Published on January 30, 2017 by Joshua R Monroe

Myrtlefield House, 2013 | 380 pages


Reviewed by Jason Pang   


Introduction & Overview

There are many complex issues revolving around the New Testament use of the Old Testament and major discussion of it can easily be relegated to the world of academia, disconnected from the life of the local church. David Gooding has done the church a service by writing this book. It is full of biblical exposition and warm devotion. It is an example of Scripture interpreting Scripture and of careful examination of both the Old Testament and New Testament contexts when it comes to difficult passages.  

David Gooding is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Greek at Queen’s University, Belfast. In addition to his numerous scholarly works on the Septuagint he has published expositions of Luke, John 13–17, Acts, and Hebrews. His publications make him eminently suitable for a work on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, and Gooding brings depth of scholarship without drowning the reader.

The thesis of Gooding’s work is that “the interplay between the two testaments, when closely examined, often brings to light depths of meaning that can easily remain unsuspected, and actually undetected, if the two testaments are simply read separately without serious study of their interconnections” (xvii). Gooding aims to demonstrate that the New Testament writers properly used the Old Testament with regard to its original context and that studying how they interpreted the Old Testament then gives modern readers guidelines as to how to interpret it for themselves.

Gooding has written his work in three major parts: outlining the general relation of the New Testament to the Old; examining how the NT itself interprets the OT; and based on the second part, proposing guidelines for our own interpretation of the OT. Gooding sums up his own survey of the general relation of the NT to the OT with Augustine’s phrase: “The New lies in the Old concealed, the Old lies in the New revealed” (86).

The majority of Gooding’s work is his examination of how the NT interprets the OT (91–323). Gooding discusses the NT’s use of the OT under five categories: [1] Prophetic Insights; [2] Legal Concepts; [3] Literary Devices; [4] Implied Features; and [5] Typological Shadows. This section is full of detailed exposition and specific examples where the NT uses the OT.

Under “Prophetic Insights” Gooding identifies different senses of fulfillment, and he spends some time demonstrating one of the senses, “fulfillment as the final, higher expression of basic principles.” He then moves on to discuss “Legal Concepts,” where the NT appeals to a passage in the OT like a legal document. Under the category of “Literary Devices,” among other things Gooding discusses quotations, allusions, metaphors and similes. The fourth category, “Implied Features,” is where Gooding analyses how the NT writer may draw implications from the way the OT is written, such as the OT logical thought-flow or information the OT excludes (think Melchizedek and Hebrews 7:1–3). Gooding’s last category, “Typological Shadows,” revolves around his exposition of the tabernacle as a type.

The third and final part of the book provides thirteen guidelines as to how one should approach and interpret the OT. These guidelines are woven into and presented within expositions of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, of David and Goliath, and of the deception of the Gibeonites.  



Where others may lack in many detailed examples (e.g. G. K. Beale’s Handbook on the New Testament of the Old Testament) Gooding excels. This work abounds with specific examples of the NT use of the OT along with detailed exposition. The nature of this work is that discussions of every section usually revolve around exposition of specific texts. In discussing how the OT is still profitable for Christians today Gooding exposits portions of both Leviticus and Hebrews. In addition to other passages already mentioned in this review, Gooding explains: Matthew’s reference to Rachel weeping (Matt 2:17–18); Jesus as a Nazarene (Matt 2:23); Paul’s use of Abraham in Romans 4; Paul’s use of not muzzling the ox (1 Cor 9:8–10); Paul’s interpretation of “seed” (Gal 3:16); the lifting of the serpent (John 3:14–15); and many more. His handling of these plentiful examples serves as a pattern for others to follow.

He is also not afraid of tackling the difficult passages. Gooding devotes a chapter to discussing allegorical interpretation, specifically Paul’s use of Sarah and Hagar in Galatians 4:21–31. Gooding takes the view that Paul is not foisting onto the text of Genesis a meaning that the original author never intended, but rather Paul is identifying the additional significance of the historical events and drawing a typological connection between them and the contemporary Galatian context.

Additionally, Gooding provides analysis of OT passages where there are no corresponding NT interpretations, providing live examples of how he applies the principles he prescribes (e.g. David and Goliath, the deception of the Gibeonites).

Although one may not always agree with his conclusions (e.g. chapter 14 describes the book of Exodus as a thought model for understanding John, and a few of the correspondences require some imagination), the strength of Gooding’s work is in his numerous examples and careful exposition of specific passages within their original contexts.

Unfortunately, Gooding’s descriptive framework for how the NT uses the OT is not always as helpful. He utilizes five categories, but they are neither self-explanatory nor is it clear that they are actually distinct. For example, his first category is “Prophetic Insights” but that in itself is not a very descriptive category when thinking about how the NT uses the OT, nor is his category of “Implied Features.” His presentation of these categories may lead to confusion. For clear-cut categories something along the lines of Beale’s Handbook mentioned above should be consulted.  

Additionally, Gooding’s treatment of typology is puzzling. Under the category of “Prophetic Insights” he distinguished prediction-fulfillment from prototype-fulfillment, which is “fulfillment as the final, higher expression of basic principles” (102).  The “basic principles or strategies” first expressed at a lowlier level in the course of OT history are now fulfilled in its highest level in the NT. He tackles the problematic quotation of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15 and uses it as an example of how God is using the “same strategies and tactics” again (110). Although his analysis is sound, one would think this falls under typological interpretation. But then under his fifth and last category, “Typological Shadows,” Gooding distinguishes typological interpretation as distinct from fulfillment of prototypes. He acknowledges some scholars widen their definition of typology to include what he describes as “prototype” fulfillment and then states it is just a matter of lexical semantics. But then why does he create a completely separate category for “typological interpretation”? It remains unclear why “typological interpretation” should be categorically different than prototype fulfillment.

One can quibble about many things, especially since Gooding examines so many texts. His hermeneutical discussion on authorial intent doesn’t address the complexity of the issue. But there is much more to commend than disagree with. Overall the work is an excellent demonstration that the NT authors regularly referred to the OT texts with sensitivity to their original contexts and that spending the time to examine the interplay between the two testaments will yield rich insights for the interpreter.

Gooding has set out to help preachers, teachers, and Bible students better interpret the OT. He largely succeeds in this, guiding readers through a tour of the NT use of the OT to affirm that “full understanding of the point and purpose of the reference may sometimes require us to recall much more detail from the Old Testament passage than the New Testament actually mentions” (185). His expositions are instructive, devotional, and a fine example of The Riches of Divine Wisdom.


Johnson Pang is a PhD candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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The Riches of Divine Wisdom: The New Testament Use of the Old Testament

Myrtlefield House, 2013 | 380 pages

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