Were There Any Jewish Hermeneutical Patterns for Interpreting Old Testament Scriptures?
Answered by Cory Collins
One way to approach this question would be by examining the four canonical gospels. The interaction between Jesus and the Jews of his day reveals the use of Jewish hermeneutical patterns and principles.
For example, the Jews recognized the value of commands. Both Jesus (Matt 22:34-40) and an expert in the Law (Luke 10:25-28) answered the same way when asked about the greatest commandment. This evidences the hermeneutical pattern that sees all other commandments as they relate to these two that are primary: to love God and to love one’s neighbor.
The first-century Jews also appreciated inferences in their hermeneutics. The Sadducees (Matt 22:23-33) started with the teaching from Deut 25 about Levirate marriage and inferred falsely from it that there could not be a resurrection of the dead. If there were, they reasoned, whose wife would the woman be? In the same context (Matt 22:23-33) Jesus started with Ex 3, the passage about the bush. He inferred properly from it that God is the God of the living and that, therefore, the patriarchs must still be alive, even after their death.
In the gospels one finds the use of examples, type/antitype, predictive prophecy and fulfillment, and other kinds of Jewish hermeneutical patterns used in interpreting OT Scriptures. These were recognized by Jesus, by his disciples, and by his critics in every discussion that they had.