Determining appropriate and necessary application from OT narratives is a perennial problem for expositors. Affecting the issue is the Christocentric or Christotelic debate, as well as the varied moves from the text to the theology intended by the text (Meadors and Kaiser. Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology. Zondervan, 2009). In this paper, I will argue that appropriate application of the text must begin with clearly understanding the intended theological message of the text, and not being content with simply providing examples, whether positive (go and do likewise) or negative (don’t be like this), even though those can be helpful and appropriate. Rather, the main theological point of the text should govern the basis of the application, including good and bad examples. That theology needs to arise out of an exegetically sound understanding of the narrative, from the grammar, syntax, and narrative art to the larger context of the narrative. Within the context of the exegetical message to the original audience, the theological message will govern the transferable application to any age. As New Covenant expositors we need to filter the expressed theology of the OT narrative through the Christ event. While God does not change, the way he deals with his creatures must be seen in light of the New Covenant.
This understanding forms the basis of the coming Kregel Kerux series. However, as with any endeavor, the practical working out of the theory is the crux of the matter. As with many aspects of hermeneutics, it is both art and science. Genesis 22 provides a helpful example of different ways to apply the text and present it. It is familiar and well used, with rich theology from every perspective. It provides a canvas on which to picture the problem and some possible solutions.