The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jun 1, 2017

Bridging the gap from Biblical Theology to Jesus Christ: Some positive thoughts on David Wenkel's book Jesus' Crucifixion Beatings and the Book of Proverbs

I have the privilege of teaching Hermeneutics twice a year at Baptist College of Ministry, and one new concept I introduce them to is "Biblical Theology," namely tracing the theme of a particular book or author. In addition, for each of their hermeneutics papers I require them to demonstrate how they can "bridge-the-gap" from their particular passage to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This can be somewhat tricky. On the one hand, we must respect the original author's intention and not allegorize (and both our textbooks, Duvall and Hays' Grasping God's Word and Sire's Scripture Twisting, do an excellent job of rebuking those who assume their own "spiritual" interpretation trumps the "common sense" reading of the biblical text!). On the other hand, Jesus himself indicated that the entirety of Scripture points to him (Luke 24:27--"in all the Scriptures"). Consequently, we must not be afraid to see a deeper Christological significance in any portion of Scripture (but only after we've grasped the original meaning of the author). We must acknowledge, for example, the "plain sense" reading of Song of Solomon as a (awkward!) celebration of "smooching" (and more) between a husband and wife (avoiding the temptation to "sanitize" it), while at the same time noting that God is the lover par excellence, as evidenced by John 3:16. Indeed, the apostles themselves were not afraid to see even technically 
non-Messianic OT texts "fulfilled" in Jesus Christ (case in point: Matthew 2:15's citation of Hosea 11 which, in my opinion, is basically telling us "Jesus succeeded where Israel failed").

Enter David H. Wenkel's new book: Jesus' Crucifixion Beatings and the Book of Proverbs (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan 2017). Dr. Wenkel, with a ph.d. from the University of Aberdeen, has taught at Moody Bible Institute, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Indian Bible College. The purpose of his book is not to read Proverbs allegorically or without regard to the author's original intent. Rather,  Wenkel seeks to place Proverbs in canonical, Christological context. Thus, he states,

". . . this theme (the physical beating of fools) within the book of Proverbs has meaning related to Christ through its application to him as one who bears the punishments that a wicked fool should endure. This meaning is driven by grammatical-historical exegesis because the Proverbs apply to all sinners for whom Christ was a sinless substitute." Indeed, "The very genre of Proverbs directs the reader to apply them in an infinite number of ways. Therefore, this study argues that there is place for a legitimate application of this theme to Christ when read in a canonical fashion" (Wenkel, p. 8).

After the introduction of chapter 1, Wenkel then explores the various aspects of the "beating of the fool," both in the context of Proverbs and in the theme's broader canonical context. One key insight, for example, is his discussion of 2sam 7:14 and how the son of the Messianic king would be "chastened with the rod of men," and the covenant significance of this statement (Wenkel, p. 74). Wenkel summarizes: ultimately, "it was God's own covenantal promises that ensured his son would be disciplined through the rod" (p. 76).

Thus for anybody interested in the theology of Proverbs and/or its Christological significance (a topic that has not been explored as much as it should be), as well as a good example for how to "bridge" to Jesus Christ from the OT without allegorizing, I recommend David Wenkel's book.

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