisdom takes a place of prominence so as not to be missed. The writer presents the unavoidability of Wisdom's call. It is made continually in the places of decision: the crossing of paths (here "the house of the ways") and the gates of the city which is its judicial center. Wisdom is presented as a woman at the crossroads. She is one to be loved, honored and eventually wed–an apt contrast to the harlot, Folly.5 The conjunction in 1b of understanding and voice indicates the close connection between the words of Wisdom here and the voice of the Lord. Indeed, the call of Wisdom is the voice of the Lord.6
The call of Wisdom comes in the form of three imperatives: discern, hear-obey and take. She takes up her cry in terms very similar to those found in 1:22ff. addressing the listeners as simpletons. The hearer is naive about the danger involved in following Folly, as the previous passage pointed out. The composition in couplets places "discerning" and "seeking" in synonymous parallelism (v. 9). This is reminiscent of the search for wisdom conducted by the discerning in Job 28. This is a theme that will be reiterated in 8:12-21 in the same terms. It is not until 32-36 that the full reason for such a preference is given: Wisdom is life itself.
"I am Wisdom,
I dwell with prudence,
And knowledge of discretion I will discover:
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil,
Pride, arrogance and the way of evil and the mouth perverted I hate.
Counsel and understanding are mine.
I am Understanding,
Power is mine:
By me kings reign,
And rulers prescribe righteousness.
By me princes rule
And nobles (enact) all my righteous judgments.
I am Love,
I love and the ones seeking me will find me:
Riches and glory are in me,
Splendid wealth and righteousness.
Better is my fruit than gold, even pure gold,
And my increase (is better) than choicest silver.
In the manner of righteousness I will walk
In the midst of the paths of justice
To give in possession those truly loving me
And their treasury I will fill up." – 8:12-21
The key to this section is the word "I" (Hebrew ani) and the particular construction in which it is used. This is the manner in which the word is used when it is used of the Lord in predictions he makes concerning himself (ani plus the abstract object without the verb expressed; cf. Deut. 32:39 and Isa. 44:6 in particular).7 Thus the section is a threefold affirmation of the identity of Wisdom in strongly divine terms. Counsel and Power belong to her and it is by her that kings rule. In view of the clear sense throughout the rest of Proverbs that it is God who sets up and directs kings, this is a strong statement by the author concerning the fundamental unity of Wisdom and God.
Of vital significance is the thrust of v. 17, that those who seek Wisdom will find her; and she identifies the nature of the prize found as riches and glory. For Solomon this would be autobiographical. He had chosen wisdom as his single request of the Lord and the Lord had provided him with riches and glory as well. This text, however, must not be construed as the promise to Christians that seeking after wisdom will also bring material wealth and worldly glory. It is here
that the integral connection of 32-36 to this section becomes a vital corrective. In 35-36, it is seen that "he who finds (wisdom) finds life." This is not mere continuation of life, but is life in its fullness;8 it is heaven, communion with the true life, Jesus Christ.
"Jehovah begat me, the first principle of his ways
Before any of his works in history, even from then.
From everlasting I was consecrated from the beginning,
From the earliest times of the earth.
When there were no water-chaoses I was born;
When there were no fountains bursting forth with water;
When the mountains were not sunk
Before the hills I was born.
When he had not yet made the earth and the expanse
And the primal dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there.
When he inscribed a circle on the face of the water-chaos;
When he made strong the vaults of the sky from above;
When making strong the springs of the water-chaos
When he established for the sea its boundary,
So that the water would not transgress his command;
When he inscribed the foundations of the earth,
Indeed I, the architect, was beside him.
Indeed I was a delight day after day,
Playing before him in all seasons;
Playing in the earth, his world,
And my delight was the sons of men." – 8:22-31
In general, this section divides into three parts: vv. 22-26, 27-30a and 30b-31. The first and third utilize child imagery to represent Wisdom as God's precious child begotten prior to God's works in history. This works well as a metaphor and inasmuch as the credal statements concerning the eternal generation of the Son are themselves
metaphorical, the translation "begat" is not problematic. Indeed, the New Testament allusions to this passage concerning the role of Christ in creation are a good argument for the usefulness of the credal formulation. As will be seen, the child imagery is picked up again in the closing part of this section.
The middle section (vv. 27-30a) concerns the creation itself. Whereas 22-26 deals with pre-history, locating Wisdom with the Lord as pre-existent of creation, the second part locates Wisdom with the Lord in the activity of creation. The Genesis one creation-account parallels are numerous. The obvious references to the water-chaos, the heavens and the earth, and the beginning are reinforced by the device of a six line account of the creation beginning with the heavens (v. 27a) and ending with the earth (29c-30a). Significantly, both of these lines make reference to the presence of Wisdom. It seems that the primary inspiration is simply the opening sentence of Genesis: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
If there is a clear "six" principle involved in the middle section, one would expect to find some mention of the Sabbath. Two possibilities present themselves. One option would be to see the third part of this section with its reference to the delight of the Lord and the delight of Wisdom as a figure for Sabbath bliss. While this is possible, a return to the child imagery in this section demands an account of its relation to vv. 22-26. The period after the creation that offsets the eternity prior to creation could be the Sabbath, but the reference to the "day after day" and "in all seasons" would fit better with an identification of this period as the Edenic state. It is into this Edenic image that the covenant command comes promising Sabbath rest and life (vv. 32-36).
"And now, oh sons, listen to me.
For those blessed of me will keep my ways.
Listen to instruction and be wise,
Lest you neglect (it).
Blessed is the man listening to me:
Watching my gates day by day,
Guarding the doorposts of my gates.
For he who finds me finds life
And obtains favor from the Lord.
And the one sinning against me injures himself,
And those hating me love death." – 8:32-36
At the culmination of Wisdom's call is the dual promise-threat of life for obedience and death for transgression. This is fitting for the Edenic context and places before the reader true life. It is a call to holy living in this age (day by day) that consists in the search for wisdom. This search the New Testament identifies as the search for the true Wisdom of God: Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 8:24; I Jn. 5:12).9
Wisdom the Creator
The Creator-Wisdom makes clear claims to deity (eternality, participation in creation, the uses of "I" and "I am"). But more than that, Wisdom is also found identifying with the creation, specifically the sons of men. This may rightly be taken as a shadowy figuring of the incarnation. Further, it is profitable to consider the extent to which the New Testament picks up on this account of creation and applies it to Christ. John 1:1-14 presents a pre-existent Word that is the agent of creation. Hebrews 1:1-4 also presents Christ as the creator. But it is Colossians 1:15-20 that makes the most extensive use of this passage and as a result sheds some light on the difficult word "architect" (v. 30a).
Colossians 1:15-20 uses the same idea of Christ as the first-born,
an adoption of the begetting metaphor that the church has adequately qualified. Consider the other parallel elements: creator of heaven and earth (Col. 1:16 parallel with Prov. 8:27,29) and thrones (Col. 1:16 parallel with the kings of Prov. 8:14-16); he is before all (Col. 1:17 parallel with Prov. 8:22-26); the father's good pleasure is in him (Col. 1:19 parallel with Prov. 8:30-31). A final element may be added if the Colossians reference to Christ as the one in whom all things subsist is taken as a rendering of the Hebrew root of "architect" using the meaning "unifying".10 This understanding relies almost entirely on the Colossians usage. Apart from that meaning, it seems that the rendering "architect" as an appellative of Wisdom has the most merit, in keeping with the image of Wisdom as the builder of a seven pillared house (Prov. 9:1). The reading "child" would fit with the begetting imagery, but the proposed structure would not make that necessary. It is hard to see how, in the midst of the escalating claims of Wisdom, there would be a reversion to the child-status.
The Way, The Truth, The Life
Throughout this passage Wisdom identifies herself with deity by using the "I am" formula derived from God's name-revelation to Moses (Ex. 3). It is significant that John's gospel, the gospel most clear on the creative activity of the Wisdom of God, would also be the gospel that makes the most use of the "I am" formula: "I am" the light (Jn. 8:12); the bread of life (6:35,48); the door (10:7,9); the resurrection and the life (11:25); the way, the truth and life (14:6); the true vine (15:1,5); and the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:17). This is no accidental pattern and Jesus did not make these claims without Old Testament precedent for the various types employed.
A case may be made that the John 14:6 imagery is taken from Proverbs 8. Jesus is the "way" (8:12,13,22,32), the truth (8:7) and the life (8:35). This is supported by the occasion for Christ's claim: it was in response to Thomas's question how they could follow him if they "did not know the way." Jesus is the way. Those seeking him,
find him. And those finding him find riches and eternal glory. They find life.
South Bend, Indiana
Wisdom and Folly
STEVEN M. BAUGH
The pursuit of Wisdom may seem like a pleasant, but largely irrelevant exercise in our day. We Christians–like the world around us–do not yearn for wisdom. We want other things: success, effective ministry, personal piety. Don't misunderstand, these are all excellent things, but we usually ignore wisdom as an object of constant pursuit. About the only time we look for wisdom is when we want instant, practical discernment: "Oh Lord, should I sell my house and go to the mission field? Give me wisdom . . . ." But wisdom should be our earnest pursuit all the time. We should seek her like precious treasure and cry out for her from our hearts (Prov. 3:3-4).
"The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom," "prize her," "guard her," "do not let go" of her (Prov. 4:7-13)
Wisdom and Folly are the two main themes in Proverbs 1-9. Chapter 9 serves as a conclusion drawing together the fundamental themes of the first 8 chapters. Even the form of the Hebrew poetry in chapter 9 is carefully crafted to highlight the importance of Wisdom and Folly. We have here a point-counterpoint arrangement called a "chiasm" which looks like this:
A. Lady Wisdom (9:1-6)
B. Response to wisdom: the wise man and the scoffer (9:7-9)
C. The foundation of wisdom (9:10-11)
B. Consequences of response: the wise man and the scoffer (9:12)
A. Woman Folly (9:13-18)
The effect of this format is to highlight Lady Wisdom and Woman Folly as two opposing figures and to focus our attention upon the "C" element in vv. 10-11 which act as the summary of the chapter (and indeed of Proverbs 1-9 in this case).
The personification of Wisdom and Folly here is very unusual. Personification itself is quite common in the Old Testament as we see in the verses which present the wise man and the scoffer. These are personified examples of the people who respond rightly or wrongly to wisdom. It isn't hard to find many other examples of this sort: "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked . . ." (Ps. 1:1); "For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty . . ." (Prov. 23:21).
However, there really are few other places in the Bible which use such extended personifications as Lady Wisdom and Woman Folly in Proverbs 1-9. I believe that the biblical writers were sensitive to the fact that the pagan nations all around them pictured the natural and social forces of the world as personal beings. For instance, the
Canaanites had a cloud-riding storm and war god, a god of craftsmanship and a goddess of fertility in their pantheon. The Old Testament writers, however, rarely used personifications of natural forces so that we would not confuse them with polytheists. They believed that God is one. Yahweh, the God of Israel, is the only God.
Solomon does take risks with Wisdom in Proverbs 8, especially–"Yahweh begot me at the beginning of his way . . . when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him as an architect" (8:22,29-30). Lady Wisdom is not only personified, but has divine characteristics as God's child and fellow Creator. Therefore Wisdom and Folly are not really personifications of human response or human qualities. Let's look at them more closely.
First of all, Lady Wisdom is pursuing us! She has personally gone out into the city streets and squares (1:20-21) where men and women buy and sell their merchandise; to the gates (8:3) where the elders hear the lawsuits of their neighbors and conduct the city's business; and even to the very heights of the acropolis (9:3) where the city makes its last ditch defense. Wisdom broadcasts her message to the whole city: the streets, the squares, the gates and the acropolis. Proverbs is not a quaint tour through Jerusalem. The point is that Wisdom is offering herself to everyone. Wisdom is not hidden in guru-caves on remote mountaintops; she is not the mysterious consort of gnostic illuminati.
Wisdom is freely and openly offered to everyone throughout the holy city. And it is Wisdom herself who is issuing the call. The statement in v. 3, "She has sent out her maidens" (NASB) should be taken to mean that she has dismissed them. She considers everyone in Jerusalem worthy of the honor of a personal invitation rather than sending her servants out as if to guests of lower status than herself. Compare here the offense that Naaman takes when Elisha deals with
him through his servants rather than personally (II Kings 5:11). Lady Wisdom is making a personal invitation to everyone to come to her feast.
Now look at the content of Wisdom's summons. She has prepared her meat; she has mixed her sweet wine with aromatic spices and laid it all out on the banquet table (9:2). And then Wisdom invites us to come and feast with her: "Come, eat of my food. And drink of the wine I have mixed" (9:5). But this is no ordinary meal. "Abandon your folly and live" (9:6)! Life! Eat at Wisdom's table and live. She herself is the tree of life (3:18). Her food is bread of life; the blood of her grapes is the wine of life.
"Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars" (9:1). Why is this statement included? It seems that many commentators are reading this line as a treatise on Israelite architecture and since most houses unearthed from ancient Israel have four pillars, they often alter the Hebrew to read something like: "Wisdom has set up her lattice-worked pillars"; or "The Seven Sages have built the house of wisdom." On the other hand, we could allegorize the seven pillars (like earlier exegetes have done) to signify the seven sacraments or even the seven liberal arts (like Medieval exegesis).
It seems to me that the image of Wisdom's house is simpler than that. Wisdom has already claimed to be a master craftsman or architect in Prov. 8:30 in the creation of the world; thus the Seven Sages of ancient tradition need not be found here. The number seven is the number of perfection in biblical usage: seven days in the week; seven weeks in Daniel 9:25; seven lampstands (Rev. 2:1). The number seven means "perfect", "complete". And Wisdom's house has strong, stone
columns holding it up; not the more common wooden pillars which can be burned up. It can also be that seven pillars indicates that the house is larger than the usual four-pillar model. Therefore let us retain the reading "Wisdom has hewn out her seven pillars" as an indication of the strength and size of her house.
Lady Wisdom's house is her banquet hall where her guests will sit down for their life-giving meal. This is the place where the bread and wine flow freely and all are invited to come and eat. Isn't this a blessed place? so much like that new city filled with the water of life and the trees of life preserved for the house of God, his church (Rev. 22:1-2; I Cor. 3:10-16)!
But Lady Wisdom and her house are not alone in the holy city. Here also Folly lounges at the darkened doorway of her own house with an invitation to her own meal. Even in the holy city, Folly the Simpleton, Folly the Know-Nothing-Whatsoever and Folly the Boisterous calls out (9:13). Folly is described as "boisterous" here so that we will identify her with the adulteress in Proverbs 7: "Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home" (7:10b-11; cf. 2:16-19; 5:2-23; 6:24-35).
Like the word for Lady Wisdom, the Hebrew word here for Folly is in the plural. This is how the Hebrews expressed the supreme expression of something. Lady Wisdom is Supreme Wisdom. Folly here is the quintessence of foolishness. This is supreme Folly at work who is more than a mere mortal adulteress.
The evidence that Folly is more than a human characteristic is in the location of her house on the high places of the city (9:14). This is important because the heights of Jerusalem were where the pagan gods had their sanctuaries. We are told that even Solomon built "high places" for the detestable idols Chemosh, Molech and Ashtoreth in
the holy city under the influence of his foreign wives (I Kings 11:1-7).
So Folly here represents more than the sin of human adultery. Supreme Folly is adultery with the living God. This is Hosea's adulterous wife Gomer personified (Hos. 3:1). Folly is enticing faithful Israelites to turn aside from their straight paths of faith and obedience into her house of illicit worship (9:15).
The Death Bringer
And this false worship is symbolized in a meal, the Simpleton's Supper. But Folly's meal is illicit. "Stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant" (9:17). Yes, go up to the heights in Solomon's Jerusalem and there you will find the adulterous worship of idols: Molech and Chemosh, the war gods who devoured baby sacrifices; and you will find Ashtoreth the wanton fertility goddess (I Kings 11:5-7). There on the heights you can feast with Folly. The honey-lipped adulteress (5:3) spreads out her imitation meal to entice her guests. But her meal is not food! Stolen water is cyanide sweet and secret bread has strychnine icing!
Folly's fun house is a one-way elevator to the house of Death–non-stop to the Sheol Suite (8:27). And her guests are the shades of the dead (9:18). If Wisdom is life, Folly is death.
Don't think that we have outgrown the message of this passage. Molech is just as active here today as in ancient Israel. False worship, false teaching, false belief has just as much allure today as always. You can hear Folly calling out all over again: "Join me on the cutting edge of theology!" "You need the secret teachings if you want to be saved." "The Spirit is speaking through the ideas of our culture. We've moved beyond the Bible." Heresy is just as alluring now as it was then, but its partakers are enjoying a feast of fools whose guests are the shades of Sheol.
Ashtoreth, the sex goddess of old, is here today too. If you are a leader in the church, you should fear the siren's call which has captured so many in adultery. Folly is honey-lipped and she will try to lure you from faithfulness: "Didn't Solomon have many wives?" "No one will find out." "Love should not be suppressed." But adultery is dinner with the damned. Flee this Folly and live in the fear of the Lord.
But let's not forget that Lady Wisdom is with us today also. What is more, we understand her better today than in Solomon's day. Lady Wisdom was the Evangelist, the Life-Giver and the House-Builder. Who else could this be than Jesus? Oh, I know some people identify the personification of wisdom in Proverbs as no more than a personification of the divine attribute of wisdom. But I simply don't believe it. Where else in the Bible do you have such personification of a divine attribute? "I, Omnipotence have built my house." "I, Omniscience have prepared my meal." "I, Omnipresence am calling out in the streets." Nowhere else is a divine attribute personified as Wisdom.
We know who Lady Wisdom is by what she does. She is active; she is a person who acts in the Old Testament like Jesus acts in the New Testament! She calls out to all to drink her wine just as the Spirit of Jesus calls out for everyone: "Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost" (Rev. 22:17). Lady Wisdom has prepared her life-giving banquet of the bread and wine of life and Jesus is the Bread of Life: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life . . . for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" (Jn. 6:54-55). Lady Wisdom has built her house as a symbol of the perfect and strong banquet house of Jesus which even the gates of Hell cannot overthrow: "For (Jesus) has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house" (Heb. 3:3). Jesus is the Evangelist, the Life-Giver and the House-Builder of God. He is God's Wisdom (I Cor. 1:24).
Leonhard Goppelt, Typos.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982.
ISBN: 0-8028-3562-7 (now, unfortunately, out-of-print).
Leonhard Goppelt's Typos is at the very least a thoroughly scholarly, perhaps the definitive treatment of the topic of its subtitle–"The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New." If it were nothing more than that it would be worth the reading, for the sheer volume of reference and prooftext in defense of its thesis. It is not an easy book, nor is it what one could call fun, except insofar as it is always a happy thing to watch a case being argued well. That much is to be said on its more or less technical side.
Typos has another dimension however. It could be taken simply as a wonderful compendium of themes, with brief commentaries, for biblical-theological sermons. Used for this purpose alone, it is a gold
mine, well worth the price. Goppelt touches on everything from the more obvious first and second Adam and the church as the spiritual Israel to the less frequently rehearsed relationships between Jesus and Moses and Christ and the tabernacle. Goppelt's chapter on Hebrews, by the way, the New Testament book that "draws most extensively from the Old Testament for the development and support of its exposition" (161), is an especially rich source for biblical-theological subject matter.
Besides Hebrews there are chapters on the Synoptic gospels and Acts, the Pauline epistles, John, an appendix on James, and all of it preceded by an introductory section on typology in late Judaism and followed by a new chapter (added to the revision of 1965) on "Apocalypticism and Typology in Paul".
But Goppelt's purpose is not simply to provide us with a catalogue of Old Testament types and New Testament antitypes. It is to argue that typology was the hermeneutic normative for Judaism and is the hermeneutic of the New Testament–which is to say that both Old and New Testament are bound together in their mutual witness to redemptive history consummated in Christ. This much, at least, must be reckoned with if we are to understand the New Testament (and the Old Testament) in the way the writers intended. Even so, Goppelt maintains, typology is not for the New Testament writers a technique, not a rational scheme or "hermeneutical method with specific rules of interpretation." It is rather "a spiritual approach that looks forward to the consummation of salvation and recognizes the individual types of that consummation in redemptive history" (202). In other words, the typological interpretation of the Old Testament in the New is not something "applied"; it is not, for instance, a reading back into the Old Testament of New Testament ideas–but is of a piece with or the expression of the very structure of redemptive history itself. So that while the New Testament writers (and Jesus) were throughout conscious of their place in the Old Testament's fulfillment, they did not force connections. Neither is the type-antitype relationship "mere fulfillment" of a mechanical sort (although of course there is fulfill-
ment), nor simply history repeating itself. No, true types are historical facts which are "divinely ordained representations . . . of future realities that will be even greater or more complete" (18). That is, not only must the new go beyond the possibilities of the old, fulfilling the old on a higher level (65), but the true antitype points, eschatologically, even beyond itself. But definitions of this sort are integral to the argument of the book and are understood best in their context. So are Goppelt's discussions of prototypes, false types and the important difference between type and allegory.
One question perhaps remains. What is the relationship between the more or less special topic of typology as interpreted by Goppelt and the biblical theology of, say, Geerhardus Vos? That is a question which requires more space than we have here, but suffice it to say that Typos, especially perhaps in the concluding chapter (of the original edition), is in a sense an expansion of Vos's treatment of "Symbol and Type" in Biblical Theology and could be read in conjunction with or in the context of Vos's broader discussion.
The book's orientation is decidedly evangelical, its purpose being to demonstrate the integrity of Scripture, even though there is the occasional reference to Deutero-Zechariah or Pseudo-Daniel. For anyone serious about biblical theology Typos is, if not a must, certainly an excellent choice for the shelf; one that won't remain there!