Biased NT reductionism: Matthew 16:21 as a test case

During my sermon preparation, I generally read through commentaries last. It is often a helpful exercise but it can also be frustrating. I never ceased to be amazed at the imaginative lengths some commentators will go to be accepted by their peers rather than useful to the church. Many commentaries are essentially commentary on the biases of the scholar rather than on the text of Scripture.

Compare the following two comments concerning Matthew 16:21 which says, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”

Donald Hagner in the WBC on Matthew notes, “That Jesus’ predictions in these passages line up with the kerygma of the church is not sufficient reason to reject the possibility of their authenticity,or at least of an authentic core. A variety of scripture passages were available to Jesus in understanding what lay ahead (e.g., Pss 22; 118:17-18, 22; Isa 53; Dan 7; 12; Wis 3).”

D. A. Carson in the EBC on Matthew asks, “Is it reasonable to think that Jesus could have predicted the details of his passion only if he read about them somewhere? This is not to question the applicability of some of the OT allusions to him; it is rather to question the historical reductionism of some Gospel research.”

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Scott Christensen on February 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Does Donald Hagner doubt the deity of Christ and His prescience? I am often confounded with supposed evangelical commentators who appear to deny the supernatural character and historicity of scripture. I am also tired of all the talk about how the earlier church shaped the doctrine as well as the history of the beginnings of Christianity as if Christ and the Apostles had little or nothing to do with the origins of our faith. Who in the world is the Johanine community or the Pauline community? Why not the Donald Duck community? And then you have those who talk of interpreting the “canonical shape” of scripture as if one must nod to the scholarly consensus before doing the real work of exegeting the text. It gets real old after awhile.

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