Volume 703 January XI06
Table of Contents
The Faith of Christ: A Lutheran Appropriation of Richard Hays's
Arthur A. Just Jr. ............................. .., ................................... .3
Listening to Inkrkxbal Relationships in Paul's Epistles with
................................................................... Charles A. Gieschen 17
Looking at the Moral Vision of the New Testament with Richard
Dean 0. wenthe .......................................................................... 33
Walk This Way: A Theme ftom Proverbs Reflected and Extended
in Paul's Letters
Andrew E. Steinmann and Michael Eschelbach .................... 33
With a View to the End: Christ in the Ancient Church's
Undershnding aF Sai-
......................................................................... Joel C. Elow sky. 6 3
A Curridurn from and far the Church
? John T. Pless ., .................................................. ...-...-..-.--.- &
We apologize for publication delavs in recent years. We assure you that all
overdue issues are in process and wilI be mailed as each is printed. \Ye plan to be
back on our n o d quarterly publication schedule January 2008. Thank you for
!-our patience! The Editors
With a View to the End:
Christ in the Anaent Church's Understanding of Scripture
Joel C. Elowsky
The ancient church took Jesus seriously when he told the Emmaus
disciples, "everything written about me in the law of ,Moses, the prophets,
and the psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 2444). Augustine applied Jesus'
words even to the Psalm headings: "When you hear the text of the Psalm
saying, 'with a view to the end,' let your hearts turn to Christ"' That
phrase is nowhere in the formal text of the Psalms. You will find it in the
Latin title of many of the Psalms, which is where Augustine found it and
where he also found Christ. This cluistological interpretation of the Psalms
=as not simply a reading of Christ into the text (eisegesis). This was a
reading out of the text enabled by the Spirit that fed into and nurtured the
daily ecclesiastical, liturgical, and theological life of the church (exegesis).
In what follows, we wiU briefly explore this christocentric exegesis
employed by the early church. At its most basic level, the question
emerged as to why Scripture was even written in the first place. The two
exegetical traditions of Alexandria and A n t i d had slightly different
answers to that question, but it is no secret that the Septuagint text the?-
were p M y using made all the difference in their approach to the
Scriptures, which testified of Christ Once we have explored their use of
this text, we will examine, in a more general sense, their exegetical
approach and how this contributed to their understanding of Christ as the
unitive center of Scriptrw.2 We then %ill look at hvo fathers from the
1 "Cum audis palmum dime 'in isfinem,' wr& c m n t u r ad Christum," Augustine,
Enarrationes in P - d m , Corpus C lu i s thmm Series latina (CCSL), 51 vols. (Tumhout:
Brrpols, I%%), 402013, 139.3. For &is idea and what follows see Henri De Lubac,
.MediPrul Exegesis: The Follr Sw- of --ture, 2 vols., tT. Mark S e k (Grand Rapids:
h F i 8.Emchats Publishing Co., 2998), 1:237ff De Lukc's work helped to frame
much of the argunwa that follows and, moreover, k l p d to locate many of the patristic
quotations, mining mining? his copious notes in the back of his fit volume, although
I also consulted the sources kom which these quotes came, providing those references
as w d L
ZEach patristic w-titer, of course, had his own unique exegetical approach. These can
be studied fkiha m E k W m d de Margerie, An Introdrrcfim lo tlz ffisfrr~ qf Eregesxs 3
uols. (Pekrshaa W St Bede's Publicatiom, 1991).
Joel C. Elmusky is Operatiuns Mnnager foT the Anaent Christian Commentam
of Saipture (InterVarsity Press) at D r m ~ Unirersify in *Madison, Xm* Jer-9,
uvhere he is nlw Adjunct Profs-SOT $Religion and a Ph.D. candidate.
64 Concordia Theological Quurterly 70 (2006)
earlv patristic period who actually did their exegetical work before the
firmfirm establishment of the different exegetical traditions. Justin >%r's
typolop and Irenaeus's teaching of recapitulation are classic examples of
exegesis centered in Christ and upon which others built their exegesis. I
will further provide a unitive example of how this understanding came
together as a whole in the ancient Christian interpretation of the book of
k&h-almost a kind of Fifth Gospel in ancient Christian exegesis.
Finally, I will condude with some implications for the exegesis we do as
I. The Ptrrpose of Scriptme
Augustine and the anaent church %ere much more familiar with the
presence of Christ in Saipture than man>- modem exegetes- some might
say too familiar, finding Christ in some very unlikely places. Origen could
find Christ's human and divine natures in the two tunics the high priest
wore, for instance. For ancient exegetes, however, Scripture was not
written for the sole pxqose of communicating fa& or the historical
narrative, although those, too, have their purpose and are not ignored.
Rather, the primary aim, or skopos, of Scripture, as Cvril of Alexandria
is the mysten. of Christ signified to us through a myriad of different
kinds of things. Someone might liken it to a glittering and magmficent
city, having not one image of the king, but many, and publid? displayed
in every comer of the city. . . . Its aim, however, is not to provide us an
account of the lives of the saints of old. Far from that. Rather it seeks to
give us knowledge of the mystery [of Quist] through those things by
which the word about him might become dear and true.3
We learn at least two things from C!*l. First, Christ is present in
Scripture in more than simplv as the historical Jesus. There are many
different images of Christ throughout the entirety of Scripture: in the
Torah, the historical narratives, the wisdom literature, the Prophets, the
Gospels, and the Epistles. If these did not speak of Christ, they did not
speak of anvthing, or at least they were ultimately unworthy of claiming
God as the; author since God would never author anything superfluous.
Origen, in the fourth book of On First Principles (4.2.9), went so far as to say
anything in Scripture that seemed illogical, caused scandal, or seemed
unworthy of God was included in the text by God on purpose in order to
indicate that it was to be interpreted spiritually and not according to the
3 C 4 d of Alexandria, Glnphyrorurn in Gemsirn, , Patrologia cursus completus: Series
graeca (PG), 162 vols., ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris, 1857-1886), 69:308.6.1.
Elowsky: Christ in the Ancient Church 65
letter.4 Later exegetes such as Cyril tempered Origen's allegon-, but this
does highIight a second point of C!-ril's quotation.
Scripture's primary purpose is not to con\-e!- historical facts or a good
ston:. Notice, it is not its pnrrznr-y purpose. This means that an
interpretation that concentrates all of its energies on the human author, a
reconstruction of the historical context, and the like, would not particularl!-
interest the fathers. This is not to sa!- that they ignored these issues or
considered them unimportant. In fact, from \
s l of john 72027-29
(CSCO -1 3558) on Thomas's confession of Jm as "My Lord and m! Cod." Thomas
was simply addressing a word of praise to God who had raised Christ from the dead.
See my forthcoming Gxnmnrfuly on ]oh11 in the ACCS series where both of these quotes
' 2 Cyril of Alexandria condemns such exegesis in his fourth anathema: "If anyone
distributes between two person or hypostases the terms used in the evangelical and
apostolic writings, whether spoken of Christ by the salnts or by him about Ems&, and
attaches some to a man thought of separately from the Ubrd of God, and others as
befitting God to the Word of God the Father alone, let him be anathema." XTXF 2 323;
FG 76:391. Sirnonetti notes, that Theodore w-as aware of the union, but his theological
presuppositions did not allow his exegesis to effect that union in a sabsfactory way (73).
Elowskv: Christ in the Ancient Church n
EL The Septuagint
A contribution to christocentric exegesis that is often overlooked is the
question of what Bible the anaent church used. Their Scriptures were not
primaril5- the Hebrew text but the Septuagint (LXX), a Greek translation of
the Old Testament that was completed sometime around the third ten*-
before Christ" The importance of the LXX is evident in the Sex\-
Testament where a word like ~ i p L K ~ a translation of the word I'd~a-dz - the
divine name-in the LXX, had huge christological implications in Paul's
exegesis in Philippians 25-11, for instance, where even- tongue confesses
that Jesus Christ is K+LK. Anvone reading the LXX \\-ould immediatelv
associate K ~ ~ L O ; with ~ahsveh.~ The LXX provided copious allusions to
Christ, so much so that rabbinical scholars of the second century
commissioned at least three more literal translations into Greek which are
commonly indicated as -4quila, Svmmachus, and Theodotion.
To provide but one example, the fathers, espciallv Jerome, preferred the
rendering of Isaiah 7:14 in the LXX as -upeit.o; versus the Hebrew -=:*
although man!- of them were aware of both and could argue
christologicdy from either language. Ths- understood -cp&vo; to mean
rirgin, while 7- indicated a young svornan, not neccesarily a email@example.com
Thus the word the LXX chose, which fathers such as Augustine considered
inspired, clearly indicated the virgin birth, whereas the Hebrew could be
considered to be more ambiguous. If you check the textual apparatus of
the BSlla Hebraica Stuftgartmsiu, you \ i l l notice that hquila, 5:-mrnachus,
and Theodotion changed the Greek word -up&~,o; to i IY&~.L;." There are
plenh- of other examples where the LXX rendering 1 4 to a dearer
identification with Christ than the Hebrew might, although someone like
Jerome found plenty of christological references in the Hebrew as %%-ell
evidence that every translation is also an interpretation, but also further
proof of the challenge the LXX posed to J e ~ l s h interpreters. \Ye see this in
5: The old Latin translations ( lk t r~s Lufird) LZ-hic-h the fathers also u _ d , \\-ere often
based on the LXX as well. See the dixussion on the ori* of the LXS in -t
\\-urthw-ein, The Te.rt @f fke Old T ~ t a m m t , tr. Errol F. Rhodes (Grand Rapick: lyilliam £3.
Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, rep. 1%5),49-74. There is m e debate about its origins
but no debate a b u t its significance tor fhe ancient church lVurth%iein g w sn iar a to
note that Xugustine demanded Jerome use the canonical LXS for his tr&slation rather
than the Hebrew- 149) since Xu,vustim believed the LXS &\-as the difis-heiy text.
Jerome ohiousI?- &d not complv.
" See the forthcoming ACCS volume on Isaiah 1-39 ht- Steven XlcKinion, which
contains man?- of the fathers' approack to thk passage. some oi which argue &om the
LXX o b from the Hebrew, such as Jemme.
:- K Elliger and I\-. Rudolph, &. Biblia Hrl-micn Stuttgnrtmsin, (5tutkgart Deukche
Bibel,oeselkMt, 1977), 685, n. 11.
72 Concordia fieologiwl Quarterly 70 (2006)
Justin Shrtvr's Dialogue xi th Trpho, which took place in the earl>- part of
the second ;en%-.
IV. Justin Martyr
Justin Slarts-r, as his name implies, was w w d in Rome around AD
163 because bf his defense of the faith, but not before he wrote two
apologies, or defenses of Christianih-, as well as a dialogue with a famous
rabbi of the time named Trypho, whom we know to have died about AD
131. Justin's Dialogue zt-ith T y h o is not one of those documents that would
be liewed as a model for ecumenirm in our day, at least by many of our
contemporaries. He minces no words in telling his Jewish counterpart
where he has gone &\Tong in his interpretation. Jeu-ish exegetes, he says,
make a theological explanation as to why an alpha was added to
Abraham's name and a rho to Sarah's name (according to the WU()* hut
are silent when it comes to Joshua whose name was changed by Moses
from Oshea to Joshua which in Greek is Jesus (?lpok).j7 They are content,
in other words, to deal with the letter of the text, but not with the more
important spirit of the text, which for Justin is Christ. Justin views
ever);thing that Joshua does, then, as if Jesus were doing it:
In the episode of the L-icton- over Amalek, Christ is prefigured h- the
stone on which llioses lea&, by the sign of the cross described 6- his
outstretched arms (an event already exploited by Judaism, not as a sign
of the cross, but as a work of Gctd's power), and b\- Joshua's name that is
equivalent to Jesus, a combat title (Dial. 90.4)
The name of Joshua is a figure of the name of Jesus. Just as Joshua led
the people into the Holy Land, so also 'Jesus will bring about the return of
the Diaspora of the people and will distribute the good land to each.'
Joshua stopped the sun; but Jesus the eternal light, is to shine in Jerusalem.
Joshua circumcised the people with a second circumcision; but that
circumcision is a figure of the one Jesus effects in hearts and it is he 1vho is
the rock of the true circumcision (Dial. 113.1-7). Joshua's victory over
M e k is a figure of Jesus' e n d u ~ g \<&OF over the forces of evil (Dial.
99.8). The salvation granted to Rahab because of the scarlet cord is a
symbol of the salvation granted to sinners through the blood of Christ
It was as if Justin were saying: Moses and Aaron had their da-, so to
speak, under the old law- and priesthood. Christians could now follow the
=+ -4ccordlng to the LXY, Sara \\-as altered to Sarra, and Ahram to Abraam.
Dmlugur i i ~ t h Typlro 113. For a similar argument, see Drologue m f h T y l w 120.4.
* De Illargerie, Tile Greek Fnfher.;, 33.
Elowsky: Christ in the Ancient Church 73
new Joshua who had entered into the promised Iand of the gospel.3'
Justin's counterparts among the Jewish interpreters have not grasped the
true significance of Scripture since they ignore the deeper meaning. Justin
and most early Christian interpreters equated a strictlb- literal
interpretation as a Jew-ish interpretation, ultimately unworthy of a divinelv
inspired text. I w-ould hazard to assert that Justin would probabl~ offer a
similar critique of todafs historical-aitical method of commenw-.
It is not that Justin disparages the letter of the biblical text. Rather, he
approaches Scripture, +tally the Torah, typologicall!-. He tells us
what he means b?- the word type in his Dialogue rr.iffr Tryplto: "Sometimes
the Holv Spirit caused the risible appearing of something which was a
ggure (ii-od of the future."* The figures or events are abundant in
Justin's exegesis of the Pentateuch.4: In Genesis, for instance: the tree of
life is a f i g of Christ,* Adam's temptation bv the serpent in paradise
prefigures Christ's temptation in the wilderness+ Eve is a h-pe of J9ary;
Christ is the new Soahawho w4l bring us through the final iestruction.
The prescribed ceremonies contained in the Torah also point towards
Christ The mysterr- of the Lamb that God ordained to be immolated as a
Passover lamb (or Paxh) was a h-pe of the anointed Christ: "The Pasch
saved those rvho were in Egypt; likewise, the Blood of Christ preserr-e
those who belies-e in him."as The offering of w-heat was a b-pe of the bread
of the thanksgir-ing [in the Eucharist].* Circumcision on ;he eighth day is
a "figure of the true c i r d s i o n given in the name of Him \\ho was
raised on the eighth day."*; The Sabbath contributes in no \\-as. to one's
" Ct Peter Damian. Op. 32, de quadngu 9; PL 145559 BC, cited in de Luhac, 429, n. 94.
Dxfqzzirc. LYM Tr-~Ixc 1%1.
" \lost of his typolog- can he found in ihe Sew Testament ifself, esp-iaH>- the h k
of Hebrews, although he dms often go beyond the %en- Testament examples or extends
the C O M ~ C Z
2: ry , d f ~ s d ->-.- - " L31 Tr@w %.I -
;S ~&yJrl aith TVFm 103.6-
- Diaiqur. aith Trypiu? 138.1-3. "At the flood the rn?-sten- of the work&s dalraiion &%-as
at work The just man Soah together with the other pemns ot the f l d account
namely. his wife, his three som and their x\-hes, made eight in numkr tkreh-
s>mblizing the eighth day on which our Christ \%-as raised t$om the dead, that &)-
king always impliatly the kt Christ, the iirst-born ot aH creation, has k o m e in a
new- sere the head of another race, regenerated hr I l i m , through water, through faith,
and ttrr~ugh the r % - d which contained the mr;ster) of the urns,-just as Xoah \\-is saved
the s \ d of the carried by the waters of the flood . and I mean that
thcw M ho receive preparation through mH-aier, faiih. and wood escape the /udpeni of
God that % to come."
+= D;;!17gce inti1 Tpqh 111.3.
* 13-~103~f 7 t h Tryla 90.4.
- D:aip-pe ~ 7 t h TryprUI 4 3 2 41.4.
74 Concordia Theological Quarterly 70 (2006)
justification*$ but rather is a figure of the time to come when sin would
stop.;- "Taking them one bv one," Justin savs, "I could show that all of
\loses's other prescriptions are types [ r ~ ~ o i ] , symbols, annunciations of
what is to come to pass in Christ."% For Justin, these types of the Old
Testament are like a first draft of %\-hat would dbmately be accomplished
As De Xfargerie notes, these figures were not original with Justin. Thev
were part of a tradition, some of which can already by found in the , ~ e k
Testament, others of which \%-ere ahead- in use by Justin's contemporaries
such as the author of the Eprstle 4Barnaha5. Stdl, his Dialogue uith i'-ryp!zo
"holds a central place in the histom of 9-pologym because "it constitutes
the corpus of the prinapal figures, which existed before him lalthough] not
all in one place."Si These figures would then be taken up by those who
iollo\ved, such as Irenams who was influenced directlv bv Justin. Irenaeus
r\i l l \cork out the theological kpIications of ust tin's typolog in his
doctrine oi recapitulation, which we discuss next.
Irenaeus, the bishop of Lvons in the late second century, had to deal
with the heresy of the ~nostics. Gnostic exegesis would pick and choose
texts, taking them out of context and stnngmg them together sometimes
like a James Joyce stream-of-conxiousness novel. Saiptural truth and
meaning %%-ere considered relative to the culture of the time, and there %.as
no sense of the unit of Scripture. Names and familiar passages took on
new- meanings as the Gnostics would cut and paste passages and
Scriptural thoughts together. Irenaeus compared their exegesis to a mosaic
in which the tiles of the mosaic hare been rearranged from depicting the
majesty of a king to depicting a dog or a fox, although Gnostics could
convince people the dog was a king." The Gnostics use the same
Saiptures but the text that results has nothing to do with the on@
because thev have no sense of the whole of Scripture, the body of "the
Truth."-: This "Truth" is summed up in the saving and revealing acts of
4- Dnr,zlope ic-zth T?cpia- 46.7.
4- DUIL~C~IW xzfJz T ~ ~ p ~ x l 1 4 . 2 .
DIJ~LXW, icil'~th Typho 40.1,42 4.
'1 De Vargene, The Greek F~tfwrr;, 33.
== Iremeus, .-1galtzsf Here51e.- 1 6.1.
" .&s Irenaew says: -he who possesses witiun himself the immutable canon of the
truth that he recei\-ed through Baptism w-ill surely recognize [in the r~~it ings of the
heretics] terms, expressiom, and parables taken from the Scriptures. But he WIU not
recognize the subject they originally treated. . . . On the contran, if he wlU restore each
of the texts to its respective place and fit them all to the body of the truth, he cviU expose
lthe fiction of the heretics] and demomtrate its incomlstenc~"(Agazn=f Here>~e> 1.9.4).
Elawsky: Christ in the Ancient Church 75
God from the beginning of creation to the incarnation of the Word made
flesh and through the outpouring of the Spirit to the church. This divine
economy, while trinitarian, is centered in Christ and in his central role as
the reca&dator of all of Scripture and all of histoq-.
Irenaeus takes this idea of recapitulation from Romans 5, where Pad
contrasts the first Adam with the second Adarn, who is Christ He applies
this understanding of the two Adam then to the passage that encapsulates
his understanding of what recapitulation means: "And he made known to
us the m?-steq- of his according to his good pleasure, which he
purpsed in Christ to be put into effect when the times wit1 have reached
their fulfillment -to bring aII things in heaven and on earth together under
one head, ex-en Christ" (Eph 19-10). The word recq-tulatrm comes from
the Greek word u~rute+aiaioa~, w-hich means to bring together under one
prinaple (Eph 1:lO). This term enunciates for henaeus the Father's plan to
place even-thing, induding all hurnanic- and all of creation, as well as both
the good i d the had angels, under Christ. It is a process which bgan at
his incarnation and will cuhka te w-hen Christ comes again2
In his P r ~ f y the Ap~wtolic Preachirzg, known as the Epidenis, lrenaeus
V > - s Christ as the net\- Adam in the histo?- of the old Adarn is
repeated, although in an opposite direction. In Adarn w-e had been created
to be in the image of the Son of Go& in W t the Son of God takes
humanity unto himself. As a man, Christ is all that Adam u\-ould have
been had he not fallen into temptation. For those who are in Christ, they
now have a new point of departure, able again to grow into that image that
is the Son an image %-hi& w-as alwavs meant to be theirs but which Adam
had given over to Satan in his disobedience. This is why the comparison
with Adam and ffvist is so prominent in the proofs he offers for the truth
of the apostolic preaching.
Adam is formed from the virgin soil and Christ from the Virgin Slaw.
The fall takes place through the disobedience of the \\-oman Eve, but
In Irenaeus's words: "The Church, indeed, though disseminated throughout the
r*-orld, even to the ends of the earth, received from the apstIes and their dixiples the
faith in one God the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and the seas and
all thin3 that are in them; and in the one Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was
&le&ed for our salx-atim and in the Hal?- Spirit, who through the prophets preached
the Economies, the coming, the birth horn a l'irgin, the passion the resurrection from
the dead, and the M?- ascension into heaven of the beloved Son, Christ Jesus mr
Lord, and His coming from heaven in the @or)- of the Father to recapitulate all things,
and to raise up all flesh nf the whole human race, in order tb t to Christ Jems, uur Lord
and God+ %\