While we cannot say that the writers of the NT were always operating with the story of Israel explicitly in view, the assumptions that these stories reveal are invariably connected to their other uses of Scripture and should therefore influence our overall understanding of the use of the OT in the NT.
I have benefited greatly from the study of the use of the OT in the NT. I took courses on this subject and have written on it in a few different settings. However, most of the study I’ve done on this topic has been particularly focused on the use of a specific OT text or texts in a specific NT passage. Many books or articles follow similar patterns. There is, however, a difference between tracking the connection between one OT passage and one NT passage and looking at places where the NT tells the wider scope of the story of the OT and particularly the story of Israel. And seeing the wider lens of the whole story of Israel could in fact provide more depth of understanding the biblical theology of the NT writers. In our recent book, Jared Compton, Kevin McFadden, and I are attempting to do just that.
The Wider Scope of the Story
Several years back, my friend and now colleague at Bethlehem College & Seminary, Jared Compton, pointed out to Kevin McFadden and me the places where the authors of the NT tell the story of Israel. Others have written very helpful articles considering this compositional category (summaries of Israel’s story or SIS) and its place in light of similar summaries in both the OT and other early Jewish writings. However, few have analyzed each summary or consider how they function as examples of the biblical theology of the NT authors.
This led to many long conversations and an even longer process of working through the summaries together. After some back and forth, we agreed to focus on seven places in the NT: The genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 1:1–17), the parable of the wicked tenants (as told in Matt 21:33–44), Stephen’s speech (Acts 7), Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16–41), Paul’s account of Israel’s story in Gal 3–4 and Rom 9–11, and finally the “hall of faith” in Heb 11.
This project has a special significance for all three of us co-authors because we actually grew up together through elementary and high school. All of us went on to do advanced study in NT and biblical theology and are now teaching at higher educational institutions (Jared and I now at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Kevin at Cairn University near Philadelphia). In the final stages of working on the book, we met up in Kenosha, Wisconsin for a few days of marathon sessions of hammering out our final differences. Because we have such a long history together, we felt like we could really go after each other to improve the book. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses, but we hope that the book highlights the former more than the latter!