The Unity of the Bible
Gerhard F. Hasel
Since the Biblical Research Committee’s earlier inserts in the Ministry magazine
have drawn favorable response, the committee is pleased to present this paper
on “The Unity of the Bible,” by Dr. Gerhard F. Hasel, professor of Old Testament
Studies and chairman of that department at Andrews University.
This paper was presented to and recommended for publication by the Biblical
Research Committee at its annual meeting of 1973 as a part of its investigation of
Biblical hermeneutics—the science of Biblical interpretation.
How one looks at the Bible predisposes his methods of exegesis and the resultant
interpretation. In the critical approach to Biblical studies there is little assumption
of an essential unity, either within or between the Testaments, or, for that matter,
within a single book or chapter of the Bible. Critical Biblical studies tend to see
small segments of a book or chapter standing virtually in isolation and to study
them in such a limited context.
Believing the Holy Spirit to be the Author of both Testaments, Seventh-day
Adventists have always seen a strong link and continuity between the Testaments,
and have based their interpretation of the Bible on that presupposition. Their raison
d’être, as a people, is found in Bible prophecy with its recognition of the interdependence
of the Testaments.
This paper by Dr. Hasel draws significant support for the unity of the Bible from
standard theological literature, and therefore offers valuable endorsement for the
posture of the church in a vital matter.
Gordon M. Hyde
The subject of the unity of the Bible is so vast that a limited investigation such as this article
represents can hardly claim to treat the subject’s great variety of aspects adequately. The literature
on the subject of the unity of the Bible is voluminous.1 Much consideration could be given to
various aspects of the inner unity of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Although
diversity is to be expected within the OT, as well as within the NT (a diversity which is neither
surprising nor to be denied), there are evidences of an equally undeniable unity within and between
the Testaments of the Bible. Many scholars in the past have primarily stressed the diversity
found within each of the Testaments. Now there is a great interest also in finding an inner
unity in each of the Testaments and between the Testaments. This is a most significant trend in
The purpose of this article is to investigate the relationship between the two Testaments of
the Bible in general and, in particular, to indicate what kind of unity there is between the OT and
the NT. Each student of the Bible has to come to grips with the interconnection between the OT
and the NT and “has to give an account of his understanding of the Bible as a whole, i.e., above
all of the theological problems that come of inquiring into the inner unity of the manifold testimony
of the Bible.”3
To speak of the inner unity of the Bible in terms of the relationship between OT and NT
raises questions of discontinuity and continuity, unity in diversity, antithesis and harmony,
whether one reads solely from the OT to the NT or from the NT back to the OT, or reciprocally
from OT to NT and from NT to OT. Since the question of the unity of the Bible is as old as the
Christian church itself, it is not possible to present here a comprehensive sketch of the various
positions taken during the past 1900 years. It is therefore mandatory that we limit ourselves to
representative attempts that reflect major positions.
1. Patterns of Disunity and Discontinuity
There have always been Christians who have looked at the OT from the Christian perspective
and have been struck by various differences. Indeed, there are evident and expected differences.
Christians no longer sacrifice and engage in ritual worship. christians do not belong to a
literal theocratic nation, whereas the chosen ones in OT times belonged to the physical nation of
Israel. On the basis of such reasoning there have been men through the centuries who have
reached the conclusion that the OT is of no concern to or significance for the Christian believer.
Some have even concluded that the OT has no rightful place in the Christian Bible. Others,
unwilling to go that far and perhaps finding some value in the OT, would nevertheless place it on
a lower level of importance and rank it second to the NT.
A. Inferiority of the Old Testament
The first heresy that arose in Christianity in the second century involved an attempt to get rid
of the OT. Marcion, under the impact of Gnosticism,4 separated the two Testaments completely.
To Marcion the God of the OT was another and inferior Being, the Demiurge-Creator, the vindictive
God of the law, wholly opposed to the gracious God revealed in the gospel. The OT, therefore,
has nothing to say about the Christian’s God or about Christ. Marcion completely denied
that the OT messianic prophecies refer in any sense to Jesus Christ. He held that the OT has no
part in the Christian revelation and has no place within Christianity.
Marcionism was effectively rejected as a heresy and excluded from the mainstream of Christianity,
which committed itself to the OT as a part of the scriptural canon.
A Marcionite approach with regard to the relationship between the two Testaments and their
unity is represented in modern times by such men as Von Harnack, whose widely quoted sentence
is worth citing because it sums up his major theme: “To have cast aside the Old Testament
in the second century was an error which the Church rightly rejected: to have retained it in the
sixteenth century was the fact which the Reformation was not yet able to avoid; but still to keep it
after the nineteenth century as a canonical document within Protestantism results from a religious
and ecclesiastical paralysis.”5
Other men reflecting the Marcionite strain are Friedrich Delitzsch6 and Emmanuel Hirsch.7
The latter sees an “antithetical tension”8 between OT religion and Christianity. Stress falls entirely
upon the radical discontinuity between the two Testaments. For the Christian the OT has
been superceded by the NT.
It has been said that R. Bultmann’s negative stance with regard to the OT is also due to a
Marcionite strain.9 It is true that the OT is not excluded from the Bible in Bultmann’s thought, but
is reduced to a document of subsidiary usefulness in the church. Is this not at least a modified
form of Marcionism?
For Bultmann OT history is a history of failure. It is a “miscarriage” (Scheitern) of history,
which only through this failure turns into a kind of promise.10 The application of the Lutheran law/
gospel antithesis by Bultmann11 has led to the view that there is an almost total discontinuity
between the two Testaments. “Thus the Old Testament is the presupposition of the New”12 and
“is not theologically relevant at all.”13
Bultmann’s approach leads inevitably to an inferior place for the OT. Where the law/gospel
antithesis is pushed to the virtual equating of the OT with “law,” where the discontinuity between
the Testaments is stressed to the virtual exclusion of their continuity; where the OT is accorded
an exclusively pedagogical function of preparing man for the hearing of the gospel of the NT, the
OT is reduced to a position of secondary importance. W. Pannenberg rightly notes that the reason
Bultmann finds no continuity between the Testaments “is certainly connected with the fact
that he does not begin with the promises and their structure, which for Israel were the foundation
of history, . . . promises which thus endure precisely in change.”14
As already noted, Bultmann’s emphasis on the discontinuity between the Testaments does
not lead him to dispense with the OT completely. Although there is an element of truth in the
claim that the OT has a pedagogical function, his stress on the radical difference of OT revelation
from that of the NT leads to a dangerous reductionism that relegates the OT to an auxiliary and
inferior position in the canon.
Baumgärtel shares with Bultmann the emphasis on discontinuity between the Testaments
and separation of the OT from the NT.15 He refuses to separate the OT from the NT as “less
authoritative,”16 but insists that it is really not essential for our faith. Although Baumgärtel shares
the general emphasis on discontinuity, he does not view the relationship between the OT and the
NT as one of complete discontinuity. He sees running through the OT the theme of an enduring
“basic-promise” (Grundverheissung),17 which is summed up in the timeless sentence, “I am the
Lord your God.”
Nevertheless, there are dangers in the approach of Baumgärtel. He repeatedly stresses the
differences between the Testaments. In his view the OT contains a “witness of a religion outside
the Gospel.”18 He maintains that “viewed historically it has another place than the Christian religion,”
19 for the OT “is a witness out of a non-Christian religion.”20 Baumgärtel also maintains that
the historicity of Jesus Christ is not grounded in Messianic prophecies, which he believes must
be completely abandoned, but solely in the Incarnation.21 These are serious limitations impinging
on the use to be made of the OT. Its place in the scriptural canon is moved to a position of
inferiority. It has been pointed out that Baumgärtel ultimately admits “that the church could also
live without the Old Testament.”22 His concept of “basic-promise” is unhistorical and a “presumptuous
encroachment”23 that separates a single promise from the other promises and prophecies
that were fulfilled in history. In Baumgärtel’s view it seems that the OT’s position of inferiority
renders this part of the canon virtually unnecessary.
A number of other individuals could be mentioned. Among them J.A.T. Robinson and Paul
van Buren.24 F. Hesse elaborated the concept that the OT promises and prophecies have gone
astray owing to the chastising hand of God that make the people of Israel harden their hearts
(Isa. 6:8, 10; 2 Cor. 3:14; Rom. 9:11).25 By turning God’s Word into its opposite, the Christian
should read the OT as a warning directed against himself. In this way the OT can be a dialectical
witness to God’s activity in Israel, which culminates in Christ’s cross.
There are some aspects in the above claims of disunity, discontinuity, and antithesis which
have appeal, such as the idea that the OT cannot function theologically in the church without the
NT. There are, however, serious objections to be brought against them. The principal objection to
these claims of disunity, discontinuity, and antithesis is that the break in the relation between the
two Testaments is widened into such a gulf that the OT could be described as a record of a non-
Christian religion that must either be discarded completely in Christianity or accepted with the
“basic-promise” as the only line of connection between the Testaments, which are then so widely
divergent that one can hardly speak any longer of a unity of faith.
The OT is authoritative in that it shares in the truth revealed in Jesus Christ, i.e., there is an
essential relation between the message of the Testaments. For Christian theology the question
is, Has OT revelation anything to do factually, historically, and spiritually with the NT gospel of
Jesus Christ, and if so, to what extent? On the one hand, we must admit an organic, spiritual
unity between them because the life of Jesus Christ rested on the foundations of the OT. The OT
was the Bible of Jesus Christ and the early Christians.26 There is a line that leads from it to Jesus
Christ as He Himself explained to the disciples of Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all
the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke
There is no likelihood that the Adventist Church will reject the OT. Many members have never
heard of Marcion or Hirsch, but is there not the temptation for Adventists to neglect the OT? Is it
not true that most preaching is done from the NT? One can profess to believe that both Testaments
are equally important and yet treat the OT as if it were scarcely a part of the Bible! Some
of us preach only from certain parts of the OT, such as the book of Daniel and other prophecies
or special sections. Sometimes the God of the OT is represented as a God of vindictive justice
and wrath, in sharp contrast to the loving and merciful Father revealed in Jesus Christ. Under
such treatment the OT is depicted in antithesis to the NT and may be reduced to a position of
There may be an incipient tendency to underrate the importance of the OT. In the training of
the Adventist ministry today it fortunately receives the same hours of attention as the NT. But this
is not true in many other denominations. Of course, the OT has 39 books to be covered, many of
which are much longer than the 27 books of the NT. Therefore, on a quantitative basis, the NT
actually receives considerably more attention!
Where the NT is concerned, Greek is insisted upon in the curriculum in order that the NT may
be read in the original language. Certainly this is a must for every minister in the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. With regard to the OT, however, there is a problem. Although it is agreed that
some knowledge of Hebrew is necessary, it is felt that in view of all the other legitimate claims on
the student’s time, an adequate number of hours cannot be allotted to the study of Hebrew. It is
widely agreed that to expect the average student to master Hebrew and then be able to proceed
to the exegetical study of the OT would require an expenditure of time and energy that can hardly
be justified. While this is not the place to engage in special pleading with regard to the value of
Hebrew or for an equitable amount of time for the study of the OT, are we virtually saying that
although a thorough knowledge of the NT is essential, a comparably thorough knowledge of the
OT is not? Is not Marcion raising his head in our own ranks? In our own practice does not the OT
then stand on a level of lesser importance?
We have indicated that the OT was authoritative Scripture for Jesus Himself. Jesus knew no
Scripture save the OT and no God save its God, whom He addressed as Father. Never once did
He suggest that in the light of His work the OT could be discarded or put on a level of inferior
importance. On the contrary, He regarded the Scriptures as the key to the understanding of His
person, emphasizing again and again that He is represented in the Scriptures, that they witness
to Him and are fulfilled in Him. The very fact that the OT was normative Scripture to Jesus means
that it must also be normative Scripture for us—unless one wishes to understand Jesus in some
other way than He understood Himself or than the NT writers understood Him.
B. Superiority of the Old Testament
In direct contrast to the positions just described is that held by the Dutch dogmatist A. A. van
Ruler.27 He belongs to those scholars who have tried to ward off the danger of neglecting and
disparaging the OT by making it all-important, theologically as well as historically. Van Ruler’s
fundamental tenet is that the OT is the Bible of the early Christian church and he attempts to give
new support to the priority of the OT by demonstrating from its content its indispensability and
superiority for Christian thought and for the teaching of the church. Van Ruler explains that “the
Old Testament is and remains the true Bible.”28 This means that the OT has a broader and more
elaborated theology than the NT. In other words, the NT is in fact much more limited in its scope.
It only developed and elaborated one aspect of the theology of the Old Testament, namely its
soteriology. According to Van Ruler the NT is but “its [OT’s] explanatory glossary
[Worterverzeichnis].”29 This is not a sufficient basis, according to Van Ruler, for Christian theology
to build on. If Christian theology is to give spiritual guidance to the modern world both the
theocracy and creation theology of the OT are indispensable.
Van Ruler reduces the relationship between the OT and NT to the single spiritual denominator
of the kingdom of God,30 reading the NT very one-sidedly without recognizing the distinction
between theocracy and eschatology.31
In view of the great emphasis on the OT by Van Ruler, it is appropriate to attempt to discover
the heart of his argument. He addresses himself to the following question: Does the OT itself
already see Christ? In dealing with this question Van Ruler is essentially critical in approach.
Prominence is given to that which apparently separates or divides the Testaments. One of the
main points is that in the OT the Messiah is a man; in the New, God Himself; hence the deity of
Christ cannot be derived from the former.32 One of his key notions is summed up in the following
statement: “If I may put it briefly and sharply, Jesus Christ is an emergency measure that God
postponed as long as possible (cf. Matt. 21:33-46). Hence we must not try to find him fully in the
Old Testament, even though as Christian theologians we investigate the Old Testament in orientation
J. J. Stamm has pointed out that Van Ruler inaccurately and inappropriately relates the facts
from the OT for the sake of contrast.34 It is true that Van Ruler stresses the nature of the Israelite
king at the expense of the authoritative position of his office. If one takes the authoritative nature
of the office into consideration, as Stamm does, “then one can certainly only say that in the OT
and NT the Messiah is divine, there, per adoptionem, here, ex origine.”35 We must repudiate the
negative emphasis that Van Ruler gives to the NT to such a degree that he can call Jesus merely
“an emergency measure of God,” Such a negative stance is not supported by either Testament.
Another systematic theologian who has the tendency to make the OT all-important is K. H.
Miskotte.36 He contrasts the OT with the NT by such schemata as law/gospel, shadow/reality,
and promise/fulfillment and maintains that the OT contains a “surplus” as compared with the NT.
Its “surplus” comes to expression in four points on which the NT is practically silent: skepticism,
revolt, erotics, and politics. Although OT piety and ethics contain elements of the joy of living, of
appreciation of earthly goods that seem most attractive to modern man, Christian ethics that
would simply set up the various aspects of marriage customs of the OT as the standard to which
the modern world or the church would have to conform, without first confronting both with the
cross of Christ, would fail signally in its duty. We can agree with the assessment of Th. C. Vriezen
that “the Cross is not merely an element of the Biblical message, but a source of light in the
centre which casts its grace over all the other elements.”37
The claim of the superiority of the OT is just as dangerous as the claim of the superiority of the
NT. The canonicity of Scripture makes the whole Bible one book. The Christian church has in
general refused to follow the method of making one part of the canon, either the OT or the NT,
superior to the other. This stance toward the problem of the relationship between the Testaments
is one that needs to be maintained.
The Reformed Biblical scholar W. Vischer stands out among Biblical theologians for his adoption
of a thoroughgoing Christological approach to the OT.38 He claims that the Bible, including
the OT, must be interpreted in the light of its true intention, its true theme. That true theme is
Christ: “The Bible is the Holy Scripture only insofar as it speaks of Christ Jesus.”39 Christ is made
the theme of the whole Bible. Vischer, therefore, reads the OT for its witness to Christ. He finds
that it testifies everywhere of Christ—not in the sense, to be sure, that He is directly to be found
in the NT, but in the sense that in all its parts it points to Him and His crucifixion. He explains that
the OT tells us what Christ is, and the NT who He is.40 If we do not understand what the Christ of
the OT is, we shall never recognize and confess Jesus as the Christ.41
On the basis of these principles Vischer provides interpretations of the OT that are fully
Christological. He claims that, as a whole, it not only points to Christ and testifies of Christ, but in
each detail the Christian eye may see some witness to Him. “We do not understand a single word
in the whole Bible if we do not find Jesus Christ in this world.”42 Some examples may illustrate
what Vischer means. The command, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), speaks to us about the “glory
of God in the face of Christ.”43 The mark of Cain (Gen. 4:15) points to the cross, and is renewed
in the sign of the cross.44 Enoch is a sign and a witness of the resurrection.45 The prophecy that
Japheth would “dwell in the tents of Shem” pictures the church, which includes both Gentiles and
Jews.46 Speaking of the midnight Presence with whom Jacob wrestled at the Jabbok (Genesis
32), Vischer asks who this Person was and answers that it was Jesus Christ.47 The Christological
meaning of all of these is not entirely clear.
It is not surprising that many have found this Christological interpretation of the OT disturbing.
Vischer has therefore been the target of a great deal of criticism, even unjust and scornful criticism.
He feels that purely historical exegesis of the OT is not enough, for that would leave it a
document of an ancient religion with little apparent relevance for the Christian. It should be pointed
out that Vischer does not completely disregard grammatical-historical principles of exegesis.
Vischer is known as an extremely competent scholar who insists upon a historical and philological
approach to the Bible.48
There is much in Vischer’s approach that is of great value and should not be rejected out of
hand. At the same time Vischer gives the impression that he has overlooked some vital considerations
in his approach. He writes, “The life story of all these men [of the OT] is part of His
[Jesus’] life story. Therefore, they are written with so little biographical interest for the individual
persons. What is written about them is actually written as a part of the biography of the One
through whom and toward whom they live.”49 We must ask whether Vischer would feel in a
position to reconstruct a biography of Jesus from the OT. If this were the intention of the OT, it is
difficult to perceive why the OT speaks in the first place about Abraham, Moses, et cetera. Why
does it not speak right away about Jesus? Would it speak of Him only in such mysterious form?
Vischer not only reads the OT from the perspective of a thoroughgoing Christology but he even
goes beyond what the inspired NT writers affirm. Furthermore, there is a current of life flowing
from the OT to the NT, not just one flowing from the NT to the OT. Nevertheless, we can agree
with John Bright that “Vischer certainly deserves thanks for being among the first to remind us
that we cannot rest content with a purely historical understanding of the OT but must press on to
see it in its Christian significance.”50 At the same time we must guard ourselves against falling
into the trap of allegory. The OT is Christological but not filled with Christological allegory.51
II. Patterns of Unity and Continuity
A. Unity in Diversity
The NT clearly recognizes that there is unity in diversity. The unity that joins both Testaments
and the diversity found in both are strongly stated in the opening section of the letter to the
Hebrews: “In many and various ways God spoke of the old to our fathers by the prophets; but in
these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things through
whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1, 2, RSV). Unity and continuity are manifested because
both Testaments are the work of the triune God. Formerly God spoke to the fathers and to
the prophets; now He has spoken through His Son. It is the same Father who has spoken through
the prophets and through His Son, i.e., it is the same God who has communicated His thoughts
and His will to man in both Testaments. In this sense the revelation of the NT is a continuation,
fulfillment, and completion of the prior revelation given in the OT.
All students of the Bible recognize that in the Biblical revelation of both Testaments there is
diversity. God spoke in past times to different individuals in successive stages. The different
writers who wrote historical books in many instances go over the same history from different
perspectives (see Selected Messages, book 1, 21, 22). The inspired thoughts (ibid., 21) were
given to minds of different education and background. Each inspired writer expressed these
divine thoughts in human language. Since “the Scriptures were given to men, not in a continuous
chain of unbroken utterances, but piece by piece through successive generations, as God in His
providence saw a fitting opportunity to impress man at sundry times and divers places” (ibid., 19,
20), there is a diversity to be expected as different aspects of truth are unfolded.
We rightly recognize the individuality of the various inspired writers and their contributions to
the total revelation in both Testaments. But this individuality should not close our eyes to the
overall unity. There is unity in diversity. Ellen G. White has spoken of unity in diversity, and emphasizes
that “this diversity broadens and deepens the knowledge that is brought out to meet the
necessities of varied minds” (ibid., 22).
F. C. Grant has written with regard to the NT that the “Pauline statement of the doctrine of
unity in diversity (1 Cor. 12:4-6) ought to be inscribed as a motto over all our study of the NT”52
and, we may add, over the study of the whole Bible. Another NT scholar, C. H. Dodd, has written
that “the unity of the New Testament is original, underlying the diversity of the individual writings.”
53 The OT critic H. H. Rowley also emphasizes unity in diversity: “The diversity of the Bible
must be recognized fully and clearly, even though we see a more profoundly significant unity
running through it all.”54 Diversity does not rule out unity. Unity exists in diversity.
B. Reciprocity Between the Testaments
At the beginning of our discussion we raised the question of whether we ought to read solely
from the OT to the NT or from the NT back to the OT, or reciprocally from the OT to the NT and
from the NT to the OT. A number of well-known theologians have addressed themselves to this
question. One example is the late H. H. Rowley, who reminds us that “the Old Testament continually
looks forward to something beyond itself; the New Testament continually looks back to the
Old.”55 Two of the most famous Old Testament theologians of this century have maintained that
both Testaments shed light upon each other in their mutual relations. W. Eichrodt declares, “In
addition to this historical movement from the Old Testament to the New there is a current of life
flowing in reverse direction from the New Testament to the Old. This reverse relationship also
elucidates the full significance of the realm of Old Testament thought.”56 In similar vein G. von Rad
emphasizes that the larger context of the OT is the NT and vice versa,57 while H. W. Wolff
suggests that “the total meaning of the Old Testament” is “revealed in the New Testament.”58
Statements of this kind could be multiplied many times but we shall quote only one more:
“There is a fundamental unity, so that with all their diversity they [the Testaments] belong so
intimately together that the New Testament cannot be understood without the Old, and neither
can the Old Testament be fully understood without the New.”59 It is clear that the emphasis of
these theologians is placed upon the internal keys that unlock both Testaments. The OT presents
a torsolike appearance without the NT and the NT has no foundation without the OT.
It seems in order, now, to investigate Ellen G. White’s position on the relationship between
the Testaments. It may be surprising to some that essentially the same idea is found in Ellen G.
White as in the statements just quoted. In her view “the doors of the New Testament are unlocked
with the key of the Old Testament: (Evangelism, 579). This statement must not be construed
to mean that there is only a one-way movement from the OT to the NT because she
clearly states the value of the NT for the OT, affirming that “the New Testament explains the Old”
(The Acts of the Apostles, 381; cf. Evangelism, 578). Thus Ellen G. White belongs with those
who maintain the reciprocal relationship of the Testaments: “The Old Testament sheds light upon
the New, and the New upon the Old. . . . Both Old and New present truths that will continually
reveal new depths of meaning” (Counsels to Parents and Teachers, 462-63.)
Both Testaments are seen to form an inseparable unity. “The Old and the New Testament are
inseparable, for both are the teachings of Christ” (The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White
Comments, on Matt. 13:52, p. 1094. They are an inseparable whole, each shedding light upon
the other. “But the minister of the gospel, who follows the teachings of Christ, will gain a thorough
knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments, that he may present them in their true light to
the people an inseparable whole—the one depending upon and illuminating the other” (The
Spirit of Prophecy, 2:255). Reciprocal dependence and illumination make it possible to gain a
thorough understanding of both Testaments, each of which is the gospel. “The Old Testament is
as verily the gospel in types and shadows as the New Testament is in its unfolding power. . . .
The Old Testament does not represent a religion to be superseded by the New. The New Testament
is only the advancement and unfolding of the Old” (That I May Know Him, 208).
Only where this reciprocal relationship between the Testaments is recognized and maintained,
where the OT and the NT are seen as an inseparable whole, where the OT is not relegated
to an inferior position of a dispensable antecedent to the NT, where the latter unlocks the
doors of the former and the former of the latter, both forming a historical and theological unity of
equal importance and standing—only here can all the depths of meaning contained in the whole
Bible be conceived and grasped. With all the recognized diversity within each Testament and
between the Testaments, there is nevertheless parity and equality between them. Each is essential
for the understanding of the other; both provide the totality of the gospel of the whole Bible.
C. Patterns of Unity
There are legitimate lines of connection between the Testaments that may be divided into two
major categories: (1) historical connections; and (2) theological connections. Among the latter
are (a) scriptural references, (b) themes, (c) vocabulary, (d) typology, (e) promise/prediction-fulfillment,
and (f) unity of perspective. Space necessitates a limited treatment here of each, and
this precludes a full development of all aspects of these various lines of connection and patterns
1. Historical Connections Between the Testaments
Among more prominent attempts to come to grips with the question of the unity between both
Testaments is the historical nature of the essential story of the Bible. The common mark of both
OT and NT is the continuous history of God’s people. The OT is viewed as the historical preparation
of the NT. History is prominent in the Bible. The primary interest in the Bible is God’s action
in behalf of the redemption of His people and the nations. Thus the unity between the Testaments
results from the fact that the Bible is concerned “throughout with God and with His dealings
with mankind”60 by one and the same triune God who is present and active in the history of
ancient Israel, in Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit-led life and witness of the NT church.
For ancient Israel her history is her encounter with her God. “The very idea that history is a
process with beginning, middle, and end is original with Israel.”61 It is the purpose and will of God
that unifies the historical process. The historical career of Israel is directed by the will of the triune
God to fulfill His designs. These designs are ever more clearly unfolded during OT and NT times.
Spiritual Israel stands in direct line of continuity with literal Israel in that the former is connected
with the latter and shares in the same aims and goals.
2. Theological Connections Between the Testaments
a. Scriptural References. One of the theological connections between the OT and NT is
found in the quotations and references in the NT from OT passages. Various theologians refer to
this connection as scriptural proof.62 Recently it has been emphasized that “the idea of proof is of
importance because the quotations are placed in the context of an argument and referred to as
part of the promulgation of the Gospel.”63 The fact and number of these quotations can easily be
assessed by turning to the pages of Nestle-Aland’s Greek NT, which marks 257 passages as
being explicit citations.64
From the modern historical-critical point of view some of these quotations are not in accordance
with a seemingly obvious meaning of the OT texts. This has been raised as a serious
objection against seeing a legitimate line of connection between the Testaments in the NT references
to the OT. Certainly the NT quotations of and references to the OT call for careful investigation.
We cannot agree with the idea of attributing an arbitrary scriptural connection between
two passages just for the sake of obtaining material for illustrations.65 We also find ourselves in
disagreement with Bultmann who claims that the use of the OT can best be explained as a
projection of the convictions of the NT writers.66 The solution which claims that the NT’s use of
the OT can be explained in terms of accommodation to the technique and method of contemporary,
rabbinical methods of exegesis is helpful only to a limited degree.67 This point of view does
not distinguish between the aim and scope of the rabbinical and Qumran exegesis on the one
hand,68 and the unique perspective of the NT usage of the OT on the other hand. P. A. Verhoef
has recently pointed out that “over and against critical views we maintain that the New Testament
in citing the Old Testament nowhere presupposes a fundamental breach between the Testaments.”
69 This is in full correspondence with the acceptance of the canon of both Testaments in
the Christian church. It is true that the references to the OT were not developed in a systematic
matter, but this does not diminish the significance of an extensive procedure of quotation, as well
as references other than direct quotations.
b. Themes. It seems undeniable that the theological structure of the Testaments is essentially
the same. Bright has assessed the unity of basic theological themes of the OT and the NT
in the following way: “Each of the major themes of the Old has its correspondent in the New, and
is in some way résuméd and answered there.”70 By virtue of this fact a hermeneutical bridge is
built between the Testaments, which gives us access to each of the OT’s texts and defines for us
the procedure that we must follow in attempting to interpret them in their Christian significance.
It is a misunderstanding to consider the themes of the NT as if they had no origin and growth
in the OT from which the NT writers themselves took their point of departure. When Jesus spoke
of His Father, He meant the God known by all Jews, whose encounter with Israel is related in the
OT. He could speak to them of God as One who was revealed to them in their history. He expounded
for them the fullness of the revelation of God, but it was not necessary for them to
accept the Father of whom He spoke as a totally unfamiliar Being. The character of God, His
attributes, His providence, and His government of history could be recognized in the proclamation
The theme of divine grace runs throughout the whole Bible. When God preserved a family
from the Flood, it was an act of His grace. When God was willing to preserve a few when some
cities were destroyed, He did so because He is a God of grace. When God brings Israel out of
Egypt, the initiative is wholly His and the power is wholly His. When God sends prophets to turn
Israel back to Him, His grace is active again. It is a constant of the prophetic teaching that while
the initiative is ever with God in sending His prophets to recall Israel to the path of wisdom, that
initiative is frustrated until men freely respond in obedience and faith.
The theme of election is as old as the patriarchs (Gen. 12:1-3). The initiative in election is with
God. When God elected and chose Israel there was nothing in her to justify it (Deut. 7:7, 8). The
cause of election was to be solved, not in men, but in God. Just as God was faithful to His
election promises in the OT (Num. 23:19) so He is faithful to them in the NT (2 Tim. 2:13). The NT
presents the idea of election in a variety of ways. The complete theological development of the
idea of election is found in the letters of Paul (Rom. 8:28-11:36; Eph. 1:3-13; 1 Thess. 1:2-10;
2 Thess. 2:13, 14; 2 Tim. 1:9, 10).
The covenant theme which begins with the first promise (Gen. 3:15) and reappears with the
covenant made with Noah (chap. 9:1-17), Abraham (chaps. 12:1-4; 15; 17), Isaac and Jacob
(Ex. 6:4; Ps. 105:8-11; 1 Chron. 16:15-18) among the patriarchs finds its grand climax in the
covenant with Israel made on Sinai (Ex. 19:5; 23:32; 24:7, 8; 31:16; 34:10, 12, 15, 27, 28). God
makes a covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:11, 16, 25; 1 Kings 8:20, 24, 25; 2 Sam. 23:5; Ps. 89:4,
29, 35, 40; 132:11, 12) and his progeny (2 Chron. 13:5). The prophet Jeremiah speaks of a “new
covenant” (Jer. 31:31-34). The NT takes up and continues the OT covenant theology. It speaks
of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20; 12:24) and maintains the continuity of covenant history
(Gal. 3:15-22). Paul reflects on some of the special benefits ministered by the new covenant
(2 Cor. 3:16-18). The covenant theme unites both Testaments, because in them God’s gracious
covenants with men are always sovereign administrations of grace and promise that form the
crown and goal of redemptive accomplishments.
The idea of the remnant is found throughout the Bible. In the story of the Flood God graciously
saves a remnant (Genesis 6-9). Sometimes there is the thought of a righteous remnant,
whose righteousness causes the whole community to be spared (chap. 18:16ff.). Sometimes
there is the thought of the righteous remnant itself escaping from the destruction it is powerless
to avert (Isa. 4:3). Sometimes a remnant is spared not for its own righteousness, but because of
divine mercy in order that it may transmit to another generation the heritage it does not value for
itself (Amos 4:11). Though all Israel would not rise to the full glory of the remnant’s high calling
and fulfill the purpose of her vocation, it was perceived that the election might be narrowed to the
remnant, who alone should inherit the promises and who alone should bring true loyalty to the
tasks of the election. At times the remnant is thought of as itself loyal, spared because it is the
true heir of the covenant (1 Kings 19:18).71 In the NT the idea of the remnant plays an important
role in Paul’s discussion of the course of God’s salvation (Romans 9-11). The book of Revelation
knows of the remnant as the last community of believers before Christ establishes His kingdom
when He comes in glory.
Virtually all major themes of the OT are taken up in the NT and further developed. “Throughout
the period covered by the Old Testament a thread of unity can be found, and much in the
thought of the Old Testament is continued in the New.”72
c. Vocabulary. Another line of connection between the Testaments is found in the vocabulary
or words of the Bible. Jesus and the apostles used familiar terms. To put it another way, the
theological language that Jesus and the apostles used was the language available to them and
to their listeners. The creation of such a theological language was not the work of a day. Without
a background of the OT and Israelite faith, the message of Jesus would have been almost
It is widely recognized that “almost every key theological word of the NT is derived from some
Hebrew word that had a long history of use and development in the OT.”73
Scholarship has given much attention to the study of the theological vocabulary of the NT and
its roots in the OT.74 Of course, this does not imply that these terms did not undergo any development
during their OT history and in the NT. When we speak of unity we do not mean uniformity
(Selected Messages, book 1, 22). There is scarcely any key theological word that is not common
to both Testaments, and there is likewise scarcely any key theme that is not common to both
Testaments. While we are aware that “different meanings are expressed by the same word; [and
that] there is not one word for each distinct idea” (ibid., 20), we must at the same time discern
God’s will and purpose in the words of the inspired writers of Scripture. In doing so we will surely
be able to comprehend the connecting line between “Greek words and their Hebrew meanings,”
75 i.e., between OT and NT.
d. Typology. Another way of coming to grips with the unity between the Testaments is to
study persons, institutions, and events of the OT with their typological counterparts in the NT.76 It
is not possible to touch on all the questions raised in connection with the subject of typology.
There is no questioning the fact that the typological approach to relating the two Testaments
to each other has been misused. The typological method should not be arbitrarily applied or
overrated77 as the only method of relating the Testaments to each other.78 At the same time we
do not agree with the concept that there is a history of tradition present in the OT, with its analogies
and prefigurations, for which new interpretations are to be substituted. In other words it is an
essential presupposition for the typological approach that the historical character of the Biblical
revelation be recognized.79
It is hardly possible to deny the relevance of the typological approach within the scheme of
salvation history as a legitimate link between the Testaments. As a matter of fact the term “type”
is derived from the Greek word tupos, which occurs fourteen times in the NT.80 In order to discover
the theological idea underlying this term, which is variously translated into English, we
need to consider its meaning in Romans 5:14. Here Adam is called “a type of the one who was to
come” (RSV). Paul stresses the likeness or correspondence in the relationship between Christ
and His followers (Rom. 3:21—5:11) and between Christ and Adam (chap. 5:12-18). The correspondence
between Adam and Christ is that both are totally representative, the one of all humanity
and the other of all believers. According to this passage the “type” can be defined only in
terms of an essential correspondence between two historical persons (institutions and events)
within the broad outline of the history of revelation, in such a way that the “lesser” one points
forward to the “greater” one who is to come. Thus type and antitype are on two different levels of
time, and only when the antitype appears does the typical sense become apparent. The type is
always an imperfect portrayal of the antitype.
The full extent of the typological meaning of the OT can only be appreciated when it is viewed
in the light of the samples given in the NT. This safeguard will defuse most of the objections
brought against typological relationships between the Testaments. Without such a guide there is
the tendency for human ingenuity to run riot in detecting types. For instance, the Fathers of the
church went beyond the identity of Melchizedek as a type of Christ (as identified clearly in Heb.
7:1-3), and identified Melchizedek’s presentation of bread and wine in Genesis 14:18 as a type of
the eucharistic sacrifice.
In the OT one finds a form of typology that portrays a relationship between beginning and
end. Isaiah speaks of the eschatological return to Paradise (Isa. 11:6-8; 65:17-25). Hosea looks
back to the congregation of Israel in the wilderness and sees in it the type of restored Israel
(Hosea 2:16, 17). In the NT, stephen pointed to Moses as the type of Jesus Christ, the “Redeemer”
(Acts 7:20-40). In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul develops a typology built upon the Exodus.
All the history of Israel in the Exodus is a type (verse 11). Paul declares that God, the Master
of history and the One who inspired the Biblical writers, has willed that the history of the OT
should serve for the instruction, admonition, and profit of spiritual Israel, the new people of God
who would live in the last days, which precede the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to
complete His work. Paul brings out the deeper meaning behind OT history.
The Paschal lamb is a type of Christ (John 19:36). The bronze serpent raised on the pole in
the wilderness is a type of the crucified Christ (chap. 3:14). The Exodus is a type of baptism
(1 Cor. 10:2). Jonah’s stay in the belly of the fish is a type of Jesus’ stay in the grave (Matt.
12:14). The earthly tabernacle built by Moses in the wilderness is a type of the heavenly one
(Acts 7:44). On the basis of a study of OT citations and allusions in the Gospel of Matthew,
Gundry sees Jesus as the greater Moses, the greater Son of David, the representative Prophet,
the representative Israelite, and the representative righteous Sufferer rejected by men.81
It is certainly true that when the antitype appears, the typical sense becomes clearly apparent.
The antitype then brings out the fuller import and deeper meaning of what was contained in
the type. This means that the deeper meaning expressed in typology is found on the basis of the
larger context of inspired Scripture. One seems to go astray in the assumption that the typological
connection is purely a later one. We have to allow for the fact that God as the Author of
Scripture established it from the very outset, so that the text containing the type may be treated
as an indication for an earlier, divinely given prefiguration of that which is later identified as the
antitype. The different aspects of the “types” must enter so plainly into the scheme of salvation
history that their prefigurative meaning is clear beyond doubt. Within the scope of these considerations,
we shall have to consider the typological approach as a legitimate link that connects the
OT with the NT.
e. Promise/Prediction and Fulfillment. A most significant pattern of relating the OT to the NT
is found in terms of the formula—promise/prediction and fulfillment. The pattern of promise/
prediction and fulfillment, which throws much light on the relationship between the Testaments
and helps to express their unity, has again been greatly emphasized within recent years.82 This
pattern is used not only in the relationship between the Testaments but also within the OT itself,
as we shall briefly note.
Anyone who studies the OT finds that throughout there is a colorful and purposive movement.
83 “Throughout the Old Testament there is a forward look.”84 This forward moving thrust,
which reaches its goal under all the circumstances in history by virtue of the fact that the Lord’s
Word is not “vain” (Deut. 32:47), is the very essence of OT truth. The theme of promise/prediction
and fulfillment is explicitly visible from the promise given to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-4) and the
fulfillment in the birth and preservation of Isaac, the guidance of Jacob, the preservation of Joseph
and his brothers (chap. 45:5), and finally the birth of Jesus Christ, through whom all nations
find a blessing.
It is indeed true that “when we survey the entire Old Testament, we find ourselves involved in
a great history of movement from promise toward fulfillment.”85 In the OT there is a definite
correspondence between God’s word and His action that follows the pattern of promise/prediction
and fulfillment. The history of the people of Israel according to the book of Exodus is an act
in terms of the fulfillment of a promise (Ex. 3:7, 8). On the basis of the strength of the word that
promises deliverance the people set out from Egypt and are delivered from mortal danger by
their God. He fulfills what He promised them. The believing community responds to the fulfillment
of the promises and predictions in a unique public confession (chap. 15:1-21; Joshua 21:43-
There are a great number of prophetic predictions noted in various parts of the OT, the fulfillments
of which were exactly noted in historical events as recorded in 1 and 2 Kings.86 Aside from
this all-prevailing correspondence between the divine word of prediction spoken by the prophets
and the historical events of their fulfillment, there are many other instances in the OT in which the
pattern of promise/prediction and fulfillment is found. In Isaiah 7:7 the prediction is made that the
two enemy kings from the north “shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” This threat to
Jerusalem by the Syro-Ephraimitic league was crushed as had been predicted. The prediction by
Jeremiah that the Lord would place an iron yoke on the neck of Israel (Jer. 28:14) was fulfilled
just as the predicted death of Hananiah came about (verses 15-17). It is thus obvious that the OT
history moves between promise/prediction and fulfillment. “The story of Israel’s origins from the
call of Abraham, through the exodus deliverance, to the entry into the land of Canaan, is cast in
a framework of promises and fulfillment. Israel’s history of the Promised Land—her exile from it
and her ultimate return to it—is understood as a history guided by God’s sovereign will, subject to
the stipulations of His covenant, and interpreted through His prophetic word of signs and warning,
judgment and promise.”87 The OT then does indeed tell of a salvation history (Heilsgeschichte)
that moves toward a predicated fulfillment.
But there is something lacking in that salvation history. It is an unfinished history of salvation.
Down to the end of OT times, hope still lay over the horizon. On its last pages Israel still is in a
posture of expectation and hope, which is looking for its complete fulfillment. The OT announces
a long history of promise, of hope, and also of disappointment, until the “fulness of time” would
come and the One predicted would appear. In this sense the OT has a torsolike character; it is an
unfinished story that receives its further fulfillment in the NT. There is the promise of a leader who
will be servant of God’s people (Isa. 52:13; 53:12; Eze. 37:24-28), of a new covenant to be
written on men’s hearts (Jer. 31:31-34), and the gift of God’s Spirit to give the power of new life to
His people (Joel 2:28-32).
The NT picks up the note of the coming fulfillment of God’s promises and presents in its
gospel message the fulfillment of what has been promised in the OT. NT writers repeat the
refrain that Scriptures were fulfilled.88
The many citations of and allusions to the OT in NT writings are in accord with the comprehensiveness
of the “promise.” While this is attested in the OT itself (Joshua 21:45; 23:14; Ps.
105:9-11; et cetera), the scope of the promise is especially evident in the light of the NT. It finds
there its most complete exposition. The promise links up with the history of Abraham and his
descendants (Acts 7:17; Rom. 4:13), rests on grace (Rom. 4:16), is a special and essential
aspect of Israel’s spiritual inheritance (chap. 9:4, 5). It includes all believers, even those from the
Gentiles (chap. 15:9), and has a perspective on new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13),
and on eternal life (1 John 2:25). The OT promises to Israel (which was graciously elected by
God) are fulfilled in spiritual Israel (Rom. 9:6-13). “All the promises of God,” including the Messianic
prophecies and predictions, “find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20, RSV). We must rightly maintain
that there are many forms of expectation and promise in the OT that move on to their realization
in the NT and beyond.89 Thus we see that the comprehensiveness of the promise has its
corollary in the comprehensiveness of the fulfillment.
The Greek words plroun (used 86 times), telein (used 28 times), teleioun (used 23 times),
and plethein (used 24 times) in the NT, designating fulfillment and fulfilling have a significant
meaning.90 Through the fulfillment of the OT promises and predictions in the NT, the OT attains
its purpose and reveals its total function. In the reality of fulfillment the NT becomes an integral
part of the totality of Scripture, even when the fulfillment still points toward the final consummation,
the coming Pleroma of God.
Some have rejected the pattern of promise and fulfillment as not doing justice to either of the
two Testaments.91 The feeling is at times expressed that the pattern of promise and fulfillment is
inadequate and unsatisfactory. It should be pointed out that with respect to the fulfillment there is
a misapprehension that virtually results in the abandonment of the OT altogether. According to
this position, the promise becomes obsolete in the fulfillment. It has been observed that “this is
obviously incorrect, because it is a misrepresentation of the category of fulfillment in the New
Testament.”92 When we speak of fulfillment we must keep in mind that there are already aspects
of fulfillment in the OT93 itself as shown above. Furthermore, we agree with Th. C. Vriezen who
writes, “Fulfillment does not mean here a replacement of the Old Testament message by something
else; it does not mean that the law is made superfluous by the gospel and the promise by
reality, but it means that the law and the prophets are given a new meaning by Jesus.”94 Though
it is to be maintained that all the realities of fulfillment are focused in one way or another on Jesus
Christ, i.e., He is the hinge of all fulfillments in the Bible, there are nevertheless aspects of
fulfillment that are taken up in the NT and point forward to a complete fulfillment in the return of
Jesus Christ. The NT has promises and a hope of things yet to come.
Some would like to restrict the term “promise” in decisive ways. It is limited by F. Baumgärtel
and F. Hesse to the “basic-promise” [Grundverheissung], which was expressed in the well-known
dictum: “I am the Lord, your God.” Both of these scholars distinguish between “promise” and
“prediction.” It is maintained that only this “basic-promise” is in reality “an abstraction from the
concrete historicity of the Old Testament. The idea that we are permitted to do this must be
rejected on the basis of the Old Testament from the perspective gained in Christ, then he only
accepts the creed of the church of Christ; he accepts the place wherein he hears the Old Testament.”
95 The question must be asked of Baumgärtel and Hesse whether one can indeed abstractly
crystalize a single promise out of the many promises. It has also been rightly objected
that the concept of “prediction,” which is elaborated in contradistinction to “promise,” misses the
point of prophecy.96 Indeed, the distinction between “prediction” and “promise” does not seem to
aid in the discussion.97 We feel that this is an arbitrary distinction that cannot be maintained on
the basis of the Biblical witness. It is also an unacceptable reductionism of the OT message.98
The idea of promise is restricted by other scholars in a different way. Some attempt to limit
this term to messianic prophecies.99 In some instances it is even limited to some explicit messianic
prophecies, the number of which is still more restricted by scholars.100 It has also been
objected that the pattern of promise and fulfillment leads to “a rigorous search for Christ in the
Old Testament.”101 Over against these restrictive approaches one must recognize that the NT
writers refer to the concept of promise and fulfillment in terms of the whole OT in the broad scope
of the history of redemption. The NT then does not limit the pattern of promise and fulfillment to
some explicit messianic prophecies. Indeed, the relationship in the context of promise and fulfillment
is extensive and comprehensive.102
The importance of the pattern of promise/prediction and fulfillment can hardly be overstressed,
especially when viewed in light of the comprehensiveness as it is, still needs to be supplemented
by other aspects indicating the unity between the Testaments.
f. Unity of Perspective. Many eminent scholars agree that there is a common eschatological
perspective that unites the Testaments. Th. C. Vriezen puts it this way: “The true heart of both
Old Testament and New Testament is, therefore, the eschatological perspective.”103 H. H. Rowley
adds: “The full consummation of the hopes of the Old Testament lies still in the distant future. . . .
Nor does the New Testament fail to perceive this. . . . It still placed the final glory in the future.”104
Just as the believer in the OT stood under an arc of tension between promise and fulfillment, so
the believer in Christ “comes to stand in a new way under an arc of tension between promise and
fulfillment.”105 All supplication for fulfillment in the congregation of the new covenant merges in
the single plea, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20; 1 Cor. 16:22). Thus, within the arc of promise
and fulfillment, God’s redemptive purpose, His salvation history, unfolds itself from the OT to the
NT and beyond to the end of time when the Lord of lords and King of kings comes in the clouds
of heaven to take His own home.
The OT does relate a history of salvation. But in many respects it is an unusual one, since it
is a truncated history of salvation. The expected Messiah did not come during OT times. In this
sense the OT is a book that is incomplete, pointing beyond itself and ending in a posture of
waiting. Down to its very last page it speaks of a fulfillment of the promise in the future tense. The
God who acted in Creation, in Exodus, and conquest, guiding His people, will act again one day.
The completion of this incomplete history of salvation is a primary concern of the NT. The turning
point of all history is the first advent of Jesus Christ. The God who acted in Israel’s history by this
event acted decisively in human history. This is the center of the NT’s message. It completes the
OT’s incompleteness and yet moves beyond, to the final eschaton.
From the OT to the NT and beyond we have one continuous movement in the direction of the
final eschaton, the coming of the day of the Lord. Indeed the entire history of revelation is one
pilgrimage, looking forward to the city “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). On this
pilgrimage there are many stops with many initial fulfillments but each of them a point of departure
until all promises will be fulfilled at the end of time. It has been pointed out rightly that NT
eschatology, the predictions concerning the last days in the Synoptic Gospels and the other
writings of the NT, continue the expectation of the OT.106
The unity between the Testaments is also a unity of their common perspective, plan, and
purpose for men, angels, and God’s whole universe.107 The OT tells the history of Israel in terms
of salvation history and prepares for and leads up to the coming of Jesus as the Christ of Israel
and the Saviour of all men. It is certainly to be admitted that not everything in the OT can be
subsumed under the rubric of salvation history,108 because it was a history that both led on to
Christ and also to His rejection. For the sake of clarification it needs to be pointed out that in the
Bible we have not only the revelation of God but also the reaction of men. We must recognize
that the reaction of men is not normative and does not figure in the whole scheme of the relationship
between the Testaments. The history of the reaction of Israel and Judaism that led to the
rejection of Christ could not have been a part of the history of salvation.109 Despite man’s repeated
frustrations of God’s plan and purpose, God still saw to it that His plan and purpose was
realized in Jesus Christ and is seeing to it that the outstanding promises will yet be realized
through Him in the future. The whole Bible then drives forward to the consummation of all things
in heaven and on earth. “This is the pervasive theme of both Old and New Testaments.”110 The
work of Christ is continued in the work of the Holy Spirit and will find its completion at the Second
The relationship between the OT and the NT is varied and complex. It is not possible to define
it by a single definition. Many patterns and lines of connection are to be recognized and delineated
in an attempt to do justice to the great variety of relationships between the Testaments
which explicate, in turn, inner unity between them. The grand theme of the whole Bible is the
activity of the triune God who has acted, is acting, and will continue to act in behalf of man’s
salvation, and who will bring the whole history of the world to a cataclysmic end through Jesus
Christ’s glorious appearance for which all men must prepare themselves. The challenge of this
Biblical message is uniquely the mission of God’s remnant church.
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
JBR Journal of Bible and Religion
JSJ Journal for the Study of Judaism
EvTh Evangelische Theologie
TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
NTS New Testament Studies
TPQ Theologisch-Praktische Quartalschrift
ATANT Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments (zünich)
TLZ Theologische Literaturzeitung
RThPh Revue de Thèol. et de phil.
ZTK Zeitsch, für Theol. und Kirche
1. The following studies are representative of the subject under discussion and provide additional bibliography:
A. M. Hunter, The Unity of the New Testament (1943); H. H. Rowley, The Unity of the Bible (2nd ed., 1968); E. F.
Scott, The Varieties of New Testament Religion (1947); C. H. Dodd, The Present Task in New Testament Studies
(1936) Dodd, The Old Testament in the New (1952); M. E. Lymann, “The Unity of the Bible,” JBR 14 (1946): 5ff.;
J. Coppens, Vom christlichen Verstandnis des Alten Testaments (1952); F. Baumgärtel, Verheissung (1952); R. C.
Dentan, “The Unity of the Old Testament,” Interpretation 5 (1951): 153ff.; P. E. Davies, “Unity and Variety in the New
Testament,” Interpretation 5 (1951): 174ff.; F. V. Filson, “The Unity of the Old and the New Testaments,” Interpretation
5 (1951): 134ff.; G. E. Wright, “The Unity of the Bible,” Interpretation 5 (1951): 131ff.; S. Amsler, L’AT dans, l’église
(1960); P. Grelot, Sens chretien de l’AT (1962); R. E. Murphy, “The Relationship Between the Testaments,” CBQ 26
(1964): 349ff.; Murphy, “Christian Understanding of the Old Testament,” Theology Digest 18 (1970): 321ff.;
K. Schwarzwaller, Das AT in Christus (1966); P. Benoit and R. E. Murphy, eds., How Does the Christian Confront the
Old Testament? (1967); N. Lofink, The Christian Meaning of the Old Testament (1968); B. W. Anderson, ed., The Old
Testament and Christian Faith (1963), hereinafter cited as OFCF; C. Westermann, ed., Essays on Old Testament
Hermeneutics (1963), hereinafter cited as EOTH; Westermann, The Old Testament and Jesus Christ (1970); F. F.
Bruce, The NT Development of OT Themes (1969); A. van Ruler, The Christian Church and the Old Testament
(1971); G. F. Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate (1972), 65-80; John W. Wenham,
Christ and the Bible (1972).
2. The following essays in recent periodical literature indicate the variety of attempts to deal with the relationship
between the Testaments: N.W. Porteous, “A Question of Perspectives,” ATANT 59 (1970): 117-31; A. H. van Zyl,
“The Relation Between Old and New Testament,” Hermeneutica (1970), 9-22; F.R. McCurley, Jr., “The Christian and
the OT Promise,” Lutheran Quarterly 24 (1970): 401-10; J. Barr. “Themes From the OT for the Elucidation of the New
Creation,” Encounter 31 (1970), 25-30; U. Mauser, “Image of God and Incarnation,” Interpretation 24 (1970): 336-56;
B. Noack, “Die Relevanz der alttestamentlichen Verheissung fur Glauben and Verkundigung des Urchristentums,”
Hoffnung ohne Illusion, ed. by H. Zeddies (Berlin, 1970), 75-87; F. C. Fensham, “The Covenant as Giving Expression
to the Relationship Between Old and New Testament,” Tyndale Bulletin 22 (1971): 82-94; S. Siedl, “Das Alte and das
Neue Testament. Ihre Verschiedenheit und Einheit,” TPQ 119 (1971): 314-24; M. P. Miller, “Targum, Midrash, and the
Use of the OT in the NT,” JSJ 2 (1971): 29-82; H. Schmid, “Die christlich-judische Auseinandersetzung um das AT in
hermeneutischer Sicht,” Schriften zur Judentumskunde 1 (1971): 5-55.
3. E. Ebeling, “The Meaning of ‘Biblical Theology,’” Word and Faith (Philadelphia, 1963), 79.
4. The definitive treatment on Marcion is that of A. von Harnack, Marcion das Evangelium vom fremden Gott (2nd
ed.; 1924); J. Knox, Marcion and the New Testament (1942); E. C. Blackman, Marcion and His Influence (1948).
5. A. von Harnack, Marcion, 221-22. So comes the “voice of Marcion in modern speech,” says J. Bright, The
Authority of the Old Testament (1967), 65.
6. F. Delitzsch, Die grosse Tauschung (1920-1921), 2 vols.
7. E. Hirsch, Das Alte Testament und die Predigt des Evengeluims (1936).
8. Ibid., 27, 29, 83.
9. See John Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 69-72; E. Voegelin, “History and Gnosis,” OTCF, 64-89,
who calls Bultmann a gnostic thinker, C. Michalson, “Is the Old Testament the Propaedeudic to Christian Faith?”
OTCF, 64-89, warmly defends Bultmann against such a charge.
10. Bultmann, “Prophecy and Fulfillment,” EOTH, 73. Cf. J. Barr, “The Old Testament and the New Crisis of Biblical
Authority,” Interpretation 25 (1971): 30-32.
11. Bultmann, “The Significance of the Old Testament for the Christian Faith,” OFCF, 22-30.
12. Bultmann, OTCF, 14.
13. OTCF, 13. Cf. C. Westermann’s critique in “Remarks on the Theses of Bultmann and Baumgärtel,” EOTH, 124-
228 Wright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 69-72.
14. W. Pannenberg, “Redemptive Event and History,” EOTH, 325-26.
15. F. Baumgärtel, Verheissung, 92.
16. F. Baumgärtel, “The Hermeneutical Problem of the Old Testament,” EOTH, 139; Baumgärtel, Verheissung, 144-
48, where he specifically rejects Hirsch’s understanding of the Old Testament as the antithesis of the New.
17. Baumgärtel, EOTH, 151.
18. Ibid., 156.
19. Ibid., 135.
21. Ibid., 156.
22. Westermann, EOTH, 133.
23. G. von Rad, “Verheissung,” EvTh, 13 (1953), 410. Incisive criticisms against Baumgärtel’s position have been
advanced by A.H.J. Gunneweg, “Uber die Pradikabilität alttestamentlicher Texte,” ZTK 65 (1968), 398-400.
24. H. J. Kraus, “Der lebendige Gott,” EvTh 27 (1967), 169-200, reproaches these for not taking the Old Testament
25. F. Hesse, Das Altes Testament als Buch der Kirche (1966); Hesse, “The Evaluation and Authority of the Old
Testament Texts,” EOTH, 308-13. Cf. Hasel, Old Testament Theology, 69-70, and others.
26. See especially R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament (1971), and Wenham, Christ and the Bible, 11-81.
27. A. A. van Ruler, The Christian Church and the Old Testament (1970).
28. Ibid., 72.
29. Ibid., 74, n. 45.
30. Ibid., 75-98.
31. See the critique of Van Ruler’s position on this point by Th. C. Vriezen, “Theocracy and Soteriology,” EOTH, 221-
32. Ibid., 51, 52.
33. Ibid., 69.
34. J. J. Stamm, “Jesus Christ in the Old Testament,” EOTH, 200-210.
35. Ibid., 208.
36. K. H. Miskotte, When the Gods Are Silent (1967).
37. Th. C. Vriezen, An Outline of the Old Testament Theology (2d ed.; 1970), 98.
38. W. Vischer, Das Christuszeugnis des Alten Testaments (7th ed.; 1946), 2 vols. The English translation, The
Witness of the Old Testament of Christ (1949) comes from the 3d ed. of 1936. Citations are taken from the English
39. Ibid., 1:14.
40. Ibid., 1:7.
41. Ibid., 1:12, 26.
42. Vischer as cited by H. W. Hertzberg, TLZ 4 (1949): 221.
43. Vischer, The Witness of the Old Testament to Christ, 1:44.
44. Ibid., 1:75, 76.
45. Ibid., 1:87, 88.
46. Ibid., 1:104-5.
47. Ibid., 1:153.
48. Vischer’s exegetical methodology is recently set forth very clearly in his “La methode de l’exegese biblique,”
RThPh 10 (1960): 109-23.
49. W. Vischer, Die Dedeutung des AT für das Christliche Leben (1947), 5.
50. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 88.
51. For an approach that recognizes the fuller import and deeper meaning of Scripture, see Gerhard F. Hasel in A
Symposium on Biblical Hermeneutics, G. M Hyde, ed. (1974), 184-91.
52. F. C. Grant, An Introduction to the New Testament Thought (1950), 29.
53. C. H. Dodd, The Present Task in New Testament Studies (1936), 32.
54. H. H. Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 3.
55. Ibid., 95.
56. W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament (1961), 1:26.
57. G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology (1965), 2:369: “The larger context into which we have to set the Old
Testament phenomena if they are to be meaningfully appreciated is not, however, a general system of religious and
ideal values, but the compass of a specific history, which was set in motion by God’s words and deeds and which, as
the New Testament sees it, finds its goal in the coming of Christ. Only in this event is there any point in looking for
what is analogous and comparable. And it is only in this way of looking at the Old and the New Testaments that the
correspondences and analogies between the two appear in their proper light.”
58. H. W. Wolff, “The Hermeneutics of the Old Testament,” EOTH, 181.
59. Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 94 (italics his).
60. F. V. Filson, “The Unity Between the Testaments,” The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible
61. J. L. McKenzie, “Aspects of Old Testament Thought,” The Jerome Biblical Commentary, R. E. Brown, J. A.
Fitzmyer, and R. E. Murphy, eds. (1968), 755.
62. On the whole, see R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament (1971).
63. P. A. Verhoef, “The Relationship Between the Old and the New Testaments,” New Perspectives on the Old
Testament, J. B. Payne, ed. (1970), 282.
64. R. Nicole, “New Testament Views of the Old Testament,” Revelation and the Bible, C.F.H. Henry, ed. (1958),
137, counts at least 295 separate references, of which 224 are direct citations introduced by a certain definite formula.
K. Grobel, “Quotations,” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (1962), 3:977, writes that the OT “is explicitly
quoted some 150 times and tacitly quoted some 1,100 additional times.”
65. F. Hesse, Das Alte Testament als Buch der Kirche (1966), 38.
66. R. Bultmann, “Prophecy and Fulfillment,” EOTH, 50-75, which has been criticized by C. Westermann, EOTH,
67. E. E. Ellis, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament (1967), 143: “Pauline exegesis employs a great deal of methodology
found in rabbinical and other literature,” On the rabbinic methods of interpretation, see S. H. Horn, “Jewish Interpretation
in the Apostolic Age,” in A Symposium on Biblical Hermeneutics, 17-26.
68. F. F. Bruce, Biblical Exegesis in the Qumran Texts (Grand Rapids, Mich, 1959), 66-77; R. H. Gundry, The Use of
the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel (Leiden, 1967). J. A. Fitzmyer, “The Use of Explicit Old Testament Quotations
in Qumran and in the New Testament,” NTS 7 (1960-1961): 297-333.
69. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 284; G. C. Berkouwer, De Heilige Schrift (1967), 2:175.
70. J. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 211.
71. See G. F. Hasel, The Remnant (2d ed.; Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews Univ. Press, 1974).
72. Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 89.
73. McKenzie, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 767.
74. G. R. Kittel and G. Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1962-1973), 8 vols.; L. Coenen,
et al., eds., Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum Neuen Testament (3d ed.; 1972); G. Botterweck and H. Ringgren,
eds., Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1974ff.
75. D. Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soteriological Terms (1967); J. Barr,
The Semantics of Biblical Language (1961); Barr, Biblical Words for Time (1962).
76. The recent literature on the topic of typology is very extensive and continues to grow. For its history, see L. Goppelt,
Typos: Die Typologische Deutung des Alten Testaments (1939); G.W.H. Lampe and J. J. Woollcombe, Essays on
Typology (1975); P. Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture (n.d.); W. Eichrodt, “Is Typological Exegesis an Appropriate
Method?” EOTH, 224-45; G. von Rad, “Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament,” EOTH, 17-39; von Rad, Old
Testament Theology 2, 364-74. A cautious approach to typology is accepted by Van Ruler, The Christian Church and
the Old Testament, 57-74. Typology is totally rejected by Barr, Old and New Interpretation (1966), 103-48, who fails to
distinguish between typology and allegory.
77. Warnings are sounded by a number of scholars, see J. D. Smart, The Interpretation of Scripture (1961), 129-33.
78. Hasel, Old Testament Theology, 73-74.
79. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 285.
80. John 20:25; Acts 7:43, 44; 23:26; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:7; 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7;
Heb. 8:5; 1 Peter 5:3. Cf. L. Goppelt, , TDNT (1972), 8:246-59.
81. R. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, 209-10.
82. Among examples of this general approach (with variations) are G. von Rad, “Typological Interpretation of the
Old Testament,” EOTH, 17-39; Von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 2:317-429; H. W. Wolff, “The Old Testament in
Controversy: Interpretative Principles and Illustration,” Interpretation 12 (1948): 281-91; Wolff, “The Hermeneutics of
the Old Testament,” EOTH, 160-99; W. Zimmerli, “Promise and Fulfillment,” EOTH, 89-122; C. Westermann, “The
Way of the Promise Through the Old Testament,” OCTF, 200-224; Westermann, Jesus Christ and Old Testament
(1971); Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 192ff.; Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 90-121; K. Frör, Biblische
Hermeneutik (3d ed., 1967), 146; Hasel, Old Testament Theology, 75-76.
83. H. D. Preuss, Jahweglaube und Zukunftserwartung (1968), shows that one can speak of the Old Testament
faith as “future expectation” (205ff.).
84. H. H. Rowley, The Faith of Israel (1956), 177.
85. Zimmerli, EOTH, 111.
86. 2 Sam. 7:13-1 Kings 8:20; 1 Kings 11:29-1 Kings 12:51b; 1 Kings 13-2 Kings 23:16-18; 1 Kings 14:6-1 Kings
15:29; 1 Kings 16:1-1 Kings 16:12; Joshua 6:26-1 Kings 16:34; 1 Kings 22:17-1 Kings 22:35, 36; 1 Kings 21:21, 22-
1 Kings 21:27-29; 2 Kings 1:6-2 Kings 1:17; 2 Kings 21:10-2 Kings 24:2; 2 Kings 22:15-2 Kings 23:30.
87. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 198.
88. Matt. 26:56; 27:9; Mark 14:49; Luke 4:21; 21:22; John 13:18; 17:12; 19:24; Acts 1:16; James 2:23; and many
89. On this point see the pertinent remarks by Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 108ff.; Zimmerli, EOTH, 113-22;
W. Schweitzer, Schrift und Dogma in der Okumene (1953), 261-62; Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament,
90. Cf. C.F.D. Moule, “Fulfillment-Words in the New Testament; Use and Abuse,” NTS 14 (1968): 293-320.
91. F. C. Fensham, “Covenant, Promise and Expectation in the Bible,” TLZ 23 (1967): 305ff.; McKenzie, The Jerome
Biblical Commentary, 767; and others.
92. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 291; cf. Moule, NTS 14 (1968): 293ff.
93. See also Filson, Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary (1971), 992.
94. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology (2d ed.; 1970), 123.
95. Westermann, EOTH, 133.
96. Zimmerli, as quoted by Westermann, EOTH, 132.
97. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology, 124, n. 1.
98. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 290.
99. Bultmann, “Prophecy and Fulfillment,” EOTH, 50ff.
100. See especially G. Fohrer, Theologische Grundstrukturen des Alten Testaments (1972), 18ff., who accepts only
eleven messianic predictions in the OT.
101. Fensgam, TLZ 23 (1967): 304-5.
102. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 198; Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 290-91.
103. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology, 123.
104. Rowley, The Unity of the Bible, 109-10.
105. Zimmerli, EOTH, 114.
106. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 293.
107. Filson, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, 992.
108. Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 196.
109. M. Meinertz, Theologie des Neuen Testaments (1950), 1:54.
110. Verhoef, New Perspectives on the Old Testament, 293.