The Old Testament Origins of the Gospel Genre

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Meredith G. Kline, “The Old Testament Origins of the Gospel Genre” WTJ 38 (1975/76): 1-27.

WAS the gospel genre a creation of the New Testament evangelists or can it be traced back beyond the first century A.D.? In dealing with this form-critical problem we soon find that we are involved with more than the literary form of the gospels. Our form-critical investigation confronts us with fundamental questions about their essential nature, purpose, and message. And to be involved with such questions about the gospels is to be engaged in an analysis of the basic character and structure of biblical religion.

A certain amount of ambiguity attends the use of the term “genre” in form-critical studies.

[1] Varying combinations of things like structural pattern, setting, content, mood, and intention are regarded by different form critics as constitutive of genre. The problem of definition may be somewhat simplified at least if we restrict the term to whole documents. The constitutive components of genre as the term will be used here with reference to the gospels are overall form and societal-religious function.

To date no scholarly consensus, at least no positive consensus, has emerged from the extensive efforts to identify the canonical gospels with some genre attested in earlier literary tradition. After a perceptive survey of studies along this line, R. H. Gundry endorses the conclusion that from a first century standpoint the gospels must be pronounced a literary novelty. In his judgment, therefore, it is not legitimate to speak of a gospel genre except in the sense that the four New Testament gospels themselves originated such a genre. [2]

At the heart of the problem is the fact that the gospels consist of two very different kinds of material: teaching discourse and historical narrative. They contain accounts of both the words and works of Jesus. Considerable difficulty is already encountered in the attempt to classify each of these two types of material individually in terms of earlier literary forms, quite apart from the problem of accounting for them in combination. The discourses of Jesus include sapiential, legal, polemical, apocalyptic, and other kinds of pronouncements. No single form-critical classification that has been suggested, such as sayings of the wise or manual of community order, manages to comprehend all of this variety. Neither has the search for a specific form of narrative with which to identify the gospel records of the works of Jesus met with success. In particular, the attempt to relate these gospel narratives to aretalogical biography has proven a disappointment on both literary and theological grounds. But the real problem still comes when we try to account for the total form of the gospels, including what they report of both the deeds and sayings of Jesus. In the opinion of the form critics generally, literary antecedents are apparently not to be found for the gospel form taken as a whole.

Having reached a negative conclusion as to the existence of literary antecedents of the complete form of the gospels, the form critics have turned to the historical circumstances out of which these documents arose for the explanation of their diverse contents and the evidently new literary form they represent. Some have seen the different kinds of material contained in the gospels as reflecting the variety of activity and concern that made up the life and mission of the early Christian communities to which the gospels were directed. Unfortunately, the tendency of form-critical studies along these lines has been to attribute to the church a creative role with regard to the substance of the gospel tradition.

The more conservative form critics have also appreciated the importance of the ecclesiastical sitz im leben of the gospels. They have recognized that understanding of the church audience to which a gospel was addressed can help to account for its particular christological interests and its distinctive selection and arrangement of the available data. The emphasis of the conservatives, however, has fallen on the gospels not as church documents but as lives of Jesus, and they have tended to explain the gospels’ peculiar configuration of narratives and discourses, the macrostructure common to all of them, as due ultimately to the actual nature of Jesus’ historical career. Jesus and his mission confronted the world with a unique complex of historical phenomena and it was this uniqueness of Jesus and his redemptive accomplishment that led to the unique Christian kerygma and thus to a new literary genre as that kerygma found documentary expression in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Book of Exodus and the Gospel Genre

We may readily agree that it would have been fitting for the revelation of the Messiah’s mission to be given in the form of a brand new literary genre. But is it after all really the case that the gospel genre was a creation of the first century A.D.?

The Qumran documents have provided fresh evidence of the familiar fact that the Judaism that formed the immediate background of the New Testament appropriated all kinds of literary forms from the Old Testament — apocalypse, history, testament, psalm, and a variety of didactic and legal genres. The suggestion that the New Testament evangelists adopted a genre prominent in their Old Testament scriptures would, therefore, be altogether compatible with general literary practice in the historical context in which the gospels originated.

In the search for the origins of the gospel genre, the form, critics have indeed traced the trajectories of various kinds of gospel materials to Old Testament sources. Nevertheless, they have overlooked the obvious, if I see it aright, in failing to find the origins of the gospel genre as such in the Old Testament, specifically, in the second volume of the Pentateuch. [3] For the Book of Exodus appears to have the same thematic focus and to exhibit comprehensively the same literary structure as the gospels. What I hope to show then is, in a word, that the book of Exodus is an Old Testament gospel — the Gospel of Moses. [4]

Coming to the question of the gospel genre from a background of more specialized concern with the form-critical questions of the Old Testament, particularly of the Pentateuch, what has impressed me is the similarity of the key problem in the two cases. In both the Pentateuch (or more narrowly, Exodus) and the gospels the problem is one of explaining the combination of two major kinds of literary material. Moreover, the two kinds of material are very much the same in the two cases — historical narrative and legislation in the Pentateuch, historical narrative and authoritative sayings in the gospels. The very problem that most perplexes the New Testament form critic at this point thus turns out to be a clue directing him to the goal of his quest.

In the course of the literary criticism of the Pentateuch the documentary theorists, as is well known, have seized upon the difference between narrative and legislative materials as a criterion for the identification of the hypothetical Pentateuchal sources. The partitioning of the Book of Exodus between the putative priestly source and the supposed narrative sources has followed for the most part the lines of distinction between legal ordinance and historical narrative. But form-critical study has now disclosed the actual generic unity and identity of the documentary combination of history and law. [5] This combination was a regular feature of the second millennium B.C. treaty genre. After a preamble introducing the suzerain-author of the treaty, an historical prologue reviewed the past relationships of the covenant partners, and this was followed by a law section defining the vassal’s duties. The Mosaic covenants, the Decalogue and Deuteronomy, appropriated this international treaty form and thus the history-law complex is found in them too. The combination of narrative and legislation in the Book of Exodus does not, therefore, betray a multiplicity of sources behind that document. The conclusion warranted by the form-critical facts is rather that the treaty form adopted by Moses in the Decalogue and Deuteronomy exercised a pervasive influence as he shaped the larger Pentateuchal composition in which he set those treaty texts. It is because Exodus, though not a treaty as such, is an adaptive development of the treaty, a creative by-form of the treaty form, that it contains history and law in the peculiar combination that it does.

As observed above, the distinctive combination of narrative and authoritative words is a feature of Exodus and the New Testament gospels alike. As soon as our attention is drawn, whether by this observation or along some other route, to the literary similarity of the gospels to Exodus with its covenantal orientation, the principal elements of that parallelism quickly make themselves apparent and we find that the pieces of the gospel genre picture begin to fall into place. What then are these structural features that Exodus and the gospels have in common and justify our speaking of them as a single genre?

In the structure of the gospels the most prominent feature is the long section devoted to the passion narratives. Starting with the transfiguration event (in the Synoptics) and continuing through the resurrection-ascension records, it extends about half the total length of each of the gospels. [6] All that precedes in the gospel story clearly has its face set steadfastly towards this climax in Jerusalem. The passion narratives thus dominate the gospel form thematically and quantitatively.

This feature has its counterpart in the Book of Exodus in the dominant position occupied there by the account of the inauguration of the Sinaitic Covenant. Beginning at Exodus 19, this climactic section continues on through the entire last half of the book to its conclusion. Here is the record of the awesome scene of theophany and covenant ratification, the divine revelation of the provisions of the covenant, the erection of the tabernacle-residence of the heavenly Suzerain, and the enthronement of his glory there in the midst of the covenant community. All the events narrated in the first part of the book lead upwards to this covenantal engagement of Israel at the mountain of God as their high goal. The very topography of the Israelites’ journey brings into high relief the ascending literary movement of the book as they proceed from the river valley of Egypt through the depths of the sea, thence along the rising terrain to the heights of Sinai, the lofty setting of the covenant consummation of Exodus 19-40.

The correspondence between the dominant second halves of Exodus and the gospels is a matter of content as well as form. For the underlying theme of the passion narratives in the gospels is precisely that of their Exodus counterpart — the inauguration of the covenant. As we shall want to observe further below, the, basically covenantal orientation of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ as presented in these narratives is evidenced by explicitly covenantal terminology and, less directly but none the less most effectively, by the gospels’ extensive appropriation of the exodus-Sinai experiences of Israel as a typological model in the delineation of the messianic history. Incidentally, geographical peaks mark the literary heights in the gospels too. The climactic passion narratives are bracketed by the mounts of transfiguration and ascension, the former of these mountain-top episodes being most realistically related to the parallel Sinai event of the Book of Exodus by the very presence of Moses.

There is a second obvious and major structural correspondence between the gospels and Exodus. It is one that involves the entire first halves of these compositions leading up to the climactic episodes of covenant ratification. In these opening sections both Exodus and the gospels recount the life or at least the public career of the covenant mediator. These accounts of the missions of Moses and Jesus are, of course, not confined to the first halves of the documents but continue on through the covenant ratification events related in the second halves. Indeed, it is supremely in the ratification episodes that the mediatorial office is fulfilled. Actually then this aspect of the structural parallelism comprehends Exodus and the gospels in their entireties.

The all inclusive role of Moses as he is presented in the Book of Exodus is plainly that of mediator of the covenant. In the gospels, however, it is not so immediately apparent that the role of covenant mediator is the central and unifying category in the multi-faceted ministry of Jesus. But once it is recognized that the inauguration of the covenant is the governing motif of the passion narratives on which the gospels place such overwhelming emphasis and that covenant ratification is, therefore, to be seen as the culminating achievement towards which Jesus’ earlier career moves, the centrality of the mediatorial office in the perspective of the gospels’ total portrayal of Jesus and his work can be readily perceived. [7]

It is Jesus’ office of covenant mediator that provides the natural and proper explanation of the combination of gospel discourse and gospel narrative that has proved so obstinate an obstacle in the gospel genre quest. For the covenant mediator is prophet as well as ruler and priest; he conveys the words of the Lord’s covenant to his people, as well as rescuing them from their enemies and officiating at the ratification rites. The authoritative sayings of Jesus that are interspersed through the narratives of his saving acts are then clearly to be identified as the new covenant equivalents of the covenantal directives of Moses to Israel in Exodus and elsewhere in the Pentateuch.

The structural correspondences that have been noted between the gospels and Exodus are not peripheral but fundamental. They take into account the most conspicuous formal features of these documents, features that encompass their entire contents. Moreover, these formal features include distinctive material specifications. The parallelism between these compositions extends beyond the general features that have been mentioned; this is especially true of the material correspondence as to covenantal situation. But the foregoing general comparison of structure and content is an adequate enough basis for stating the conclusion that the New Testament gospels and the Book of Exodus are to be viewed as a single genre.

Obviously, every individual specimen of a given genre differs in various ways from all the others; each is to some extent an adaptive variation of the generic form. The flexibility of the gospel genre is displayed by the differences among the four New Testament gospels. As redaction criticism has emphasized, each evangelist had a distinctive christological perspective which resulted in a distinctive total treatment of those narrative and discourse materials he had at his disposal. Two of the gospels contain accounts of the genealogy and birth of the covenant mediator, while the other two begin in other ways. Luke even made his gospel part one of a two part work and gave the whole a dedicatory setting according to common formal conventions of his day. Such variations simply reflect the particular circum- stances of the origin of each gospel and the special ecclesiastical situation to which each was addressed, as the kerygmatic approach has stressed. They do not forestall the identification of these four gospels as one genre. [8]

Although the differences between the Old Testament Book of Exodus and the New Testament gospels with respect to provenience and literary distinctiveness are certainly much more pronounced than the differences that distinguish the New Testament gospels from one another, they are nevertheless not of such significance as to disallow the classification of Exodus with the others as a single genre. Definitions of literary genres cannot avoid a certain amount of arbitrariness at the edges of the idea. As I see it, the somewhat more flexible concept of genre one operates with if he identifies Exodus and the New Testament gospels as one genre is hermeneutically more illuminating than the more rigid concept he adopts if he identifies them as different genres.

To suggest a provisional working definition: a document of the gospel genre is one that has as its literary center of gravity an account of the inauguration of a divine covenant, set within a record of the covenant mediator’s career and of the law of the community promulgated by the mediator.

There is a functional component that should be added to our concept of the gospel genre. It is implicit in the formal-material elements already mentioned. We shall return to that but wish to take up at this point another feature in the gospels of special relevance for our thesis.

Moses-Exodus Typology in the Gospels

By the citation of Old Testament promise and prediction in their narration of Jesus’ life, the New Testament evangelists show that they understand our Lord’s mission to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament hope. Another way they connect the history they recount with the Old Testament revelation is to use imagery taken from the history of the old covenant as an interpretive model to expound the meaning of God’s epochally new intervention through his Son. The saving acts of Christ are portrayed as a new exodus led by a new Moses. [9]

Many special studies have dealt with various facets of this typological use of the Mosaic history in the gospels. Our survey of the matter here will be merely an outline sketch singling out a suggestive selection from among the possible instances of this practice, which is rather pervasive in the gospels.

Our treatment of this vast area can afford to be somewhat tentative in detail since our primary thesis concerning the generic oneness of the gospels and the Book of Exodus rests squarely on the major structural parallels between them to which attention has already been called; it is not dependent on the evidence of exodus typology in the gospels. In fact, genre identification is not a matter of historical typology but of literary typicality. For example, the Book of Revelation contains a good deal of typological symbolism drawn from the history of the exodus, but it does not exhibit the broad formal-material literary parallelism to the Book of Exodus that we have found in the case of the gospels and, therefore, there is no question of identifying Revelation and Exodus as one genre. At the same time, although the gospels’ use of the exodus model bears only indirectly on our thesis, it does offer support for our conclusion by confirming the fact that Jesus and his work are contemplated in the gospels from a perspective that is primarily and pervasively covenantal.

The numerous studies in the new Moses and new exodus imagery in the gospels that have been produced over the years have had scarcely any noticeable affect on the concurrent investigation of the gospel genre problem. This is so even though an occasional statement may be found in the typological studies to the effect that the Book of Exodus influenced the form as well as the content of the gospel story, or even that it influenced the broad structure of a particular New Testament gospel. [10] Perhaps the reason that those engaged in the gospel genre studies have not followed up on this clue is that the typological studies have not faced squarely the form-critical issues of genre definition or have even confused historical typology with literary typicality.

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We will deal first with certain general themes found in the gospels’ exposition of the messianic salvation.

The word exodos (usually translated “departure”) appears in the transfiguration episode at the very beginning of the Lucan passion narratives (Lk. 9:31). This “exodus” discussed by Moses and Elijah as they spoke with Jesus was soon to transpire at Jerusalem. Suggestions vary as to the precise stage in the Mosaic exodus and the parallel exodus of Jesus that is referred to by the term exodos: a) The Israelites’ departure from Egypt; and Jesus’ departure from Jerusalem (cf. Rev. 11:8), the city doomed to desolation, on his way to Calvary (Mt. 27:32; Mk. 15:20; Lk. 23:26; Jn. 19:17), there to suffer outside the gate, in the wilderness (cf. Heb. 13:12). b) The passage of the departing Israelites through the waters of the sea; and Jesus’ undergoing of the baptismal ordeal of his passion (Mt. 20:22; Mk. 10:38; Lk. 12:50; cf. 1 Cor. 10:2). c) The triumphant emergence of the Israelites from the sea, leaving behind the draconic enemy, pharaonic Egypt, buried in the sea; and Jesus’ resurrection from the grave in victory over death and the Devil (cf. Heb. 13: 20; Isa. 63: 11ff.), with his subsequent leading of the disciples forth from Jerusalem (Lk. 24:50) to the mount of ascension. Perhaps the exodos of Luke 9:31 refers broadly to the whole death-resurrection complex. In that case, this striking term (the name of the Book of Exodus in the Septuagint) stands in the transfiguration account as a virtual heading for the entire passion narratives section introduced by that episode.

The messianic exodus like its Mosaic type occurred in a Passover context. The last supper constituted a bond between the Passover and the Cross for it had the Passover feast for its matrix, while it sacramentally celebrated the sacrifice of Christ. [11] The association of the death of Jesus with the Passover is brought out most emphatically in the Gospel of John according to the view (which I find unacceptable) that John describes the crucifixion as taking place on the very day of the Passover sacrifice and that he does this with the intention not of providing chronology but of identifying Jesus’ death typologically as the true Passover sacrifice. But the Cross of Jesus, like the Mosaic crossing of the sea, was in any case closely conjoined in time with the celebration of the Passover. A possible allusion to the Passover as an image of Jesus’ sacrificial death is found in John the Forerunner’s description of Jesus as “the lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29, 36), but the referent is not altogether certain.

The terminology of redemption emerges in the narrative of Moses’ mission in the Book of Exodus (Ex. 6:6; 15:13). [12] It is the nature of the exodus as a deliverance from slavery that is in the foreground when it is characterized as a redemption. God heard the cry of the Israelites by reason of their foreign taskmasters; he remembered his covenant with the patriarchs (Ex. 2:24; 3:6-10); and he redeemed his people — he acquired them for himself again. Luke draws upon this exodus-redemption imagery in his gospel. He uses the language of redemption in his accounts of Jesus’ nativity and youth (Lk. 1:68; 2:38). Thus, right from the beginning of his gospel, Luke puts the career of the Lord in an exodus setting. He indicates that Zacharias, father of John the Forerunner, echoing the words of God at the call of Moses (Ex. 3:6-8; d. 2:24), prophetically interpreted the salvation to be accomplished by Jesus as a second exodus deliverance from the land of oppression in fulfillment of God’s covenant with the patriarchs (Lk. 1:68-74; cf. Ex. 3:8; 5:23; 12:27; 18:4, 8ff.). Elsewhere in Luke’s gospel the hope of the remnant in Israel, which was fastening itself upon Jesus for its realization, is summed up in the word “redemption” (Lk. 2:38; 24:21). Also, a saying of Jesus is recorded in which he calls the final eschatological deliverance a redemption (Lk. 21:28). It is in the Gospel of Luke too that the Nazareth synagogue episode is related, in which Jesus portrays his mission as the fulfillment of the Jubilee symbol (as channelled through the messianic prophecy of Isa. 61: 1ff.), the symbol of the ultimate redemption from slavery (Lk. 4: 18ff.).

It was noted above that since the Lord’s Supper was instituted during the Passover meal and as an adaptation of it for the church, the death of Jesus memorialized by the Supper is related to the Passover and, through the Passover, to the exodus as its context of meaning. The words of institution of the Supper also interpret the sacrifice of the Cross explicitly as a covenantal transaction (Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:20), and covenant is another exodus-related motif. [13] Covenant and exodus are inseparable in the Mosaic history. Indeed, according to the narrative in the Book of Exodus the establishment of the covenant at Sinai was the purpose and goal of the exodus process: Moses was to bring Israel out of Egypt so that they might proceed to the mount of God, there to enter as covenant vassals into the kingdom service of their covenant Lord (Ex. 3:12; 4:23; and repeatedly; cf. Ex. 19: 1).

More particularly, at the institution of the Lord’s Supper Jesus called the blood of his imminent sacrificial death the “blood of the new covenant,” so interpreting it in terms of the covenant ratifying blood in the ritual described in Exodus 24:3-8 (cf. Heb. 9:20). [14] Since the symbol adopted by Jesus as the sign of his covenant blood was the sacramental cup of the transforn1ed Passover meal, Jesus’ death answers both to the sacrifice offered in preparation for the Passover and to the ratification sacrifices of the Sinaitic Covenant. Thus, the significance of the blood ceremonies that introduced and consummated the exodus-event fuse in the meaning of the Cross.

The covenant sacrifice at Sinai was followed by the covenant communion meal of Israel’s elders in the presence of God on the mountain (Ex. 24:9-11). This aspect of the covenant-making at the Mosaic exodus is clearly present in the communion of the disciples with Jesus at the last supper, and again when the chosen witnesses ate and drank with their risen Lord (Acts 10:41) during the forty days before the ascension (Acts 1:3; cf. Ex. 24:18).

The occurrence of the resurrection on the morning of the third day is another possible covenantal motif (cf. Ex. 19:11, 16; Hos. 6:2; Gen. 22:4). [15]

The evangelists’ predilection for the exodus model has also been claimed as the explanation for the special attention called to the wilderness setting in the accounts of certain highly significant episodes in Jesus’ life. The suggestion gains plausibility from the fact that the events themselves are strongly evocative of various features of Israel’s wilderness experience following the exodus from Egypt; particularly so are the baptism of Jesus in connection with the activities of John the Forerunner, the forty days temptation of Jesus, and the feeding of the five thousand. If this underscoring of the wilderness setting is indeed designed to set forth Jesus’ mission as a new exodus, what needs to be more clearly recognized is that the wilderness of the exodus was above all the place of the covenant-making. It was the place where Yahweh brought Israel into the bond of marriage (Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 16:8; 20:35-37). The highlighting of the wilderness setting of the opening events of Jesus’ career thus advises us from the very outset that we are to view his mission as a leading forth of the new Israel-bride to the ratification of the covenant with the Lord, her husband.

We turn now to observe how the authors of the New Testament gospels drew upon the Exodus record of the career of Moses for their portrayal of Jesus as mediator of the new covenant. The various Moses-like features may be subsumed under the categories of ruler and deliverer, the functions by which Stephen summarized the role of Moses when he too was drawing a parallel between Moses and Christ (Acts 7:35). As a preface to this functional comparison we will list certain points of correspondence in the records of the personal origins and the calls of these two covenant mediators.

Birth narratives are prominent in the introductions to the accounts of the old and new mediators (Ex. 2: 1ff.; Mt. 1: 18ff.; Lk. 1: 5ff.). They include a statement of the lineage of the child (Ex. 2:1; cf. 1:1ff.; 6: 14ff., especially 20; Mt. 1:1ff.; Lk. 3:23ff.), and the genealogy of Moses continues the genealogical tradition of the Book of Genesis, which is also incorporated into the genealogy of Jesus. These narratives are set within the international political scene of the day and in particular are related to royal decrees that are directed against the life of Israelite infants and thus threaten the destined deliverer of God’s people (Ex. 1:15ff.; Mt. 2:16ff.). Interestingly, extensive birth narrative appears again in the Old Testament in the history of Samuel, who, among Old Testament figures after Moses, performed most comprehensively the work of a covenant mediator. And at that point in this literary trajectory from Exodus to the gospels is found the song of praise for Hannah’s expected child (1 Sam. 2: 1ff.), of which Mary’s Magnificat is reminiscent (Lk. 1:46ff.). The birth narratives of both Moses and Jesus also record the naming of the child and the occasion in each case is evocative of the circumstances of the exodus-deliverance he was later to accomplish (Ex. 2:5-10; Lk. 2:21). [16]

The earlier life of both Moses and Jesus remains largely hidden from view. But in each case an episode is disclosed that was indicative of the future deliverer’s sense of vocation and the failure of others to understand the divine purpose (Ex. 2: 11ff.; cf. Acts 7:25; Heb. 11:24ff.; Lk. 2:41ff.). The hidden years of preparation issue in both cases in acts of commissioning, attended by special manifestations of God (Ex. 3:1ff.; Mt. 3: 16f. ; Mk. 1:10f.; Lk. 3:21f.; In. 1:32f.). Closely associated with the calls are episodes of personal participation by the two leaders in signs of covenantal judgment (Ex. 4:24ff.; Mt. 3: 13ff.; Mk. 1: 9ff.; Lk. 3: 21f.). The subsequent narratives relate series of miracles performed by or through Moses and Jesus. In each case these are characterized as “signs” and they serve in part to attest the divine authorization of the mediator’s mission (Ex. 4:8ff.; 7:3; 8:23; 10:1f.; Jn. 20:30). There are, moreover, striking correspondences in the nature of certain of the signs; compare, for example, the first in each series — Exodus 7:19 and John 2:1ff.

The gospels reveal Jesus engaged in a ministry of deliverance that recalls at several significant points the activity of Moses in delivering Israel. Like Moses, Jesus rescued from hostile, threatening forces. His deliverance of the victims of demon possession from the diabolical powers answered to God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage by the hand of Moses; for pharaonic Egypt with its gods is viewed in the Old Testament as the realm of the dragon (Ps. 74: 12ff.; Isa. 51:9f.; cf. Ezek. 29:3ff.; 32:2ff.). Jesus’ saving of the disciples from stormy seas recalls the exodus salvation at the sea (Mt. 8:24ff.; 14:24ff.), along with other historic displays of the Creator’s sovereign control over the chaotic waters. Because the death of Jesus was prefigured in his baptism, in which the water ordeal symbolism of the Red Sea passage was renewed (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1ff.), [17] we may say with biblical propriety that Jesus, like Moses, leads his people through the sea of death.

The figure of shepherd-guide is applied to Jesus and to Moses (Mk. 6:34; cf. Ezek. 34:5ff.; and Ps. 77:20; cf. Num. 27:17). Like Moses, Jesus led his followers, supplying their physical needs, going on before them to the promised rest (Jn. 14:2f.; cf. Mt. 26:32; 28:7). When Jesus spread a table in the wilderness for the thousands, the provision of the manna and other sustenance in the wilderness during the ministry of Moses found a messianic counterpart (Jn. 6:5ff.; cf. Mt. 14: 15ff.; Mk. 6:35ff.; Lk. 9:12ff.; and Mt. 15:32ff.; Mk. 8:1ff.).

Central to Jesus’ role as deliverer was the ministry of sacrifice and intercession that came to its chief expression in the final stages of his earthly career, the priestly ministry by which he secured acceptance for his people with God. This too answered to a prototype in the service rendered by the mediator of the old covenant. For though the special priestly office was assigned to Aaron and his line, Moses officiated at the covenant sacrifice (Ex. 24:4-8) and engaged in remarkable intercession with God in behalf of jeopardized Israel in the crisis at Sinai (Ex. 32:11ff., 30ff.; 34:8f.; Ps. 106:23; Jn. 17).

Under the heading of Jesus as ruler, his office as mediatorial representative of God before men comes into consideration. In this capacity he inaugurated the covenant and founded the kingdom, organizing the community of faith and promulgating the law of its life and order. Here is the core of the matter for the purposes of the present article and here the new Moses typology of the gospels is crystal clear.

Even when stating the contrast between Moses and Jesus Christ in terms of law over against grace and truth, John draws attention to their common mediatorial role. It was “through” Moses and “through” Christ that the old and new covenants came (Jn. 1:17).

Jesus’ identity as the prophet like unto Moses, affirmed by Peter (Acts 3: 22f.), is reflected in the gospels (Jn. 5:43; 12:48f.; Mt. 17:5), and the prophetic role of Moses was precisely his role as mediator of the covenant. The prophetic- legislative passage in the Deuteronomic treaty that instituted the office of the prophet defines it as a continuation of the function of Moses at the Sinai covenant-making (Deut. 18:15-19). The prophets of the old covenant down to John the Forerunner were thus primarily covenant messengers, like unto Moses as channels of covenant revelation and as agents of covenant administration. But Jesus Christ was the prophet like unto Moses in the full sense that he was the mediator-prophet in the inauguration of the covenant and the establishment of the kingdom. John stresses the uniqueness of the prophetic vision of the Son: only he has seen the Father (Jn. 6:46). But even here John may be alluding comparatively to the special intimacy of the vision of God enjoyed by Moses beyond others in the old economy (Ex. 33:18ff.; Deut. 34:10; Jn. 1:17f.). Certainly the transfiguration narrative in the Synoptics (Mt. 17:1ff.; Mk. 9:2ff.; Lk. 9:28ff.) contains an impressive set of analogues to the experience of Moses, the prophet-mediator at Sinai. The covenantal perspective is manifested by the presence of Moses and also of Elijah, whose ministry of covenant renewal recapitulated so strikingly various episodes in the life of Moses. The transfiguration transpired on the mountain enveloped by the theophanic glory cloud. Was it perhaps in part because Peter was so much under the impression of the similarity of it all to the Sinai event, which had issued in the establishing of God’s tabernacle among his people, that, still not sufficiently minding the things of God (Mt. 16:23; Mk. 8:33), he came up with the suggestion that the transfiguration occasion might immediately have a similar outcome — as though Pentecost might come before Jesus had accomplished his exodus? The voice from heaven commanding, “Hear him,” echoed Deuteronomy 18:18, so designating Jesus as the Moses-like prophet invested with oracular authority. And the glory shining from the face of the transfigured Jesus was manifestly the transcendent counterpart to the reflection of the glory of the Shekinah that was seen In the face of Moses after he had been in the mount of the covenant (Ex. 24: 15ff.; 34:29ff.; cf. 2 Cor. 3:7ff.).

Also relevant to the gospels’ Moses-mediator typology is the identification of Jesus in the gospels as the Isaianic Servant of the Lord, for it was the figure of Moses, the servant of Yahweh in the founding of the Sinaitic Covenant, that Isaiah drew upon in forming the figure of the Servant whom God would give as a covenant of the people (Is. 42:6; 49:8).

As ruler of Israel at the inauguration of the covenant, Moses was the human founder of the Old Testament kingdom: he organized the covenant community in its twelve divisions on the basis of the twelve tribal fathers and he communicated to the people the words of God’s covenant, the constitution of the kingdom. This model clearly comes into play when the gospels present Jesus as the founder of the kingdom of the new covenant. Jesus gathered and commissioned the twelve to be the apostolic foundation of his church. In his teaching he defined the nature and historical function of his kingdom and set forth the basic principles of its structure and life. The scene of the sermon on the mount, which epitomizes Jesus’ authoritative teaching role, recalls unmistakably the figure of Moses at Mount Sinai.

There may be some heuristic value in observing how important strands in the teaching of Jesus fit into the categories of the treaty pattern appropriated in the covenantal writings of Moses. [18] Corresponding to the opening preamble of such treaties, in which the suzerain, speaking in the first person, identifies himself, are Jesus’ words of self-identification and especially his “I am” declarations. In all that Jesus said by way of explanation of the Father’s redemptive purpose in sending his Son, the covenant claims of God upon his people come to expression after the fashion of the reviews of the covenant relationship in the historical prologues of the treaties. And in Jesus’ overviews of Israel’s history of covenant-breaking, particularly in certain parables such as those of the wicked husbandmen and the marriage of the king’s son, we see an adaptation of the historical prologue in the style of the prophetic lawsuit. Treaty stipulations concerning various individual and corporate areas of covenant life find parallels in the instruction given by Jesus. Jesus’ commandments deal with personal-neighbor relationships, with the authority structure and discipline of the new covenant institution (Mt. 16:18f.; 18:15ff.), and with its ministry of word and sacrament (Mt. 26:26ff.; Mk. 14:22ff.; Lk. 22:19f.; Mt. 28: 18ff.). In a manner analogous to the ceremonial legislation of Moses prescribing the symbols of the cultus, the parables of Jesus present the mysteries of the kingdom in a figure. [19] Treaty stipulations were followed by treaty sanctions (cf. Ex. 23:20ff. ; Lev. 26; Deut. 28-30). It is this tradition of blessings and curses that is resumed by Jesus in his beatitudes and his threats of doom against offenders (Mt. 5:3ff.; 7:24-27; 23:13ff.). The eschatological discourses of Jesus also stand in continuity with the treaty-sanction tradition as received through the prophetic channel of Old Testament apocalyptic. [20]

In the gospels’ accounts of the final stages of Jesus’ earthly ministry there are parallels to the life and work of Moses recorded in the Pentateuch beyond the Book of Exodus. The Johannine account of the farewell discourse of Jesus (Jn. 13-17) recalls Moses’ Deuteronomic farewell to Israel. In each case it is the hour of covenant ratification. Prominent in the two farewells are similar elements like election of the covenant servants, the Lord-servant relationship, the giving of commandments, the covenant witnesses, and the appointment of a successor for the
departing mediator. Both Moses and Jesus make a final disposition through testamentary blessing (Deut. 33) or promise (Jn. 14) and intercession (Jn. 17), bestowing on the community an inheritance of peace, joy, and glory in the unity of the name of the Lord. Subsequently, each covenant mediator takes leave of the earthly scene from the site of a mountain top.

It was the task of both the old and new covenant mediators, after defeating the forces of Satan and sealing the covenant of God with his people, to erect the sanctuary house of God. The last chapters of Exodus deal with the construction of the tabernacle under the leadership of Moses and the filling of the finished structure by God’s Spirit, visibly present in the form of the cloud of glory (Ex. 40). [21] While the resurrection accounts in the gospels record the raising up of the temple of the new covenant in the sense that Jesus himself is that temple, it is beyond the gospels in the Book of Acts that the further antitypical parallel to the conclusion of the Book of Exodus is found. In the Pentecost event Christ erects the temple of his church and the Holy Spirit fills the house of God (Acts 2:1ff.).

Parenthetically, it may be noted here that both Exodus and the gospels, though distinct literary entities in themselves, belong (or, in the case of the gospels, may belong) to larger literary units into which their covenant-mediator themes extend. The relation of Exodus to the Mosaic Pentateuch as a whole is formally much the same as that of the Gospel of Luke to the entire Lucan work of Luke-Acts.

Finally, there are new exodus elements in the gospels in which Jesus is presented not as a new Moses but as one who utterly transcends Moses. Jesus, like Moses, provides for his followers and leads them in the way; but Jesus is himself the provision — the true bread from heaven (Jn. 6:35) and water of life (Jn. 4:10ff.; 7:37ff.), and Jesus is the way (Jn. 14:6). Like Moses, Jesus offers the covenant sacrifice, but Jesus is himself that sacrifice. Moses lifted up the serpent on the pole as a symbol of divine judgment; the death of Jesus was that divine judgment in antitypical finality (Jn. 3: 14f.; 12: 32). Jesus, like Moses, builds the house of God, but Jesus also is himself the temple (Jn. 2:19ff.). Jesus and Moses are both covenant servants of the Lord, but Jesus is at the same time the Lord of all covenant servants. He is the Creator Lord who directs the turbulent waters for the salvation of his covenant people, the Angel of the Lord who leads them in the exodus and through the wilderness, the Lord of the covenant who proclaims with original divine authority the law of the covenant and who, in the day of the Lord, administers the covenant’s sanctions, the everlasting curse and blessing (Mt. 25:31ff.).

* * *

It needs to be stressed again that, on the one hand, the gospels’ use of the exodus imagery as an interpretive model is not in itself direct evidence for regarding the gospels and Exodus as one literary genre and, on the other, that the thesis of this article would not be invalidated if some instances alleged above as examples of that usage should be deemed illusory or even if there were no such usage at all. However, the data actually do show clearly that the gospels make extensive use of this typological model. Although not direct evidence for our thesis, these data do help to demonstrate that the underlying and unifying factor in the portrayal of Jesus’ mission in the gospels is his role as mediator of the new covenant and that the controlling and cohesive motif of the passion narratives is the ratification of the new covenant. The way the authors of the New Testament gospels use the exodus typology discloses an awareness on their part that they stand as scriptural authors in the line of the transparently covenantal tradition of the Book of Exodus.

Canonical Function of the Gospel Genre

The generic identification of the New Testament gospels with the Book of Exodus has implications for our understanding of the particular canonical function performed by the gospels within the New Testament and thus within the life of the church. For it is a natural assumption that the Lord who authored the covenantal scriptures will have employed the gospel genre with similar purpose in the canons of the old and new covenants. [22]

The Book of Exodus, itself a by-form of the treaty genre, served a purpose in the Israelite community very much like that of the Mosaic treaty documents themselves. In accordance with procedures followed with Near Eastern treaties, the two tables of the covenant and the Deuteronomic document were deposited before the Lord God in his sanctuary to be objective, legal witnesses to the solemn transaction by which the covenant engagement had been entered upon (Deut. 31:26). [23] Periodically read to the covenant people, the treaty text kept Israel in remembrance of Yahweh’s lordly rights and of the sovereign claims his redemptive grace made upon the allegiance of his redeemed people. The oral republishing of the treaty also kept before the people their specific obligations as Yahweh’s servants and the accompanying sanctions of the covenant.

In fact, if we are to understand “the book of the law” which Moses placed by the ark (Deut. 31:9, 26; cf. Josh. 24:26; 1 Sam. 10:25) as the entire Pentateuchal corpus, the Book of Exodus would itself be included in the literary deposit to which the function of covenant witness is explicitly attributed. But even if Exodus was not part of the special enshrined covenant documentation, we would be pointed to the same conclusion concerning its purpose in the Old Testament canon by its contents — its dominant account of the ratification of the Sinaitic Covenant and of the establishment of God’s rule in the covenant community, set within the broader framework of the narrative of the mission of the covenant mediator. And in either case, as part of Israel’s scriptures, copies of which came to be multiplied in the course of time, the Book of Exodus (and the Pentateuch as a whole) will have performed this witness function in a form more generally available to the people than a document kept in a sanctuary of extremely restricted access.

If then in adopting the gospel genre once again in the administration of the new covenant, the Lord of the covenant designed that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John should perform the same function for the church that the Gospel of Moses performed for Israel, their purpose is to provide documentary attestation to the new covenant. Doubling the number of official documentary witnesses provided for the Sinaitic Covenant (that is, the two stone tablets), the Lord gave the community of the new covenant four such witnesses, and indeed four different rather than duplicate witnesses as in the case of the Sinaitic tablets. [24]

To provide the legal documentary witness to the historically accomplished fact of the ratification of the new covenant by God’s action in the mediatorial mission of Jesus Christ — that is the distinctive function of the four gospels in the canon of the New Testanient. This witness function of the gospels is to be distinguished from what is usually in view when the gospels are identified as witness documents, as they often are. The point being made here is not that the gospels are the witness concerning Jesus Christ given to the world by the human authors of the gospels or by the church. The kind of witness we have in mind is not a human witness but a witness of God, the Lord of the covenant. It is not a witness to the world but to the church, the community of God’s covenant people. It is not a kerygmatic but a legal witness, [25] not kerygmatic-evangelistic proclamation of Jesus Christ but legal attestation to God’s covenant.

The gospels are, to be sure, of human as well as divine authorship and are, therefore, a human witness too. [26] Moreover, the gospels obviously do testify to Jesus Christ and proclaim the significance of his saving mission. Certainly, too, their contents are to be used in the church’s evangelization of the world. But when we consider the structure and the total contents of the gospels, particularly their dominant concern with covenant ratification, and especially when we view the matter in the light of the equivalency of the gospels to the Book of Exodus, we are brought to the conclusion that the specific canonical function of the gospels is to be defined from the perspective of God’s use of them as legal documents in the administration of his covenant.

Understood as covenant ratification witnesses, the gospels have a breadth of purpose that accounts fully for all their contents. It is unnecessary to make a choice, as is usually done, between classifying the gospels as primarily lives of Jesus or as church manuals of one sort or another. The problem thus posed is false and a solution in either direction is bound to be one-sided and inadequate. The covenant reality and the treaty structure, of which the gospels of the old and new covenants are a by-form, provide the comprehensive framework of theological concept and literary pattern within which both types of material, history of Jesus data and community instruction, find their full and proper explanation. The gospels’ particular range of subject matter is altogether natural and authentic within the tradition of covenant witness documents.

To define the nature and purpose of the gospels in covenantal rather than christological terms is not to depreciate the significance of Jesus but simply to recognize the specific focus of the christology of the gospels within their broader covenantal perspective. Certainly there is no tension of interests between the lord of a covenant and his covenant. The covenant documents are precisely the instruments by which a suzerain reveals and enforces his authoritative will. They are exponential of lordship.

That is especially true of the treaty preamble. In the biblical adaptation of the treaty form, the preamble is the revelation of the name of God as Lord of the covenant. This revelation of God’s name not only points to the source and foundation of the covenant reality but is itself the ultimate objective of the covenant relationship. And in the gospels, identified as covenantal documents, the christology performs this supremely significant preamble-like function. It proclaims the name of Jesus, the Lord of the covenant, revealing him as God present with his, people, the primary reality of God’s covenant relationship to man, and as Savior of his people, the central reality of the redemptive covenant relationship. The covenantal orientation given to christology in the gospels does not, therefore, detract from its importance but rather enhances it. The kerygmatic impact of the christology is actually strengthened, for the revelation of the name of Jesus comes in its treaty preamble capacity as a sovereign summons to covenantal commitment, the commitment of believing discipleship under Jesus as sign-attested mediator of the covenant (Jn. 20:31; cf. Ex. 4:1ff.; 14:31), indeed as covenant Lord and God.

At the same time, the gospels’ preamble-like revelation of the Lord of the covenant is such as to show the wisdom and even necessity of defining the gospel genre in terms broader than christology. For they reveal the covenant Lord by the name of Father and by the name of Spirit as well as by the name of Son. Their theology proper is not narrowly christological and it is an advantage of the broader identification of the gospels as documents of covenant certification that it can accommodate this more broadly theological character of the texts.

A breadth of perspective along with a centrality of emphasis on Jesus Christ, similar to what we have posited for the gospel documents, is present in the meaning of the word “gospel” (euangelion) as it is used in the New Testament gospels. Though this usage is relevant to our present purposes, it does not have as direct a bearing as one might think on the definition of the gospels as documents, since in the evangelists’ usage the word does not refer to the documents as such but rather to their central message, the good tidings proclaimed by Jesus and by his followers.

This gospel message is indeed characterized as a message about Jesus Christ (Mk. 1:1), but more comprehensively it is designated “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mk. 1:14f.). In the Old Testament antecedents of the terminology of heralding the good tidings, those tidings refer prophetically to the reign of the Lord God in the messianic age, to the coming of the Lord to his people in glory to rule with power and justice, rendering to each his recompense (cf. Isa. 40:9; 52:7ff.; 60:6; 61:1).

The coming of the kingdom of God announced by the gospel tidings is very much the same event as the inauguration of God’s covenant. For a divine covenant “is a sovereign administration of the kingdom of God. Covenant administration is kingdom administration.” [27] The establishment of the covenant order is the coming of God to dwell enthroned in a reign of salvation among his people. Therefore, to say the New Testament gospels testify to the ratification of the new covenant is tantamount to saying that they declare the arrival of the age of God’s kingdom. It is to say that the gospel documents certify the gospel tidings. Since the gospel tidings, like the gospel documents that contain and certify them, are concerned with the broadly theological theme of the kingdom and covenant of God, the adoption of the label “gospels” for the documents themselves, which evidently occurred in the second century A.D., was quite appropriate, particularly since the term covenant (or testament) came to designate the New Testament canon as a whole.

The witness of the gospels certifying that God had fulfilled his ancient covenant oath (d. Gen. 15; Deut. 32: 40ff.) by establishing the new covenant through his Son is a divine witness. In the gospels, God himself bears witness. More specifically, the divine gospel-witness documents are the witness of God the Spirit to the covenant as now ratified and the kingdom as now realized.

The Scriptures attribute to the Spirit of God the role of divine witness at the making of the Sinaitic Covenant. To appreciate the significance of the relevant biblical data it is first necessary to observe that it is the Spirit in particular who is identified with the theophanic pillar of the glory-cloud (cf., e.g., Is. 63:11ff.; Hag. 2:5; Neh. 9:19f.). [28] One passage, Haggai 2:5, is of special interest in this regard because it specifically identifies the Spirit with the theophanic pillar functioning as covenant witness. The prophet encourages the people in the rebuilding of the house of God by giving them God’s assurance of his presence with them (v. 4b) and of the ultimate completion of his house, which will take place in connection with a new exodus-despoiling of Egypt and a new Sinaitic shaking of the earth (vv. 6ff.). As a support for their confidence in the certain consummation of the covenant, the Lord calls their attention to the divine validation of the covenant relation at Sinai. He reminds them in particular of his treaty word and also of his own visible presence there as a divine witness to the covenant in the form of the glory-pillar: “This is what I covenanted [literally, the word I cut] with you, when you came out of Egypt, when my Spirit stood in your midst” (v. 5). Unfortunately, the allusion is lost in the usual versions, which turn the last clause of verse 5 into a statement that the Spirit abode among the Israelites in Moses’ day, or, worse still, that the Spirit was abiding among Haggai’s contemporaries. The allusion to the Sinaitic pillar of glory, however, is clear. The verb in verse 5b (‘amad) is the verb used to describe the glory-pillar as standing in Israel’s midst (Ex. 14:19; 33:9f.). In fact, the noun “pillar” (‘ammud) is derived from this verbal root. The symbolic significance of the pillar form of the theophany may be gathered from the fact that pillars of various kinds served as witness objects for a variety of legal transactions. [29] The pillar form of the Spirit’s manifestation thus reveals that he was present at Sinai in the capacity of witness to the covenant.

The Spirit also functioned as covenant witness at Sinai by way of the documentary witnesses of the Sinaitic Covenant, for it was the Spirit of God who, as the Spirit of prophecy, inspired the composition of the covenant documents. Moreover, the divine agency in the actual inscribing of the two stone tables of covenant witness is said to have been “the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18; cf. 8:19), and Scripture elsewhere equates “the finger of God” and the Spirit. [30] This situation illuminates and is in turn illuminated by 2 Corinthians 3: 3, which evidently attributes to the Spirit the writing of the tables of stone.

As the Holy Spirit performs his witness function once again in the divine administration of the new covenant, the phenomena of his coming at Pentecost and his miraculous working in the apostolic church are similar in mode and purpose to his manifestation and wonders in the case of the Sinaitic Covenant. [31] But what is of most immediate interest for our analysis of the gospels is the correspondence between the Spirit’s activity as divine Inspirer and primary Author of the gospels and his writing of the two stone tablets and inspiring of the canonical witness documents of the old Covenant.

Authored by the Spirit, the gospels are the witness of God the Spirit to the historical inauguration of the new covenant through Jesus Christ and to the basic terms of the covenant — its organizational regulations and programmatic commission for the church, its fundamental religious and ethical norms, and its eschatological sanctions. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
S. Hamilton, Massachusetts


1 Cf. R. Knierim, “Old Testament Form Criticism Reconsidered,” Interpretation 27, 4 (1973), pp. 435-468.
2 Robert H. Gundry, “Recent Investigations into the Literary Genre ‘Gospel,'” New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), pp. 97-114. Cf. Ralph P. Martin, New Testament Foundations, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), pp. 16ff.
3 The section of the Pentateuch we call the Book of Exodus is marked off as a unit in itself by the distinctive contents and form of the two sections that immediately bound it (Genesis and Leviticus). Even according to modern higher critical views of the origin of Exodus, it had, of course, emerged and been regarded as a discrete literary entity long before the production of the New Testament gospels.
4 The present article carries a step further a suggestion I made in The Westminster Theological Journal 32, 2 (1970), p. 198, in an article afterwards included in The Structure of Biblical Authority (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972; hereafter, SBA). In the latter, see pp. 71f.
5 Cf. SBA, p. 53.
6 This applies to the Gospel of John as well as to the Synoptics, although John omits the transfiguration episode. On the latter as the opening of the passion narratives, cf. N.B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian Guardian, 1944), p. 157.
7 Even if one did not agree that covenant mediatorship is the controlling motif in the gospels’ picture of Jesus’ mission, he would still have to recognize that Exodus and the gospels are alike in that their overall outlines are unified by the story of a central protagonist, a great deliverer of God’s people.
8 Cf. Gundry, op. cit., p. 114.
9 Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament had already done this. The Qumran sect too regarded its experience as a new exodus.
10 Cf. Otto A. Piper, “Unchanging Promises,” Interpretation 11 (1957), pp. 16ff. and Jacob J. Enz, “The Book of Exodus as a Literary Type for the Gospel of John,” Journal of Biblical Literature 76 (1957), pp. 208ff.
11 It is noteworthy from the viewpoint of literary analysis that the fact if that a memorial feast was instituted on the eve of each exodus resulted in a narrative-disrupting insertion of legislation at a momentous juncture in the conflict (cf. Ex. 12:1ff.).
12 Cf. Deuteronomy 7:8; 9:26; 13:5; 21:8. Genesis 48:16 is the only pre-exodus instance.
13 This explicitly covenantal exposition of Jesus’ death is in itself obviously the most direct evidence for the presence of the covenantal perspective in the passion narratives. But it is being cited at this point for the contribution it makes to the case we are developing in the present section of this article for the extensive use of exodus typology in the gospels as an indirect argument for the primacy of the covenantal perspective of the gospels.
14 The statement that Jesus’ covenant blood was shed for many for the remission of sins involves further ties with the Sinaitic Covenant via intermediate points in the trajectory: the Jeremianic prophecy of the new (law) covenant (Jer. 31:31) and the Isaianic prophecy of the new (Mosaic) covenant Servant (Isa. 53:12).
15 Cf. W. Brueggemann, “Amos 4:4-13 and Israel’s Covenant Worship,” Vetus Testamentum 15 (1965), pp. 1-15; J. Wijngaards, “Death and Resurrection in Covenantal Context (Hos. 6:2),” Vetus Testamentum 17 (1967), pp. 226-239.
16 In Matthew’s account of the flight into Egypt and the return, which he entwines with the birth narratives, he makes an explicit typological connection of the history of Jesus with the exodus by relating the episode to Hosea’s observation that God had called his son, the nation Israel, out of Egypt at the time of its national childhood (Matt. 2:15; Hos. 11:1). Compare also Matthew 2:20 and Exodus 4:19.
17 See my By Oath Consigned (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968; hereafter, BOC), pp. 56ff.
18 Cf. SEA, Part II, Chapters 1 and 2.
19 Cf. Matthew 13:10ff.; Mark 4:10ff.; Luke 8:9f. Ezekiel 40-48 is an intermediate development between the cultic legislation and the parable.
20 Cf. SEA, pp. 58ff.
21 Cf. Meredith M. Kline, “The Holy Spirit as Covenant Witness” (Th.M. dissertation, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1972), pp. 28ff.
22 Cf. SEA, pp. 45ff., 94ff.
23 Cf. SEA, pp. 123ff., 141.
24 Cf. also Deuteronomy 19: 15; Matthew 18: 16.
25 Indeed, kerygmatic witness, though distinguishable from legal witness, always has a legal character; it is a witness borne in the name of the Judge of all the earth.
26 The conscious and express purpose of this human witness to authenticate the historical accomplishment of God’s covenant program (cf. Lk. 1:1ff.) is clearly in complete congruity with what we have determined to be the purpose of the gospels as divine witnesses.
27 BOC, p. 36.
28 For the evidence in full, see M. M. Kline, op. cit.; for the Spirit’s covenant-witness function, see pp. 56ff.
29 Ibid. pp. 60f.
30 Ibid. pp. 52ff. Compare Luke 11:20 with Matthew 12:28.
31 Ibid. pp. 8ff.

Scanned and Edited by Robert A. Lotzer on July 12, 2006.