23 September 2009

Dodd: 'Fulfillment'

One of the key figures this past year in helping me put the whole Bible together is C. H. Dodd. Dodd had a profound and penetrating understanding of the way the NT fulfilled the Old - but it is a 'thick,' not a 'thin,' kind of fulfillment. Most evangelicals read the OT as a massive, convoluted, mysterious narrative that has occasional nuggets of prophecy that can be culled from the indecipherable mines and which point to Christ; maybe one percent of the OT speaks of Christ? Dodd has shown me that 100% of the OT speaks of Christ, though in greater or lesser, more direct or less direct, ways. Listen to how he describes 'fulfillment.'

The early church believed that with the coming of Christ, his death and resurrection, the Day of the Lord had dawned. To elucidate and justify this belief they appealed to prophetic descriptions, not only of the Day itself, but of the essential elements in the process which led up to it. Here all the various prophetic descriptions are relevant; for the Day of the Lord is fulfillment, not merely in the sense that it is the end of a process whose stages may now be put out of mind. It is fulfillment in the sense that the true meaning of all the strange and often tragic experiences of God's people in via is now at last made clear and those experiences in turn give depth and richness to the Christian understanding of the consummation that Christ has brought.

--C. H. Dodd, The Old Testament in the New (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963), 23; emphasis original


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