Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Getting the Inside Story  

One of the beautiful gifts I have received as a Roman Catholic has been a better understanding of Scripture. Prior to being received into the Church, I learned various methods for interpreting Scripture. Some were better than others, but none contained the systematic understanding which is found in the magisterium.

The Church teaches that one of the important methods for interpreting Scripture is the use of typology. Much of the Old Testament can be understood as prefigurement and preparation for events which are fulfilled in the New Testament. For example, in John 3 when our Lord is speaking with Nicodemus, he explains that the event of Moses raising a bronze serpent on a pole in order for the Israelites to be saved from the serpents' bites was a prefigurement of how He would be raised on the cross to save sinners.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:14-15
The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents this teaching in this way:
Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself. Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament. As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New. CCC 129
The recent release of a translation of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas illustrates this idea in the negative. One of the problems with such a gospel, and perhaps one of the reasons that the Church rejected it, is that it does not have a foundation in the Old Testament. In other words, one can tell that the Gnostic gospels are erroneous because they do not present events which are the fulfillment of Old Testament accounts. However, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do present fulfillments of Old Testament events. Accordingly, Michael Barber at Singing in the Reign presents the real inside knowledge on the story of Judas:
If you really want to know the story "behind" Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Jesus, you need to know the Old Testament.

In 2 Samuel 15 we read about the "betrayal" of David by Ahithophel.

2 Sam 15: 23 And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness...

30 But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. 31 And it was told David, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness."

Later, we learn of Ahithophel's fate; he hanged himself (2 Sam 17:23).

Sound familiar?

Jesus, the Son of David, is betrayed by a member of his inner circle. While his betrayer is out planning his demise, he, like David, goes to the Mount of Olives (Matt 27:30), crossing the Kidron valley (John 18:1). As David prayed that the Lord would confound Ahithophel's plans, Jesus similarly prays for deliverance (Matt 26:29-34). In the end, Jesus' betrayer's fate is the same as that of David's betrayer's: he "hangs" himself (Matt 27:5). We might also note that the women weep for Jesus as the people wept for David (Luke 23:27).
When I read such a clear interpretation of Scripture, I become quite excited about reading Scripture. This type of understanding demonstrates the marvelous and supernatural nature of Scripture, and it also underscores how God is indeed the author of history even through the free will of humans.

H/T: The Way of the Fathers

Posted by David at 6:53 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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