‘Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!'” ‘ Matt. 3:1-3
Midrash, Light and Heavy, Equivalence, Pesher, and Allegorical. Five of seven main categories “theologians” (which ones, you may ask?) classify Old Testament prophecies as they are utilized in the New Testament.
We’ve had a brief discussion on these previous five in past weeks and now we move to the last two, Sensus Plenior, and Double Fulfillment. Sensus Plenior would be defined in this way: When the “New Testament writer goes beyond the literal grammatical-historical sense of the Old testament passage to assign the passage an additional meaning in connection with the New Testament context… NT writers took words from the OT and applied them to situations entirely different from what was envisioned in corresponding OT contexts.” (Robert L. Thomas, The Masters Seminary Journal, spring 2002, pgs80; 82-83) Thomas also calls this taking of Old Testament words and applying them in a non-literal sense by the New Testament writer as “inspired sensus plenior application.” An example of Sensus Plenior application would be Isaiah 9:1-2 and Matthew 4:12-16. Isaiah speaks of the gloom of the physical oppression at the northern border of Galilee as those first to suffer at the hands of the Assyrians as they invaded and the hoped for coming physical deliverance of the people. Matthew makes the application a spiritual one wherein Christ is the light bringing the gospel message of salvation and deliverance from sin. The last category typically employed in exegesis classification is Double Fulfillment. This type is very close to sensus plenior in that it too looks at Old Testament prophecies as used in the New Testament having a double meaning, with a slight twist. Here’s a quote from Craig Bloomberg explaining: Now a clarification is required at the outset. The expression “double fulfillment” at times has been a virtual synonym for sensus plenior, that is, the idea that an OT text has a straightforward literal meaning and a second, more esoteric or opaque meaning, often understood to be a part of the divine intent of the text but not consciously in the human author’s mind. That is most assuredly not how I am using the expression. Rather, by double fulfillment I mean that in a number of texts from the latter prophets cited by Matthew, and especially in Isaiah, the results of an ordinary grammatico-historical exegesis of the OT text point clearly to a referent within the time frame of the OT books. Yet those same passages, when read within the context of their immediately surrounding paragraphs or chapters, disclose a further dimension of meaning never approximated by any OT age event. (Trinity Journal Spring 2002) Mr. Bloomberg cites Isaiah 40:3 and Matt. 3:3 as an example. To put this rather generally, Bloomberg states the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 was not just in the metaphorical roads being made smooth for Christ’s advent, but was an allusion to the roads the exiled Israelites would walk upon in their return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. The return from captivity did fall in the historical time frame of OT books written. Stay tuned.