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fonm-rly thf' joum.rJ for thf' Study a(thf' New TNr.rmc•nt Supph-mcnt Sf'ri<'S

Mark Goodacre

Ed/ror/,>1 fkMrd
John M. G. Barela)'. Cr.ti8 Blomlx•rg, KaLhi<.··'C"n ~. Corley,
R. Culpcp p<"r, Jamt"s 0 . G . Dunn, Crai6 A. Evans.
St<·phcn fowl. Robrrl fowln, Simon J. Gath<.·rcolc,
john S. Kloppc'nborS. Michad l abahn, Robert Wall.
Steve W.lh on. Robcrl L W<-•bb, Catrin H. WilliJms
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Vo lume 2: Th e Gosp el of Ma tthew

Ed ited by

Thomas R. H a tina

l &.t dark
Copyright C Thomas R. liatinuand c.ontributors. 200&

Published by T&T Clark lntcmntionnl

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All rights rcS<:rwd. No part of l.his publication IM)' be reproduced or transmitted in any fonnor
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storngc: or rctric\'al system. without p<m1ission in writing from the publishers.

British library Cataloging-in-Publication Oat.11

A catalogue. record for this book is available from the British l ibral)'.

ISBN-10: 0-567-04194-8
ISBN-13: 978.()..56744194-4 (hardh.1ck)

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Printed on aeid-frcc paper in Great Britnin by Biddies Ltd. King ·s lynn. Korfolk

Preface VII
Abbre.viations LX
Contributors xi
Introduction I

I. Myth Theory, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts:

Ibn lsl)aq 's Biography o r Muhammad and the Mythologi,ing
Function o f Isaiah 7.14 in Matthew 1.23 14
M. Anthony Apodaca

2. Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice in

Matthew 22.34-40 30
Warren Carter

3. Matthew's Earliest Interpreter: Justin Martyr on Matthew's

Fulfilment Quotations 45
J. R. C. Cousland

4. ' The Book or the Genesis of Jesus Chris t': T he Purpose o r Matthew
in Light ofthe lncipit 61
Craig A. Evans

5. Mark, Elijah, the Baptist and Matthew: The Succe.<S oft he f ir.;t
lntertextua l Reading o f Mark 73
Mark Goodacre

6. Reading Zechariah and Malthew's Olivet Discourse 85

Clay Alan Ham

7. From History to Myth a nd Back Again: The Historici,ing Function

or Scripture in Matthew 2 98
Thomas R. Hatina

S. Plouing Jesus: Characterization, Identity and the Voice of God in

Matthew's Gospel 119
Michael P. Knowles
VI BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

9. The King as Shepherd: the Role of Oeutero-Zechariah in Mallhew 133

John Nolland

10. Malthew's Atomistic Use o f Scripture: Messianic Interpretation of

Isaiah 53.4 in Matlllew 8.1 7 147
Lidija Novakovic

I I . ~·lalthew's lntertexts and the Presentation of Jesus as

Healer-Messiah 163
Andries G. van Aarde

12 Scribal Methods in Matthe.w and lvlish1wh AlxH 183

Lawrence M. Wills

Bibliography 198
Index of References 216
Index of Authors 229

T1tis collectjon of essays on the interpretation of Scripture in the narrative of

Matthew's Gospel is the second in a five-volume series, which will include each
of the four canonic--al Gospels and a final volume on the extracanonical gospels.
T1te objectives of the sel'ies are to situate the cun-ent state of research and to
advance our understanding of the function ofembedded Scripture texts and their
traditions in lhe narrative and socio-religious comexts of early Christian Gospels.
T1tough methodologically broad, lhe series ;.tims to bl'idge the concerns of both
narrative, social-scientific, and critics.
The essays in each volume have not been sele.cted nor have they been organ-
ized according to specific pre-determined categories. but instead they are pre-
sented as a single undivided collection tha1 promotes methodological integration
and overlap.
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the contributors whose expertise,
creativity, generosity and enthusiasm have made this ambitious pi'Oject possible. I
.am also grateful to t\·fark Goodacre and Craig Evans, who have seen the value of
this p1'0ject, and to the editorial stallat T&T Clark, who painstakingly bring such
collaborations to completion. Finally. I wish to expres.~ my grati1ude. to Anthony
Apodac-.a tOr his editol'ial assistance in the final stages of this volume.
This sel'ies is dedicated to my colleagues in the Religious Studies department at
Trinity Westem University, whose rich scholarship. frie-ndship and good humour
are cherished.

TI1omas R. Hatina
Novembe-r 2007; Vancouver. B.C., Canada
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DSD Dmd S£-vt DiJrot't'ries
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FGrl/i:ii Felix Jncoby. Die Fragmnlli' <kr griedri.sdreJI Hiswriker (Berlin nnd
Lcidcn: Brill. 1913- }
FRlANT Forsuchen zut Rd igion und l ilcrnlut des Altcn und Neucn Tcstamc-nts
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Jacob Stamm: trans. M. E. J. Richnrdson: S vols: teiden: E. J. BrilL
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H~·TSt 1/err-ormde reologiese studies

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MM Jamc:s Hope Moulton and George. Milligan. The Yocuhllloryofthe Grft'k
TeJtalttt'fll (London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1930}
MSS Manuscripts
MT Masoretic Text
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TDNT Gtthard Kittel and Gcrt.ard Friedrich ( c:ds). TlFeo/ogical Dk1iorwry of
t/1!' Nell' Testament (trnns. Geoffrey W. Bromilcy: 10 \'Ois: Grand
Rapids: E~"l'dllL.11lS. 1964- 76)
THS Ty•ldalc. House Studies
TR T1reologisd1e Rente (TRt"t') or TheologisdU! Rundsd1at1 (fRu)
Httmission. H.-J.
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lAW lciuchijifor die alttesttmli!llllklfe Wi.ue1udw;;
ZTK leitsch{tifiir T1•eologie mtd Kin:h

M. Anthony Apodaca
Graduate Research Assistant
Trinity Western University
langley, B.C.. Canada
Warren Carter
Protesso1· ofNew Tes tament
Brite Divinity School. Texas Christian University
Fort Wo1'lh. TX, USA

J. R. C. Cousland
Associate Profcsso1· of Classical, Near Eastem and Religious Studies
University of British Columbia
Vancouver. B.C.~ Canada

Craig A. Evans
Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Tc$tament
Acadia Divinity College
Wolfville~ Nova Scotia., Canada

Mark Goodacre
Associate Professor of New Testament
Duke Univc.rsity
Durham, NC, USA

Clay Alan Ham

Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament
Dallas Christian College
Dallas, TX, USA

Thomas R. Hatina
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Trinity Western University
langley, B.C., Canada
Michael P. Knowles
G. F. Hurlbtui Associate Professor of Preaching
McMaster Divinity College
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
xii Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

John Nolland
Vic.e Principal and Lecturer in New Testament
Trinity College,
Bristol. England
l idija Novakovic
Associate Professor of New Testament
Baylor University
Waco~ TX~ US.A.

lawn~.nce M. Wills
EthelbenTalbot Professor of St11dies
Episcopal Divinity School
Cambridge. MA, USA
Andries G. Van Aarde
Professo1· Emeritus.
Department o f New Testament Studies
Faculty of 111eology
University of Pretoria, South Afric-.a

Inquiry into Matthew's heavy dependence on Scripture. and especially his use of
quotations, can be traced to the time of Justin Ma11yr and (renaeus~ who argued
that the Evangelist 'demonstrates· the unity of law and gospel. and the broad
anticipation of Christ among the prophets oflsraeL I But exhaustive treatments on
the problems of Matthew's wording, meaning and sources appear to begin with
Jeron1e.1The interest has never ceased. the contrary, it has branched out
into various of research, suc.h as textual criticism, comparative religions.
early Jewish- Christian relations, the origins ofChristianity, New Testament the-
ology. socio-linguistics, semiotics, and literary criticism. to name a few. TI1e
following essays are a tribute to the diversity oftoday's quests.
Perhaps the most enduring area of interest in studies on .Matthew's use of
Scripture has been his so-c--alled fulfilment ' tb nn ulae quotations' which refer to
(probably) ten 9uotations from the prophets introduced by the formulaic phrase
(iva) rrAnpweD To pn9£v 61a . . . Too rrpO<j>i}Tou Aiyovto, (Mt. 1.22-23; 2.15,
17-18, 23: 4. 14-16: 8.17: 12.17; 13.35; 21.4-5; 27.9). Scholars remain interested
in the problems associated with Matthew's unbalanced and inconsistent use o f
these fonnulae. The theological meaning and importance of the fommla. Mat-
thew's redactional interests, his (mis)repr...~entation s ofbiblic-al solu·ces, his possi-
ble awareness ofa synagogue community's library, the e.mergenceofChristianity
as a new religion. and the historicizing t1mction ofthe quotations are just some of
the more recent issues associated with the formula quotations today. Whatever the
angle of inquiry. there is consensus that the fulfilment formulae provide a vital
salvation-historical link in Matthew's connection between Jesus' .Messiah (and
Matthew's community) and God's revelation to lsmel. For Matthew, the Scrip-
tures are-.the voice of God spoken through the propheK God. however. is their ulti-
mate author. And like all attempts toward unification oftmth and legitimization of
identity in religious systems, Matthew seeks to appropriate the past into the pre-
sent. (fUi rich Luz is correct that Matthew's community experienced a traumatic
separation from (srael. then the Evangelist's claim to the Bible becomes all the
more intense. selfis h and fateti1l.ln the history of Christian anti-Jewish polemic,
Matthew's convictions can be viev..-ed as a significant contribution to an intensi-
fied anti-Jewish sentiment expressed via Chl'istian programmatic and exclusive

I. D. 1. Bingh.1m. Jnmoeus' Use ofMoJJ!ww 's GoJ[X'I itr Adversus Hacrescs(l'md:itio Ex~·gclica
Gr.tcca. 7: l ot•vain: Poc:t« s. 1998). pp. 206- 27.
1. Ktistcr S•cnd.1hl. Tlw Schoof ofSt. .4fouhe•,· ond Irs U.f(' ofthe Old TeJtament (ASNU. 20:
l und: C. W. K. Glocrup. 1954: 2od cd:n; Philadelphia: Fonress Press. 1968}. pp. 39-41.
2 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

claims to the Bible in subsequent gene.rations.l In our religiously charged world,

it is hoped that in at least a small way studies such as these, which shed light on
the appropriation of authoritative texts of one religion by another, will bring an
awareness of dependence. gratitude and peace.

I. Colllribulions
As stated in the Series Preface, the essays in this volume are not divided into pre-
dete-rmined categories or sections. All thecontributo1·s attempt to integrate narra-
tive, social-scientific and historical concerns. even whe-n tbcusing on a particular
section of Matthew. M}' lhinking is that such divisions may fom1ulate assump-
tions that may be counterproductive in promoting methodological integration. I
have ente11ained the option of dividing the essays into two sections, one that is
methodological and the other that is exegetical, but the line between them is
often blurred. In summarizing the essays. I seek to stay as close as possible to the
wording that the contributors use.
Recognizing the absence, in much of current New Testament studies, of any
clear theoretical framework from which to approach embedded Scripttll'e texts,
Apodaca attempts to fill the void by drawing on current myth theory within the
field ofcomparative religions. He then tests his theoretical framework b;rapply-
ing it to the quotation o f lsa. 7.14 in Mt. 1.23. His essay is c.onstructe.d in three
sequential parts. First. he articulates the necessity for New Testament sc.ltolars to
theorize about religion in order to interp1·et J'eligiou.s texts sufficiently- an endeav-
our vim1ally ignored by the guild. Apodaca aptly wams that theol'izing is not
me1·ely an academic exercise. but has significant implications for the exegetical
task. Second. after surveying several myth theories, Apodaca establishes a helpful
working definition of myth that elucidates aspects of ideology. social fonnation
and the process ofmythmaking. And third, Apodaca uses myth theory as a plat-
fomt for his comparison ofMauhew's birth narrative and Ibn Jsl)aq 's biography
of Muhammad. illuminating similar mythologizing processes ofearly Muslim and
Christian writers. He.concludes that lsa. 7. 14 in Mt. 1.23 is part ofa mythmaking
process aimed at reinterpreting the. past as a mode of social argumentation. lsa.
7. 14 is not included fOI' its own sake. but rathe.r fo1· its rhetorical function as a
mythmaking agent. Embedded Scripture texts are chosen by the Gospel writer for
their ideologic-al value rathe1·than for 1heir ·meaning' in an ·oJ'iginal' context. Con-
sequently. Apodac.a argues that embedded Scripture texts should be interpreted
according to their new narrative context rather than their abandoned old narrative
context. Apodaca's contribution is significant for pointing out some of the poten-
tially problematic hem1eneutical as$umptions when religion is neither defined nor
compared. This is a timely essay that speaks to today's re.ligious biases ofsuperi-
ority and hermeneutical literalism.

3. Mau!lew 1-7 (trans. W. C. l inss: M i nn~<tpolis: Augsbutg. 1989), pp. 156-64, espc-
cinll)' p. 163.
lmroduction 3

Carter's study stems from his observatjon that all too frequently discussions of
Matthew's use of Scripture have not given e-nough attention to the contexts ofthe
embedded Scripture text By ' context' Cilrter has in mind both the text segments
from which they come and the Gospelcontext in which they func6on. f\·1atthev.•'s
Gospel. acco1·ding to Caner, should not simply be viewed as a narrative concerned
with religious issues - as has often been the c.ase - but as a narrative which nego-
tiates with first-century world religion within imperial political and societal re-ali-
ties. (nan attempt to alleviate this problem, Caner explores how quotations fro m
Deuteronomy 5 and l eviticus 19 in Mt 22.34-40 function in light of these broader
contextual concerns. Instead of a myopic focus only on the cited verses, Carter,
following the work of John Foley on me-tonymic referentiality in oral c.ultures,
brings attention to the larger text segments to which the cited verses belong and
which they evoke.J Cm1er's essay makes three contributions to the.discussion of
Matthew's use ofsc1·iptuml tmditions. Fi1·st, it offe1·s an interpretation of a signifi-
cant contlict scene that mo\•e-s beyond more wmal emphases on individual religious
practices to societal visions and structures. Second. it argues that MattheaJl scrip-
tural citations and echoes are more appropriately engaged not through atomistic
interpretation of isolated fragment:; - the practice of much prior discussion - but
through the notion offoley's metonymic intertextuality in which cited fragments
evoke much larger narratives and traditions as was the common practice of oral
socie-ties. And third, it locates interpretation ofMatthewts Gospel not only in the
intra-Jewish debates ofpost-70 AD Judaism (the context that has dominated Mat-
thean studies for over fifty years), but also in the much neglected larger context
o f Jewish negotiations o f the Roman impel'ial world.
Robert Cousland examines Matthew's fulfilment quotations from an entirely
different vantage point. Instead of focusing on the Evangelist's influences and
sources as is the norm. Cousland begins by viewing Matthew as a source for
Justin Martyr's appropriation ofScl'ipture. More specifically, his ankle considers
thrt.~ questions: (I) What influe.nce have Matthew's fulfillment quotations e-xerted
on Justin' s citations from the Hebrew Scriptures'? (2) Why did they have this
particular effect? And (3) what does JtL~ti n 's interpretation suggest about how
Manhew's fulfilment quotations ought to be understood? Cousland concludes
that Mat1hew's fulfilment quotations had limited influence on Justin, and that it
was the literary forms (apology. dialogue) of Justin' s writings that helped deter-
mine the quotations that Justin employe.d. A comparison of the.strategies employed
by Justin and Matthew in their citations of Scripture.reveals that Justin uses Chl'ist
to elucidate the meaning ofScripttu·e, whe1·eas f\·1atthew uses Scripture to interpret
Jesus' advent. Causland's comparative analysis suggests that Matthew' s fulfil-
ment quotations are best understood as inductive. and that they likely have an
apologetic or propagandistic dimension.
The goal of Craig Evans~ study is to draw at1ention to Matthew's incipit (i.e.,
Mt. 1. 1) and inquire in what ways it may have a be-aring on the question of the

~- J. Fok-y. fmnUJMFJI Art: From Sm rcftlN' UJ Meaning i11 TrodiJinnaf Oral £piC' (Bloomington;
lndinna Uni"crsily Press. 1991). pp. J-60.
4 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Evangelist's primary purpose tbr writing. Discussions ofpurpose regularl}' deal

with genre and integration, but, acoording to Evans~ the incipits of the New
Testament Gospels and Acts are not always sufficiently appreciated by interpre-
tei'S . Yet Evans demonstrates that books in antiquity. which nom1ally did not have
formal titles, were frequently prefhce<l with a phrase or a prologue of some so11
which indicated the aim of the writing. In Matthew's case the incipit (traJlslated
as 'The book ofGenesis ~~~~~05 Y!V!O!WS) of Jesus Messiah, son ofAbmham,
son of David'), followed by the recurring formula 'A begat B' (Mt. 1.2- 16),
would have been connected, by those familiar with the synagogue,
with seve.ral texts in Genesis that refer to lists of generations in Israel's salvation
histo1y. Evans liutherdemonstrates the incipit's probable reverl>erations by point-
ing to tlte numerous typological parallels throughout Matthew between Jesus and
key biblical figures> especial!)' Abraham, Moses and David. The incipit, then,
introduces Jesus as a ' son of Abraham·. that is, a tme descendant of the-first great
patriarch of the Jewish people, a 'son ofDcwid' and therefore legitimate messi-
anic heir. and a new Moses who has come to fulfil the. law. The purpose of this
apologetic, according to Evans. is to bolster the faith of those who believe in Jesus
(both Jews and Gentiles) and ro reply to the objections of illegitimacy emanating
from the-synagogue.
In response to tlte current preoccupation with Mark and undervaluing of Mat-
thew, Mark Goodacre argues that it is time to rethink our negative outlook on
Matthew's interpretation of Mark (caused largely by redaction criticism's preooc-
upation with finding ditl'ering theological themes) and to emphasize instead one
of the key ways in which Matthew might be seen as a successful re-ading o f
Mark. By ·successful'. Goodacre means a reading that strengthens the stronger
connections. deletes the weaker ones, and clarifies the.remainder. all for the bene-
fit ofMa tthew ~s own audience. One such successt\1l reading. according to Mark
Goodacre, is Matthew·s rendition of tlte Elijah image1y. Tracing the role that
Elijah played in the synoptic tradition. Goodacreobserves that in the pre-Marcan
context, many were making the equation between Jesus and Elijah. But Mark
sees the potential ofidentifying the Baptist with Elijah as much more conducive
to his key Christologic-al and soteriological agenda. Matthew, who in large. part
shares that agenda. and who enjoys the thrill of untangling the message. that for
him is presented all too subtly, carries tbrward the.identification. underlines it and
develops it1 clarifying some oft\•lark's idiosyncrasies and in the process adding
his eschatologie3l touch>drawing Elijah into an involvement in the Parousia.
Goodacre observes that an interesting pattern emerges in Matthew·s reading of
Mark' s Baptisl narrative. Where he sees the link between Elijah and the Baptist,
and where he expects his own readers to be able lo see the link, it is accentuated
and brought into g.reate1·prominence. Where he has the chance. he will intervene
and use the narrator's voice to underline the link. And if he does not find his
source conducive to fOrwarding that theme, he will play it down. He-re we can see
the way that one ofthe first readers ofMark reacted to his text: strongly affirming
its direction (John the Baptisl = Elijah) but modifying, re-reading. or omitting
anything that faHed to make this clea1·.
lmroduction 5

One o f the many interesting problems with which Goodacre interacts is Mat-
thew's abbreviation of Mark's allusions to the broader Elijah story. For instance.
it is surprising. give-n its impo11ance for Matthew. that it is more difficult to hear
echoes of the Ahab-Jezebcl complex in his version of the Herod-Herodias story
than it is in Mark's (Mt. 14. 1-12 II Mk 6.1 4-29). Matthew's much abbreviated
version significantly plays down the role of Hc.rodias in the drama and as soon as
Herod takes the-.majo1·role. he begins to look Jess like Ahab. and his wife Jess like
Jezebel. In the end the irony is that where Matthew strongly affinns the.di1·ecrion
o fr!.•tark, he has done him the disservice of making the identification, or lack of it
in some cases, so clear as to deter many future readers.
Cia)' Ham tackles the various levels of literary relationship between Zechariah
and rvtatthew's Olivet discourse fro m a tradition-critical perspective. He argues
that Matthew refers to the Mount of Olives three times (Mt. 21 .1; 24.3; 26.30),
each of which appear in contexts related to material from Zechariah~ either
directly by citation (Mt. 21.5 to Zech. 9.9 and Mt. 26.31 to Zech. 13.7) and
allusion (Mt. 24.30 to Zech. I 2. I0- 14) or indirectly through what he calls inter-
textuality (Mt. 24.36 and Zech. 14.7: Mt. 25.3 I and Zech. 14.5). On tl1e basis o f
these similarities, he posits that Matthew's audience, who would have been fami-
liar with the Scriptures. would have understood the Olivet Discourse as a refer-
ence to the Parousia - namely the coming of God through the Son of Man who
brings judgement and salvation on a universal scale in parallel to Zechariah's
coming ofYahweh with all the holy ones. Ham does not call for a literal pamllel.
however. Both Zechariah 14 and rvfatthew 24 use theophanic imagc-.Jy in relation
to the coming of Yahweh and the Parousia o f the Son of Man. Even though the
language of destn1ction appears in both comexts. such portrayals imply more
than the physical destruction o f Jerusalem. AccoJ·ding to Ham. the function o f
this mythological language highlights the glory of the Parousia, that is, t:he divine
·aJTival' that has implications for the entire world. Yahweh's standing on the
Mount ofOlives and causing the mountain to split in two challenges the 1-eader to
consider the eventual destnJction of Jerusalem as part of the plan ofhisto1y which
le-ads to the universal WOJ'S hip ofYahwch as king. Likewise-.. Matthew 24-25. with
its stylized p1·esentation of Jesus sining on the f\,lount ofOJives and answering the
disciples' que-stions about the destruction ofJelllsalem~ fb reshado\VS an csch.aton
wherein Jesus is worshipped as Lord by ·all the peoples o f the. earth ·.
In my contribution I aim to explain why. in Matthew 2. Scripture was con-
nected with Jesus· journey ofescape from Bethlehem to Nazareth via Egypt. One
o f the most unusual t"batUJ'eS of the infancy travel story is that eadt of the three
geographical locations (Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth) is associated with a ful-
filment quotation. 1\•latthew uses place names elsewhere~ and even on one occa-
sion refers to six locations (Syria, Galilee, Dccapolis, Jerusalem. Judea. and
'beyond the Jordan' in 4.23-25), but these are not depicted as fulfilments. I
attempt to explain the usc of Scripture in Matthew 2 within the broadeJ' process
o fmythmaking. which in geneml temts begins with some kind of historical (or
facn1al) evem~ is then inte1·preted within a cosmic suucture, and is finally legiti-
mized historically. It is the last two phase-s in the process that are of conc.ern. I
6 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

respectively divide the essa}' into two po:uts by firs t drawing attention to the
literary artistry o f chapter two. namely the mythmaking phase-, and then focusing
on the historical legitimization ofthe travel story via the embedding of Scripture.
More specific to method, in the first part of this essay Matthew's literary artistry
is explo1·ed in light of Nonhrop Frye's theory of mythmaking. which brings
attention to Jesus' portrayal as a divine child who miraculous!}' escapes death
from a paranoid tyrannical king whose rule in turn is subve1ted by his intended
victim. h is a narnltive that cont<lins a ll too many fumiliar features, such as
l'evelations through drearns, a miraculous birtll, divine parentage, cosmic portents,
and the-battle between good and evil, all of which are reminisc-ent of hero myths
that would have been known in various fomts throughout the HellenizediRoman-
ized Diaspora in the latter part of the first century. The second pa11 of the essay
concentrates on how the quotations containing fulfilment formulae func tion in
the tr:.wel narrative. The tenn ' function,' is here again limited to Northrop Fl)'e's
literary-critical insights into myth and ideology. ) argue that Matthew's appeal to
scriptural quotatio1tscan be explained as an exercise in historicizing m)1h for the
purpose of legitimization. which inevitably leads to ideology.
.Methodologically, my frame of reference is not the early historical-critical
bifurcatio ns between history and myth (often depicted as the division between
tmth and falsehood) utilized in the nineteemh- and early twentieth-century ' li\•es
ofJesus'.nor the redaction-critical and tradition-critical distinctions which have
dominated much ofthe discussion about embedded Scripture texts in the Gospels.
Instead, my approach is more oriented toward process - from what might be
termed historical f.'lcts to their mythical interpretation and eventual historicization
- which is at home within current theories of m)1hmaking in both literary and
J'eligious s1udies. Putting it another way, my interest is not so much in theology
(or apologetics) as was largely the case in the use ofhistorical criticism, but in
more inclusive modes of thought and consciousness which have l'O do with imagi-
nation and the role of metaphor in the construction of J'eality, panicularly that
which is believed to bt• reality by the Mauhean devotees.
_r..,tichael Knowles' contribution focuses on the role ofScripture in the context
of competing authoritative 'divine' voices in Matthew's characterization tech-
nique. Taking his cue from Norman Mailer's The Gospel According to the Son. a
novelistic acc.ount of Jesm;' life and minisny narrated through the eyes and voice
of Jesus himself, Knowles asks the question: where is the voice of God to be
heard in Matthew's Gospel'? An initial reading may suggest that God - the prime
mover and agent behind the Gospel narrative and therefore, arguably, its main
charncter- is invisible and mostJy silent. Not only does God have no more than a
single line of direct discourse in the entire Gospel, but the same line is repeated
twice: ' This is my Son, the Beloved. with whom I am well pleased (Mt 3.17.
17.5; ed1oing Ps. 2.7 and Isa. 42.1). Given the Evange-list's conviction that Jesus
is the Jewish Mess iah~ 'lord'. and ·Son o f God\ this seems somewhat unex-
pected. But, according to Knowles, Matthew depicts an invisible divine spe.aker
who in the course of the Gospel narrative prefers to speak indirectly - initially
via Scripture - through the mouth of Jesus. Whether by me.ans of this gradual
lmroduction 7

appropriation Ol' by downplaying other voices that might de.tract from Jesus'
own, the namtive. focuses increasingly on the identity and verbal authority of the
Messiah. Jesus· practise ofscriprural exegesis implies that just as there is not one
' Lord' but two within the narrative and theologic-al sti'Ucture of Matthew's Gos-
pel so there are two sources of authority: not simply the biblical text per se. but
the text as interpreted in relation to and especially by the f!.·1essiah himself. The
Evangelist depicts in practice what the ascription ofKUptQS entails in thular or
appellative terms: Je.sus speaks with an authol'ity equivalent to that of Scripture
itse l f~ such that both convey the voice of'lhe Lord' .
With particular sensitivity to text-critic-al variations aJld thematic parallels,
John Nolland explores the role o f Deutero-Zec.hal'iah (chapters 9- 14) in the
Gospel of Matthew. His study is guided by two questions: ( I) what is the func-
tion o f these quotations and allusions? And (2), is there any coherence in how
these texts are used? He argues that most of the quotations and allusions fro m
Deutel'o-Zechariah arc to be understood as designed to suggest. and then to bol-
ster. the idea that Jesus (as the king: ofZech. 9.9), is the one who is to fulfil all the
ideals for the shephe1·ding of God's people that are (mostly indirectly) attested to
by the shepherding: imagery in Deutero-Zechariah. As he sees it, all the shepherd
references in Zechariah are negative; they are all about she.phel'ding that has
fai led in one way or another. But they implicitly set up a positive image of shep-
herding by disc.losing the kind o f leadership that the people need. The one very
positive image of leadership in Deutero-Zechariah comes in the opening chapter,
but it uses the language of the king and not of the shepherd (Zech. 9.9-10).
According: to Notland) it is from this point ofrefe.rence that Matthew feels justi-
fied in reading into the subsequent shepherd texts a positive counterpa.n to the
failures o f shepherding. The king of Zech. 9.9- 10 becomes that positive coun-
terpart to the failures of shepherding in Zechariah. T11e hermeneutical key to
Matthew's appi'Oach to the Zechariah shepherd texts is that they arc mined for
their potential contribution to the positive image of t11e shepherd king as an
identity marke1· for Jesus. Aside from shedding light on how rvtatthew appropri-
ates Zechariah. No Iland wrestles with the. problem of how to discern individual
scripmral allusions in a Gospel that is so deeply influenced by the Jewish Scrip-
tures. In the form of questions, t--.vo main criteria are used for validating: the pre-
sence of :.1Jl allusion: ( I) does the Evangelist echo a religious theme(s) found in
the literary context of the exporting Scripture text? And (2). does the Evangelist
demonstrate familiarity (e.g. via quotations) with the Scripture text from which
the allusion is supposedly taken?
Lidija Novakovic provides a compelling response lo those who, following the
lead of C. H. Dodd,s assume that whenever the New Testament authors quote
scriptural passages, they have their entire original (canonical) literary contexts in
view. She equates this to James Ban··s well-knowncritiqueofKitrel·s TDNT that
its contributors engaged in ' illegitimate totality transfer\ which happe.ns when

5. C. H. Dodd. Acrordi11g to the &ripluJ·es: The Substmctureo-fNewTt•:>Jamenl Tlwology (lon·

don: Nisbe•. 1952). pp. SS- 96.
8 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

the semantic value of a word in one context is added to its semantic value in
another context.' Novakovic challenges the legitimacy of this assumption by
focusing on the quotation of lsa. 53.4 in Mt. 8.17. The significance of this
cita.tion lies in the fact that this is the only explicit quotation of any portion of
Isaiah 53 in the Gospel of Matthew, and one o f only nvo explicit citations of
Isaiah 53 in the entire synoptic tradition. Novakovic attempts to show that in
Matthew the citation of Isa. 53.4 is devoid o f the idea of vicarious suffering.
likewise.• she finds that in the first cenmry there was nothing like a unitb rmly
de-fined concept of the ·servant' . much less the ·sunering Servant'. Her survey
reveals that early Jews referred to individual portions of these songs without
much regard for their context or a unifying message. In Matthew, this text is
applied to Jesus' healings through a method that can be called the ' atomistic use
o f Scripture'. The Evangelist achieves this through a selective useofthe content
of lsa. 53.4 and a verbal. even forced, translation of the Hebrew text, with the
purpose of making it applicable to Jesus' healing ministry, which is, in the
Gospel of Matthew, inse1>arable from Jesus' identity as the Davidic Messiah. By
employing two interpretative techniques, messianic and atomistic exegesis,
Novakovic argues that Mattltew facilitates a textual interpla}' bet\veen the servant
o flsaiah 53. the.portrayal of the ideal Davidic king in Ezek. 34, and the depiction
of the Davidic f\·1essiah in the Psalms ~lSolomon 17. The scriptural warrant of
this complex hemteneutical process can be- found in Ezekiel 34.23, which
provides the ve1·bal link between the tenns ' shepherd' . 'se1vant" and ' David'.
Novakovic 's argument provides a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate
largely initiated by Morna Hooker almost haifa century ago, who on the basis o f
the atomistic use of Scripture in early Christian texts concluded that the concept
of vicarious suffel'ing of the servant from Deutero-lsaiah had no formative
influence on Jesus' understanding of his own mission or on the earliest layers of
Christian tradition.7
Andries van Aarde raises the timely problem of'intertextuality' and its varied
{often incorrect) uses among biblical scholars. Observing that the term has become
a catchWOI'd for the embedding of Scripttu'C texts, he aims to develop a usage that
is infOrmed by the literary theorist who coined the tem1. By exploring the 'inter-
text' o f the usage of the wo1·d •to save· (o~Cal) in rvtatthew, the First Gospel's
presentation ofJesus as 'Heale-r-Messiah' becomes intelligible. The essay aims at
applying two approaches to intertextuality. The one pe-rtains to the way in which
Matthew produces an intertcxtual space whose occupants correspond to other
texts. The second enterprise fomts an account of how Matthew creates pre-texts.
The fonne.r entails intertextuality on the synchronic level and the latter on the.dia-
chronic level. The second enterprise entails a theoretical discussion of types o f
inter-texts and their interrelationships. also referred to as the 'encyclopaedia' o f
the author and the intended addressees. The synchronic dime.nsion involves the
'interrextual space· in which Matthew's intended readers could be addresse.d by

6. J. Barr. T11e Semumics ofBibJicol J..anguag.:>(london: Oxford Uni,·' Prest. 1961). p. 21&.
7. M. D. Hool:cr, Jesm m1d 1lw Sen•ont: T11e !t~jluenc~ojll.e Se1YOI!I ConuptofDemero-Jsaiull
ilt the J'V(Ilt' Testamer1t (london: SPCK. 1959).
lmroduction 9

the ·pre-texts' of the-word ' to save· (o~~<U). The essay consists of three parts.
T11e first represents a concise reflection on criteria and methods regarding an
investigation of inteJ1extuality. The second exemplifies the 'encyclopaedia' o f
Matthew's intertextuality1 and the third discusse-s the ' pre-texts~ of the various
occUJTences of the word •to save'(O~Ul) in Matthew.
Lawrence W ills~ essa)' likewise focuses on method, but instead of grappling
with the assumptions and approache-s o ftoday"s critical reader, he sheds much
light on how Matthew, like his Jewish contemporaries1 appropriated their reli-
gious tradition. Wills shows that the Evangelist's method is grounded within the
scribal tradition that was similarly operative in the ?vlishnah's Abo/, where the
te.ndency was to appropriate scriptural texts and tOnns, especially parallelisms,
for new circumstances. Wills observes that when Matthew encounters a saying
that involves any kind of contrast, the material is often pressed into a precise
antithetic parallelism: one line with a positive statement, and a second which is
repeated word for word (rather tl1an the more typical thought contrast), but
negated. This redactional process can be seen in Matthew 11 times, both in
mated al that is taken over f1·om Mark and from Q, and in special Matlhean
material (6.19-24 [3 times]; 7.1 3-14,24-27: 10.32-33; 12.33, 35: 16.19; 18.18;
23.1 2). The common feature in the antithetical parallelisms is that they draw a
sharp dividing line between those who are included and those who are excluded.
Although Wills notices similar binary oppositions in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. Gen
27.29; Jer 17.5-8; c[ Mt. 25.33-46), tl1e closest pattern to that of Matthew is Abot,
where he finds 12 clear instances of J>l'ecise antithetic parallelism. Abo/. like
Matthew. affinns the ideal ofscribal wisdom1 but tl1e unadomed simplicity ofthe
precise antithetic parallelism, separating unmistakably those tOund to be righte-
ous from those who are.not is directed to a broad cross-section ofsociety. In both
cases the aim is to inc1·ease the.demand of moral pe1·fection. (n both Matthew and
Abot, the balanced. either/o1·c.ontrasts of the sayings are framed in such a way as
to leave no doubt in the minds of the audience that one path leads to acceptance
before God, aJld the other to destruction. In neither Matthew nor Abo/ are the
traditional wisdom motif." presented as they had been for centuries. Rathe1·, what
is common to the tv.:o is an orientation to wisdom that is transmuted into an all-
embracing demand for a righteous ethos and lifestyle. The wisdom aspect in all
o f these cases is not found in lradilional wisdom, but in the new experience o f
the scribe and sage.
In an ern when historical criticism is taking its share ofcriticism1 Wills demon-
strates the.value of redaction criticism in the.service of a comparative analysis that
is not governed by a theological agenda. f\·loreover. Wills' comparisons J'eveal
something o f the social background of the redactor, indicating a certain kinship
between Matthew and some early rabbinic rfletorical techniques. This rhetorical
similarity between f'.·fatthew aJld Abo/ suggests that tl1e former was more in the
orbit of ' Jewish Christians' (or more legally observant followers o f
Jesus) as opposed to 'Gentile Christians· guided by the Gentile mission.
10 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

2. Issues and lmplicalious

T11ere are several related issues, representative of broader scholarly thinking,
which emerge from this collection ofessays. The.first issue concerns the meaning
o f embedded texts in the Gospel narratives. (n other words, to what degree does a
narrative context aid in determining the meaning of allusions? How do narrative
features such as plot, characterization and time affect the interpretation ofembed-
ded Scripture texts? Do embedded texts s hape narrative in the sense that the
narrative attains its structure and meaning from biblical stories or episodes, from
which the embedded texts are taken: Ol' does narrative shape and give (new)
meaning to embedded texts and by implication to the biblical stories and events
they echo? While it could be argued that both processes are at work, one is
usually presupposed. Underlying theological assumptions about the unity ofthe
two Testaments sometimes tips the scale in favour o f the fomler. As a result, the
embedded texts serve as extensions o f their prior (ancient Israelite or early Jew-
ish) meaning, even though they m·e found in a Christian context. Socialscientific
assumptions are ce11ainly at work with regard to the latter, which would allow for
embedded texts to take on entirely different meanings within the larger context o f
mythmaking. This approach has no investment in trying to preserve some kind of
theological unity between the Testaments. The two approaches emerge tf om the
well-established distinction between theology and re-ligion.
The second issue - which is closely connected to the first- has to do with the
embedded texts~ loci o f meaning. (n other words. in which o f the many possible
contexts do quotations and allusions attain meaning? Is it in extemal contexts
such as the biblical book from whid l it is taken, the early Jewish interpretive
traditions (and even rabbinic traditions). the historical Jesus. and/or early Chris--
tian kerygma? If meaning is found external to the narrative, then the reader must
assume that embedded texts are charged with prior meanings that influence the
narrative. ln this case, Matthew can be regarded as an importer of meaning. Or
are meanings ofembedded texts strictly shaped by their new narrative context? If
this is the case, then the reader must allow for the possibility of entirely new and
even contradictory meanings to e.me1·ge, which function in the service of their
new literary context. (n this case, Matthew can be regm·ded as a new exporter of
meaning. Again. one can argue for both impo11ation and exportation of meaning,
but in practicality, studies of embedded texts in ~ilatt h ew have tended toward one
or the other- usually the tb nne-r, partly because New Testament studies, as a more
traditional discipline generally speaking, has not sufficiently interacted with post-
modem literary theory, especially its conception ofin tertext11ality. To push the
point further, some of the contributors in this c.ollection have well noted the lack
o f sufficient interaction with first-century l'eligion as an integ:ml part of the
imperial political and societal reality with which various synagogue commtulities
had to negotiate, and thus re.think what the Scriptures mean.
The collection reflects ditTering point~ of view on the-role and breadth of the
exporting scriptural context. Some argue that Matthew uses Scl'ipture ato-
mistically, whereas others claim that he has in mind some kind of original
lmroduction II

literary context. The te.rm ·original'. though often used. can be deceptive since it
depends on the stage of development to which one is referring. It also depe.ndson
the interpretive frame\vork within which one is operating in see.kingmeaning. Are
we speaking. fo1· instance, of a social, religious. theological. literary or canonical
context, or some c.ombination of these'? From what [ can surmise, most contribu-
tors use the term to 1·efe1·to a theological theme in the final form of a given writing.
Too often when "original' contexts are. invoked for the purpose of demonstrating
theological continuity between the Test::une.nts, not enough c.l'itical variables are
brought to the fore. Difference..'> between the two texts, which are separated by
culture, time. space. and even belief, are overshadowed by verbal similarities.
Comparative textual analysis gives way to apologetics. And established methods
in comparative.religions and mythology are not even considered. In my estimation
a theologic-al venture which sadly tmmps comparative analysis (usually
for fear of fragme ntation) is ii'Onically undemtined because it cannot possibly
fulfil, even if in principle, its mandate to unify knowledge.
The third issue - again closely related - concerns the meaning of the. term
·fUnction·. Most of the studies on the use ofScriptu1·e in the New Testament over
the last century c-an be divided into two overall aims. The first concerns the fonn
o f the. embedded ScriptUI'e text. This quest is oriented toward identifying the
influential antecedent text be it a version of Scripture (e\•en if oml, such as tar-
gumic traditions) or an embedded Scripture text in an earlier Jewish writing.
Finding the appropriate formal textual comparison is often 1-egarded as a vital
preliminary ste-J> bec-ause, it is argued. it potentialI)• aids in discerning the mean-
ing of the embedded text. This assumes. ofcourse, that imported Sc.ripture texts
carry with them imported meanings. In othe.r words. it is argued that if one can
show tJlat a given Scripture quotation or allusion in Matdlew more closely resem-
bles the Se.pruagintal form than the Masoretic. it must imply a Septuagintal mean-
ing.11le problem is that the choice of embedded texts by ancient writers is guided
by a variety o f reasons. And all too o ften the reason for the choice, even if the
author was fumiliar with the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, is unattainable. The
second overall aim has to do with tlle ·function· of the embedded Scripture text
usually within a fairly restricte.d lite1'3f)' context. such as the immediate.passage or
the writing as a whole. The problem is that the temt ·fimction' is rarely evaluated.
Using the three-dimensional model of identifying where the locus of authority lies
in hermeneutics- author, text or reader - the temt ' t\mction' is nonnally under-
stood in what can be called a two-dimensional way. focusing on the intent of the
author and/or the elemental uni fying features of written texts (usually narratives).
What some of the essays in tJtis collection point out is that 'fimction· can be
extended not only to the reader, but also to the brooder context ofhtunan imagina-
tion. mythmaking and ideology as they are understood in the field of religious
studies. The func1ion of an embedded text is dms viewed as a symptom of the
insatiable need to legitimize and unify experience, which necessarily employs
metaphor and symbol. Anothe-r observation that is made in this regard is the
unhealthy separation between biblical studies and religiow sn1dies in the current
academic scene, whic.h has resulted in a myopic approach (with 1·espect to religion)
12 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

in much scholm'Ship, and a sophomol'ic understanding of biblical schol-

arship in the broader srudy of 1·eligion.
The fourth issue, which is ofparticulm· interest to historical critics, is the con-
nection between the historicity of the Gospel vignettes - as potentially accurate
representations of' deeds and sayings - and the Evangelist's adaptation of
Scripture tex t'> in the composition of his narrative. Scholars who are predisposed
to preserve the line ofcontinuity between Jesus· programme and that o f!\.fatthew
tend toward acknowledging Jess literary creativity in the.use of embedded texts.
But i f Scripture is acknowledged as playing a vital role in the shaping of the
larger narrative (which supposedly preserves its continuity with the Old Testa-
ment}, does this not imply that the narure of the Gospel narmtive is apologetic,
aggadic, or some fonn ofmythmaking. which at the same time detract'> from its
historicity'? In other words~ the more that one appeals to influence (whether the
motive is or is not cohesion) . the more one needs to wrestle with historicity and
historicizing. In this regard. if my observations on the historicizing process in
Matthew 2 are sound they can be dovetailed with Cousland's insights on Justin's
use of Matthew's tl1lfilme.nt quotations to fb nn a hypothesis on the sequential
relationship ben.veen historicizing and mythmaking in early Christianity. If Mat-
thew's sequence is extended to indude Justin, then we can hypothesize that the
l'elationship oscillates whereby mythmaking leads to historicizing (as ideological
fom1ation) and historicizing leads back to mythmaking. An intere.'>ting response,
howeve1·, might be expected from Apodaca. who tends to see the quotations not
as historicizing features. but as mythmaking feanLres. ln addition, the problem of
historicity is compounded when Wills' argument tb1· the rhetol'ical force of
Matthew's redaction is thrown imo the mix.
The fift h issue c,oncems the litemry competence ofMattl1ew's audienc.e. Even
if the audience was familiar with the Scriptures, as ( think we should presuppose,
should the audience be primarily located in an oml culture or a chil•og.raphic/
literate culture? There are two contrary assumptions regarding the reception of
Matthew operating in this collection of essays. Some contributors assume that
Matthew was read by individuals much like we would read it today. This means
that most embedded texts would have been grasped and interpreted bec-ause the
aud ienc-e was well versed in the Jewish Scriptures and interpretive traditions. But
as f.1.r as the papers in this collection are concemed, this can only be an ·operat-
ing assumption· because the competence of the audience is often not explicitly
mentioned. Other contributors assume that rvtat1hew was an oral performance
heard primarily by an illiterate.audience which would have had mixed abilities in
identif)•ing allusions. Ce11ainly, they would have been familiar with biblical
stories and their traditions. If it is the case that the audience was illiterate,
many of the so-c--alled allusions and even some of the quotations (i.e. without
fom10las) ma)' not have been identified by the heare-rs at all. How one under-
staJlds the cultural reception of the narrative and its audience has significance for
how one reads embedded texts. (n this regard, narrative explorations o f embed-
ded texts cannot be separated from sociolog:ical/anthropolog:ical ones. \Vhat is
more, a tCw of the contributOI's in this collection push the-role of the audience in
lmroduction 13

new, more universal. d irec.tions that tl'anscend cultural frameworks. When lll)1h
theory aJld comparative religions are brought into the mix, the experiences ofthe
Matthean audie-nce se1·ves not itself or Christian theology. but the larger quest of
understanding human religious experience.
The sixth issue which emerges in seve.ral o f the sn1dies is the politicized and
rhetorical role of Scl'ipture in Matthew's. and indeed earlyChristianity's, quest
for legitimization in the face of non-Christian Jewish opposition. Using Scripft1re
as the fundamental source o f authoritative common ground, Matthew is forced to
reinterpret and l'e.tell the role of the law and the story of national lsmel within a
view ofhistory that find~ its fulfilment in Jesus. for some of the contributors, the
legitimization pi'Ocess. via the Scriptmes. leads to an all too familial' establish-
ment of a new ideology~ whe1·eas for others it is \•iewed as an organic develop-
ment. Whatever one's position, the1·e is no doubt that !vlatthew's use of Scripture
was fateful, leading to a tug-of-war betwee.n an old l'eligionand a new one. Unfor-
tunately, f\•1at1hew's programmatic and exclusive claim to the Scriptures became
influential for anti-Jewish polemic in the fonn.ation of institutional Chl'is1ianity
that saw itself. largely from the time of Eusebius to the ho1Tors of the Holocaust,
as superior.11
The final issue concerns lhe meaning of the term 'in tertexn~a l ity' , which has
become common nomenclature among. especially, New Testament scholm·s who
investigate the function o f scriptural allusion (often called 'echoes') and quota-
tions. I (along wilh a few others) raised the problem almost a decade ago, but my
critique has received modest interaction.9Jfanything, the use of the term among
histol'ical critics has escalated. It is thus encouraging to include van Aarde's essay
on this topic.
These are what I consider to be the major insights and implications that emerge
from the following essays>and w1doubtedly othe-rs will be raised, for which I will
be grateful. While some of the issues are similar to those raised in the previous
volume on Mark- thus accennlating the need for addres..'>ing lhem - lhis volume
extends the. implications for further research in new directions.

S. Bunon t . Visotd:y. ').fidrash. Chtistian E~egcsi s.and Hellenistic Hcmlen('Utics'. in Cumm1

Tmhlfintlw Study ofMidroJh (cd. C. Bakhos: SupJSJ. I06: lcidcn: BrilL 2006). pp. 112- 13.
9. SecT. R. li atina. ' l nterte~tuality and li istoric-al criticism in New Tc-!ilamc:nt Studies: Is 1h~~re
a Rd alionship?•. Bibfm 7 (1999). 28-43.


MAlTHEW 1.23

M. Anthony Apodaca

Being ~kcptical of the uni\·ers.Jiily of any theory is one thing. Being nblc-to side-step
theorizing ahog~1her is anothc:r.1

In this :.ll1icle, the datum under examination is the embedded text of lsa. 7. 14 in
Mt. J.23. However, given the absence of any clear theoretical fmmewot•k from
which to interpret embedded Scripture texts in early Christian Gospels, my aim is
to develop (in part) such a framework fo r interpretation. ( should say from the
outset that this is not an exegetical exercise, rather a theoretical one with exe.geti-
cal consequences. My purpose is to advance the state of theoretical discussion
regarding embedded Scripture texts. not to make a specific exegetical argument.
To this end, ( explic-ate Matthew's appropriation of Isa. 7.14 in 1.23 using the
interpretive theories of myth and comparison. This c-hapter is thus divided in three
sections. (n the first, I articulate the need for New Testament scholars to theorize
about religion, suggesting that the advancement of the field depends on it. It is
only consistent that if we are to interpret religious texts, it is imperative that we
sufficie-ntly theorize about religion itself. Second, ( map current myth theories,
particularly elucidating aspects ofideology, myth making and social formation. I
do not argue for one particular definition of myth over and against another, but
define myth as it will be used here - ideologically, which is particularly usetUI for
the study of embedded Scripture texts. In the third and final se.ction ( use myth
theory as the grounds tb r comparison bel\'le<'O Matthew's birth narrative and Ibn
lsl)5q's biograph)rof]!.·luhammad. illustrating how early Christian and early ?\•Ius-
lim writers mythologized their respective tbunders.
The result is that f\·1atthew's embedded Scripture texts emerge as myth making
agents~ which constin1te one o f several mythologizing strategies. Myth. then, is
really the ordinary organization of the past in human societies, whel'eby rituals.
texts or omI stories are used as modes of social argumentation. ln this respect.

I. Rob~'fl A. Segal. My1h: A fiery Short lntrQ(hKfion (Oxford: Oxford University PI"I.'SS. 2004}.
p. 10.
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 15

Matthew's appropriation of (sa. 7. 14 in 1.23 is a cle-ar example-of one mytholo-

gizing strategy.l11e function of the embedded text is thereby one of social argu-
menta1ion and legitimization, dictated b)' the social concems of the community,
especiall)' with regard to self-identity. Consequently, the hermeneutical value of
an embedded ScripnLre text is its quality as an authoritative mythmaking agent,
and the place o f the embedded Scripture text in its new narrative context. rather
than the old narrative context(s), eme-rges as the locus for interpretation.

I . Thinking about Method

The purpose of these volumes, as stated by the editor. is to 'advance our under-
standing of the function o f embedded Scripture texts and their traditions in the
narrative and socio-religious conte.xt ofeaJ'I)' Christian Gospels' .2 While the first
volume succeeds in its efforts to ·bridge the conc.erns o f both narrative and his-
toric--al critics'. there is still much work to be done concerning the jimction of
embedded Scripture texts in early Christian Gospels. T11ough most of the-previ-
ous contributions, reflecting current trends in New Testament scholarship, locate
the.meaning ofembedded texts within a litermy and social framework, little or no
attention is given to the methodological issue-s involved in re-ading such texts. Fur-
ther. the common working assumption is that themeaning ofan embedded text is
attainable through the historical-cl'itical method} While the historical-critkal
method has provided invaluable data aJld insight into reading ancient texts. this
historical-positivist approach proves inadequate not least bec-ause its myopic
character has faile.d to pi'Oduce any substantial theoretic-al framework for biblical
interpre.tation. 4 Amlin W. Geertz eloquently remarks that
the study ofreligion issignificunt~J'more 1lmn reading undana~J>:illg li!XIs. The study of
religion is a thcorolical project c:.xploring an nc:.ndc•nic construction culk d ·rdigion.'
which is informed by empirical C\'idencc: pcrccivod in terms of n whole runge of ideas
and as:s.umpcions. These idcus nnd nssumpcionsoftcn tum on the nature of human being;;,
their origins. cognition nnd ps)·chotogy. their cuhuml and socinl nc:..-ds. and so on.5

T11e current reign of the historical-critical method, which so often illicitly trans-
forms raw data into theological meaning, has indeed become a methodological

2. Tiwmas R. Hatina. 'Introduction•. in Biblical hlf(•J·prt>toJion in £ar~v ChriS/ion GoJpel.f;

Volume 1: 11li!Gospel ofMurk(c-d. Thomas R. Hatitl3: LNTS,304: l ondon: T&TCblk. 2006). p. \•ii.
3. An exc-eption is Hatina. who writes. ·the exegete must in the:. end remain satisfied with a
plurality of options' (Batina.. ·Embcdlli.'d S<> TexiS and the Plurality of Me-aning: The Anoouncc-
mc:nt of the: -voice from lieavc:n'' in Mark 1.11 ns a Cnsc Study'. in Biblical lnterprewtion in &11·{1'
Christian Grupc4s. p. 82).
4. Elisabeth Schiisslc:r Fioren:r.a rcflc:c-ts: ·o ne: would think thnt the: great dispatity in the results
ofHistoricnl·ksus research wouJd have rxrsuadcd scholars a long time ab'Oto abandon thc:irqucst for
the Historic:aJ.Jcsus produced by the: disciplined usc:.of historical methods. in fn\'or of more fruitful
c:ncka\'ors' (J~us amlthe Polilirs oflmi!rprewtirm [londonand Ne-w Yor\:: Continuum. 2000~ p. 30).
5. A nn in W. Gctrlz. ·cognitive Approaochc::sto the Scudy ofRdigion• in l1lewAppruadws to-tilt•
SJudyofRrligion(ed. Peter Antc:s..e/ a/. ~ Rdigionand Reason. 4213: 2 vols~ Berlin: Walter dcGtuylcr.
2005). ,·ol. 1. pp. 2.354-5.
16 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

trap for the exegete, rather than a tool to be used, challenged, modified, or even
abandoned. Rita M. Gross incisively argues that
the:. most critic.1l nnd Jibeor11ting thing to be suid aboul methodology is thnt it is a tool . . .
Methodology often turns from tool to trap bccauseasp«tsofas.:holar's persona) imcrcst
and idcmily become tnngkd up with supposed))· ne-utral schol:uly methods .•. lk1Kfs
about religion nrc at stake. no matter how nc.utral their proponcms d aim to be . . . Sllcil
doctrinal (Jlflrermce to on alreffltl' ac<?pled mellmdolog;· is Wflul{l' h11UI har1 further
odl·mk'es inthefield.6
If the previous volume leaves us with one concluding consensus about the current
state of scholarly research. it is that theorizing about t'e-ligion, which demands
scmtinizing method, plays little to no role in the assumed exegetical task. There
are-, I believe. at le.as1 three reasons for the absence oftheot·etical discussions. First,
New Te-stament scholars have been reluctant to perform critical self-reflection.
which is to say, they lack a cle.arly articulated purpose. As motivations for schol-
arship tend to be either apologetic and defensive or antagonistic and o fl"'ensive,
methods become self-serving tools. The methods employed for these interests m·e
rarely the objecl of debate and cannot be so unless the apologetic task is first
abandoned. a risky prospect for those whose own idcmities are bound to the
results oftheit' scholarship.1 J. Z. Smith writes:
lucking ndC!lr aniculation of potpc:GC. one may d« ivc am:sting anccdotalju:\laposition!>
or self-serving differentiations. but 1hedisciplincd constructive work of theacadcmy will
not bnw been advanced. nor will Lhe study of religion have come of agc.8

Second, New Testament scholarship remains largely unaware (or at least dis-
interested) in theories ofreligion developed in other disciplines. such as cultural
anthropology, comparative religion. evolutionary biology. or cognitive psychol-
ogy, to name a few. The theory ofreligion in New Testamem scholarship is, by
and large, a Christian theory o f religion fb.llaciously based on Christianity itself.
This model, which emphasizes personal experience and divine moments oftrans-
fomlation, sustains a theory of religion that. even after comparative. efforts (if

6. RiLo ~I. Gross. 'Methodology - Tool or Trap?'. in Ho,,· to do Comporolive- R~ligitm? 11wee
Ways• ..\ferny Goab (~-d. Rene Goth6ni: Religion and Rc3SOO. 44: Berlin: Waller de Gruytcr. 2005).
p. 154. The cmphas($ ore mine.
7. This bttame stanlinglyapparcnl to me:. wh<-n. during a rcccn1 gu<"$.ll~ture. at m}' in~ i tution.
one promitKnt New Tcstnm~'1l l scholar IIJl,'UCd thalthekemel of nascent Christi.1ni1y wn.s mon•or less
equal to t.hat ofonhodox Christianity. After ltJSkod himto tt\'Cill whnt m~'1hod he wns using to make
such judgements. he:. responded caOO:iilly by announcing that he dtd not have one:-. He wen1 on to say
that he simply rend the text and observed - an upfront admission ofwhal Ni017schccallcd the ·myth
of immaculate pcrccpcion• (larathu.stra 2.15. quoted from J. Z. Smith. Drmlgery Divine: On the
Comparis(}tl tJ/Eurly ChriJiiatlities and the Religion.f o/Lali" Antiquity[Chicago: The: University of
Chicago Press. 1990]. p. Sl ). Arc we to believe thn1the-rostlhs of his passive obsm·utions and their
reinforce-ment oforthodox Christian it)' arc merelya sensation:. Ic:oinc:idcnce? Surely. as this example
illusllntcs. further inwstig-11tion into the: aims ond methods of New Testament scholars is p.1tallli)Unl.
8. Smith. Drudgery DMne. p. 53.
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 17

any), promotes Christianity to be unique and superiot·.~ Bmton Mack articulates

the problem in the fOllowing way:
...s.intt the discipline docs not demand cxpC"rtise in the fields of compar.uivc religions.
c-uhuml anthropology. and religious studies. it hasnocsccmcd nocc-;saryto \'tntun: bl")'·
ond the-history of Christianity to look for a gencr~ll theory of religion. Famili111ity with
the Christian religion has taken the- place--of thcoreticnJ discussion. and Christianity has
provided the categories thnt nrc-used to Mnll: and explain carfy Christian phenorncntL 10
Third, general theories of religion are by no means cohesive aJld conclusive,
as a number of recent sntdiesdemonstratc.'' However. this should not discourage
New Testament scholars from participating in the debate.12
These.are not met•ely theoretical exercises, but havesignificantexegetical con-
sequences. For example, the tacit agreement among many New Testament scholars
concerning the uttet· uniqueness of the Christ-event precludes any serious discus-
sion ofcomparison.u.11lis ontological conviction tends to f.1vour interpretations
of embedded Scripture. texts that reinforce Christian ot1hodoxy and emphasize
continuity with the-Jewish Scripture. Applying myth theory to the study of embed-
ded Scripture texts frees us from these re$trictions 1 challenges methodological
assumptions, and allows for early Christian literamre to be read with a frt-sh per-
spective. Further, reconceiving eal'ly Christian Jitemntre. as mythic literature,
'thereby establishing parity with non-Christian materials, is a prerequisite for
comparative research' .1J

2. Myth
A. Ratioualisl and Romantic Approaches
At a popular level, myth is usually defined as a story or belief that is false and
contrasted with writings that are considet'ed to convey truth or fact. In academic
discourse, the term is so nuanced that it has become ambiguous at best and obso-
lete at worst. I$ As a result, it has become more than necessary to define myth

9. See Burton Mack. T7re Christion !l(I·J/J; OJ·igilu. Logic. ond Lt•gocy (London and Ne-w Yor\:;
Continuum. 2001). pp. 64-6. Sec-nlso Smith. Dnulg<'YY DMne. pp. 36-53.
10. Mnc-k. TlJ<• Christian Myth. p. 65; sec also. Smith. Dnrdgery Oil'ine. pp. 38-9.
II. Ame-;. N~w Approudws IQ the Simiy ofRdigion: Willi Bruun nnd Russe-ll T. McCutch-eon (cds}.
Guille lo the Study of ReligitJfl (london nnd New York: Cassell. 2000): Goth6ni. flow liJ d(J C(JJU·
paraliw Religion?: Robe-rt Seg-11! (cd.). The Blar:k~re/1 Componionlo lite StudyofReligion(Muldc-n.
MA: Blackwell Publishing. 2006).
12. Praiscwonhy in this regurd is the Christian Origins Project whose wor\: is published in
RedrscribingChriJJiufl Origin.\·(cds. Roo Caml•ron nnd Merrill P. Miller: AtlanLO: Soc i~-cy ofBibticnJ
Literature. 200-4). Sec also Gcrd Thics.scn. A Theory ctfPrimiliw ChriJJiQnity (Irons. John Bowden:
L-ondon: SCM Pres.s. 2003): trnns. of Thc-v:wie ckr w·chril·Jiirlten Religion (Giitcrsloh: Giitcrsloher
Vcrlagshaus, 1999): and Hcikl:i Riiisiinc-n. Marcio11. Muhammadamlllli! ;\{Qflalma: £xeg~Jical Per-
.fpt'Ciil-es 011 the Eu~mmter ctfCulllltY!S ond Failhs (london: SCM Press. 1997).
13. See Smiah. Dmt/g'-'(1' Ditrine. pp. 36--53.
1 ~. Smith. Drudgery Di~"ine. p. 87.
15. Robl~fl Ellwood ('Is ).fythology Obsolete?'. JAAR 69 [2001). 673-86: 685) ('VCll suggests
replacing the word mylh 'with new language to indicate an entirely new approach. ns incrc-nsingly
18 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

cogentI)'~ even if it is conceded not to be the only plausible de-finitio n. In what

follows . I survey several theol'ies of myth and attempt to establish a working
de-finition that elucidates the ideological function of myth, which in turn can be
applied to the embedding o f Scripture texts in Matthew.
Robert Segal. among others. classifies theol'ics of myth into two principal
categories: rationaJist and romantic.1" The ,·ationalist of myth theo1y,
E. B. Tylo1·( 1832- 1917) and J. G. frazer ( 1854- 1941), defined myth as the p1·imi-
tive counterpart to science. This approach views myth as either an explanation of
the physical world (Tylor) or an attempt to affect it (frazer). Segal summarizes
the distinction in early theories this way: 'Myth and science are not merely
redundant but outright incompatible: myth invokes the wills of gods to account
for events in the world; science appeals to impersonal processes like those o f
atoms. ·n Myth is theretbre inferior to modem thought: science replaces myth as
a means of explaining the natural world. The rationalist approach o f the structural
anthropologist Claude LCvi-Strauss is one of the most influential variations on
Tylor. For LCvi-Strauss, primi1ive mythology is not unscientific in narure, but
differs in that mOOern thinking is abstract while mythic thinking is concrete. IS For
rationalists>the prim.:uy function of myth is to explain the physical and social
world. Thus, for LCvi-Strauss. the most important function of myth is to mediate
contradictions (and thereby relieve cultural anxiety) usually expressed in binary
oppositions such as life/death~ maleifemale-, clean/ unclean.1') For example, medi-
ators of life/death may be expressed as follows: life <=> Agric.ulture <=> Herbi-
vores <=> Carrion Eaters <=> Hunting <=> Predators <=> War <=> Death. In
some. N011h American indigenous myths, the mediator between life and death,
often the trickster within the narrntive c.ontext. is usuall)' a mven or coyote (carrion
eah!t'S).lO The coyote's character as a mediating figure is indecipherable without
knowledge o f the totalizing structure.

scholorsarcdoing with another foudc:ucrword. cull' . In schotorship. m)1h h:tS become ·ollllOSt inex.-
triCilbly bollixed up in debates like those: about lndo-Europcanism ond anti-Semitism with which
(Robert Sc:g.l) and Brutt Lincoln] have: deal!'.
16. See Robc11 Segal. Theori:ing Ab(}/1/ Jtvllr (Amhcrst: University of Massachusetts. 1999)~
Hnns Blumenberg. Work 011 My11l (Ounbridge". MA: MIT Press. 1985).
17. Robett SegaL 'Myth and Politics::\ Response:-to Robc:11 Elhvood".J.4AR 70(2002).61 1- 12.
18. ScpL My1h. pp. 29- 30.
19. SegaL My1h. p. 114.
20. Sec-EricCs:tpo. Tlwr,riesl.!fM;.thologr(Maldc:n. MA: Blad:wcll Publishing. 2005). pp. 226-&.
Even in unrd:itcd cultures. mediators mny serve the same futl(tion. Csopo write$:
Clothing is 11 medilltor between c-ulture and Mturc: Mkcd we: arc aJI children of noturc:
c loth~-d we ore-full)· products ofculture: by clothing we: rnanifcst all culturul diffcn:nccs:
stntus. ronk. notionnlity. gender. profession. etc . . . rats. lic~·. and other ' '« min mediate
bc:twttneulture nnd noturc in nl:11l)'SOC:i~"1ics. silK'( tlloC)·art unwanted produ~1s of nature,
but the)· breed in the midst of the human communit)·. and most prolifically wht-n: the.
poputution is most dense. (Csapo. Tlloories ofM>tlmfogf. p. 228)
For a m:c:ont applicotion ofStrnuss. set Andre. Van Ookkum. ·adicf Systems about Virgin Birth:
Structure and Mutunl Cornpm'3bility". Current AnthropologJ' 38:1 ( 1997). 99- 104. Van Dokkum
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 19

Romantics. b}' contrast~ interpret myth as anything other than explanations of

the physical or social worlds. f\·1yth, for romantics such as Carl Jung, Joseph
Campbell and Mircea Eliade. is an e.ternal phenomenon that expresses psycho-
logic-al or metaphysical realities. Jung sees myth as a projection of the collec1ive
unconscious onto the e.xternal world.21 For Campbell, myth represents a single
metaphysical reality. Religion obstmct~ the experience of this re-.aJity because it
turns the poe6c metaphor, which is the 'mask of God through which etemity is to
be experienced' .21 into prose. Speaking with Bill Moyers in the now
famous interview series, Campbell clarifies:
The ps)·chologist Jung has n ttlevant snying: "Re.ligion is a defense agaiMt the e:xpcri·
ence of God'. The-mystery hns bocn reduced to a sct ofconccpiS and idea!>. and cmphs·
siling thcseconcepls and ideas can ~rt4circuit the trnnscclldc:nt connotcde~pc:ri~~ncc:.
An intense c~pc:-ricnc<: of mystery is what one: has 10 regard as the ultimate. religious
. l.l

Similarly for Eliade. myth is ultimately a means to an experiential encounter with

the divine.14 \Vhile there are important differe nces between rationalist~ and roman-
tics, such a~ whether lll}1h should be read lite.rally Ot' symbolically or at the
expense of or askew to modern though1. there remains at least one shared con-
viction: myth remains substantial. defined by its contents.

B. Myrh as Ideology
As an altemative to theories. Russell l\kCutcheon (following Roland
Bm1hes) argues that lll}1h should be understood in a fomtal rather than sub-
stantial way. McCutcheon writes:
... a shift in perspC!Ctive nllows us tosu.ggcsl ( I ) th:U m)·thsarc not special (or ·sacred")
but ordinary humnn m~ns of fashioning nnd authoriling their lived-in and bclicvcd in 4

·worl<k.' (1) that myth as an ordinary rhetorical device in social eonstruc=lion and
muintenance-makes this rather thant!llft soc: inI ide-ntity possible-. in the: first place and (3}
thnt a pcoplc.'s usc of Lhc /abe/'m)'th' rcAects. ex.presses. e-Xplores nnd IC"'.;itimizc:.s their
own sdf-imugc.15

Bm1hes, who is one of the first to apply an ideological layer to the investigation
of myth. de.fines myth as ·a type of speech'. He argues that ·myth is not defined

.s.hows how myth resolves inc.onsistenc:«:s by comparing the male rokorconc<ption in the: Trobrinnd
Islanders to •he belief in the virgin binh held by AusunJian Christians. S~'C also lhc critique of Van
Dokkum b)· .\fark S. Mosko. ·on ..Virgin Birth". Comp:•mbility. a1ld Anthropological Method'.
Cummt Anrhropolot,.-v 39:5 (Ooocmbcr 1998). 685--7.
21. See C. G. Jung. Ent''tholq;y{~-d. Robert Segal: Princ.eton. Nl: Princeton
Univcr.>it)' Press. 1998}. pp. 8&-94: Rob~·n Seg.1l. ' Myth'. in nre Rladnwll 0Jmpm1Wn to tl1e Study
ofReligkm. p. 349: Russell T. McCutcheon. ·M)'lh•. in Guidi! UJ the SIUdy ofReligf(}ll. p. 196.
12. Jospch Campbell. The Po11'1!1' ofMyth (New York: Doubleday. 198.&). p. 73.
23. Campbell. The Power ofMyth. p. 261.
N. Sc:gal. Myth. p. 56.
25. McCutcheon. ":O.fyth'. p. 200.
20 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

by the object of its message, but the way it utters this message: there are fonnal
limits to myth, the-re are no .;substantiart ones' .16 for Barthes, as well as McCut-
cheon, the rea l powe-r of myth is its ability to parade as a self-evident tl'Uth.~ 7
B:u1hes accomplishes this by conceiving of myth as a second-order semiological
system.~~~ In language. the meaning of any given sign is defined not by the literal
referent but by the sign and its re lationship to other signs within the total lan-
guage system. As a tb nnal equation. the signifie-r (acoustic sound)+ the signified
(mental image)= the s ign. In mythology, the linguistic sign (\"'hich may be a
picture, painting, ritual, etc.) becomes the mythological signifier.11le mytJlologi-
cal sign has no literal referent. but acquires meaning from the cultural system to
which it belongs. Consider Ba11hes' \Veil-known example.of a young black sol-
dier in a French uniform saluting on the cover o f Poris-Matclt. On the first order,
it is literally a picture of a man in a unifom1. On the second order, howeve.r, it
signifies that 'France is a great Empire, that all her sons. without any color dis-
crimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to
the detmctors of alleged colonialism than the zealshown by this Negro in serving
his so-called opp1·essors' .:::9 Csapo. writing of this same example. concludes that
... mythology is indistinguis.habk .from a partic-ular ideological function. m~ificalion.
and a particularopcttlllondaimc:d to be especiallycharacteristic ofbourgcois idoolog,_v,
nnmdy natumliza1ion (concealing the con.sm1ctod nature of the ·myth' but making the
myth sit invisibly upon the seemingly unassuming and m.lt1er-of-factuallingui.sticsign).30

In recent years. l\•lcCutcheon has not been the only theorist to have made the
shift from a substantial to a fom1al definition of myth. Bruce Lincoln, for
instance. defines myth as ·ideology in narrative form~ :H Influenced by Lincoln,
Csapo sugge$tS that ·myth is a function ofsocial ideology . .. and we should not
insist on certain contents and context but rather use these as evidence tOr the
existence of the mythic tUnction' ..u It is this ideological appt·oach to myth- as a
form ofsocial argumentation - which is most useful in undet'Slanding the function
of embedded Scripture text~. Defined in this way, myth is virtually interchange-
able with ideology. which is a ·matter of''discourse" rathe-r than of;·lang:uage"' :B
Ideology. then. may take on mythic or imaginary 'resolution of contradictions'
employing such strategies as ·unification, spurious identification, nantralizarjon,
deceprion. self-<leception. universalization and mtionalization' :J.l

26. Roland Bnrtbcs:. Mytlwlogies(tr.utS. Ann~':!tc. l.a\'«S: New York: The Noonday Pres~ 1972}.
p. 109.
27. Mc.Cutchcon, ').fyth'. p. 201.
28. Barlhcs. .Uyt!lologie$. p. 114.
29. Barthcs. Myt/Jo/(}gies. p. 116.
30. Csapo. TheoriesQjMythology. p. 278.
31. Bruce Lincoln. nll"'rizing Myth: iVarrafi~~. ldmlogy. ondSdwlaJ·.fflip(Chicago: Unin-rsity of
Chicago Press. 1999}. pp. xii. 147.
32. Csnpo. TheoriesQjMythologl', p. 9.
33. Tcny Eugkton.ldeo/(Jgy: An lmmdt,c-/i(}n (london: Verso. 1991 ). p. 223.
34. Eagleton. ldrology. p. 22"2.
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 21

At this point I offer three caveats. First. the importance ofBanhes' theory
discussed above lies in his designation of myth as a ·type of speech'. While
McCutcheon does not hesitate to tbllow Ba11he.s' theory of naturalization in
describing lll)'lh as truth held to be 'self-evidenf.lJ Eagleton has clearly shown
the limits of universally applying any one strategy to ideology (or lll}1h) ..lti Sec-
ond, contrary to structuralisrn 's totalizing and monolithic function of ideology and
lll)1h. a poststmcn1ralist emphasis on discourse allows for multivalent cultural
narratives. Subgroup ideologies coexist 3Jld compete for the dominant ideology..l7
Quite diflerent from stn1cturnlism. ' ideological analysis regard'> language and
semiotic systems as practical, not abstract, as social. not autonomous, and as con-
Hicted. not homogeneous· ..l~o: Third,lmust emphasize that ideology and myth are
used here in the non-pejorative sense. Ideology is not limited to the.Marxist notion
of ·false consciousness' and myth is not a designated term for a non-historical

C. Myth, !Wythmaking, <md Social Formation

Social fom1.ation emphasizes that humans nat\Jrally form groups with social inter-
ests. In relation to a larger social body. subgroups 'desire to pursue ends and
agenda shared with and relative to othe1·s within the same social body'.19 These
interests mnge from the.collection of food to the.fonnation of group identity. Myth-
making is the process of ·constructing, authorizing and reconstructing social
identities or social fonnations' ..~o Mythconceived as a function of social fonn~llion
allows for a group actively to participate in mythmaking and the creation of myth,
which is also taking an active role in shaping their own social idemity. Ellwood
writes: ·Myth and mythmaking assimilate collectivities of people to a single
le.adero1· hero and reduce complicated struggles to the \varofthe children of light
against the children of darkness. ' 41 Mythmaking maintains paradoxes, resolves
conflicts, and ofTe1·s solutions to oppositions. similar to the structuralist approach
discussed above.'H Mythmaking is also the ideological arena in which soc.ial
groups lobby for their respective social interest and legitimization.:1 1n this regard,
mythma.king ma}' be use.d either to reintbrce or confi'Ont dominant power groups.
It is the stage for ideological confrontation and reinforcement always bound to
social interests and group identity. Myths are the result ofmythm.aking and social

35. See Mc.Cuic.hcon. ·Myth'. pp. 201- 2.

36. See Eaglelon. /dl>o/ogy. pp. 59-61 . 200.
37. Sec Csnpo. Theories oj.4fyll10logy. pp. 29!. 1:97.
38. Csapo. Thoories of.4(rthology. p. 299. Sec:. uJso Eagleton. /d;;oo/q;J•. p. 194.
39. William Arnal nnd Willi Braun. 'Social Fom1n1ion and ).fythmaking: Theses on KeyTenns'.
in Redrscribing ChriJiiun on·gins. p. 462.
40. McCu!dlC'Oil. ' ).fyth'. p. 202.
41. Ellwood. · [s ).fytholog)' Obsok-le?'. p. 680.
41. Sec Mc.Cutc.hcon. ' ).fyth •• p. 203. Sec also. Csapo. Throries of.4(rthology. pp. 19S-9.
43. See Burton Mack. ·social Fom1ntion' . in Guide 1u 1/le S1udy ofReligimu . p. 292.
22 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

D. Myth The01 yaud Ancient Biography

One of the advantages in utilizing myth theory is it~ close relationship with
Matthew's genre as Graeco.Roman biography."' Biography in the ancient world,
viewed separately from history, was an ideal instrument t0 1·disseminating ideol-
ogy. As a mythologizing technique, typically the biographer presents the divine
philosopher in a way that legitimizes his individual impo11ance as well as the
importance of his school (OJ' disciples).JS In other words, there is a clear c.orrela-
tion between the character and works of the philosopher and the social identity o f
the group that idealizes him. Consistent with our descriptions ofmythmaking and
social fom1ation. biography may either be a vehicle for defending the dominant
ideology (i.e., the life of the Caesar) or a vehicle for challenging that ideology
through subversive political i deas.~ Ancient biographies 'were personal state-
ments which, though couched in religious and philosophical terms, addressed
sociopolitical and cultural concerns as well' ."7

3. Comparison
A. Isaiah 7. 14 in Mallhew 1.23
lsa. 7.1 4 in Mt. 1.23 is introduced by TOUTO OE OAOV yiyovev 'i vcx ITADP-
U>a(i TOpn~v uno KUpiou o1ix TOO npo<j>J] Tou AeyovTOS (Mt 1.22), descl'ibing
the t'emal'kable circumstances o f Jesus' birth. T11is use o f the verb rrAT}p6cu to
introduce the Scripture quotation is the first in a series (of probably ten) of so-
called 'fulfilment quotations' employed by the Gospel writcr..«S Of these. tOur
occur in the birth narrative ( 1.23; 2.15, 17-18, 23)."~Matthew depicts Jesus as the
'fulfilment' ofScripnLre and thereby effectively makes the point that Matthew's
community is not fOrsaking the past. but is in continuity with it 50 (n particular,

44. Tbis is not the place to mnkeanargumcnt for Gospc.l genre: trncrging majority of
Gospel !>"(X'C ialists place the Synoptics within tht.c-iltegot)'Of Graeco-Roman biography. Sex- Rjchard
A. Burridge. lflluu Are 1lwGospds? A Comparison ,~·illtGrmoc(} ·Romall Biograpl1y. (2ndcdn: Grund
Rapids: William B. Etrdmans Publishing Company. 2004). Stenfso. O.wid E. Aune ·Grcco-Roman
Biogmphy·. in GrectJ·Romall Lili'rotlwealltlthe l'•l£'"' Ti'JIWfumt(cd. David E. Auoc~ Ad!lntn: Schob rs
Prcs.s. 1988}; W. D. Davits and 0. C. Allison. TIJe Gospt'l AC'Cordi11g w Saint MailluM (ICC;
Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1988- 97). ' 'ol. 3. pp. 707- l &: Graham Stnn1on. A Gospelfor a Ne1r Pe(}p/e:
Sludies in MOIIIIe"·(Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1992). p. 64.
45. Pntricia Cox Millc:r. Biography ill LtJtf! .-4ntiqui~l•: A Quest for the-Ho(v Mmt (Berkeley: Uni·
\'ersity of C-alifornia Press. 1983). p. 166.
46. Amnldo J11e Dewdopme111 of G1vek Biography (Cambridge, .\tA: Harvard
Univcrsit)' Press. 1993). p. 99.
.J7. Co:t ~iiller. Bi(}grapiJy in I.ate Amiquity. p. 135: soc: also Bunidgc. H'ho1 An" lfw Gospds?.
p. 291.
48. These usually in dude: Mt. 1.22·23: 2.15; 1. 1 7· 1 8~ 1.13:4.14-1 6: S.l7: 12. 17·2 I: 13.35: 21.4·
5: 27.9·10. less agreed upon arc: Mtl.5-6: 26.54. 56 .
49. Sec Dunuld Senior. ·The Lure ofthe Formula Quotations: R~~-Asscssi ng Matthew's Usc: ofthe
Old Te.stamcnt with the Passion Narrative as Test C-ast.' in Tlw Scripfmvs in the Gospl!ls {~-d. C. M.
Tucket Ltli\'CU: l~':Uvtn Univcrsil)' PI'($$. 1991). pp. 10 1- 3.
50. See Oal.'icsand Allison. The G()SfH!IAcrordinglo Sainl.tlattlww. vol. 3. p. 511: l ui'_ MmlhC'IV
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 23

Matthew's ·parting of the ways' reveals a distinct relation between the identity of
Jesus and the identity of the Matthean community as a new moveme-nt within
Judaism.51In acc.ordance with other fulfilment quotations. Matthew uses lsa. 7. 14
to make an explicit Christological statemen ts~ (n accounting for the origin of
Jesus. Matthew makes the argument that he is both from the Davidic line (tvtt.
1.1-17) and from God (Mt. I.IS-25). While originally(in tl1e literary context of
Isaiah) addressed to the 'house of David', the use of lsa. 7. 14 by !\•latthew serves
as a legitimizing technique that would have been adopted by his community in
their struggle against non-Christian Je,vs.5J
These observations are straightforward and reftect the current scholarly con-
sensus. However, what about the question ofhistoricity and the problem of the
old narrative context ofls.a. 7. 14? For the func.tion oflsa. 7.14 in Matthew's birth
narrative has played a key role in interpretation. Thus, for Brown, Matthew uses
ls.a 7.14 to confinn the already existent association ofthe Christo logical statement
·son of God ' and the work of the Holy Spirit.:.. There is nothing inherent in (sa.
7. 14 that would have given rise to the idea that the Messiah was born by virginal
conception. Bmwn·s conclusion is that the.'scient!fica/lycontrollab/e biblical evi-
dence leaves the question of the historicity ofthe virginal conc.eption mu·esolved'.
although he maintains that the New Testament evidence is easier to e.'< plain g iven
the historical t3 cticity ofsuc.h a conception rather than to see it as a theologicalor
literary creation.:.> In quite the opposite direction~ Schaberg suggests that Matthew
used Isa. 7.l4 bec-ause of the law in Deuteronorny 22.23-27 'conceming the rape
or seduction ofa betrothed rrapSEvos·. The law is presupposed in his p1·esentation
of the dilemma of Joseph as "a just man, Torah-observant' .56 In her analysis of
the Matthean text, ' Mary's pregnancy in the interim between the betrothal and
home-tak ing is historical, as is the insistence of both Matthew and Luke that
Joseph \Vas nof the biological fhther· .31

1-7: A Comme!IIWJ' (tmns. \Vilhclm C. linss: Minn~poli s: Fonrcss Press. 1989). pp. 159- 62:
Senior. ' The Lure of «hc fonnula Quotations'. p. 103.
51. Luz writes tha« the ·continuod patting ufthc \\'ays wilh Juduism' and the: perception otusidc
lheChristinn nlO\'Cm~·nt thnt ChriSiianily wns ·a distinct and novd n:ligion· wcrcMo mnjor (IIC'tors in
Mntlhew's inv~ontion ofthe fulfilme-nt quotation (lu1.. .4ftllthe-w 1- i. pp. 16 1- 2). SC'Calw. Onvies ond
Alison. The Gospel Ac-cordi11g to &1i111 Mollhew. vol. I. pp. 219- 20 and \ 'OJ. 3. p. 577: Senior. 'Tbc
L ure ofl.hc Formulll Quotations'. pp. 99-103: Stanton. A GoJJXIfor(l New P~·ople. p. 189.
52. Sec Raymond E. Brown. The Birlil ofthe Me.uia!l {Garden City. New Yori:: lmngc Books.
1979),p. 133: Lto:, Molt/lew 1- i. p. 12 1: Donald Senior•.tlutl/lof'w(Abingdon New Tcstomcnt Com-
mentaries: N:t$hvlllc: Abingdon. 1998). p. 39.
53. Sec Brown. TheBirth<?(the Messiah. p. 154: tuz. .4/aulww 1- 1. pp. 122- l : Senior. Mallll'f'w.
p. 39: George Soai'C$ Prabhu. The Formula Quotolions in lht> ltifonC'y NarrmiwofMuuhtw (Rome:
Bibtical lnstilUtc Press, 1976). p. 252.
5-l. Browu. Binh ofrh~ Messiuh. pp. 149. 160- 1. 524.
55. Brown. Binll <?(the MesJiuh, p. 527.
56. Jane Schaberg. ' Feminist Interpretations ofthc:-lnfnnC')' Nnrrnti\'C of Matthew'. in A FeminiJI
Companion to Mariologr (cd. Amy-Jill Le\·inc: Ckvdnnd: The Pilgrim Press. 2005). pp. 15-36.csp.
p. 29. Sc:c also J. Schaberg. The 11/egilinlaCJ' q(JeJus: A FeminUt Thrologkal1nterprnutionoftlw
lnfonq NoJnllil'es (San franei ~o: liai'JX'r & Row. 1987: rcpr. Sheffidd Academic Press. 1995).
57. Schaberg. 'Infancy Nlltf3ti\·c•. p. 31.
24 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

In addition to the historical problem. we must deal with the loss of the old nar-
rath•e context (and hence meaning) oflsa. 7.14 at the expense of the new narra-
tive context off'.·lt. 1.23. How much, if any. ofthe narrative context oflsa. 7.14
should we infer/impose on Mt. 1.23? Is it justifiable, as Carter has recently a1·gued.
to read the e.ntire c.ontext of Isaiah 7-9 into Matthew 1-4 through the quotations
of lsa. 7.14 in Mt. 1.23 and lsa. 8.23-9. 1 in 4.1 5-16?" What about tl1e more
common of the 'house ofDavid" onto Mt. 1.23 via the literary context
of lsa. 7.14 (7 .2 and 7. 13 )? Mythmaking and social formation. as an ideological
strategy~ address both the issue of historicity and literary context. ln the c-ase of
the latter, myth theory illumi n ate.~ the.ideological fi.ulctjon of the embedded text in
its new narrative context which debunks the specific context ofthe old narrative.
What should be.imposed onto "'·lt. 1.23~ then, is nothing more.than the ideological
weight of the quoted authoritative prophet. Even the seemingly straightforward
inference of the ·house of David' (Isa. 7.2: 7.13) needs to be 1·econsiderod. Isaiah
7.14 may still legitimize the community's belief in Jesus· dual identity as a David
king and dh•ine SOil of God. but on the basis of the new litel'ary context in Mat-
thew's birth oanative (especially 1.1 -17. 20) and not the literally context oflsaiah.
Second, the former question of historicity is replaced by the more fruitful ques-
tion of meaning. This suggests that the motivation for writing is bound more to
the self-identity of the community than to the 'historical facts'. While these con-
clusions may not be satisfactory at this point, the comparative effort is the tme
testing gJotuld for myth theory. For comparison is where theoretical discourse
and data meet. resulting in either the reciprocal illumination of the data under
examination or the failure of the stated theory.

B. Theorizing Comparison
Serious inquiry into Matthe\v's birth narrative inevitably requi1·es at least some
level ofcomparison with other ancient birth narratives. The usual suspects include:
Moses (in multiple rabbinic and other Jewish sources, but e-specially in Pseudo-
Philo's Liber Anliquitatum Bib/icarum [9.1-1 0]);59 Phythagoras (lamblichus~ The
Pythagorean Life 3-5. 7-10): Apollonius (Philostratus, Life ofApallonius 1.4.5-9;
1.6); Augustus (Suetonius, Li\•es qllhe Twelve Caesars. 'The Deified Augustus'
94.4); Noah (/ Euach 106-107); Melchizedek (2 Enoch 7 1- 72); Theagenes(Pau-
sanius, Description ofGreece, Elis II. I I .2-3); and Alexander the Great (Plutarch,
Life ofA/exander, 2.1-6: 3. I -9). In addition, there are multiple accounts of the

58. W. Ca.rtcr. 'E\•o\:ing lsainh: Matth~"an Sotcriolog)' nnd an lntctle:ttuu] Reading of Isaiah 7- 9
i!nd ~fauhew 1.23 and ~.15- 16'.JBL 199:3 (1000}. 503-10. Building panicularly on the work of J.
M. Foky. Cart~Tsrguesthat in oral cultures. ·:.-pokcn texis froqucntlyare mctonymic.cmploying brief
refcrcm:es- whethcrphras~"'iogy. themes. ehsrac:t~·r units. events. ornarrntivc structures - thul have
c:ttrutex.tual coJUl()(ntions. The: part summons the whole.' Can« docs not however, oO':r n dear
mclhod fordetennining .,...f~ioh pans ofthc:.nll1l'31i\•econtc:x1 should be imponod in the new nurmtive.
Not only do the: old contexts have multiple meaning:;, but also the-citations thc:msd\'cshavc multiple
59. Sc:e J. 0. tios:san. ·v irgin Molhcr or Bas~.nrd Child?·. in A Fem itli:>f Guide to Mari(J/og)'. pp.
31- 55.
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 25

bi11h ofJesus in other Christian writings (Luke~ the Infancy Gospel o.fJames~ the
Infancy Gospel ofThomas, the Arabic Jujauc~vGospel. etc.). Unfot1tmatel}', aside
from the gene-ral observation that other miraculous binh accounts exist in anti-
quity, comparative etl(>l'ts have yielded little fruit Once again. little or no atten-
tion has been given to theories and methods ofc.omparison.60 Here. I follow J. Z.
Smith~ whose work on comparison sets the standard tbr the field. For Smith. the
prevalent assumption o f the ' uniqueness' of Christianity
requires tlmt the cntcrptisc:. of comparison focus on questions of borrowing and diffu·
slon. The usc ofcomparison as a hcrmcneulicdc:vic-e. or as a principle of disco\'a')' for
the construction of theories or b"Cncric categories places no tole. What tuk s. i nste~~d. is
an O\'c.nvfldming concern rot assigning value. rathcr than intellectual significnncc. to the
results ofcomparison.t-1

In the c-ase of Matthew's birth narrative. questions of historicity and authenticity

too often govern, and thereby undermine. the comparative eftbt1.61 Smith's own
method for comparison toequires the 'acceptance of difference as the.grounds of its
being interesting'.fil Rather than focus on issues of identity ofuniqueness. Smith
asks. ' \Vhat differences are to be maintained in the in(eresl<> of comparative
inquiry?'64 In what ways may we account for similarities in religions other than
through the tmditional explanations oftlle 'ps}rchic unity' of humankind or djrect
dependence?t.S Smith 's aJlswer, in part. is t-ecognizing that we are not merely
dealing with the reception of, but rather the ·historical process ofreinter-
pretotiou' .'·<~> He- therefore considers the pamllel notions of the 'dying and rising'
o f a cult figure in lhe religions of Late Antiquity and Christianities in the second
to fom1h century as analogous processes, responding to parallel kinds of reli-
gious situations. '67 Comparison. then. only becomes intet·esting insofar as d iffer-
ences can be maintained with respect to some stated theoty~ which exist 'solely
within the space of the scholar·s mind '.t.i In our case, mythmaking and social
fonnation sustain comparison of Matthew's birth with other birtJl narratives even no direct dependence-can be demonstrated. Consequently, a comparison
of the early stories and traditions of the life ofMuhanunad and the Gospel of
Matthew provide an instructive exercise.

60. See. ror example, R. J. Miller. Bom Dil'in~: Tile Rinlu of.lcsw; <-~ Other Smu ofGmi(Santa
Rosa. California: Polebridge Pms. 2003).
61. Smith. Drudgery Dil:ine. p. 46.
62. This is equally true for bot.h ' lib~'llll' ond ' traditionaJ' endcavoots.
63. J. Z. Smi1h. To Tute P/(t('-e: T(Jward 11•eory i11 Ritu(JI (Chicago: The-Uni\'crsity of Chicago
Prc:!:!t. 1987). p. 14.
64. Smith. T(J TokeP/uce, p. 14.
65. See Smith. Dmdge(l' Ditrine. p. 47.
66. Smith. Dmdgery Di~"ine-. p. 107.
67. Smith. Drudgery Dil:ine. pp. 112- 13.
68. Smith. Dnrdgery DM~~e. p. 115.
26 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

C. Ear~y Traditions ofA1uhammad

As nearly one quarter of the Qur·an is composed of stories of biblical pi'Ophcts
ft·om Adam to JC<sus. one catl hardly unden."Stimate their impot1ance in e.:uly Mus-
lim communitics.b'} The stories of the prophets are said to have been revealed to
Muhanunad by God (Q 7. 10 I; II. I00, 120: 18.13; 20.99) in order'to strengthen'
his heart so that he might serve as a pedagogic-a l a id tbr the harsh lesson of dis-
obedience.70 As Q 7. 10 I reads: "Then af\er them we sent Moses with our signs to
Pharaoh and his nobles, who acted unjus11y in the-ir regard. But see what was the
end of the oorntpt doers!·n However. while these themes are prevalent, a strong
anti-Christian and anti-Jewish polemic also penneates such stories. fo1·the early
Muslim community, Muhammad wa..'> the last and greatest prophe.t in a long suc-
cession of prophets that were.not Jewish or Christian. but f'.·tuslim (Q 2.136: 3.65-
68: 5.44; 42. 13). The biblical prophets ofold affi m1 Muhammad as God's apostle
(Q 3.81) and Jesus announces the coming of the PI'Ophet in Q 61.6. in which he
states: · . . . I am God's aJ>OSUe to you and to confirm the law which was give.n to
me, and to announce an apostle that shall come a fter me whose name shall be
Ahmad!· In this way. the stories of the p1'0phets in the Qur'5Jl function to legiti-
mate f\·fuhanunad's authority. Subsequent Islamic exegetes expanded on these
traditions, often as a means for legitimizing their own amhority and forging their
As the Qur'5n provides little information on the life of1vluhammad>the early
communities wrote biographies of the Prophet. which, not surprisingly, utilized
topoi from the vitae of biblical prophets.73 That this was the case becomes imme-
diately appm·ent at even a ctu'Sory reading of the earliest biography of Muhammad
- Ibn lsl)aq's (d. 1501767 CE) Sira. preserved in the edited version of ibn Hish5m
(d. 2181833 CE). While the e\•idences of these topoi are too numerous to list here,
I will address three that I find to be the most relevant for our discussion. The first
feature is th~ll the Sira opens with a genealogy of?vluhanunad that traces his pure
descent from Adam.14 Ibn lsl)aq 's recountingofMuhrunmad's line f1·om Abraham:
to Adam is almost to the last halfofLuke 's genealogy of Jesus. but with
two important difference.~: Ishmael Isaac and Adam is not the son ofGod.
Second, Muhammad's bil1h is preceded by several prophetic announcements for

69. Sec R. Tot1oli. 'Natr.tli\·c l itemturc•. in Tile Blodhr!ll Companiomu the Qu'rW1(cd. Andrew
Rippin: Malden. MA: Blad:wcll Publishing. 1006). pp. 467- SO. csp. p. 469.
70. Sc:c U. Rubin. ·Prophctsnnd Prophcthood\ in T11e Blucl.wcll Companion to the Qu'run. pp.
234-41.csp. p. 134.
71. Qut'an quo1a1ions arc.from Tile Koron (trans. J. M. Rodwell: cd. A. Jon~: london: PbOC'-nix.
2001 [1909)). unkss Olherwisc indicnt.:d.
72. Tbis is cspc:cially the case for •he Moses 1radition in the:.Qur'nn. ns B. Whcdcr coodudcs
(' ~1osc::s ' in The B/(J('kwe/1 Compani011W theQm· ·~n. pp. 248-65. csp. p. 264). Sec-also B. Wh«k r.
Prophets i111lle Quron: An lmrmJuc:liurl to the Qurtm tmd MuJiim £xeg_~--sis (London and N~·w York:
Con1inuum. 2002). pp. I73- 121.
73. Sec U. Rubin. fye ofilte lklwlder: Tl"' Lifo ofMuii(UilfiJtul as Vif:'Wedhyll!e Eady Mtuli11u -
A Texlual Anu{1:sis (Princeton: Darwin Press. 1995). p. 11.
74. Srru. 3. Quo~.ati Oll$ of the Sira follow the English trnnslation by A. Guillaume. The Ufi-v(}j
Muhammad: A Trmulation (}IM!iiq's Sirot Rasul Allull (Oxford: Ox lOrd University Press. 1955}.
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 27

which we have both biblical and Arabian sources. The first example is yet another
annunciation of Muhammad by Jesus, in which Muhammad is identified as the
paraclete of the Christian Testament The announcement is formulated through
the embedded Scripture text of Jn 15.23 in Sin1 149-50:
Among the things wbic.h have reached me about wh.1t Jesus the: Son of Mary stated in
the:. Gospd which he rettived from God for the follow"trs of the: Gospd. in applying a
term to describe the:.apostle of God. is the following. II is extracted from what John the
Apostle:. r.ct d0\\11 for them wb~·n he wrote the Gospel for th~·m from the Tcstnm~'nl of
lc:$US Son of Mary: ' lie th!lt hat~·th me: hath hated the: l ord. And if I had not done in
tllcir presence works which nooe other bc:forc. me:. did. they had not had sin: but from
now they arc: puffod up with pride and think they will ovcn:o1nc m~· nnd also the: Lord.
But the:. word tltJt is in the law must be:. fulfill¢d. ·They hated me: without n tauS<"· (i.e.
without reason). But when the: Comfortc:rhns come whom God will r.cnd to you from the.
Lord•s presence.he (shall bear) witness ofme :utd ycalso.b« have been with me
from the.beginning. I have spoken unto )"Ouabout this that )"e shouk! not be in doubl'. i!.

The Arabian annunciation begins in a way familiar to biblical scholars:

Rabra b. Na~r. l:ing of the: Yamnn. was of the: true.stock of the Tubbn' kings. li e had a
vision which terrified him and coniinuc:d (0 en use him much anxiety. Soh~· summoned
c:.vcry sooth!:ayer. sorter~..-. omen monger. and nstrolog~"f in his kingdom and s!lid: ·1
have h."'ld a ,·ision which terrifKs me nnd is tile. source of anxiety. Tc:ll lnt' what it wns
and what it means.' Thc:.y n-plicd: "Tdl us the vision and we will tdl you its meaning•.
' lfl tdl you it'. !'.'lid he. ' I can hn\'c no con fid~'flcc: in your imc:rprctation: for the ooly
mnn wflo l:nows its rncaning is he: who knows nbout the: \'ision without my telling him.·
Thereupon one of lhem m:ommc:nded him to send for Shiqq and Sa1il). 1~>

A.s the story continues. Shiqq and Sa!ll) independently confinn the king·s dream
and offet· identical interpretatjons. The king dreams of a fire coming fron't the
sea and devoul'ing evet·ything in its path. whic.h symbolizes the imminent inva.~;i on
ofthe "black' Abyssinian army. A Yemeni leadet• from the Dhfi Yazan family will
then drive out the Abyssinian at·my only to have his kingdom ·ended by an apostle
who will bring truth and justice among men of religion and virtue' .77
The third teature of the. Sira is the voice of God that Muhammad's mother,
Am ina, he.ars while she is pregnant.
It is alleged in popul111 stories (and only God knows the truth) that Amina d. Wahb. the.
mother ofGod's aposdc. used to say wh~~n she was prq;nanl with God's apostk that a
\"Oiecsaid to her. 'You IlK prcgMnt with the lord of this pooplcand whc:n he is bom stl)'.
··1put him in !he care of the One:. from che c.vil nnd e\"ct)" envier. then coli him·
mnd.... As she wns pregnant with him she saw a light tonl~ forth from hcr b)' whlc:h she.
could the cllStlc:s ofBu.~!i in Syria. ill

75. The .J.fu11a~~renumu (God bkss and preserve him!) in S)'riac is ').tuhammnd': in Greek he is
the p:.rockte. The embedded text of Jn 15.23eomcs ftom a PalcstinianSyrioc lcctionwy. The: Syriac:
Munu~'~'emana in thiseonte-:tt mca.ns ·one..,.,.Jto eonsolcsand comfori.S SX"X"~Pie for the lns.sof one dear
to them'. Sec A. Guillaume. Lifr <?{Muhammad. p. 104 n. I.
76. Siro. 9- 10.
77. SJro. 11- 11. For other Atnbian onnunciation;s sec:. U. Rubin. £yf! ofthe Beholder. pp. 44-55.
78. Siro, 102.
28 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

T11e light. which is a prevalent theme ofrv1uhammad's prophetic office. tbrecasts

Syria as the furure domicile oflslam.19 Aside from the obvious parallel with rvtt.
1.21-23, this passage is of particular interests bec.ause. of its subsequent associ-
ation with Q 1.129. in which Abraham prays: ·our Lord, send among them ames-
senge1· from amongst them. that he may recite to them Your signs, and teach them
the book and the wisdom ' .30 ln late.r traditions, this Qur'finic passage became asso-
ciated with rvtuhammad's self-portrait. In one such tradition, Muhammad states:
' I am the [subject) of the pnlyer of my fa the1· Abraham·, which is then immedi-
ately followed by the embedded text Q 1. 129.31 In multiple Syriac naditions, the
story of i\mina, Muhanunad's self attestation. Q 1.129. and Jesus· announcement
of Muhammad in Q 6 1.6 arc. a ll intertwined. Asked about the beginning o f his
affairs, lvluhammad replies: 'The praye1·of my tb.ther Abraham. the good tidings
o f Jesus, and my mother saw light come out ofher, which illuminated the forts of
Syria. •ll2
Early Muslim communities seem to be involved in the same process of myth-
making and social fonnation as the early Christian \Vriters. In the above examples.
we see how the early Muslim writers mythologized Muhammad using a variety
ofconventions, a ll of which attempt to organize the past through the concerns of
the present: genealogy, prophecy and tl tlfilment, and the use ofembedded Scrip-
ture texts. Uri Rubin concludes that 'the medieval Muslims saw themselves as
heirs to previous c ivilizations which came under their control, and this was how
they shaped the story of their own prophef.Kl. These mythic stories were used to
interpret the way in which Muhammad brought about spiritual. intellectual and
social transfom1ation.SJ

D. A1allhew 's Mythmaking EutetprisC!

Matthew's use of embedded Scripture texts thus emerges as a mythmaking
enterprise not dissimilar from the way in which Scripture and tradition are used
in the Qur 'iin and lbn lsl)aq's Sira. Mauhew explicitly argue.s for J esus ~ origins
in chapters 1- 2 by creating (or popularizing) Jesus' dual identity and thereby
addresses the an.xiety oftlle community with its rec.ent (or impending) split with

79. Rubin. U.• Eye oflht> Be/wltk!J'. p. 3 i. S« also U. Rubin. "Prc· Existcnt l ight: A~c.ts of lhc
Concept of Nnt .\tu~ammad'. lsrm4 Oriental Studies S (1975). 62- 119.
SO. Quoted from Rubin. fy~ oj1!1e Behokkr. p. 37.
81. Ibn Sll'ad. I, 149: quoted from Rubin. /:'ye uj1/le Beholder. p. 37.
S2. Recorded b)· A~mad ibn tfanbal. Mu:mod. V. 262:quoted from Rubin, £ye oj1he Tklrolder.
p. Ja.
S3. Rubin. £ye ofJiw B~holtkr. p. 21 7.
84. J. \Vansbrough. The Sectarimr Milieu: Comelff und CompoJitionoflslamic Salwrlion History
(Oxford: Oxford Univer.>itr P~ 1978). p. 23. S« also (I.-f. Klar. who 'vrites:
Much like thc.rabbisoflate antiquit)'. the: Islamic storytellers llnd histotiopuphcrs were
cngag~-.:1 in M ongoing cxplor.uion of the mcnning ofthe stories they inh«itcd.. llttcmpt·
ing to prese-nt these storic.s to Lhc:ir reader.> in a co1wincing wny •. . The linking together
of figures fromthe.distant pasLearly Islamic.figures. and a contemporary \'Oic.c. ser ves
to cmphllsize 1M rdc\'ance a1ki llpplicabilit)· of described. ('Stories of the
Prophets" in TM Bla<k!,v/1 Companio11 ro the {)ur 'an. pp. 338-49. cs.p. p. 344.}
APODACA A(rth, Comparison and Embedded Scripture Texts 29

post-70 CE Judaism. These specific-social interests account fOI' the special material
of Matthew's Jesus story. especially the birth narrative. lsa. 7. 14, as a mythmaking
agent, l'esolves the issue of Jesus' origins and maintains the paradox of his dual
identity. In le.gitimizjng his (and his community's) belief•hat Jesus is the prom-
ised Christ, Matthew advoc-ates a fulfillment oflsmel's history and prophecy that
cannot be shared by his Jewish opponents. Through the legitimizing of Jesus via
the Scriptures, f\·1atthew and his community attain an identity that is in continuity
with past divine revelation. They. in short, become the new \roice of revelation
and the ' tme · reconstinttion of Israel in the post-war age. In a general sense, Mat-
thew's mythmaking technique through the appropriation of Scripture is not
unlike that of any other early Jewish, Muslim or Christian group vying for the
legitimacy of their identity.
Concerning the old narrative context(S) of the embedded text, this study ron-
eludes that the pl'imary reason tbr the-use of embedded texts lies is their quality
as mytlunaking agents. Should we assume the.old narrativecontext(s) as a kind of
cuhural backdrop in re.ading. interpreting and teaching the Gospels? No. Unless
the new na1·rative context explicitly demands this inference, the old narrative c.on-
text(s) should not play a role. Matthew's consistent use of embedded Scriprure
texts. especially fulfihne nt quotations. as proof texts, accentuates this JXlSition. For
Matthew. as well as e.arly Muslim communities, the past is understood only in
light of the present. rvfatthew's re.telling of biblical histo1y and recalling of bib-
lical prophecy are not incorporated for their own sake, but they serve an ideologi-
cal age.nda that legitimizes a new community inextricably bound to the identity
ofJesus as Christ In the end, Matthew's birth narrative, including the embedded
Scripture texts, is a myth narrative - the creation ofmythmaking and social for-
mation by an early Chl'istian group deviating from an emerging formative Judaism
that likewise engages in legitimation.

Warren Carter

Discussion ofMatthew's use ofScripnu·e has tbcused on the origin, language and
authorial intention of citations. I Frequently lacking has been adequate attention
to the contexts of the d losen Scriptures, both the text segments from which they
come and the Gospe-l context in which they function. In this discussion of rvtt.
22.34-40, I will the. verses quoted from Deuteronomy 5 and Leviti-
cus 19 function in their new narrative contexts. And instead of a myopic tbcus
only on the cited verses, I will. following the work ofJohn Foley on metonymic
referentiality in Ol'al cultures, auend to the larger text segments to which the cited
verses be.long and which theyevoke.1
Moreover, much discussion ofMatthew' s use of Scripture has been framed by
the mistaken assumption, widespread in Gospel studies, that Matthew is a reli-
g ious te.xt concerned only with religious issues and in dispute with another
relig:iotL'i community. Absent from this approach is awareness that in the first-
century world, religion was embe.dded in imperial political and societal realities,
and that rvfatthew's Gospel, like various synagogue communities, was engaged in

I. In addition to various comm~~ntaries. for instnncc. A. Baumstark. ' Die Zitate des Mt-Evan-
gdiums aus dcm ZwOifprophctc-nbuch'. Biblicu 31 ( 1956). 2%-313: R. Gundry. Tlw Us~ q(rhe
Old Testamrol in S1 Mauhe•~· 's Gospel "'ith Spcrial Re/«!!t1C~ Itt tlte lllessianic Hope (l.ciden: E. J.
Brill. 1967): Kristcr Stend.ithl. The Sch<>ol ufSr. Maulle11·ond {b· V:wroftlw Old Teslam~tlt (Philndcl-
phia: Fonrcss. 1968): W. Rol.hfuc hs.. Die ft:/iillmrgszitute des Molllliitu-Emng£4itull: Eitw biblisd~
Jfwologisdw lfllfeJ·suchutlg (BWANT 8&: Stutt.g<~n: W. Kohlhammer. 1969): Franz vnn Scgbroccl.
'L<s c.itatlons d'ac~"lOmpl isscmcnt dans I'Fln mgilc-sd onsaim Matthicud'ap..Cs trios ouvrngcs n't'Cnts'.
in M. Didi~'l (cd.). [ 'Ewmgile Jelon Mwtllieu. Rhla<tion e1 theologi<• (BETt. 29: Gcmblou.x: J.
Duculot 1972). pp. I07- J-0: G. Soares Pmbhu.. The Formula Quotmirms in the fn/ml(l'·ratil·c of
MaJtht<w(Romc-: Biblical Institute: Press. 1976): M. Obcl'\veis. ·Beob.xhtungcn AT-Gebrnuch in
<kr Matthliischcn Kindhl·itsgcschichtc•. NTS 35 ( 1989). 131-49: D. &nior. 'The Lute of lhc Fom1ula
Quotations: Re-nsscssing ~fntthcw·s Usc of the Old Tcstammt with the. Pnss.ion Nannti\·t as a Test
Case'. in C. MTuckt1t (cd.). T11e Scriptures in lite Go.spefs (BEn. 131: Lcuv~-n: Lcu\·cn Unin 'f'Sity
Press. 1997}. pp. 89-115.
2. J. Foley. fmmoiJ£'111 An: From Strut'IIIJ't' to Meaning in Traditicmof Oral fpk (Bioomingron. IN:
lndiann linivcn;ity Press. 199 1). pp. 1-60. I han: used Foley's work to dnborote the citalions from
lsniahln Mntthew I nnd 4. in 'Evoking lsniah: Why Summon lsnin.h in Matthew 1:23 and 4: 15-1 6?'.
in Cnne-r. Maulrew ami Empire: Initial &plana/ions (Harrisburg. PA: Trinity Press InternationaL
2001). pp. 93-107: previously published in JBL 119 (2000}. 503- 20.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 31

the task of negotiating the-imperial world.J. Hence ( am also interested in how the
Scriptures cited and evoked in Mt. 22.34-40 contribute to this negotiation.
This discussion. then, makes thl\."e c.ontributions to the discussion of Matthew's
use of scriptural traditions. Fil·st. it offers an interpretation of a significant conflict
scene that moves beyond mo1-e usual emphases on individual re-ligious practices to
societal visions and srmctures. Second, it argues that Matthean scriptural cita-
tions and echoes are more appropriately engaged not through atomistic interpre-
tation o f isolated fragments - the-practice of much prior discussion- but through
the notion of Foley's metonymic inte11extuality in which cited fragments evoke
much large1·nal'ratives and traditions as was the common practice of oral societies.
And third, it locates interpretation of Matthew's Gospel not only in the intra-
Jewish debates o fpost-70 Judaism (the context that has dominated Matthean
studies for ove1·fit)y years), but also in the much neglected larger context of Jew-
ish negotiations o f the Roman imperial world.

I. Dangerous Love?
In a cmcial in Matthew's Gospel, a Pharisee asks Jesus. 'which is the great-
est commandment in the law'?' (22.36). Jesus' response. citing Deut. 6.5 and Lev.
19.18, identifies love for God and for neighbour. Five verses later. all dialogue
between Jesus and his opponents has ended (22.46). In chapter 23 Je-sus -
unlovingl}' it would seem - consigns the scribes and Pharisees, whom he
repeatedly identifies as hypocrites, to eschatologicalcondemnation. Four chapters
late1· they, along with the rest of the Jemsalem elite and their ally the Roman
governor Pilate. consign Jesus to a Roman cross.
How can talk of love be so contentious, divisive, th1-eatening and dangerous?
Several possible explanations can be eliminated. The Pharisee's request for
Jesus to identify the greatest commandment is not in and of itself problematic.
Victor Furnish argues that the Pharisee ·s test of Jesus comprises o f determining
whethe1· 'Jesus accepts all the stn.ttltes o f the Torah as of equal importance· .4
Numerous figures in the biblical tradition, though. have readily answered this
question in the identifYing more important teachings.5 David, accord-
ing to Psalm 15, identifies fifteen commandment<> for faithful relationship with

3. W. Carter. Mauhnt•and lhf! Marg;,u: A Sodcpolilica/ ond Religious Rcaditi,'S {Mnr)·knoll:

Orbis Books. 2000)~ ickm. MatthewtmdEmpire:idem. Po11tius Pilau•: Portroit.H,fa RonwnGowmor
(Colle-geville: Liturgic-nl. 2003). On Jewish ne-g01iation ofthe-Roman world. sec:.John M.G. lklrclay.
}1!\t-"S in the Mediterrot/ean Diasporafrom Alexa11der to Tt4m1 (313 BC£--J 17 CF.) (Edinbtugh: T&T
Clark. 1996).
4. v . Fumish.. nut Lore Commalldmellt ill the Nf!l~· TeJ/UIIII!III(K-IlSh\·ilk: Abingdon. 1972). p. 32:
R. F. Collins. ·Matlhcw's ivroAo'l : Tow·ards nn Under~l.and ing of the Commandments in dtc Fir.>t
Gospel'. in F. Van Scgbroc-ck.C. ~i . TuckeltG. ' 'an Bd lc-andJ. Vcrh~-ydcn (cds).71w FourGospels
(Vol. 2: Lcuvcn: l cuvcn Univcr.>it)' 1992). pp. 13.25-48.. especially 1340 and note 71) ngt~'S.
but mis•:tl:enly nttributc:s lhc view to FuJltt. llOI Furnish.
5. 0 . Hagner. Mallhew 14-18(WBC 338 : D:dlas: Word Books. 1995). p. 646. Soc b. .Hakkoth
32 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

God. God gives Moses ten (Exod. 20. 1-17). Isaiah ident i fie..~; six requirements
(Isa. 33. I 5- 16). Micah offers three - do justice, Jove kindness. and walk humbly
with your God (rvtic. 6.8). Amos names one -seek me and live (Amos 5 .4)~ as
does Habakkuk: the righteous Jive by faithfulness (Hab. 2.4). The question itself
is not problematic.
Nor does Jesus' answer appear problematic at first glance. Though asked to
name one great commandment, Jesus offers two inter-related commandments.
love God. Love neighbour. Both come from the tradition he-s.hares with the ques-
tionel'. In commanding love for God (l\·1t. 22.37-38), Jesus cites Deut 6.5, part o f
the Shema (Deut. 6.4-9) that recognized that covenant relationship with God
requires total t1lithfi.1lness and lived loyalty. Jesus· second commandme.nt. love
neighbour, cites Lev. 19.18 from a chapter outlining numerous societal respon-
sibilities. In twice quoting Torah. Jesus' answer does not oppose., undennine,
devalue or abolish the tradition. He embraces it (22.40), fulfilling it (5.17; 7. 12).
naming widely recognized central matters. Nor do the Pharisee or his compani-
ons protest Jesus' words. Take-n at face value, Jesus· answer does not appear
Nor, thirdly, is the emphasis on love itself problematic. We cannot claim for
instance that Jesus valued love while Jews valued law (viewed negatively).~ Such
a suggestion evokes a regreuably pervasive yet vel)' inaccurate ste-reotype offirst-
century Judaism as being imerested only in ritual and legalism and oblivious to
Jove for God or humans. Such claims are patently false.1 This claim conveniently
overlooks Je.<;us' Jewishness and that the Jaw is the source and content ofthe two
citations that comprise his answe1·.8 In addition to Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus
19, numerous Jewish texts value love for God and people, though the-explicit com-
bination of these particular texts is not found. For instance. the sec.ond-ce-ntury BCE
Tes1aments ofthe Tweh·e Patriarchs commands love fOI' God and neighbour."
lo\'e the: lord nnd )'Out neighbor.
Be compnssionnle toward po\'Crt)' and sid;ness. (T. In· 52).
Th~ lord !loved with nil my s1rcngth:
l ikewise. I loved every hum.1n being as I k'l\'e my c-hildre-n.
You do these ~ well. my children. ( T. Iss 7.6b-7n).
Throughout nil your fife low the Lord.
and on~·1mothc-r with a true: hcatt. (T. Don 5.3).10

Jesus· contemporal)'~ Philo, similarly advocates love fo1· God and people. He
observes that the first four commandments of the Decalogue concern relationship

6. This issue is named and hd pfully addressed by D. J. Harrington. Tile Gospel of Maulww
(Socra Pu.gina. I: College,,illc: Litul'gical Pn:ss. 1991 ). p. 316.
7. G. W. E. Nickdsburg. Andent Judai.nn and C/rrisrimr Origins: Diwrsity. C(}ntinuity. tmd
Tnm.sformatimt {~finnc:apol i s: Fortress PTC$S. 2003).
S. Note repeated n:fcrcn(-CSto lo\'ing God. for example. in Deut 5. 10: 10. 12: 11 .1. 22: 30.16.
9. For texts. J. l·l. Chnrleswonh (od.). Tlw Old Testament Ps£Yudepigmpha (2 \'Ois: Garden Ci1y:
Doubleday. 1983). ,·ol. 2. pp. 175-828.
10. See also Jub. 34.4-7 and T. Bem·. 3.1-3.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 33

with God while the remainde.r concern human interactjon. Philo laments those
who atte-nd to only one o f these two dimensions. Those concerned only with
human duties, ·These may be justly c.aJied lovers of people, dle former sort lovers
ofGod. Both come but hallWay in virtue; they only have it whole who win honor
in both depa11ments (Ou the Decalogue. 106- 10).11
Jesw;· teaching> then. about love for God and neighbour is quite consistent
with Jewish traditions. Yet he and his opponents1 the Jerusalem-based, Rome-
allied. power group, do not find common ground nor respectful coexiste-nce. How
can talk of Jove be so dangerous?
My argument is that at issue in this conflict scene is Jesus· understanding of
love as a transformative rather than prese1·vative societal vision and practice. 12
Those with whom he conflicts do not share this transfonnative vision but practice
love within the societal status quo. That is, there. is no problem with Jesus' words
per se. but the1·e are profound differences over what they signify. a..o;; the rest of the
Gospel narrative leading to his crucifixion depicts. It is thus notadequ~lte to a_~;se11
as Davies and Allison do that 'there can be no political repercussions' from the
question about the greatest commandment, u. nor to 1-educe the exchange to a test
of" piety' as Hagne.r does.1" Definitions and practices oflove are diverse. societal
and polhical. I will identify the conflict that engulfs this scene, and elabomte the
content of Jesus· citations, explicating the issues that comprise the .subveJ·sive
socie-tal challenge encoded in his talk of love.

2. A Couflict Sceue
Considerable debate exists concerning rvtatthew's sources for this scene. There
are significant agreements between Mt. 22.34-40 and Lk. 10.25-28 along with
interaction with Mk 12.28-34. Scholars have. variously suggested .Matthean use
of versions of Mark's scene, possible confJation with Q, and influence from oral
tradhions. There is no need to detail the options here.15 There seems to be some

II. For te-xts. Philo (trans. F. H. Colson: Loeb CL·m ical Library; 2 vols: london/C-ambridge:
~k ine-mann/Harvard Uni"ersity PT~'Ss. 1950). In ·o n Spcc.ial Laws·. 2.63 Philo says Moses' tc-nc-hing
about relationship wilh God comprises two areas: ·one ofduty to God as shewn by piety and holiness:
one of dUly to people as shc\\11 by humanily and j ustice .. :
12. The language of ·\'ision • is used by B. Gcrbardsson (·The HcnncneutK Program in Mntthcw
22:37-40'. in R. Hnmm~'tton--Kclly nnd R. Scroggs (eds),Jt"ws .GnW. andChJ'J'slkmJ [Lcidcn: Brill
1976]. pp. 129- 50. csp. 146) btu wi1h re-ference.ton rdigiousaOOcthic!ll \·ision. r!llhcnban 1osoci~1aJ
pructicc.s and vision.
13. W. D. Davies-and D. C. Allison. Tile Gospel Acxording m Saint Motthew(ICC: 3 vols: Edin·
burgh: T& T Clark. 1997). vol. 3, p.239.
14. Flagncr. Mottlte'r 14-18. p. 644.
15. O,wi-c:s and Allison. The GoJ[)f!l AtY:ording to Soint Mottlrew. ' 'ol. 3. pp. 235-38~ Collins
(').iatthcw's ivToAo:t •• p. 1336. note 50) sketches some wun:-e-<"ritical pc-rsp~'t'ti ves. R. Fuller. 'The
Double Commandment of Love: ATcs• Case.for the Criteria ofAuthc:nticily'. in R. fulkr t'/ ol. (c:ds).
E.\·sayson the l.m-eCommumbmmi(Philadcfpbia:fortress Press. 1978). pp. 41- 56: A. Hultgren, ·The
Double l ove Command in ).ft. 22:3440: lis Sources and Compos-ilion'. CBQ 36 ( 19'74). 37 33- 78.
34 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

agreemem~ though, that Matthew's redactional dtanges ' nLrn a successful scho-
lastic dialogue with friendly participants into a controversy narrative'. 16
From a natTative perspective, five tb.ctors indicate that conflict pervades Mat-
thew's scene. Jesus' response is part of a life-.and-death controversy.
i. Conflict dominates the scene's immediate context A series of verbal disputes
between Jesus and the Je111s.ale.m )>0\Ver group comprising c.ltiefpriests and scl'ibes
(21.1 5). chiefpt·iestsand elde..-s(2 1.23). chiefpriests and Pharisees (21.45), Phari-
sees and Hei'Odians (22.15-1 6), Sadducees (22.23), and Pharisees (22.34) spans
chapters 21- 22. Interchangeable combinations of these leadet·s fonn a block of
opposition to Jesus.u
Anthony Saldarini has clarified the nature of this conflict by attending to the
functions of these figures in first-centtu·y imperial society.IKArguing against the
anachronistic imposition of a division between 'religion' and ' politics', Saldarini
has demonstrated that in Matthew's first-century world, politics a nd religion are
intertwined and that these figures. often misleadingly designated 'religious' lead-
ers. are socio-political le-aders who function as Rome's allies. 'The Pharisees are
not only part of the loc-al leadership whose influence. over the poople and power
over social nomts are being c--hallenged and diminished by Jesus; they are also in
direct contact with the more powerful fore~ ofthe Jen1salem leadership.' 19 Jn this
leade1·ship role and alliance, they ' shape Je.wish life and piety and ... defend Jew-
ish society from the many non-Jewish political and social pressures which sur-
I'Ounded it' .'~0 This leade1·ship alliance is Jerusalem-based and temple-.-centred (Ml.
2.4: chief priests and scribes: 15.1 : Pharisees and scribes 'from Je-rusal em~· 21 .45:
chief priests and Pharisees). Jesus enters Jerusalem in chapter 21 and condenms
the Temple--, the centre of their power. as a 'den for robbe1•s' (2 1. 1-17). The unflat-
tel'ing term ' robbers' . evokingJer. 7, 11, describes the leaders as both thieves who
extort money from the people through taxes. offeri ngs and tithes, as well as
bandits who attack a nd destroy society by their rule (e.g. Josephus, Jewl.<ilt War
2.228-3 1, 234-40, 253-7).11 In turn they challenge Jesus' right to speak and act
(2 1.23-27). Jesus tells three parables against them that condemn their leadership
for failing to enact God 's plll'poses, and declares that God will remove them from
leadership since they resist God's purposes and agent (21.28- 22. 14). They

16. O.wi<s and AJiison. Thi! GtJ:spe/ According to Saim Mauhew. \'OJ. 3. pp. 236--37: Futnish.
L(m• Comnumd. p. 31: Gcrh.1rdsson. 'Hcnll(ncutic Proynm'. pp. 133-36: D. Senior. Mauhew
(ANTC: Nnslwilk.: Abingdon, 1998). p. HI : t~ mi nglon. Maubn,•, p. 315: B. Rcpschinski. 'Tnking
on the Elite: The ).fnlthron Controvcrs)' S1orics'. in Socie(l' ofBihlictr! Literature /999 Semi11ur
Papers (Atlanta: Society ofBiblical littr<~ture-. 1999). pp. t- 23. c.sp. 9-15.
17. S. nm Tilborg. TlteJ~l'iJh Leaders in .o\falllk'11-'(lcidc:n: E. 1. Brill. 1972).
IS. A. J. Suldarini. PhariJees, Sc-rilx!s ood Sadducees ill Palestinia11 Society (Wilmington. DE:
Michael Gluzicr. 1988). pp. 157-73.
19. SuJdarini.Pharin-es. p. 168.
20. St1Jdarini. Pharis.:es. p. I73.
11. R. A. Horsle-y. ·Josephus and the-Bandits'. JSJ 10 ( 1979). 37- 71 : R. A. Horsley. •Ancient
Jewish &nditl)' and the Revolt Against Rome A.D. 66--70'. CBQ 43 (19&1). 409-32: B. Show.
·anndiLs in 1hc Roman Empire•. PaJt mrd Pre.nml 102 (1984}. 3- 52: K. C. Hanson and D. Oakman.
Pa/r:;tine in tile Time ofJe.w:; (Minneapolis: Forlrcss. 1998). pp. 8~90.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 35

counter Jesus' condemnation and challenge (2 1.45) by attempting to arrest

(2 1.46) and entrnp him (22.1 5). They ask him about several hot topics: paying
taxes to Caesar(22.15-22) and resurrection life (22.23-33). This great command-
ment scene begins by 1'ec-aJiing the previous dispute over resurrection in which
Jesus had silenced the Sadducees (22.34).
ii. Conflict between Jesus and these leaders has pervaded the Gospel. TI1e
Gospel has depicted this leadership group as consistently opposed to God's pur-
poses and to Jesus. (n c-hapter 2. in Jerusalem, as allies ofRom.e's vassal 'king of
the Jews Herod (Josephus, Ant. 15.387; 16.31 1). they provide Herod with cmcial
infom1ation for his plans to kill Jesus. In chapter 3 John the Baptist denounces
them for resisting his baptism as hypocrites who need to repent or encounter
God's wrath (3.7- 10).21 Jn 5.20 Jesus requires acts ofjustice or righteousness that
exc-.eed those of the scribe-s and Pharisee..~. In chapter 9 they complain about Jesus
forgivi ng and associating with the socially mm·ginalized such as tax-colle.ctors
and tmdesirnbles ("sinners·, 9.1- 13). In 9.36 he declares their leadership illegiti-
mate by describing the people as 'sheep without a shepherd'. They interpi'Ct his
exorcism as the devil's work instead of God's (9.32-34: 12.24). fn chapter 12.
they conflict over how to honour the Sabbath. Against their insistence. on rest
(imitating God. Gen. 2.2-3). Jesus mandates doing trans formative acts of mercy
( 12.7) and good ( 12. 12). They ·conspi•·ed against him, how to destroy him·
( 12. 14) and demand legitimating sigJIS ( 12.38-45). In 15.1-20 Jesus atlacks them
for encouraging payments to the temple that deprive.the vulner.tble elderlyofsup-
port. 111ese vo\vs contrndict the. command to honolll' parents; he declares God's
judgement on them ( 15.13) and attacks tl1eir teaching ( 16.1 -1 2). He announces
that this power group will. aided by their Roman allies. put him to death (16.21;
17.12, 22-23; 20. 17-19). This narrative coniext provides a long line of bitter
iii. TI1e opening verse of the great commandment scene also signals the nature
of the conHict (22.34). The questioner is a member of the Pharisees. major play-
ers in the conflicts outlined above. This identification replaces Mark's •scribes'
(Mk 12.28) and adds to Luke's 'lawyer' (Lk. 10.25), an example of Matthew's
well-known intensification of conflict between Jesus and Phal'isees.n He has made
'the chief priests and Pharisees· the.special tbcusofhis condemning pal'able at the
close of chapter 21 (2 1.45) instead ofMal'k's unspecified 'they' (Mk 12.12) and
luke~s ' the scribes and the chief priests' (Lk. 20.19).2"'

22. Carter. MaJiifch' Ond 1he Margins. pp. 96- 7.

23. For e:t!lmplc. hercplaoc:s Mark's ·scribes• with 'Pharisoes' (comp111c .\fk 2.16 and MI. 9. 1I:
Mk 3.22 and Mt. 9.34 and 11.24: Mk 12.35 and Mt 22.41}.cditsoul Mark's ' Hcrodilllls'to highlight
the Pharisees as those plouing to <kstroy Jesus (compare Mk .3.6 and ~ft. 12. 14}. adds negative
tc-fcrcnc:es ·f'flarisces' (to Q: compnn; Lk. 3.7-9 and Mt. 3.7-10: to Mk. compare Mk 7. t 7 and Mt.
15.12: Mk 8.11 and Mt. 16. 11-12: Mk 12. 12 and )oft 2 1.45) and rcpeatcdJy describes them ns
hypocrites (compare Mk 12.15 and Mt. 22. 1&: Mt. 23.1 3. 15. 23. 25. 27. 29}.
24. Also to be nO((({ is the: \'OC'atiw .St&loKaAE llSCd of Jesus by non-followers and son1dirncs in
contcxls of c.onAic-1(8.19: 12.38: 19.16: 22.16. 24).
36 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Tile questioner belongs to the group ofPhal'isees that have.'gathered themselves

together· (ouvo:yc.u). This verb's p1-evious I I uses have referred to opponents of
God's purposes manifested in Jesus (2.4; 12.30; also 22.4 JlS) and to judgement
scenes (3. I2; 13.30. 47: 22. I 0: also 25.32). The verb signals conflict and the high
stakes of eschatological destiny. Mo1·eover, the verb rec.alls Ps. 2.2 where the
'kings of the C<U1h' 1' and 'the rulers' gather themselves togethe-r to oppose God
and God 's agent, the anointed king. The rest of the Psalm dcclart>s God's terrify-
ing wrath on them and assured destruction unless they submit to God!s purposes.
Using this verb to evoke the Psalm ensures that Psalm 2 functions as an inte11ext
to frame and interpret this conflict God has anointed Jesus (rvlt 1.1 . 17), who is. in
the words of Ps. 2.7. God's son. In Matthew's narrative. God has p1·eviously c.ited
this ve1-se twice (3. 17; 17.5) to reinfo1·ce Jesus' identity and ally him with God.
The Jemsalem-based power group. to which these assem.bled Pharisees belong in
the Gospel narrative, is thus framed as enemies of Jesus and of God who do not
embrace God>s loving purposes manifested by Jesus. And their opposition to
God's purposes will be unsuccessful.
iv. Another verbal cue underscores the nature of the conflict. The. Pharisee
asks Jesus about the great commaJldment ' to test him' (22.35). How is the.ques-
tion a test'? On three previous occasions the verb ' test· has introduced exchanges
between Jesus and these leaders ( 16.1 ; 19.3; 22. 18). It presents them as not genu-
ine but concerned to entrap Jesus (22.1S). Furthe1·, the verb recalls two previous
uses in which the devil attempts to ' test' or ·entmp' Jesus (4. 1, 3) so that Jesus
will obey the de\•il (4.9) and not be Joyal to God (4. 10)." The use of the ve1·b
' test' in 22.34 links the leaders with the devil as oppone nts ofGod's pmvoses. As
allies of Rome, they are the agents of the one who cont1•ols 'all the empires (~001-
Ae:ios) of the wol'ld' (4.8). This regrettable identification fmmes their question as
a diabolical test but leaves open the question of the danger of discerning what is
centJ'al to God's purposes.
v. The aftermath of the scene evide.nccs the scene's life-and-death stakes.
Matthew removes fi'Om ]\.•lark's scene Jesus' words that commend the scribe's
embracing of Jesw;· t·esponse. 'You are not fill' from the kingdom of God' (Mk
12.34). Instead. 1\•latthew's account continues with another confro ntation scene
(22.41 -46) which concludes with Jesus shaming the Pharisees into silence and
endingall dialogue.(22.45). In chapter 23 he ctu'Ses them repeatedly for not enact-
ing God 's purposes ofjustice. mercy and faithfulness (23.23). In chapter.; 24-25

25. For iIS uses in 24.181odcpictj ud.gcmcnl on Rome.destroyed in lhc 6nal oosrnic b.1ule. S('C W.
Carter. 'Arc There Imperial Texts in lhc Clas!>'? lntert::xtual Eagles nnd .\fallhcan Eschatology as
"lights Out'' Time. for lmp«inJ Rome (Matthew 14:21-31)'. JBL 122 (2003). 461-81, cspcciaJly
418-9. Througb!>Sion narrati\'c. it denotes the:.gathering ofJesus' opponc:.n~.S; 26.3 chiefpriests
and elders. 26.57 chief priest. scribes and elders: 21.27 soldiers. 27.62 chief prie-sts. Phsrisccs and
Pilate: 28.12 pric:si.Sandddcrs. for complctencs:s. thc tcnn can nJso be.used for c-rowds (13.2: 27.1 ij
and oooc.for disciples ( 18.20).
26. Tflis phmsc.also appe-t~rs as another echo ofPs. 2.1 in 17.25. For discussion. Caller. ·r aying the
Tax to Rome as Subversive P'tnxis'. in Muttht•w tmd E:'mpire. pp. 130-44.
27. Simitnrly. Gc:rflardsson. ' H crm~·nc:uti c Progrum •• p. 134.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 37

he declares. the end of their world in God 's judgement (24.27-3 1).211 In chapters
26- 27, with Rome's provincialgovemor Pilate, they crucify him.~ Five chapters
at)er this exchange, Jesus is dead.
These five factOI'S frame the exchange over the greatest commandment as one
of diabolical and deadly conftict.

3. Love as a 1'l1reatening Societal Vision for Well-being

Wherein lies the deadly power of' teaching about Jove tb1·God and neigh-
bour? My argument is that the explanation lies in Jesus' definition of Jove in the
socio-political context of Roman imperial power.!O Jesus' talk of love is not an
isolated personal and l'eligious matter but involves. societal strucnu·es and human
interaction. At issue between Jesus and the Jen1salem power group moe two differ-
ent unde.rstanding.~ ofhuman imeraction, two diObrent visions ofsocietal
and nonns. One involves maintaining a status quo that benefits the ruling elite by
dominating and exploiting the rest; the othe-r envisages human community ori-
ented to the good of all.
Jesus explici1ly names, evaluates and contrasts these alternative societal stnlc-
tures two chapters 1>reviously: 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over
them and their great ones are tyrants ove1· them.J1 h will not be so among you'
(20.25). The ve1·b..~ 'lord it ovel" and "are tyrants over' descl'ibe the hk ra1·chicaland
oppressive \\iOrld of the Roman empire in which a small, powerful, wealthy and
high-status elite. including the Jerusalem leadership, control power and resources
for their own benefit.H Jesus evaluates this world negatively, immediately outlin-
ing an alternative way of being for his disciples committed not to dominating
others but to see-king the best for the other (service): ' But whoever wishes to be
great among you must be your servant And whoever wishes to be first among
you must be your slave.' (Mt. 20.26). He identifies himself as a model of suc.h
service in which he gives 'his life a ransom for many' (20.28). The following
healing scene demonstrates life-giving service that be.nefits others (20.29-3-4).
In chapter 23, immediately after naming these love commandments. Jesus again
contrasts himse-lf and the leaders. He cl'iticizes them for neglecting ' the weightie-r

28. Carter. 'Are There Imperial Tc:tts'?'.

29. For Pilate. and Jtsus (T\fL 27.1-26). see-Carter. Por~tius Pilate, pp. 75-99.
30. This discussion assumes my previous work on Matthew. For discussion and bibliogrnphy. 5(('
Carter. Mattlww and tile Margins: idem. Mallhew ami Empire.
31. Objecting to thc:sctrandations. K. W. Ctnrl: ar.;,ues('Thc: Meaning of (Ko:TO:( kVpmJEtv in The
Gemi/e Bias and 01lwr Essays (Lc:idc-n: E. J. Brill. 1980). pp. 207- t ! ) that the:. \·-c:rbs do not denote
·nrrogancc. oppression. nnd abur.c ofpower' bul simply lhc excn:isc the power (207-8). But Clllrk's
analysis tt.<ti\·dy neglects the i mp~'1ial conlcxt to which the \'c:tbs refer in which pow-er isc.xcn:isc:d by
a few for their own ndvantnge and nl the.expe-nse of the n:st. See nlso Carter. Malllwwond £mpire.
pp. 72- 3.
32. J. Kautsky. The Politics ofAri.\'iocratic £mpires {Chnpd Hill: University of Nonh Carolina
Pres!:. 1982): G. Len ski. Power amiPrivilege. A Theory ofSocial Stntl(r<oJi;m (Chapel Hill: Uni\'c:r-
sity of North Cnrolinu Press. rex. c:dn. 1984). pp. 189-196.
38 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

matters of the Jaw· which he identifies as ·justice, mercy, and faithfulness'

(23.23). Implicit in the criticism is Jesus' commitment to justice (6.34; 12.18. 20).
mercy (9.1 2: 12.7) and faithfulness (8.1 0; 9.2).
Tile c.onflict bet\lleen these societal visions and strucwres begins in the Gospel's
opening chapters. Jesus' birth troubles the Jerusalem-based powe1·group centred
on Herod (chapter 2). Herod's appointment as ·king ofthe Jews' (Josephus. Ant.
16.311) is an example of Rome's common practice of forming alliances with
local ntling elites to exercise its rule. T11e alliance is rooted in a common com-
miunent to maintain the status quo for the benefit of the I'UJing elite-( 1- 3 per cent
o f the population).
'Troubled' by the n-easonous news ofone ·born king of the Jews', Herod sum-
mons his allies and political advisers, ·an the chief priests and scribes' (Mt 2.2-
4). Chief priests in Jemsalem appointed by Herod and, after him, by Roman
governors (Josephus. An/20.249-51). Josephus describes !he chief priestly group
as the n1lers of Judea (Ant 20.251 ). Josephus includes leading Pharisees and
Sadducees in this ruling group. a powe1·alliance evident in Matthew.n The chief
priests with their allie.s occupy the difficult position of r~presenting (srael"s
traditions while allied with Rome, which claims to rule because Jupite1·has given
Rome 'empire without end" (Virgil, Aeneid 1.278-9). An imperial theology pro-
claiming Rome agent of the gods to manifest their sovereignty, will, presence
and blessings on earth sanctions the Roman imperial world with which Herod
and the Jerusalcn1 leaders are allied.·ll
Together, this Jerusalem-based. Rome-allied power group compl'ises 1- 2 per
cent of society. They exercise power to maintain a societal system that benefits
and enriches themselves. They control the dominant resources ofland and (slave)
labom·. They consume over 50 pe1·cent ofproduc.tion, transferring it to themselves
through taxes. tributes, tithes, rents and defaulted loans. This ruling group accumu-
lates great \l.realth l i h~ 1·a ll y at the expense of97 per cent of the.population- peasant
fanners, artisans. labourers. slaves etc. - who struggle for daily Elites
employ patronage and acts of public benefice.nce (grain hand-outs, const1·uctjng
public buildings, provision of entertainments, etc.) to alleviate some suftering.
maintain dependence and gratetUiness, and ensure the continuation o self-
benefiting system.
Matthew 2 shows this Jerusalem-based, Rome-allied, power group resisting
God"s disruptive intervention in Jesus' bi11h. Herod uses the standard tactics o f
tyrannical rulers - allies (2.4), informalion (2.5-6). spies (2.7-8). lies (2.8b), mur-
derous violence (2.16- 18) - to defend the societal status quo against a potential
challenge to their power.
In lhis context, the elite's interpretations of the scriptural traditions serve their
own intcres£s.11tey know that the Scl'iptures refer to a n1le.r who will come from
Bethlehem (2.5-6). But despite the magi's testimony. they do not go to Betllle-
hem to welcome another ruler. They do not connect the Scriptures and Jesus.

33. Josl-phus. Ani t 8. t 7: J W 2. 197. 320. 411, 414: SnJda.rini. Pharis~s. pp. 79- 133. CSf'\.-"tinU)'
10 1- 5.
34. On Roman imperial thcolo~y. sec Carter. Mattlff!ll' w 1d Empire. pp. 10- 34.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 39

Why not'? Because~ it seems, they have too much to Jose. In powe-1' with Herod
and Rome, they benefit greatly tfom the current societal structure in wealth and
Contrasting their inattention to this Scripture is their subsequent close atten-
tion to interpre ting other Scl'iptures for their own benefit. Their scriptural areas of
attention involve practices by which they maintain the ir power and societal Stl11C-
tures. Consistent with the conce.rn of the first three commandm.ents on honouring
God (Exod. 20. I -7). tlte}' accuse.Jesus ofdishooouring or blaspheming God when
he announces forgiveness of sin{Mt. 9.2-3). They are very concerned. as is Jesus,
with the fourth commandment about honouring the Sabbath (Exoct. 20.8- 11).
They complain that neithe1·Jesus no1·his disciples rests on the Sabbath: Jesus uses
it to show merc.y and to do good (1 2. I- 14). They interpret the fitl h commandment
about honouring one's parents so as to allow people to donate to the Temple rather
than suppo11 parents (1 5.3-9). They imerpret Deut. 24. 1 as legitimating male-
dominated divorce proceedings (1 9.3-9). They identify binding and non-binding
oaths (23.16-22). And they emphasize tithing since it was a primary means o f
transferring supplies to the Te mple-based elite - not just of flocks, wine, grajn,
and oil tosuppo11 Levites and the Temple (Lev. 27.30-33: iNum. 18.21-32: Deut.
14.22-29; 26.1 2- 15). but extending it even to heros (23.23)-"
\ Ve must, o f course, take the Gospel's constant negative presentation o f these
leaders with a grain- or bag - of salt. We are reading polemic that re flects the
conflicted situation of Matthew's community in the traumatic post-temple, post-
70 period of imperial negotiation and re.building of Judaism.J' Polemic never
provides fair and balanced presentation. It ahvays shows opponents in the worst
light. But certainly f!.·latthew's presentation of the power d)'ltamics in these scenes
is consistent with what we know of the roles o f ruling e-lites in imperial societies
in general, and of first-century Judea in particular. The elite 1'Uie for their own
benefit They interpret the Scriptures to le.gitintate their societal struc tures, privi-
leges, power, practices and wealth.
It is equall)' ce11ain that when power is asserted, various fonns of opposition
eme.rge. First-century Judeans negotiated Roman power with a wide spectrum o f
responses typical of peasant societie.~;31 ranging fro m accommodation to violent
revolts to non-violent, self-protective. calculated acts of protests (e.g. Mt. 5.39) ..lll
One fOrm of protest involves disputing the inte,rpre.tation ofScripturesoffered
by the.power group to support their societal stmcture. Matthew presents Jesus as
the definitive interpre ter of Scripture (5.21 -48). Jesus refuses to accept their

35. A. J. Salditrini. Matthew S ChJ·isliun.Jn~ish Community (Chi-cago: Unin:rsi1y of Chic-ago

Press. t994), pp. 1 14-6~.
36. W. C11rtcr. Matt/lew: SIOIJfeller. /ntt>rprc-li'l·, £wmgelisl (Peabody: Hendrickson. I'I:Y. cdn.
2004). pp. 66- 91; idem. M(lti/~w urJd 1/w Mm-gitu. pp. 1~-49.
37. J. Scott. Weapons ofthe Weak: £reryday Forms ofPeasant ReJislunce (New Hll\'OO: Yale
University Press. 1985).
38. W. Wink. ' Beyond Jus1 W11r 11nd P11cifism: Jesus' Non· Violent Wa)". Re1iew mJd £rpoJiUJr
89 ( 1992). 197-2 14: W. Wink. Jesus andNom,tolence: A Third W~: (Minn~-apolis: Fortress Press.
40 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

claim that only they honour God in being authorized to make-God 's power to
forgive or exorcise available (9.1 -8; 12.24-32). Nor is he willing to grant them
the right to contt·ol the Sabbath. Jesus shares their emphasis on honouring it, but
does so not by I'CS( that maintains the societal status quo. but by trans formative
practices ofmeeting human need, showing mercy, healing, and doing good ( I2. 1-
14). Likewise he urges obedience to the comma nd to honour parents not by
increasing funding tbr the Temple, but by ensuring adequate resources for the
eldel'ly ( 15.3-9). Ag;.linst theirdetbnce of male privilege in divorce. he affinns the
equality of male and fl!:male as ·one flesh' before God ( 19.3-9). He shares their
concern with oath-taking but instead of ensuring ·wiggle room· with binding and
non-binding oaths, he.urges integrity and reliability of speech in societal intemc-
tjons (23. 16-22; 5.33-37). Likewise he affirms their concern with tithing~ not as a
means of sustaining the Temple system but to ensure justice, merC}' and faithful-
ness (23.23). Jesus. claiming to be greater than the Temple ( 12.6). confronts their
Temple-based power as a system of self-serving theft and exploitation (2 1.12-
17). These actions aJld pe1·spectives constitute important aspects of Jesus'
understanding of love for God and neighbours.
JcstL<i' teachings and actions - and (have mentioned onI}' a sample - promote
societal sti'Uctures, practices. and visions that are alternatives to those of the
Rome-allied. Jen~salem-centred, e lite. Jesus resists the leadership group's effo11s
to maintain an unjust system by interpreting the tradition in tenns of more jtL'it
and merciful practices. His societal vision and practices, sunun.arized here as love
for God and love for neighbor (22.34 -40). threaten their power and interests. To
love their neighbour as they love themselves would be to extend their elite privi-
lege. to a ll society and to ensure that all benefited equally.

4. Lo•'• the Lord your God

Talk of loving God is rare in the NewTestament and Mat1hew does not repeat
this command.l 9 Jesus quotes the command from Deut. 6.5. As with most scrip-
tural citations in Matthew, scholars have devoted much attention to the form of
Matthew's citation and to textual variants in the.biblical and synoptic tmditions:"u
This limited focus. though. has missed cntcial aspects of how ~·1atthew's scriptural
citations function. John Foley has examined the role.of" traditional refere.ntiality'
in oral societies in which citations in orally pe1forrned and written narratives ftmc-
tion meton}rmically.'u The citation of a small pa11 of a large1· narrative does not
funcrion to direct attention only to the isolated fragmen t as typically happens in
discussions citations. Rathel' the citation - a part of a larger whole-
functions as a metonym. pointing to and evoking a larger narrative and/or tradition
that belongs to the hearers' cultural repertoire. A focus only on Matthew's cited

39. Lk. 11.42: Rom. 8..28: I Cor. 2.9: 8.3: 16.22: I Jn 4.10·21.
~0. E.g. Gundry. Use oftl~e Old TNiamenl. pp.l2-4: Davies and Allison. Mattlww. vol. 3. pp.
41. Foley. Jmnument An. pp. 1-60: Carter. ·E,•ol:ing Isaiah' in MuulrewmJd Empire. pp. 93--107.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 41

verse is culturally inappropriate and myopic, mistreating the fragment as a whole

and ignoring the larger sc.riptural context whic.h it evokes.
Attention to the larger context ofDeuteronom)• 6 confirms the meaning oftJte
love fo1·God that Jesus commands.""l This love is not primarily an emotion or inti-
macy, but comprises relational obligations involving lived loyalty, faithfulness.
and obedience to God expresse.d in a societal way of life. Moses has bee.n out-
lining the way of life to be lived in the land (Deut. 4.1: S. l ), central aspects of
which comprise the Decalogue based on uncompromising loyalty to God (5.6)
and consisting ofsocietal obligations such as honotll'ingparents, not murdering or
committing adultCI)'. not stealing or beal'ing false witness, O l' coveting (5.1 6-2 J).
Immediately followi ng these commandment<;, the rest Sand 6 exhon
obedience. Preceding the command to love God in Deut. 6.5 are three exhorta-
tions to ·observe' (6.1), 'keep' (6.2) and "obse1·ve' (6.3) the covenant command-
mentli. .A. fourth exho11atjon to ' keep these words' follows in verse 6. Obeying
the commands to honour God alone and to fulfil one ·s societal obligations justly
constitutes ' fearing' (6.2) aJtd "loving' (6.5) God. Loving God is inextricably
linked to commitrnent to this societal \'ision based on obedience to God's wiii . J ~
This commanded. active Jove for God claims one's total being. 'Hem1' desig-
nates the centre of a person's allegiance, their willing. thinking. knowing, deciding
and doing."-' 11te 'soul' or 'life' designates a person's daily existence given either
to serving God or something else."" 5 'Mind '. used only in Matthew, similarly
designates a person's fundamental and lived o1·ientation, either for (Heb. 8.10; 1
Pet. 1.13; I Jn 5.20) or against (Col. 1.21) God's purposes. Love for God claims
a person's total existence.
The language ofloving God, tlten. denotes faithful and obedient relationship.
Obedience to God ~s will as re\•ealed in the covenant requirements is the supreme
expression of love for God. But how does one interpret God's purposes'! This
issue is at the heart of the disputes between Jesus and the Jerusalem power group
of leaders. T1te leaders interpret the tradition to legitimate their unjust structures
and practices. Does God's will mean a society in which 2- 3 per cent exe-rcise
powe1·ove.r 97 per cent of the population for the benefit of the fonner and at great
cost to the latter'? Does it mean a society in which a few control key resources so
that most stmggle for daily bread'?

42. The larger structure and content of O¢utcronomy receives nucn1ion from 0 . Brooks. ·The
Func-lion of the: Double l ove Command in Mallh¢w22:34-40' .Andrews Ut~itl!tsity Seminal)' Studies
36 (1998). 7- !1. <Sp. 8-10.
43. The lovc-lan,b'U3ge- in O.."lltcronomr quoted b)' Jesus derives from international po-litic-al
relations c:.xpr-csscd in lreutiesnnd from tbc relationship of rukr und ruled dc6ncd. by faithful ubcdi·
cncc:. loyalt)' nnd servi-ce in return for protection ond sccurity(\V. L Moran. 'The Ancient NearEustem
Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy'. CBQ 25 {1963}. 77- 87). Matlhcw employs other
languugc from intcrnaliolllll imperial politics th.11signifies political homage. klynhy.aodobcdicnccto
e~presshomag<or worship for both Jesus and God (Mt. 2.2. S. II: 4.9· 10}. Cllrtcr. Mo!lhewandllw
Margins. pp. 76. Ill . Fordiscu!:sion of Matthcw's eight terms for worship. S\.'t' M. Powell. GodH'ilh
Us: A Pastoral 71wo!Cig;· QjMaulww 's Gospel (Minneapolis: Fortn::s.s. 1995). pp. 28-61.
44. S~'c- Mt. 6.2 1: 9.4: 11.29: 12.34: 13.15: 15.&. I&-19: 18.35.
45. s~'C Mt 2.2o: 6.25: 10.2s. 39: 16.15-26: 20.2s.
42 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

1\·latthew's does not think so. l ove fo1·God is inte.11wined with love for
neighbour. By coupling the commands to love God and neighbour in Mt. 22.34-
40. Jesus declares, following Moses, that it is impossible to have one witJ1out the
other.J6 Jesus makes this connection abundanti}' evident throughout Matthew·s
Gospel. In 5.21-26 there is no worship for God without re lational reconciliation.
In 6. 1 4- 1 5~ there is no forgiveness from God without forgiveness tOr others. In
15.5-9 gifts that be.nefit the-Temple but depl'ive.the vulnerableelderlyofresources
for daily l iving avoid God's purposes and are enacted by leaders who ' honour me
(God) with their lips but thei1'11eart is far from me' (citing lsa. 29. 13).1n 25.3 1-
46, to give food to the h ungry~ drink to the thirsty~ \VC.Icome and community to
the foreigner, clothing to the naked, c.are to the sick. and company to the impris-
oned, is to do the same thing to Jesus.
Jesus' connection of love tOr God and neighbour casts doubt on any profes-
sion of love for God that is deficient in its treatment of people. His declaration
res ists every societal system lhat benefits a few at the expense of the rest and
deprives people ofnecess;:uy life-giving resources. His declaration p1'0tesls all
such inj ustice and oppression as contrary to God's will. It points instead to a
vastly d ifferent, merciful, and just, societal interaction and structure.

5. Love .:vour Neighbour

To Deuteronomy 5-6 Jesus adds Lev. 19.18. Again. following Foley, it is neces-
sary to e laborate the large1·tradition of which the cited verse is a part and which it
evokes. In Leviticus 19, Moses. in the context of outlining the use of holy space
and time (Leviticus 1- 16) and societal interactions ( 17- 26), offers a vision of a
holy and just society. This socie.ty comprises human interactions that include
respect for parents (19.3, 32, the obligation of adult children to pro\ride for par-
ents). providing food tb r the poor and the foreigner (19.9-10), 1-elationships o f
integrity without stealing, false dea lings, J}ring, or f.·\lsc oaths (19.1 1-12), no
defra uding by stealing or withholding fair wages (19.13), no taking advantage of
the vulnerable blind and deaf ( 19.14), no biased judgments in executing justice
( 19.15), no slander (19.16). no hatred or vengeance ( 19. I 7-18), obedience to
God's statutes for animals. land and worship ( 19. 19-31), respect for the (vtllner-
able) elderly ( 19.32). equal treatment of foreigners ( 19.33-34), and fair economic
dealings (19.35-37). These societal interactions constitute loving one's ne ighbour
(19. 18). To do these practices e.nacts a societe.! I vision that ensui\."S adequate provi-
sion for the vulnerable (elderly, poOl', damaged) and includes the marginal (for-
eigners). ' Neighbom·· is not limited to those.of the same kinship. ethnicity. gender
or social status. 'Love fo1·neighbour· comprises a pl'3ctical and continual seeking
o f the daily well-being o f all members ofsociety. lt embodie-s a societal vision.
In addition to 22.39, Matthew's Jesus cites t:his commandment from Leviticus
19 two other times. In 5.43-44, consistent with the widedefinition of'neighbour'

46. Christian tr.tdilion has long reflected on lhc oonncc-lion bc:~wccn lhc (WO. Sec DnvieJ; and
Allison. .4/auhelv, \'Of. 3. pp. 144-45.
CARTER Love as Societal Vision and Counter-Imperial Practice 43

in Leviticus 19, he any attempt to limit the definition of neighbour to

the compatible and friendly. By explicitly naming Jove for one's enemy - those
opposed to God's purposes; t:he Jemsalem-based1 Rome-allied power group -
Jesus stipulates that ·neighbour-love' has no limits. lt seeks the good of all includ-
ing freeing people from the need to dominate and destroy others by hoarding and
disregarding eve1yday needs - even if it means lo..o;ing one's life ( 14.1-12). It
renders the-oppressive-off-balance with diffe rent patterns of societal inte1-action
(5.38-42):' 7 It offers altemative ways of being human to those whose societal
structure and actions threaten and oppose God's li fe-giving and liberating pur-
poses for a ll creation (5.45). Such indiscriminate love renounces hate. vengeance
(5.38-42), and boundaries of stants. ethnicity, gender, etc. lt involves prayer
(5.44), ensuring life for all (5.45-46), and inclusive community ('greeting' . 5.47).
Jesus does not promise that such love will be ·successfUl'. Rather. d i sciple~<; live
this way because it imitates and embodies God's indiscriminate loving actions
toward the world (5.45).
Jesus quotes the neighbour-love command again in MI. 19.19. A young
wealthy man (19.22) - one of the ruling elite - asks Jesus how to gain 'life of the
age·. His question concerns how he might participate in the age to come in which
God's life-giving purposes for all creation will be established in a new heaven
and earth marked by abundance and wholeness tOr all (see the visions in (sa..
25.6-10; 35). Jesus has anticipated and revealed this li fe in providingabundrutt
food for hungry crowds ( 14.13-21; 15.29-39) and in healing numerous sick and
broken people who are. victims of unjust and oppressive societal structures (4.23-
25: chapters &- 9; 11.2-6; 12.9-14; 14. 14; 15.31; 20.29-34:21.1 4 etc.}.
Jesus' answer focuses on a life lived according to God 's vision for a just
society (19.17-J9). no murder, adultery. theft or false testimony. but the-l'e
is care for pare.nlo; and love for neighbour (¢ 1~ Lev. 19.18). The rich young man
declares he has lived these just societal re-lations. Jesus responds to his declara-
tion by employing the prophetic tl'adition ·s recognition that people acquire abun-
dant wealth by depriving others and making them poor through oppres.~;ion, theft
and greed (I sa. 5.8-10; 10.1 -3: Ezek. 22.6-31; Amos 2.6-7: 5.10-12).
Jesus confronts the wealthy man's exploitative societal actions with four com-
I. Go. To enter 'life of the age·, he must obey Jesus' commands to Jove his
2. Sell your possessions. liquidate your assets.
3. Give to lhe poor. Divest, redistribute, undertake restitution, repent. He is
to renu11 wealth to the poor (97 per cent of society)~ those who endure
an oppressive system in which they lack resources. skills~ oppo11t111ities,
power, etc. to sustain life. Jesus calls him to imitate God's indiscrimi-
nate, life-giving, love (5.44-45).

47. Wink. ·scyondJusl WUI' .

44 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

4. Come follow me. Jesus calls him from mammon (6.24), from hierarchy,
from selfislu1ess~ ffo m greed, from injustice, to a community ofdisciples
that includes the desperate, the marginal, the nobodies.
But his wealth c hokes the word that he has heard ( 13.22) and the young rich man
declines Jesus' call, preferring to be possessed by his possessions (6.24: I9.22).
In addition to these three neighbour-love citations, Jesus uses other words to
denote this lifestyle o f neighbour-love. It enac.ts the reign or empire o f God that
dismantles all stnJctures and practices contrm·y to God's life-giving purposes
(4.17). H is the blessed a nd tmnsfonned way of life outlined in the beatitudes of
5.3-1 2. 1t is the life of greaterjustice or righteousness for which Jesus provides six
vignettes in 5.20--48. It constitutes I he ·piety' or spirituality of deeds of mercy.
prayer and fasting (d )sa. 58.6- 10) outlined in 6. I. I8. It is to do to others what
you wish the-m to do to you (7.12). It is the inclusive, creative. empowering and
life-giving me.1·cy demonstrated in Jesus' restorative acts of healing, forgiving,
feeding and inclusive community (9 .1-13; 12. 1-14: 14. 13-21). (t is the life of trans-
forming mission ent111sted to disciples and imitative of Jesus' ministry (10.7-8) in
which disciples persevere despite the ine\•itable-opposition ( 10.16-23: 13.18-23).
It is to do the will of God (12.4-6-50) in a life ofloving practical service for \Vhich
disciples are held accountable in the judgement (2 5.3J -46) . ~ll

Jesus' commands to love God and neighbour arc not unique. but they are danger-
ous because they are socially transfonnative. They point to a way o f life in which
commitment to God and to just human interaction m·e intricately c.onnected. This
life c.ommitted to God's vision for societal struc.ture is at odds with and challenges
the self-serving power, status and wealth of Roman imperial power and its elite
provincial allies. Jesus envisions a tmnsformed world in which, contrary to busi-
ness a~ usual, all know the goodness of God's life-giving provision fOI' God's cre-
ation. Not surprisingly, (in)vested interests - then and now - resist such alternative
societal S-tructures. The empire always strikes bac.k to defend the self-benefiting
power and privilege of its unjust societal stntctures against such a vision and
practices. They kill Jesus and oppose his d isciples. Yet the Gospel story attests
that the lo\•c commanded by Jesus and explicated in the traditions that he evokes
with his citations from Deuteronomy and Leviticus will have the final word. God
raises him from the dead (chapter 28).

48. Spac-e prcc.Jude!: discussion of ·as yourself' though Matlhcwdoc!: not d llbomtt it. The inter-
prttiw LTildition hn.s read this phr.:ssc positivdy(,c.g. Augustine. De CMtal£' D£ti 19.14)as is lhecurn:nt
lt<:nd. n.s wd l as negniin:Jy.

J. R. C. Cousland

Justin Mm·tyr is one of the e.arliest authors to refer to and to rely upon the Gospel
of Matthew iu e:aeuso, so his works pi'Ovide us with the first major examples of the
Gospel"s 'histo1y of influe nce' (Wirkungsgeschicllle).1 (n using the phrase 'his-
toJy o f influe nce' ,I am drawing upon the work o f Uirich Luz, wheJ'C Wirkungs-
geschichte is a notable and cele.brated fe-ature of his commentaries on t\·latthew.2
He defines it as 'the history. reception. and actualizing ofa text in media other than
the commenta1·y .. • The history of infl uence and the history ofinterpretation are
related to each other like concentric circles so that ''history of influence'' is inclu-
sive of'·histot·y ofinterpt·etation.··•J Justin's I Apology and Dialogue with T1}pho.
therefore, furnish us with the opportunity to assess how Justin interpreted and
responded to the Gospel of Matthew.' While an examination of Justin's use of
Mauhew as a whole is considerably beyond the scope of this article,5 it may

I. For analyses of the influence of Matthew on the Chun:.h Fathers in the li~ two centuries of
the Common Eru. sec: Wolf·Dicuich KOhkr. Die R£'Uptkmtks MoliMII.I't'l'tmg~...Jiwtb' in<kr leil ~w
lrefiUus (WUNT. 24: Tiibingcn: Mohr Sichcck. 1987): Helmut KUs1er1 Sy11optisd1~ 0/x!diefmmg b6
dt·naposloli.w·hefl Vdtmt {TU. 65: Berlin: Akademic· Vcrtug. 1 957)~ Edouard ,\bsS!Iltt. The l11jfuence
ofthr Gospel ofSaint Matlll(•l•.:on CIJristiull Lill'rai/JJ'C biifor~ Sui11t fremtei.U (Itnns. Norman J. Bch·al
and Suzanne- 3 vols: Macon. GA: Mercer Univc:.rsity Pres.-;, 1993). For a
analysis of the npproachcsadoptc:d byeach ofth~-scauthors.sec: Andrew f . Gregory and Christopher
Tucken. 'Reflec.tions on Method: What Constitutes the: Usc of the: Writ in£$ that later formed the
New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers'!'. in Andrew F. Gregory and Chtistopbc.r Tuckett (c:ds).
Ret'('pli<.m ofthe Ne"' TeJfmltt'ltl i11tlre Apostolic Father:.· (Oxford: O:tford University Prc:.s s.1005).
pp. 6 1-82 (70-<>).
2. Ulrich LUl.. Matthew 1- 7 (trnns. Willlc:lmC. l inss.: Minneapolis: Aug.s:butg. 1989): MaiiiH!II'
8- lO(Irans. James E. Crouch~ Hc:nnc:ncia. 2 "ols: rvlinnc:apolis: Fonrcss. 2001); Matthr:w ll-l8 C,trans.
James E. Crouch: Hcmu:·ncin. 2 vols: Minnc..1polis: Forttc:ss, 2005).
3. Luz. Muulwwl- 7. p. 95.
4. Justin's document entitled 1 Apology is now gc:n«nJfy n'(Ognized as the Appendix to J Apill·
<>KJ'= d . MiroslnvMarcovich(cd.). /ustini Mm1jris. Apologi~proChJ'iMiani.s (Pattisti~hc: Tcxtc und
Studien. 38: lkrlin nnd New Yor\:: Walter de: Gru)1tr. 1994). pp. S- 1L P. Lorraine Huck. ·Justin
Martyr's Apo/ogieJ: Their Number. O~ination. and Fonn•. JTS 54 (2003). 45-59. convinc-ingly
argues that the actunl l Apology has been lost.
5. In addition to the: works ci t~-d in ootc I abow. tbc: influc:n, cof Manhcw on Justin hns been eon·
side..OO by Craig D. Allen. Rew/(ltiolt, TnttiJ. Caoon and lnterpn1(1lion: Sllldies itJJustill Mmtyr :S
46 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

prove useful to examine Justints response to one-of the most distinctive features
ofMatthew's Go..~;_pel, namely, the fulfilment quotations.6 To my knowledge, this
topic has not been examined bctOre and1 given lhat both Matthew and Justin rely
heavily on 'p1ooffrom prophecy', it is a logical examination to undertake.7Jn
what fOllows, I want to consider three distinct questions: (1) What influe nce have
Matthew's fulfilment quotations exe.11ed on Justin's citations from the Hebrew
Scriptures?; (2) Why did they have this panicular eiTect?; and (3) What does
Justin's interpretation suggest about how Matthew's fulfilment quotations ought
to be understood'?

I . .Matthew's Fulfilment Quotations and their Influence on Jusfiu J\1/a!'lyr

Given that Justin's method of scriptural citation is often considered to be an
extrapolation of Matthew's own technique, it needs to be asked whethe-r the
rhetorical strategies of the two authors are indeed related. At first sight it would
seem that they are. David Aune m·gues that Justin's knowledge of the Gospels
·meant that he would know the Messianic proof-texts used by the Evangelists
together with their methodology'.f: Edouard Massaux would take this
inference funher. affirmi ng that Justin 'knew very well that he had been p•·eceded
in this apologetic form by ML and he has built on the foundation laid down by the
first gospel' .9 He remarks, in addition. that since Matthew and Justin shared the
same concems. 'it is normal that Justin draws his inspil'a tion from the text in which
Matthew himselfannounces that the prophecy has been tb lfilled' .10 Is this assess-
ment, in fact correct?

Dialogue wilh Trypho(VCS, 64: Lc«knlBostonlKOin: E~ J . BrilL2002). pp. 255--76: A.J. Bellinzoni.
Tht' SayillgS in the Writings ofJustin .4/nnyr (No\'TSUp. 17: le.idcn: E. 1. Brill. 1967). pp.
57- 69. 76-1 06~ and Osk111 Skarsauoc. Tlwt Prooffivm Pn>pht•c,v. A Swdy in JuMi11 M<~nyr ·J Pmr(-
Ti!l.' t Tnxlilion - Text·Type. Pmw•umcf!. 111rologkal Profi/e(No"TSup. 56: Lcidrn: E. J. Btill 1987).
pp. 100-3.
6. As is wdl known. the:. p.'lssngc:s hnve been tc:m1ed variously. fulfi lmenl cil!llions. formula
quotations. Re:fle.ricns:itme. F.rjiilhmgs:ilate. cil:uionsd•nccomplissemrnt. and so on. Hcre lhcy will
be tentK'd ·fullilmc:nl quotations'. On lhcsc: dcsig:nntion~ scc:: Raymond E. Brown. n/(! Rirt!l ofth~
Messioh: .4 CommeriiOIJ' OII I/Je lrifancy Narmtil<'s in Moulww and L.uke(Gnrdc:n Cil)': Doubleday.
1977). p. 96 n. I: Gru.h.1m Stnnlon. A GoJpelfor a .tt.rt'l~ Prople:St1ulies ill Molt/le•~· (Edinburg:h: T&T
Clark. 1991). p. 347: F. Van Scgbro«k. ·wcilalionsd•uccomplisscmcnt dans f•E,·angik sc:lon sainl
Matthieu d•aprts troisotl\'tagc:srtc-ents•. in M. Oidier(cd.). L'i!wmgile seton saint Mauhim. R(·Jm•.
lion et tllciologie (BETL 29: Gc:mbloux.: 1. Ouculot. 1972). pp. 107- 30 ( 109 n. 11).
7. On ·proof from prophecy'. sc:e Allen. Rt'l'trloti(m, Truth. Canon and lnterprewtion. pp. 155-
68-: JC!ln Danit-lou. Grupe/ Mmage and 1/e//enistkCIIIture: A llil·tory ofEorlyCIIriJiialllftxtrin~
before the CcuJtdl ofNimea (2 ''ols: London and Pbiladc:lpbia: D.:tnon. Longmnn and Todd/Wcsl·
minster. 1973). vol. 2. pp. 211- 19: Willis A. Shotwell, TIN! Riblimf Exegesis ofJus1ix Ma'(I'I'(Loodoo:
SPCK . 1965). pp. 6- 9: Sl:a~nune. Tlw Prooffrom Pmph«y.
S. Cf. O.wid E. Aunc. •1uslin Murtyr's Usc of the Old Tcs1nmc:nt'. Bulle/in q(Jire fl'Ongelictrl
TIJ£-'0/ogica/ Sociely 9 (1966). 179- 97 (185).
9. Mas.saux.. lrifhli'ltce. vol. 3. p. 44.
10. Mas.S<lU:t. lnj/ueJrce. vol. 3. p. 37.
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyron Mauhe..,:li Fulfilment Quotations 47

1\·latthew's reliance on the Hebrew Scriptures is one of the most distinctive

features of his Gospel. John Nolland remarks that Mauhew ·quotes the OT at
least tw-ice as ofien as any other Gospel writet·' . 11 Matthew cites the Scriptures
explicitly 40 1imes, implicitly some 21 thnt\'i. and while the precise number of
scriptural allusions within the Gospel is disputed. they are not inconsiderable.12
Notable among these quotations is the presence of a distinctive body ofcitations
from the Hebrew Scriptures that Matthew himself introduces.•$Ten ofMatthew's
quotations are commonly grouped together in a single corpus: Mt 1.22-3; 2.15;
2. 17-1 8; 2.23: 4. 14-16; 8.17; 12.17-21; 13.35; 21.4-5; 27.9." They share three
d istinctive features. First~ they aU include the introductoty fommla 'tvo: (0rrcus)
rrilnp~n TO pnS!v oux
rou rrpo¢tiroo ileyovTOS''' Second, they are interpreta-
tive remarks made by the Evangelist. and~ finally. they feantre a mixed textual
form lhat appears to combine. elements of the MT and che LXX. 1~ It is also signifi-
cant that they tend to be situated at the end of a narrative. and show how the events
t'elated constit\lte a fulfilment of prophecy.n
Third, while the-se passages are not substantively distinct from other citations in
Matthew also drawn from the Scriptures - especially those that are very similar
in form (cf. Mt 2.5-6; 3.3; 4.6; 13.14- 15; 24. 15) - they represent Matthew's dis-
tinctive. interprelation. 111 Beaton l'ightly remarks that textual form of these

II. John Nolland. T1•e GospelA«ording w Mauhelv(NIGTC. 1: Gr.tnd Rapids/Bietc-hlcy: Ecrd-

mans/Patcrnostcr. 1005). p. 19.
12. Richard Bcuton.lsoiah's Christ;, Maflllew's Gospel (SNTSMS. 123: Cambridge. UK:
Cambridge University Prcss. 1002). pp. I7- IS. For a <ktaikd series of ehans outlining Matthew's
appropriation ofscripturnl citations. s« W. 0. Davies and Dak.c . Allison. The Gospel ;f«ordiltg to
Saim MatJI!ew(ICC: 3 vols: Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1988. 1991. 1997). vol. I. pp. 34-57. On Mat-
thew's nllusions.. see Ulrich Luz. ·tntcncxts in the Gospd of Matthew'. NTR 97:2 (2004). 119- 37
( t 30-35).
13. Credit for isolating the ful6hncnt quotations is usmllygiw-n to Eugo!nc: M.asscbic.uu. fxamen
tks citations tk I'Ancit'IJ Tes.tament dw1s /'er<mgilt stiOfl Suint .4/att/Ji.-u (Paris: Librairic Fischb3cbc:r.
18&5). pp. 52- 9: 66-SO.
14. There are several othtrpassagc:s in r..·tntthcw lhat approximntc the fulfi lrnc:nt quotations in one
or 1norc respects. s~-c Mt. 25-6: 3.13: 13.14·15: 26.54: 16.56. Cf. M. J. J. M~'flkcn. ·Fulfilment of
Scripture asa Prop..1gnnda Tool in EartyChristianit)". in Pic:tc:r Vander Horst. ewl. (cds). Persua.d(Jtl
ami Dissuasi(m in far~r C/JrisJianil)'. A11C'ient .ludaU.m, m1d Nelleni.nn (LCU\''I:n/Pnri:i/Dudlc.y. MA:
P~x-tcrs. 2003). pp. I 79--98 ( 180-&1).
15. Fora detailed discussion of the: components of the.fom1ulac ofthe fulfi frncnt quotations. soc:
D.~ vi($ and Allison. Tlu- Gospel According to Saint Matt/Jew. \'OI. 3. 57 3-7~ Brown. Birth of the
Messiull. pp. 96-t04: George M. Soares Prnbhu. The FomwlaQu()latimu ;, 1lle l11juncy .Alomui~Y!of
M<tltilt'I\' (AnBib. 63: Rome: Biblic.ul lns.titutc Press. 1976). pp. 59-63: Wilhelm Rothfuchs. Die
f((iilltmg.d lute tk.f Mott!Ja11s·f''(IJig<-lillms. fine biblisrll ·lheologiJc!J.-lfntersllchul~t; (Stuttgart'Bcrlin:
W. Kohlh.anuncr. 1969). pp. 33-44.
16. Stanton. Gospc4for a Ne••· Petlple. p. 348..
17. M. J . J . M<nkcn. .4fallht'w J: Bible: nw Old Teswmem Te:w (}ft/Je Erungdist (BETL 173:
l euwn: loo\'c-n Uni\'c-rsity 200~). p. 2.
18. Sornc scholars htl\'ceaution<Xi that the distincti\'C IOrmof the fi•lfilmc::nt quotntions hilS led to
an inordiMtc-focus on them to the dettimcnt ofMatthcw•sothcrscriptural c-itations. s..x-. for instsncc.
Bcattm. lsaiah S Christ. p. 19: luz. Maullew 1- 7. p. 157: Slanton. Gospel/or a lVew Peopk. p. 346.
48 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

passages is influential because of the distinctive textual forms of the fulfilment

quotations.19 eve-n if the nature of Matthew's sources has yet to be. l'esolved. 111
Just as controve1'Sial is the function oft he fUlfilment quotatiolt.~ . Georg Strecker,
for instance1 maintains that the citations emphasize the biographical and histori-
cal aspects of Jesus"Jife, and aim at 1historical-biographical fhcticity' .21 Donald
Hagner is more concerned to s tress the fact that they are Christological: they
'have as their fOundation christological convictions- they are, indeed, chris to-
centric. The.y take as their starting poilll that Jesus is the One promised by the
OT scriptures. '1:! Accordingly, Hagner would den}' that they have an apologetic
or propagandistic dimension. Barnabas Lindars, by contt·ast. has identified an
apologetic dimension - they m·e designed to vindicate the claims ofChristianity:23
More recently. Menken has stressed the c.omplementary notion that the.fulfi hnent
quotations m·e designed with a propagandistic function in mind, notably 'to influ-
ence people to accept the. message that God had acted decisively in Jesus. and to
join the Christian community' .11 Finally, Jean Miler emphasizes tlleir rhetorical,
narrative function, which embraces a variety offeatures.l.S
Justin's reliance on Greek versions ofthe Hebrew Scriptures is even more pro-
nounced than Matthcw·s, and he has been fittingly described as 'the first compre-
hensive imerpreterofthe Old Testament" .:G He cites the Hebrew Scriptures more
than 700 times, and quotes from 19 different biblical books.Z7 Jt i.s likely that he
culled these ·proofs from prophecy' from a variety of sources: some of these cita-
tions probably originated in Christianjforllegia, and others are doubtless the pt·od-
uct ofhis own long-standing acquaintance with the LXX.2" As Hengel observes,

19. Bcaton.l:wittlr 's Cllri:il, pp. 33-4.

20. 1'11c mx:nt appro:u:.h taken by Mcnkrn (Mmihew ·J Bible) is intriguing. but o,·crly s~C'Uiati\'-c:.:
cf. th~ critical remarks by Nolland. Muu/zew. p. 33 n. 23.
21. Georg Sttcckcr. Der ll'eg ckr Gn't!<'lllig/wil: Umersuchllng :ur Th£'0/ogie des Ma11Mu.s
(FRLAt\"T. 81: GOtting<n: Vandcnh<X'cl: & RupnX'ht. 1971 : 3rd cdn). pp. 72. 84-5.
12. Don.1ld Hagner. Mutrfl.c•w /- /3 (WBC. 33A: O,lllas: Word. I 993), p. hi
23. Barnabas Lindnrs. NewTeswment Apologetic. TM lJO<'trinal SignificmN:e ofthe OldTe:ita-
mem Quotaliorts (london: SCM. 1961 ). p. 285.
2-l. Menken. 'Fulfilment•. pp. I80. 190. While Menken would prefer to scp:untc.the two. I would
agn:c with SchUssler· Fiorenza tb3t ·apologetics and mission3r)' propag:mcb functioned lik-e: two sides
of the same coin•: cf. Elisabctb Schiisslcr·Fiormza. 'Miraclc.s. :O.iission. and Apologetics: An lntrcxluc-
tion • in kkm (cd.). .4JJx>r:ts ofReligWu.f Ptvpogonda in Judaism tmd Eur{vChriJtianity(Notrc Dame/
l.o1~n: Unive-rsity of Notre Dame Press. 1976). pp. t-25 (3).
15. Jean ~,1ilcr. Le:; riwtion.'> d'acromplissemem dmu /'irangile de Maullietr (AB, 140~ Rome::
Pontilico lstituto Biblico. 1999). pp. JSI-60.
26. Aunc, 'Justin Martyr's Usc of the Old Tcstnm¢nl'. p. t 79.
27. AlktL Rew.dttlirm. Trut/J. Concn u11d lnterpreUJiiotl. p. IS6. For 11n anuJytic table of Justin's
sources. soc Sknr!'.utne. The Proof/rom Prophi'<J'. pp. 454-71. Sec. in addition. tbc Mo editions of
Justin b)' Mirosla\' Mnrco\'icb: ~1pologioe proChriJtiunis. pp. 11- 19. and l11sfi11i Mlr(rris Dialogw
c11m Tryplwne(P:~tristisdtc Textc und Studicn. 47: B~~rli n and N~·w Vorl:: Walter de-Gmyter. 1997).
pp. 23-61.
28. Martin I-t engel. T/w Sepwaginr aJ Ch1·isliun Scripture(tr<ul$. M:uk E. Biddle:-: Gmnd Rapids:
Baker Ac-ademic. 101)1). p. 34. Cf. M. I. Edwan:ls, ·Justin's l.ogos nnd the Word of God'. JECS 3
( 1995). pp. 261- SO(275). who goc.s so far as to sa)' !hal 'Justin's p~Tfeel ncqoointane~ with Itt~· Septu·
agint is beyond nil need of proof.·
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"':\' Fulfilment Quotations 49

Justin's evident familiarity with a pre-Aquilan version of the Greek Minor

Prophets suggests that he was actively engaged in gaining access to improved,
contemporary versions of the LXX.19 A further source of the Hebrew Scriptures
was from writings later included in the NewTestament. such as Romans~ I Cor-
inthians, GalatiaJlS~ Ephesians, Luke/Acts. and probably Hebrews.JO Of these,
Romans is probably his chief single sourc.e-of citations; Skarsaune estimates that
Justin has parallels to 14 (29%) o fPaurs 49 explicit ot· implicit citations of the
Hebrew Bible.11 He furthe-r observes that Justin's pmctice is eithet· to take over the
citation d irectly from Paul. or to go back to the Greek Bible and cite iLat greater
length .~.!
Next tu Romans, the Gospel of Matthew is Justin's most signitkant source of
scriptural citations. Skarsaune estimates that of
u.ppro:timatcl)' 6 5 quot.ations and nlfusions in ~ft. Justin hns parallels to 22 (34o/. ). but
[«hat}the« is din."d dependence: in no more tha.n 14 c:-asc:s (22%). Then" is thus slightly
k ss use ofMauhcw's OT mutc:-rinJ than is thc: case with Romans. HowC\•cr. this is hardly
significant. since much OT material in Jesus' discussions with the: Pllllriscc.s on hulokic
qu~-stions would be:. indc\'nnt to Justin.)..)

That said, Justin's reliance on Matthew is so pronounced that Barnard observes

that· Justin gives passages which substantially correspond to parts ofevery chap-
ter of St Matthew's Gospel' ..u As a consequence, it is generally conceded among
scholars that the entirety of the Gospel of Matthew is used by Justin. and not
simply testimonia drawn ft-om the Gospel. lJ In keeping with this emphasis on
Matthew. Justin consistently prefers it to the other Gospels.J6 Even Justin
uses rvtark. it is usually f\·1arl< as refracted through Matthew.n So. too. with Luke.
where most, if not all, o f his references to the Gospel are harmonized with Mat-
thew.~This harmonizing may suggest the existence of a harmonized gospel of

29. Bengel. &pwugint. p. 34. Cf. P. Katz. "Justin's Old Testament Quototions and tht' Greek
Oodd:aprophcton Scroll>. Studio PutJ"iJtica I ( 1957). 343- 53 {345-49).
30. Sknrs.aunc:. n... Prooffmm Pruplttv:)'. pp. 92- IOS.Shrs!lunc further Sllggt:SIS that Justin nlll)'
hav.:-b~-cn acquainted with I Clc:mcnt and Bnrnnbus.
31. Sknrs.1unc:-. The' Prouf from Propht>t:l', p. 93.
32. Skorsaunc:. The Pmoffrom PJ·oplk'cy. p. 94.
33. Skorsaunc. Tlw Prooffrom Proplk'C)', p. I03.
34. LW. Barnard. JusJin Mar~'"· His L!fooml11•tmgl•t(Cambridgc. UK: Cambridge Uni\·c:rsity
Press. 1967). p. 59.
35. Sc:e Bellinzoni. TI•e Saying,r q{Jesus. pp. 57-69: Hd mu1Kocstcr.Anciem ChristiM Gospels
(london!Philaddphia: SD.ttrPt 1990), p. 360: Mnss."'ux./njlut'tiCY!. \'OI. 3. p. 49.
36. Craig Allert conveniently summatil'.es the Gospd quolntions nnd allusions to bc: found in the:
Dialogue:cf. idem. Re,·elotion. Tmth. Cummond lmelprt'IUtion. pp. 255- 76. Comp:ut thc:-passages
assessed by KOhler. Reuption. pp. t 67- 25 1(csp. p. 237) nnd Massaw: ·s findings: Mnssnu:t. /n/ftJer~W.
vol. 3. pp. 11--89. {whic.h include the: Apologie.\·). Biblia Putristica. Index des ciwriom· et ull11sim•s
bibliqllC$ duns Ia liueraurn! JKTiril'liqlle, de$ Origines 0 Clement d'Aie.,·alldrie et Temtllien. vol. I
{Paris: CNRS. 1975). pp.123- 93 (cited in ~fassaux. vol. 3. pp. 106-9) !isiS 176 c-itations or allusions
to Mntthew.
37. Bdlinzoni. Su,rillg$, pp. 87-S.
38. Koester. A11cient Cltristian Gospels. pp. 365-70. Ko::st~'f di~ussc:s several sayings lhst troy
be derived from l uke on pp. 364-5: d. Bdlinzoni. Suyi1tgs. pp. 7tHI6.
so Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

the Synoptic-s utilized by Justin, but even so, he will have had to a copy of
Given Justin·s evident preference for Matthew, and the prominence Matthew
himself gives to the fulfilment quotations, one would anticipate, as Massaux
suggests. that Justin would draw 'his inspiration from the text in which Matthew
himselfannounces that the prophecy has been fulfilled'..te~That is to say. one would
expect that Justin would t•eproduce Matthew's scripttu-al citations. This is just
what Matthew does when he appropriates Scripture citations from lvtark ruld Q; he
generally reproduces their wording.JI Yet, despite Massaux's expectations, this is
not the case with Justin. Remarkably. Justin cites fewer than half of Matthew's
fulfilment quotations -only four out often (MI. 1.22-3: 2. 18: 12. 18-21 : 21.4-5). If
one also includes the passages resembling the tUifilment quotations in forlll, this
lotal becomes even less - five out of fourteen witll the-inclusion of Mt. 2.6 - just
over a third ofMatthew's citations.llle following chart, based on Skarsaune, fur-
nishes an overview ofMatthew's scriptural citations and the-parallels in Justin:12
1.22-3; lsa. 7. 14 I Apol. 33.1: Dial. 84
*1.5~ ~tic. 5. t . 3: 2 S~; m. 5.2 I Apo/. 34.1-4; Dinl. 78.1
1.15 Nos. 1/. /
2.18 J er. 31.15 Dial. 18
].}J /sa. II. I?
•3.3 Jsa. 40.3 Dial. 50.3-5
4.4 Ocut. 8.3 Dial. 125.4
•4.6 Ps. 91.ll f. Dial. 125.4
4.7 Ocut. 6 .16 Dial. 125.4
f 4. 10 Ocut. 6 . 13 Dial. 125.4
4.14-16 l.m. 8.1/-9./
8./i /sa. 53.4 I Apol. 50
9.13 Hos.. 6.6
10.35[. ).fie. 7.6
11.5 ls..'l. H .sr. Dial. 69.5
11.10 Exocl. 23.20U MaL 3.1
11.23 ls-1. 14. 13,15
12.18-21 ts~. 42.1-4 DiaL 123..8: d. 13!'.:2
12.40 Jon. 1.17 Dial. 107.9
•13. 14+15 lsa. 6.9f.
IJ.Jj Ps. 78.1
l l5.8-9 lsa. :!ii. U Dial. 27.4: 39.5: 4 &.2: 7&.1 1:80.4: 140.2
19.4 Gen. 1.27

39. Koester•.41fcieflt Cllril'liufl Gospt'ls. p. 318. Koester posit'> four diO'(:!ent sourc~"S for Justin:
( I) testimonia: (2) imptO\'td texiS of th~· Gr«k Bible: (3) Mutthc:w und Luke and possibly other
gospels:: {4) a harmony of l.hc Synoptics.
.JO. Massaux. lfljlunr<e. vol. 3. p. 37.
41. Brown. Rirlll ~(the Me.uiull, p. I 03: Oa\·ics and Allison. Saint Mauhew, \'OL 3. p. 515.
-l2. In lhcch:ut furnished hc-re.•lhc bold references are fullihncnt quotutions used by Justin. wMc
the italicized rcfcrenc~"Sarc. thosc- quotations he docs not usc:. The: passages marked byan asteorisk 111e.
those. in M-11tthc:wthut n:sc:mbk the (ullilmcntquotlltions. Tlx-dnggcrs signify those passngcs from the
Hebrew Scriptures thllt are not fulli lmc-nl quotations. bul whose Mntthean fom1 ofthe text Justin hus
likely c:itc:d.
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"':\' Fulfilment Quotations 51

t9.5 Gen. 2.24

19.7 Ocut. 24. 1
21.4-5 Zt>tb. 9.9: I sa. 61.11 I :\pol. 35: Dial. 53
!1.1 3 lsa. S6.7 Dial. 17.3: d 17.17-28.
21.16 J>s. 8.3
21.33 lsa. s. 1r.
21.42 J>s. 118.22C Dial. 126.11(cr. tsn. 28.16)
21.24 Dcut. 2S.5fGcn. 38..8
22.32 Exod.3.6
!1.37 Dcut. 6.5
!2.39 l eY. 19.18
~24. 15 Dan. 9.27f.
!4.29 lsa. 13. 10
14.30 Oan. 7.13/ Zech. 12.10 12
4 Dial. I.J.44--45: 31.3: 110. 10-11 : 120.24
16.31 L."eh. 13.7 Dial. 53.29 30

26.64 D.ln. 7. 13/J>s. 110.1

11.? Z.xh. /1./J!Jer. 31.6-9
27.34 P-s. 69.22
17.46 Ps. 12. 1 Dial. 98.6-7: 99.3.5
!7.35 Ps. !1. 19 I Apol. 35.5. 38.4: Diul. 97.3
17.39 J>s. 12.8 I Apol. 38.6: Dial. 10 1.3
17.43 Ps. 22.9 I Apol. 3&.6: Dial. 101.3
27.46 Ps. 22.2 Dial. 99. 1
17.4S Ps. 69.22

The relative paucity of Matthean fulfilment quotations cited by Justin again

l'<lises the question ofwhether even these. fulfilment quotations have actually been
derived from Matthe.w"s Gospel. and not. tOr instance. from a harmony or other
wol'k. Pierre Prigent. fo1'instance. would attribute all non LXX citations to Justin ·s

lost Syulagma against all Heresies. which would have incorporated earlier testi-
mony sources.Jj Upon consideration. however. it is highly likely that Justin has
drawn most. if not all ofthem from Matthew, as be determined from Justin's
citation of Isa. 7. 14 (I Apol. 33.1; cf. Dial. 66.2. 84. 1), which reveals its deriva-
tion from Jvfatthew in Justin ·s addition ofMatthew's translitemtion of Emmanuel:
Me9' ftJJWV 0 lh:Os without even mentioning the word Emmanuel..u Prigent
attempts to discount this fact by observing that Justin uses SpoUotv in the citation
instead ofMatthew's Ko:Aioouatv.-t.S Yet, Justin and Mattltew both agree in using
the third person plural against Isaiah's second person pluraLJ'
The composite citation (Ze.:h. 9.9; Isa. 62.11) at Mt. 21.4-5 is paralleled twice
in Justin·s writings ( I Apol. 35.11 ; Dial. 53). (n the tbnne-r. the passage is wt·ongly
attributed to Zephaniah. which could suggest that it originated from a testimonia

43. Pierre PrigcnL Justin etl'.411dt',l Te.~tament (Etudes Bibliqucs. Paris: Librniric locon·n:.
1964),pp. 12- 13. SkarsaUilC. Thi' Prooffrom PmpherJ•. p. 130. cautions thai tlrrc ·is much Matltlcun
malcrial in OT texts which a~ not quoted din:ttly from M11Uhc:w'.
44. Massaux.. lnflmmce. vol. 3. p. 35.
~5. Prigcni.JU.flill et I'Ande/J TeJJametll. p. 146.
46. Koester. Andem Cl!ristia11 Grupek p. 379. cr. Rothfochs. Die £rfiilhmgs-zitote. p. 58 n. 7.
52 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

col lection.~1 On the other hand, while the first part of the citation confonns to the
LXX, Ute second part is identical to Matthew's text:111
In the near ftllfilment quotation at Mt 2.5-6, it is evident that Justin is also
reliant on Matthew for his citations ofMic. 5.1 (I .~pol. 34.1: Dial. 78.1), as he
agrees with Matthew word for word against the LXX."~ Koester notes that Justin
is evidently unaware that Matthew's citation is actually a conflation with 2 Sam. Asimilar phenome.non can be seen in the citation ofJer. 31.15 (Dial. 18.7-
8) at Mt. 2.17- 18, where J us tin again follows Matthew's fom1 of the text in
preference to the LXX.51 The le-ngthy citation of Isa. 42.1 -4 occurs twice in the
Dialogue. at 123.8 and again at 135.2. K<>hler notes that the. two citations arc
notably ditTerent. with the first clearly more reliant on Mt. 12.18-21, and the
second much more dependent on the LXX. He infers thereby that Justin selects
his citation according to the form that best suits his argument.51
So. it is probable that Justin had access to Matthew's tUlfilmem quotations.
and availed himself of them. Neve11heless. even if these fulfihnent quotations are
derived from Matthew, it is apparent that. pace Massaux, Justin does not draw
much inspiration from tv1atthew·s use of them. It was noted above that Matthew's
fulfilment quotations are distinguished by three distinctive features- their intro-
ductory fomlUia, their mixed textual form. and the fact that they constitute Mat-
thew's interpretation of the gospel events. A brief consideration of Justin's treat-
ment o f these features sugge..o;;ts that they hold little significance for him. The
introductory formulae that Matthe.w employs to frame the fulfilment are notable
for their absence. (n each instance. Justin curtails or retbnnulates the introductory
sentences. What is more - and no Jess remarkable given the abundance of Justin's
citations - ?\•latthe.w 's familiar and recurring use of yiypo:nTO:I is vi11ually
absent.S3 Fi nally~ with respect to the citations· textual form. Justin adheres to
them in a geneml way. but it is evide-nt from the changes he has made to Mat-
thew's versions o flsa. 7. 14 and Zech. 9.9 that he is not committed to Matthew·s
fom1of the text As suggested above, the fonn of the citation Justin uses seems to
be predicated not on his faithfulness to a given version so much as coherence
with his argument.
In addition. it is evident thai for Justin the fulfilment quotations do not seem to
enjoy any pm1icular place of p1·ecedence ove1·other scriptural citations. As emerges

Bernnrd. Justill Mmtyr. pp. 69- 70: Lindars, New Testament Apologclic. p. 26 n. 1.
.J 7.
48. Massaux.. lnfiuellt'e. ,·ol. 3. p. 37: Krister StcndahL The School <?{St. MaiiiK!W cmd lt.f Use of
''"'Old Te.\'lamt!m (Pbitnddphia: Fort~ l%8. 2nd 1:dn). p. 120.
49. KOhler. Re:£plion. p. ! I4: ~fass.1U);./tifluence. vol. 3. pp. 37. 61: Shotwdi.BihlicoJ £.;egesis.
p. JO.
50. Koester. Ancient Clwi.Jtian Gospels. p. 383. On 2 Sant. 5.2 as Mntthew·s addition. s«
Menken. Maflhe•)·'s Bible. p. 260 and Soares Probhu. Formula Q1KJtalions. pp. !66- 7.
51. KOhlc-r,Re:eption. p. 228: Mnssnux. lnjfue11<"-£', \'01. 3. p. 64: Menken. MauiN!w :S Bible. p. t 45.
52. KObler. Rezcp1i<»1. pp. 206-7. Menken, Malllww :S Bible. pp. 87-S.dctccts Matthcnn influc11C('
on both of Justin•s citations.
53. Sl.'lnton. Je.msandGospd. p. 98. Stunton remarks that Justin ·never uses yiypo rno 1 to
i ntrodu~~ . . • 1111 OT qt1ota1ion' (p. 98). bu1 h~·appcars to~werlool: Dialogue 78.1 wh~re yiypo: nTO:I
introduces !.he citalion ofMic. 5.2.
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"':\' Fulfilment Quotations 53

from the chart above, passages such as Isa. 29.13 (Mt. I 5.8-9) and Dan. 7. 13/
Zech. 12. 10-12 (Mt. 24.30) assume considerabl}' more prominence in Justin's
ovemll t:cuvre than the fulfilment quotations. Here one can menf"ion passages
such as Mt. 4. 10 (Deut. 6. 13);;, Mt. I 5.8-9 (I sa. 29.13)," with a number o f other
possible allusions. Finally. even when he does appropl'iate a citation from
Matthew. he often returns to the original LXX context and expands the citation
considerably beyond ito,; Matthean confine$.
The foregoing leads conclude that the 'history of influence· ofthe fulfil-
ment quotations in the works of Justin Martyr is decidedly limited. He is aware of
the fulfilment quotations . uses some. of them, but is not himself much influe.nced
by them in his own interpretations. Hence. the singularity of the fonnula quota-
tions. something that has been such a foundational datum for modern rvtatthean
scholarship, is a feature that is entirely disregarded b)• Matthew's first intC·I'J>I'eter.s'

2. Juslin 's Omission q{Maflhew 's Fuljilmenl Quotations

Tite problem arises> therefore, if Justin does indeed esteem the Gospels. and the
Gospel of tv1atthew above all, why does he to include the majority of the ful-
filment quotations mentioned above? Although Matthew's comments lack the
p1'0phetic and authoritative impact ofJe-sus' own dicta. ]\.·Jatthew is still (in Justin's
view} an apostle-. and the1·efore, participates to some extent in Jesus' authority.
Moreover, the fulfilment quotations are ready-made as proofs from prophecy and.
given their imroductOI)' formulae. \VOuld have been relatively easy to locate in a
scroll or codex. So what grounds did he have for bypassing the-m?
Naturally. it is very difficult to establish why an author did not use a given
citation. Neve11heless, tlte most straightforward su p~)Osit i on is that Justin1 fo1·val'i-
ous reasons, did not find the citations suitable tOr his l'he.torical purposes. A case-
by-case consideration of the citations he omits may help to support this contc.n-
tion. The first citation he does not include is Hos. 11.1: 'Out of Egypt I have.called
my son.' Given Justin's paraphrase ofJesus· infancy in Dial. 18. one would have
expected Justin to make use of it. especially as he-mentions the flight to Egypt
twice (Dial . 78.4,7 ). and includes the fulfilment quotation associated with the
massacre.of the.innocents (?Yit. 2. 18=Jer. 31. 15 at Dial. 78.8). Justin, howeve.r, has
conflated his sources awkwardly and, as a conseque.nce, never specifically me.n-
tions Jesus' renu·n from Egypt.51 f urther, the whole point of his introducing the
infancy narrative is so that he can present Trypho with what he regards as a fur-
ther fulfilment o f prophecy. namely Isa. 8.4. Here. Justin is intent upon showing

54. KOhle-r. Re:eption. p. 226.

55. Marcovic-h. Dialugus £'11/tl Ji:rphon~. p. 29: cf. KOhkr. Re:eplion. pp. 236- 7. who considers
dcp~~ndc1Ke on Mntlhcw to be-a slrong possibility.
56. This fi nding docs not surprise. gi,·en that the modem isolation of the formula quotations is
auributcd to Massebieau {st.-c note 13 above}. Ncvenhdcss.. it is still ~triking that Justin seems to
overlook the foll'll31 features of ,\fallhcw's citutions.
57. It is also pos.slbk that Jus•in is relying an c-arli« harmony: d . Allert Rn'elatioJt.
Tmth. Canon und JnJerpr~fution. pp. 198-9.
54 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Tl)rpho that the pa;;sage.does not, in fact. refe-r to Hezekiah, but to the Magi. He
is so pleased with the proof that, as soon as Justin has fi nished recounting the
sto1y of the Magi. he hastens to show T1·ypho how their appearance fulfils all the
details of the prophecy.ln effect. therefore. Justin drops Hos. 11.1 in favour of a
better passage of his own: ls.a. 8.4.
The absence of ML 2.23 is easier to explain, simply because the c itation's
provenance is notoriously problematic.s" Since there is no prophetic passage that
states that ' He will be called a Nazo1-ean ·. it is not unexpected that Justin refrains
from ny ing to convince the asrute T 1y pho that it is an ins tance of fulfilled
Justin's f.1.ilure (0 cite Mt. 4. 14-1 6 (I sa. 8.21-9.1 ) may arise from his disincli-
nation to associate Jesus with Galilee. The only thne the word ·Galilee.' occurs in
his entire corpus is in an accusation of Jesus that Justin imputes to the Jews: ·a
godless aJld lawless heresy had spnmg from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver.
whom \Ve crucified· (Dial. 108.9).}'> So even though the.passage treats theconver-
sion of the Gentiles- something to which Justin was very sympathetic (ct: I Apol.
49: Dial. 52) - the mention of ·Galilee of the Gentiles' may have caused him to
hesitate at including this citation.
Justin does in fact refer to Isa. 53.4 in the context of prophecy at I Apol. 50.8,
but his text shows no inHuence of the distinctive Matthean fonn and adheres to
the LXX. Although Justin elsewhere alludes to Jesus healings (I Apol. 48.1;
Dial. 69.6), they do not constin1te a major component of his apologetic.60 Good-
enough notes that Justin tends to downplay Jesus· miracles: 'because miracles
were so conunon>they were not adequate evidence for His divine Sonship, and
Justin gives the miracles actually very little attenrion •.61
The quotation of Ps. 78.2 at Mt. 13.35 is probably not cited because Justin
does not elaborate on Jesus' useofparable.s in his teaching. Even though Justin
bases his writings on the synoptic record. he devotes very little attention to Jesus·
style of teaching, though he does fum ish dicta of Jesus in chapters IS and 16 of
the I •.Jpology. Nor is he untbmiliarwith Jesus' parables: he refers briefly to the
Parable of the Sower at Dial. 125.1, but he does not otherwise discuss them.62
The joint citation ofZech. 11.13 and Jer. 32.6-9 a! Mt. 27.9 is not included by
Justin, which is somewhat unexpected because Justin does devote considerable
attention to Jesus crucifixion (cf.l Apol. 35; Dial. 53.5; 97.1, 3; 99.1-2: 101.3;
I 03.8; I 04. I -2: IOS.S). and alludes to two prophecies from Zechariah (Zech. 9.9;
13.7). A third citation would be entirely in order. On the other hand, Justin never

58. For a n:oc:nt auc:mpt to sol\'e the: problc:m. sc:c r-.knkcn. .4faulww ·J Bible. pp. 161- 77.
59. At Dial. 80.2 Jus•in describes ·the Galikans• ns n socL which may be anolhcr reason he is
reluc.tant lo as:socinte-Jesus with lhcm.
60. Dial. 69.6 mny well be nn allusion to MI. 11 .5.
61. Erwin R. Goodenough. The nwologvof Justin Mar~rr (repr.. An'6ttnlam: Philo Press. 1968
(1923 J). pp. 245-6. It is also possible thnl Justin is mindful of the charges ofmagie impul'--d to Jc:sus:
cf. JApol. 30: c-f. Stephen G. \Vilson. Related S!nmgers:.lcws a11d C!lrisJians 70-1 iOC. E. (Minne·
apolis: Fortress. 1995}. pp. 271·72.
62. Justin uses the word ·pnrabk ' at Dial. 36.2: II·U: II S. I but in e-ac.h inSianee gi\'cs i1 typo-
logical signific-ntions.
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"':\' Fulfilment Quotations 55

mentions J udas~ and is more concerned to lay responsibility for Jesus· passion
Taken together. the above considerations reveal a distinct tendency in Justin's
practice of citation, namely. to omit those fulfilment quotations that Brown
describes as being ·attached to the minutiae o f' career·.&} FOI' instance,
Justin eliminates what could be characterized as non-essential geographical refer-
ents, such as Egypt~ Nazareth and Galilee.61 So. too, for what might described as
- to Justin's mind- the more.peripheral details of Jesus' ministry. ln their place,
he opts for quotations that are more ovenly theologicaL These conjectural expla-
nations for Justin's elimination ofsome ofMaHhew's fonnula quotations, while
not implausible. still leave the large1· problem of why Justin has not hesitated to
eliminate over half the Matthean corpus. The answer probably stems from his
understanding of prophecy. As Skarsaune observes. 'When Justin expounds the
OT, he does so as a pupil of the apostles; he is carrying on the OT exegesis they
leamt from Christ.'65 Here, the phrase 'carrying on' is ve-Jy apropos. Justin's
approach to the fulfilment quotations is to emulate the procedure undertake-.n by
the ·apostle· Matthew. For Justin, the Scriptures in their entircry were prophetic,u
and following in the footsteps o f Matthew~ he chose those texts that best suited
his exposition.
Justin ·s approach also casts light on the disputed issue of the authority of the
·memoirs of the apostles'. (n recent discussion. Charles Cosgrove has pointed to
Justin's disinclination to use the term cUayyiAtov of the Gospel writings and to
his designation of them as ' memoirs of the a postl es~, as an indic-ation that the
memoirs are not to be equated with the go..c;pel and that they lack its authority.61
Helmut Koeste.r further questions their authol'ity by affirming that in the second
ce-ntu1)' "the1·e were multiple gospels in circulation that were not distinguished at
the time with respect to their authority and authenticity·.~
Tilis position has not gone unc-hallenged. 0 -aigAIIe·rt has addressed Cosgrove·s
article in considerable. detail and contested many of his conclusions.fh Luise
Abramowski makes a convincing c.ase that the memoirs of the apostles are~ in
fact, the Gospels.10 In addition, Graham Stanton has argued in a series of ;;u1icles

63. Brown. Binh q(thc Messiah. p. 98.

64. Given the c.itation's pronounced Dnvldic associations. Justin's re-te-ntion of the Bcthlch~·m
reference of Mic. 5.1 3 is undcrstu.ndabfe.

65. Skarsaunc. ThC' Prooffrom Prophecy. p. 11.

66. Shotwell. Bihlkal fxq;eJis. p. 29: Justin ·uses tile:.Old Tcsl.nmcntas one grc~"'t mass of proof
67. Ch111lcs H.Cosgrove. 'Justin Mnnyrand the Emerging Christian Canon: Obscr'l'ationson the
Purpos~ and Destination of the Dialqgue with Trypho'. VC 36 (1982). 209- 32 (22 t - 2).
68. Hdmut Koe$1Cr. ·Gospels and GospdTmdi1io~ in the Second Ccnlury'. in Andrew F. Gn:gory
sod Christopbcr Tuc.kctt (cds). Trojecwries tlrroug!J th~ Nrw Trslamenl a11d the Apo.wo!k Fathers
(Oxford: Oxford Univcr.>itr P~ 2005). pp. 2 7-44 (43).
69. A liM. Rrr-eloJion, Tn11h. Cano-11 ond lnt<•rpreWJi<m. pp. 13- 25.
70. l uisc Abramowsh'The ..Memoirs of the Apostles" in Ju~ti n' . in PctcrS1uhfm.1chcr {cd.). The
GosfX'I am/the Gmprls (Gr..1nd Rapids: Eerdman:s. 1991). pp. 323-35 (326-35)~ cf. Allen. Ritrdation,
Tmtlr. Concn and lm.:-qJI"i'lation. pp. 192- 5. He offers a detailed eritiquc of Cosgro\·e on pp. 14-25.
56 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

for the authoritative character of the tOur canonical FUJ1her. he notes
that the earlies t Gospel papyl'i are all codices and, contrary to what had been
previously supposed. they \VCre not workaday handbooks, but 'upmarket' texts
that suggest they were authoritative and used in Christian worship.n Stanton con-
cludes that· Justin comes within a whisker of regarding sayings of Jes.tLS and the
Gospels as Scl'ipture. •?J A similar infet-encc is made by Martin Hengel- for Justin
the Gospels 'already embody the apostolic, i.e. authoritative, tradition regardless
of whether the authOI's were real ..apostJes·• or only their"successors.. •.74
These views slightly ove1-state the case. There is little doubt that the memoirs
were thought to enshrine divine authority. It is not sufficiently appreciated. for
instance. that Justin unequivocally accepts the authority ofMatth ew~s citations of
the Hebrew Bible. In fact. on a number of occasions Justin gives preference to
Matthew's version of the Scriptures against the readingsofthe LXX. Even where
he demonsrrably has both, he still makes use of Matthew's version when it suits
his pmpose. Such practices indicate that, t01· Justin, Matthew's rendering oftJ1e
Scripnu·cs is at least as authoritative as the LXX ve1·sions he possesses.
That said, while Justin recognizes the authorityofMatthew's text of the Scrip-
tures. he evidently does not feel bound to heed Matthew's selection of proof-texts.
Nor.judging from his compression and harmonization of Matthew and the other
Gospels, does he seem to regard their narratives as authoritative.IS. It is, rathe1·,
the events that the narratives 1·ecount that he deems authoritative. B)rcontrast, tJ1e
ac.counts of Jesus' sayings and the Gospel's citatiOilS of the Scriptures are authori-
tative, though interestingly. Justin docs not appear concemed for exactitude with
either group ofsayings.76 So it is probably precipitate-to affim1that the 'memoirs'
have a quasi-scriptural status. Instead, the Gospels include authoritative elements
within their fabric, but are not authoritative in their entirety. (t is probable, for
instance1 that Justin would regard his harmony of the infancy narratives as being
little different from those narratives he uses to constn1ct his harmony.n
In sum, Justin's procedure is akin to that of a jeweller who removes gems
from one piece of jewellery ro reset them into a ditTerent c1·eation of his own.
Those that do not fit his design he leaves behind, along with their discarded gold

71. See. espec-ially. Graham Stanton. Jesus and Gospel (Cambridge. UK: Cambridge University
Press. 2004). pp. 75- S: 92- 109.
72. St.1nton. Jesus tmd Grupe/. pp. 192- 106.
73. Ibid.. p. 205. Cf. A. I. Bdlinzuni. "The Gospd of Mallhew in the Second Century•. Second
Cemury 9 (1992). 191-25& (242}.
74. Marlin Hengel The FourGosJNis and the- One GrAfpel ofJesus Cltrist (H.nrri sbu~. PA: Trinity
Press lntemational. 2000). p. 20.
75. Cf. Koester. "Gospels nnd Gospd Tndilions'. pp. 41- 2. Koester. howc,·cr. mainwins that the
' text' of the. Gospe-ls was not sacrosanct where-as il is the tl31Tilli\'C: componc:nls of the Gospels thnt
are not sacfOIS.anct
76. Man:ovich: ApologiM pm Cltristimtis. pp. 19-30: Jos.c:ph Vcrflcydcn. 'Assessing Gospel
Quotations in Justin Martyr'. in A. Oenau:t (ed.). Ne1)' Testament amfTextual Crilici.nuamlExegesis.
Festscllriji J. Delobel (BETL. 161: lcuvc:n: lc:uven University Pa-ess/Pcctcrs. 2002}. pp. 301- 77.
77. I would stop shon of Kocs1er's view Ihat Justin's intention was to consttuct a single ham)()·
nizod gospck cf. Kocslc:r. AnrirntChristiun G<lspt'l.f, p. 402. CompnreStanton.J~sus o11dG<lspr/. p. i7.
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"' :\' Fulfilment Quotations 51

setting. NaturaJiy. these remaining gems and gold retain their value - the gems
can be reset, and the less valuable gold recast- but they are not so immediately
valuable as those elements he has chosen to employ tb r the moment.

3. Justin and 1he lnterpretaliou of Malfhe,.,·'s Fulfilment Quota lions

What. then. has impe.lled Justin to recraft Matthew's legacy as he has? He evi-
dently does not feel bound by the Evangelist's choice~li. nor does he regard them as
somehow sacrosanct. While he emulates Matthew's respect for Scripture, and the
conviction that it is prophetic, it is apparent that Justin feels equally capable of
expowlding Scripture on his own. The likely explanation for his depa11Ure from
the Gospel record is that he is writing difl"b1•ent types of documents from gospels.
Where Matthew is probably closest to the bios genre. the ovemll forms of the
l..tpologyand Dialogue are c.ertainly not bioi. despite the prese.nce ofbiographical
details about Jesus)" Rather, the tides of Justin's works effectively se1·ve to iden-
tify the genre of the works./ Apology is indeed a justHlcation for Justin's exposi-
tion of his system of belief,~ while the title Dialogue with Trypho is apropos, if
one classes it as an ·apologetic dialogue'.$»
The change in genre entails both an appropriation of new materials. and a
redeployme-nt of the old. With respect to the former, Justin is able to draw on an
expanded palette of citations~ one that has emerged from lhe ongoing develop-
ment of Christian testimonia, and from Jewish-Christian exegetical debate.81
Justin. therefore. benefits from the results ofdecades of the theological mining of
the Scriptures (including his own), and can select those passages tJlatseem to him
to be the most convincing and compelling for his arguments.ll2 As a consequence,
he omits those fulfilment citations in Matthew concerned with biographical minu-
tiae in favour of those that help justify the broader assertion that the Hebrew
Scriptures establish the tmth of Christianity.

78. Cf. J. R. C. Couslnnd. Tlw Crowtb· ir1the Gospd ofMaulw~r(NovTSup. 102: Lcidl-n and New
York: E. J. BrilL 2002). pp. 25-7.
79. Euscbius(ff.f. 4. 11.8) relates that Jusain 'eontend~-d for the faith in his writings•. Cf. Erwin R.
Goodcnougtl. T1re nwo/o~:voflu:ilin Mmtyr(n:pr.. Amsterdam: Philo Press. 196S (1923]).pp.S0-4:
Michad Madt.. · Jus1in Mart)•r's Diologus cum T(lphone ludaco and lhc 1Xvdopm~'fl1 of Christian
Anri-Jud.'lism'. in Oro l inlOt and Guy G. Suoumsll (eds). Comra ludaeos. Andenl ond Mediewtl
Polemics IN:/11\'CII Chrislia11s u.ndJClrs (TSMJ. 10: Tiibingcn: Mohr Sicbcck. 1996}. pp. 2 7-47 (37-9).
SO. The plunsc is advanocd by Tcssll Rajuk: ·Talking nt Trypho: Christian Apolog-ccK us Anti-
Judaism in lustin•s Dialogue wil/1 Tr>rJim the Jew·. in M. Edwards. M . Goodman and S. Pricc-(tds).
Apologetics in Ihe Rommr Empire: Poga11s. }eh•s, and C/rril'limrs (O:tford: Oxford Univcuity Press.
1999). pp. 59-SO(80). Cf. further. ThrologyofJustiJt Mor~rr. p. 90. Mach. 'Christian
Anli·Judaism'. pp. 34-7. discusses its dialogic. qualities.
81. Hcngci.Seplllagiut. pp. ! 6-34: Judith l iw.lmage and Rt·a/ity. TheJt•ws int/1e Worldoftl~e
Christians ofthe Stv:ondCentury(£dinbmgh:T&T Clurk. 1996). pp. ll&-9: Lindars. Ne·w Testomem
Apologetic, p. Hi.
81. On the collection and dc.vdopment of 1estimonin in the curly Chri ~tiun communities. S«'
Manin C. Albl. 'And Scripture Com101 hi! Bmken ': TM Form ami Fmmiun oftl~e Ear~v ChriJtiatl
Testimonia Colll"t'/imu(No\·TSup. 96: Lcid~'tli'BostlWKOln: E. J. Brill. 1999). pp. 97- 1 58~Skllrsaunc.
The Pmoffrom Prophe-cy. pp. 135-434.
58 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Justin also redeploys those formu la quotations that he does take over from
Mauhew. Luz has recently examined the role of inte11extuality in the Gospel of
Matthew with respect to its use of the Hebrew Scriptures."J. Here he observes that
inte11exts 'belong to the rhetorical strategy o f a text' .f..! Of course, the fulfilment
quotations are a prime example, and when the rhetorical strategies of Justin and
Matthew are compared, Justin' s approach helps to illumine the quite
.strategies employed by the two autllors. The principle dit)"brence between them is
that in Justin's writings '(T]he confession o f Jesus as Messiah was foundational,
a presuppos ition for the rest' .85 As he states in I Apol. 31.7-8: ·we find it pre-
d icred in the books o f the prophets that Jesus our Chris( would come, born of a
virgin, born to manhood. heating every sickness and every disease and raising the
dead. hated and unacknowledged and crucified. dying and rising again and ascend-
ing into heaven, both really being and being called Son of God.' Here Justin ·fii'St
gives at great length all the major christological passages. pro\•ing that they are to
be given the tl lture mes..~ianic interpretation, and that other commonly held Jew-
ish interpretations are inadequate' .86 The ke1ygma serves as the cornerstone for
Justin's prophetic exegesi s.~
This fearure o f Justin's hermeneutic can contribute to an understanding of the
function of Matthew·s fulfilment quotations. When the rhetorical strategies o f
Justin and Matthew are compared, Justin's approach helps to illumine the quite
different tactics adopted by the two aud1ors. And, while this comparison cannot
o fitselfilluminate the function of the fulfilment quotations in Matthew, in pa11
because there is no substantial agreement among scholars about the audience of
Matthew's Gospel or Jusrjn 's Dialogue. it can help to eliminate at least one ofthe
functions advanced by scholars.•!;
In particular, this application of w;rJwngsgesch;chte leads one to d iscount
Hagner's understanding of the fun~tion ofthe fulfilment quotations. As was noted
above, Donald Hagner contended that in Matthew the fulfilment quotations 'have
as their foundatjon ch.ristological convictions - they are, indeed. christocentric.
T11ey take as their starling point that Jesus is the One promised by the OT .scrip-
tures. 'S9 Consequently. ' the quotations are not to be understood as proof-texts that
would in themselves persuade. tOr example, Je\VS who had rejected the gospel.

83. Luz. ·rntcrtexts'. pp. 119-37. Questions ofinlerte.xtualit)' tuc.also addressed by Annl! M.
O'leary. MaiiiU!w·s Judai:oJion q{Mork examined intlw Context q{l/re Usl! ofSoun:es ill Gmec&-
Romon .4ntiqlli(I'(LBS. 323: London and Nt:w York: T&T Cl:uk. 2006).
84. Luz. ·Jnte-rtexts'.p. 121.
85. DonaldJud . Me.uianic f.rq;el·is: ChriJtologicollnterprelatirm<?{lhe Old Te.ftomcnt i11 Early
C!lristianil)' (Philadelphia: Fortress. 1988), p. 113.
86. Lindars. New Testament Apologetic', p. 33 n. I.
87. Oanidou, Grupf!l .Hi'JJ((go:>. p. 214.
88. For a detailed su.rn:y of the possible nudi¢nccs of the Dialogue. sec Tessa Rajak. ·Talking Ill
Ttypho•. pp. 7$--80. For r«rnt discussion of Matlhc:w. see Paul Foster. Cormmmi(Y, Low tJJJd MisJirm
ill Mutthew :t GoJpel (WUNT. 171: Hibingen; Mohr Sieb(('k. 2004}. pp. 254-60.
89. Hagntt. Muttlww /-/J.p. hi
CaUSlAND JriSiin Afartyr on Mallhe"':\' Fulfilment Quotations 59

T11e quotations are thus addressed to Christians, and their compelling power is
only evident to those who have been confronted with the fact of the risen Christ. •91.1
Hagner's assertion simply does not hold true for the Gospel's readers or
auditors. There is no doubt that f'.·latthew and Justin both take the Messiahship of
Je-sus as axiomatic. but. quite clearly. for Justin it is a deductive process where for
Matthew it is essentially inductive. For Justin, it is the premise that grounds the
entire superstructure of his reintcrpl'etation ofthe Hebrew Scriptures. Or. to put it
differently, Jesus the Christ is the only lens that will a llow fo r a co1·rect unde-1'-
standing of the Scriptures. The reverse, however, is true fo1· Matthew: it is the
Scriptures that are the lens that help show Jesus to be the Messiah. The unfolding
narrative of.le.:ats' bios pl'Oduces in the auditors or readers a growingape~u that
Jesus is the promised one. Over the course of reading or hearing the Gospel>they
are brought to discern in the-cumulative events of Jesus' life the ongoing fulfil-
ment of Scripture. By the time they reac.h the Gospel's end, with the-exalted
Christ on the mountain in Galilee, they should have come to recognize with Peter
that Jesus is ' the Messiah, the Son of the living God' (Mt. 16.16).
This approach is apparent bollt in Matthew's deployment of Christological
titles and in the narrative developments that occur in the course of the Gospel.
With respect to the former, it is c lear that the denotations ofMauhew's titles are
by no means self-evident Even at Mt. 1.1, for instance, which expressly affinns
that Jesus is the Son of David and the Son of Abraham, the import of these titles
only becomes evident over the course ofMatthew's narrarive.91 Similar observa-
tions hold tme for other titles in Matthew, such as Son of God o1· Son of rvfan.<n
So even whe1·e the Gospel fumishes explicit evaluations of the identity of Jesus,
these are still reliant on his narrative. for the.i r signification.
And, as a numbe1· of scholars have 1'ecently stressed, Matthew's Christology
owes much to the narrative of the GospeJ.9l and it is within the narrative context
that the evaluative c.ommentary provided by tJ1e fulfilme nt quotations attains its
import.tJ.t Donaldson remarks that the 'cumulative effect ofthis material [includ-
ing the fulfilme nt quotations], as reade1·s make their way through tJ1e Gospel>is
the development of a rich and detailed set of characteristics that they carry with
them into each new scene of the narrative and that ar-e ultimately incorporated
into their final assessment of the significance ofJesus as they come to the end of
the narr.uive' .9$l11is scenario, however. suggests that this type ofChristological

90. Hagner. ,\.lutthc•w /- /J.p. hi

91. On ~fauhcw's idiosyncmtic. undcrstnnding of 'Son of O:t\•id'. sec Cousltmd. Crowd-;.
pp. 175- 99.
92. Ulrich luz. S11Kiies ill Maulll'h' (trons. Roscnnry Sdk: Grond Rapids and Cambridge:
Ecrdmans. 2005). pp. 83- 96.
93. Frank J. Matern. Nt•w Te.wmmmt Chrislology· (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox. 1999}:
RudolfSchnad:c-nburg. Jesus i11tht-Gos{Kk A Bibliool ChriJtology(ttans. 0. C. Dean. Jr: louis,·ilk :
Wc.stmins.tco'John Knox. 1995). pp. 79-84.
94. Schnacl:cnburg. Jesus in tl•eGospds. pp. 107- 14. uses lhcapt term ·signposts' to describe the
function or the fuJfilmml quotations wilhin tbc nnrmti\·e~
95. Tcrenoc L llon:tldson. ·n.c VindM::ttOO Son: A Narr.Ui\·c Approach to Mutlhcun Cltristology•.
60 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

assessment is the ending poimtOr the-reader. and not. as Hagner would maintain.
the stoning point.
Paradoxically. therefore, both the histo1y ofMatthew"s influence on Justin and
his very lack of influe-nce both contribute to a more precise unde.rstanding of the
fulfilment quotations. In panicutm·~ they leave open the strong possibility that
Matthew's scriptural citations designed not simply for the edification ofthe
Christian community. but for an audience that would respond to an inductive and
apologetic presentation of the formula quotatjons.

4. Conclusions
This chapter undertook to address the three following questions: (I} What influ-
enc.e have MaHhew"s fulfilment quotations exened on Justin 's citations from the
Heb1·ew scriptures?; (2) Why did they have this pa•·ticular effect?: and (3) What
doe-$ Justin's interpretation suggest about how f\·1atthew's fulfilment quotations
ought to be understood?
With respect to the first ques-tion, it has to be-said that in contrast to the expec-
tations of ?vlassaux and others. it is no/'nonnal that Justin draws his inspiration
from the text in which Matthew himself announces that the prophec.y has been
fulfilled' .9" Justin appropriates f¢wer than half of Matthew's fulfilment quota-
tions, and does not adhere to Matthean introductory tbrmulae o f the citations, nor
to Matthean text forms.
Why tJle tb rmula quotations had limited impact on Justin can be explained
in light of the difference in genre. and pmpose between Matthew's Gospel and
Justin's writings. Because he does not consider the Gospel to be authoritative in
its entirety. he has no reservations about omitting some of Matthew's fomlula
quotations or selecting alternate passages of Scripture.
Justin's treatment of the formula quotations in Matthew reveals a great gulf
between his rhetorical strategies and those of Matthew. Justin•s enth·e scriptural
he.rmeneutic is predicated on the axiom that Jesus is Messiah, where for Matthew
it is the understanding o f Scripture that leads to the inference that Jesus is tvtes-
siah . Recognition of this fundamental disparity between Justin and Matthew
shows that views such as Hagner's about the purpose of the fommla quotations
are mistaken. Justin's deducti\'e approach brings Matthew's inductive stance into
shmp relief. and suggests that the formula quotations did have an apologetic or
propagandistic dimension.

in Richard N. longct-ncd:cr (cd.). Gmt011r:i ofCiwisto/(Jgy in the Nt"w Testamelll (Grand Rapids and
Cambridge: Ecrdmans. 2005). pp. t00-2 1 ( 1tO).
96. Mas.S<lU~. /r~jlm!JH:t'. p. 31.



Craig A. Evans

The selling and purpose behind the composition oft he Gospel of Mauhew have
occasioned a lively discussion among Malthean scholars in recent years. Learned
.studies have appeared arguing fOr a thoroughly Jewish selling, with the syna-
gogue primarily in view, I while in other studies, perhaps represented best in work
by Warren Carter, we are urged to interpret rvfatthew as contending for faith in the
context or a threatening and hostile Roman Empire.1 Or course, Carter does not
minimi.ze the relevance of the Jewish and synagogue backdrop; he is concerned
that the stmggle to survive in the Roman world is not overlooked when we
interpret the Gospel or Mauhew.
In my view there is significanlln1th in both of these competing views. The
Mallhean Evangelist addressed " synagogue and Jewish leadership that had
rejected Je.sus as lsrnel's Me.s:siah and on occasion had persecuted those who
believed in him. The Evangelist was concerned to demonstrate that Jesus and his
movement fUlfil Jewish expectations and hopes and do not undermine the authori-
tative place ofTorah.:; But the Evangelist also took pains to fUshion his murative
and the teaching of Jesus in ways that reHecllhe very real challenges and dangers

I. Some ofthe most infturntilal studies include J. A. 0\'crtnan.Mattkw:\·GospelamlFomJati\·e

Judai5m: A Swtly ofthe Social Worltl uf!lw Mati!Jt'OIICw.mmmity(Minncapolis: F«lress Press. 1990):
A. J. Saldarini. Mauhe-~v j Chrislian.Je,riJir Commtmity(Chicago Studic:; in the History of Ju<Wism:
Chicago: Uni\'roity of Chicago Pms, 1994}: D. C. Sim. The Gospel ofMoJtlrew ond ChrislitJrl
Judaism: The Ni.storyondS«iul Settil~g oftlte MauJw-mJ Conrmtmity(Edinburgh: T&T Clark 1998).
Ovcm1an believes that the Mattbean community was in essence a sect within Judaism whose home
\\'aS Gulike (and not Antioch}. Saldarini bdie.vcs thai the. E\'angdist wns himsdf a Jewish teacher
competing for the minds of lhc Jl'\vish poople in the--aftermath of Lhc calamily of70 AD. Sim ngm:sin
large measure wilh these Sludies. describing the MatthClln community as a gruupof J'-"'"S whobclic\-c
in Jesus.
2. W. Carter. J,fauhcw m1d tht' .1./argins: A Socio-Politiool and Religious RMding (JSf'..~·sup.
204: Sheffield: Sheffie-ld Ac-ndemie Press. 1000): idem. Moulrew (trltl Empire: lnititll f.ypforotimu
(Harrisburg. PA: Trinity P~ lnt~~ma tionaJ.100 1): idem. AfalllliM: Sturyte/ler. Interpreter. fran·
geliJI {rcY. cdn. Pcabod)·. MA: Hendric:l:son.2004).
3. Sec also S. McKnight. 'A loy!ll Cri1ic:.: Matlhew's Polemic wilh Judllism in Theological
P~'fspecli,,e•. in C. A Evans and D. A Hagncr(cds). .4mi-Semilism utJd furlyChristitmi(l': Jss11esof
Polemkond Foitll (Minneapolis: Fofln.'$..._ 1993). pp. 55--79.
62 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

o rtitC in the Roman Empire. These perspectives are hardly contradictory, fOr in
early rabbinic literature itself we see tOrmative Judaism struggling to maintain
t3ith and integrity in the Empire and~ especially, in the atlermath of three catas-
trophic rebellions."* So also in the c~-1se of the Matlhean community. which like-
wise mounted a rebuttal in response to the rejection. c-riticisms and cowllerd aims
emanating from the synagogue and at the same lime sought ways to survive in the
context of an Empire that was growing increasingly hostile to Jews on the one
hand and to the new cult - the Christian cult - on the other. The horrors of the per-
secution during the latter part ofNero's reign and the frightening consequences of
the failed Jewish re\'olt that ended in 70 AD could never ha\'e been far from the
Evangelist's consciousness.
The goal of this modest study is to draw attention to Matthew•s incipit (i.e.,
Mt. 1. 1) and inquire in what ways it may have a bearing on lhe question of the
Evangelist's primary purpose (Or writing. I do this because in my observation the
incipits of the New Testament Gospels and Acts are not always sufficiently appre-
ciated by interpreters. Questions of genre and integration are usually raised, but
in what way the incipit itself might actually indicate purpose or a thesis is often
passed over tooquickly.s
Books in antiquity normally did not have lomlal titles, but they ol\en were
prefaced with a phr:tse or with a prologue o f some sort. In his biography ofAlex-
ander the Great, Plutarch announces his subject at the beginning ofa brief preface:
'It is the life of Alexander the king .. . that we are writing' (Alexander 1.1). Like-
wise, Jewish books in late i:lntiquity sometimes began with an incipit that suc-
cinctly announced the-direction that the work would take: 'An oracle conceming
Nineveh. The book (,;;Q I 13•13Atov I /iber] of the ,; sion of Nahum ofElkosh'
(Nab. 1. 1; RSV): "The book l,~t:i / j3ij3;1.osl of the acts ofTobit the son oflobiel,
son o f Ananiel, son of Aduel, son ofGabael, oflhe descendants of Asiel and the
tribe ofNaphtali' (lob. 1.1; RSVA); 'These are the words of the book (oi:JTol oi
l\oyo1 Tou fl•j31\lou] which Baruch the son of Neraiah, son o f Mahseiah, son o f
Zedekiah, son of Hasadiah, son ofHilkiah, wrote in Babylon' (Bar. 1.1; RSVA);
' The second book (liher] of the proplret E<ra the son ofSeraiah, son of Azariah,
son ofHilkiah, son of Shall urn, son of Zadok, son of Ahi tub . . .' (2 Esdr. 1.1 ;
RSVA); ' Book fj3lj31\osJ of the words of Job, who iS<,alled Jobab' (T. Job 1.1 );
' I purpose to ~·rite the life_of Moses. w~o~l ~ome describe.'!5 th~ le$:islator o l.·the
Jews . . .' (Philo, Life of Mo.<es 1.1 ): 'fh!S IS the book IauT~ q J3•fl;l.os] olthe
words o r Jannes and Jambres• (Jwm. Jamb. 1.1); 'This is a book [1;Q] from the
Books of the Mysteries, which was given to Noah, the son o f l amech .. :

4. 111nt is. in tlte rcbe-IIKlns of66-70. 115-17, and 132- 5. The first ofthese wars resulted in th-e
dcstruelion of the Temple at krusukm. while the.last war rcsuhod in lbc destruction of the Jewish
state itself.
5. A de-lightful exception is scc:n in W. D. Davies nnd D. C. Allison. A Critical aud f:xi!getical
Commemaryonth.. Gospel Acoordit1g to Soim .4taliJu!w. Volume 1: lmroffl,c·tWnandCommmtm~· or•
MatJhew I- VII (ICC: Edinburgh: T&T Cbrk. 19SS}. pp. 149-60. I hnve benefited from their careful
wotk nt man)' points.
EVANS lJu.' Purpose o/Mauhew in Light (?lthe lncipil 63

(Sepher ha-Ra=im I).6 f\<tatthew's incipit falls into a similar paUem, in that it men-
lions 'book' (~i[3A05) and genealogical details ('son orDavid, son ofAbraham',
lollowed by a full genealogy in vv. 2-16).
Study ofMauhew's incipit is especially promising, given the probability that
the Evangelist had the Gospel of Mark before him.1 The Mallhean Evangelist
drew heavily on his Markan source~ adopting some 90 per ce.nt of this older mate-
riaL Yet, the Matthean £vangelist chose not to make use of the ?vlarkan incipit
(Mk I: I), which reads:
ap),'l) TOV ~Voyyt.Mou .11)000 Xp•oroU [v'•oU thoU). (UBSGA'P}
The-beginning ofthe good n-ews of Jesus ChrisL Son of God.
With or without the unc.ertain \Vords u'toU 6EoV. we ltave here an unmistakable
allusion to the cnlt of the Roman emperor, in whom the good news for the world
begins.ll Had his primary purpose for writing been focused on life in the Empire,
one would h:tve expected the Matthean Evangelist to have made use of Mark's
incipit. Yet, interestingly. no truce of the imperial orientation of Mark's incipit
remains in Matthew's incipit) to which we now turn.

I . MaltheH: ·s lncipif and Scriptural Aufecetk•nfs

Analysis of Matthew's incipit is complicated by close parallels with several texts
and at the same time some interesting points of divergence. One text may otTer
an exact parallel in Hebrew but nol in Greek, while another may ofler an exact
ptuallel in Greek but not in Hebre\V. Beyond this, we have discre-pancies in the
various versions of Matthew itseiJ: which also oJler some intere.sting parallels
\\~lh lhe several Old Testament passage.s under consideration.

Mt. 1.1
Bi"Aos" ywiorw5 't11ooU Xp•oToV uioU llavi5 uioiJ .~paO:~.~ (UBSGN1"<)
The book of G:-n~~is of Jesus Messiah. the son of O!lvld,lhc son of Abraham. tO
Liher gmc·mtionis le.wr Christi filii Dm•idfilii Ahrohom. (Vulgate-)
The-book of the ge-neration of Jesus Christ. the son of David. the son of Abraham.

6. For ad.:litkmul examples. sccC. Bryan.A Prf!/oce Jo Mark: Notes on/Ire Gospel ill bs Litervry
andCult11r<li Sellings (New Vorl: and Oxford; Oxford Uni\'crsity Press, 1993). pp. 33-4: DavKs nnd
AIJison. Tht GosJNI Acrording /o Saint Mu11Ju.w. pp. ISI- 2.
7. Here I p~1 pposc. of course. th:: two-soun:-e h)p<l(hcsis..
8. As wcS<cin OGIS 458 (csp. Jines 39--41 'thebinhdayofthc god Augustus was !he beginning
of good news tOr the-world'). in refcrenoc: to AUl,.'Ustus. or in P.Oxy. I 021 (csp. lincs S- 10 ·the good
god of the-inhabited w~lfld. the beginning of all good lhings'). in n•fcrcne-e to Nero. Sec my study
'M!Irk·s lncipit and the Prienc Calendar lnscriJl(ion: From Jewish Gospd to Grcc~Roman Gosp::J'.
JG RChJ 112000). 67--81.
9. The n:ading is well -established. aues1cd in third-century 0 1 ( .. P.Oxy. 2 verso). as well as in
the gn:at c.odi«s (i.e .. ~ ABC D).
I0. The trunslations arc mine-. unless ot~..crwisc indicated. Thenan:sJitcration. 'dllt' bookofGcocsis'.
will be c.xplaine-d below.
64 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

:cii-·:I~ j~ i i i p 1V rli"i~·n :i~. 11 (Shc:m Tob>

These arc the g~o'flcmt ions of Ycshu. son of David. son of Abrahmn.
: ,.;..~il ~ ·~4· ...\:. ~ .....~- ~,.t.;. ~¥ (Pcshitltl)
The book ofthe generation (klbd:rly;lwt) ofYcshua the Messiah. the son of David. the-
son of Abrnham.
Most commentators agree thal ?o.·falthew's incipil echoes Scripture. Three
Genesis passages have been sugge.sled:
( I) Gen. 2.4a
:c~"::;."J~ f!>~~: rtQW rlii?'ri ii~ (MT)
These arc the genc-mtions of the heavens und th-e earth. when they ''IC're Cl\'attd.
aUrn h i)i~).os yMa~c.>S' oVpcwoii Ko:i Yh5 0-n i vivno. (OG)
This is !he bool: of the lineage of hc<~vcn and Clll1h. ' they came into being.
istae ge11ermiones caeli eJ li!rn w quando creotae .nmt it1 die q110 fiv:it Dominus Deus
cadum etlermm. ( Vulgntc-)
These arc the gcncrutions ofhc!l\'Cn and c.1rth. when they were orcated. on lhc day that
the lord God made. he1wcn and ct~rlh..

:;~·-.;,1~ ~ ~~'i.~! ~:QiP rt:'(t'i r l;..~ (Targum Onqdos)

Thc:s< arc the gencrutions of the hca\'cns Md lhe.curth. when they were created. '~

(2) Gen. 5. 1
:u·i-'\ ;'i~~ c·:i~-~ rae-~ t!!~ r:··:i~ ~-~ C"a' ; c:~ n17"~r; i~ ii} (MT)
This is the book of the generations of Adam. On the d!ly God c-reated Adam. in the-
likeness of God he made him.
aU-rn hf3l~os YtViott.:~5 Cw6pt.lnwY b ~~pq; €rrolnon, 0 €1!0, T0v AOaiJ KO:T.
Ei~e(wo: 6to0 £rroil')otllo:UTbv. (OG)
This is the bool: of lhe g_cncsisofmrn. On thedayGod created Adam. according to the
imugc of God he mad~· him.
hie-est /iber gemmJiiOtlis Adam ill tfj<' quo crt'O\'il Deu.f h<>miltcm ad.fimilitudi~tem lfili
/t-'r:it ;//um (Vulgate).
This is the book of the gen~·m tion ofAdam. On the daythut God created man. according
to the likeness of God he made him.
:-·n: i;P O'i~~ i t;Ci:J C"!l_' ' 1" !'\"!::!, ~'::! D~ n-:'{r.i i~ r,·
This is the book ofthC' gcncmtions ofAdam. On the day the lord c-n:atcd Adam. in the
image of God he trc-tlted him.u

II. For tex-t. sec G. Howard. Tite Gos,wl oj Matt/tell' o«ording to n Primitiw 1/ehnM
(Mucon.. GA: Mercer Uniwrsity Press. 1 9~7). p. 2. The He-brew text ofMnllhcw published by Jeandu
Tilkt rc!lds the-same: way: c:f. A. Herbs!. Uber die WJIJ Sebo.\'lian MiillSII!r uml Jealllill Tillet Mrol(.f·
gegebetli!IJ lrebrtii.w·hm Olx!rset:ungen des fwJrq;t"/iumJ Mauho<'i(GOttingcn: Dictcrichs. 1879). p. I.
Th-e Pc:shiua ugrces with the Grc~-1: and latin \'ersions. On the confusion of the Hebrew texiS of Mat·
thew by Shcm Tob und du Tillct. sec Howard. Gospt'l ufMattltew. pp. 160-80.
12. The Pcshittu ugrcc:s with the .\fT and the Tnr!,'lllll.
13. Wbcr~'aS the Targum re-ads ' the LordctC'atcd Adam'. the Pcshiltn ugrceswithtbc ~IT. in rct~di ng
·God created Adam'.
EVANS lJu.' Purpose o/Mauhew in Light (?lthe lncipil 65

(3) Gen. 6.9

:ry11~0r.1 ~·::-~~'j1i~ i'\i,~ i:\ c·n~ p·~~ 'Zl'~ ry) t!· n1*1tr1;:~ (~tT)
These urc the gencrutions ofNooh. Nooh w<~s a righteous man. perfoct in his generation.
With God No.1h walked.
aUTo:• & a'• ywious Nc.:.: N(,)¢ O:vepwnOS' 6\~eo:•OS TiMtOS c:lv tv Til ytwQ: o:VTOO
Tc;> 6!c;> ~\rqpioTno~v Nwr. (OG)
Tht$C urc the gencrations ofNooh. Nooh wus a righteous man. pcrf..·-ct in his g-eneration.
To God Noah was piCilsing.
hoegeMratioiH':$ Noe Noe rir ius/U.f otqu~ perfocuufuil in geJWratiMihussuis cum Dw
umhulon'l. (Vulgate)
These arc t~ g-c:ncfntions of Not-. Not y,u a j ust and pcrfoct man in his g-c:ncrutions.
With God he 'valked.
:ip -1''?.1 '•'1 ~")71"11~ 'ii',,"!= i11;:1 ~-~ ·~; i :;J IJ'l rp l'i"!~i'l r~~ (Tnrgum
Tht$C are the generations of Nooh. Noah was un innocent tnM. He wus pcrf«t in his
gencmtion. 'valking in the IC111 of the Lord.14
A fourth passage from Genesis should be taken into account:
(4) Gen. 10.1
:t;r':eii ~1~ c:,~ C(i? ~.,7·n r~~~1 OIJ cv-mw·:,·; r~17ln :i~1 c~ro
Tht$C IIIC the-gcnm1tions of the sons of Noah.Shcm. Ham. and Japhcth; und sons
bom to thent urtcr the Rood.
aUTo:• & o:i y;vious n:Jv uiC:w N(,)¢ Iru.1 Xo:IJ lo:¢f& ~eo'i iyn,il&noov o:VTois ui~
IJET0: T(IY ICO:Tcu::Allov6Y. ( QG)
Tht$C urc the gcn~Ttttions of the sons ofNoah. Shcm. Ham. und Japheth: und sons ~re
bom to tltenl nftc-r the Rood.
hoe gener(Jfiones .filionu11 N<H: Sem Ham lafi!tlr TWtiqu~ .wmt eis filii fN)SI dilmium.
These nrc the g,cncmtions ofthe sons ofNoah.Shent. ~lam, Japhcth: and sons were born
to the-m urter lbc flood.
:~;~l\:1 "\'J=;l j'l::! pi? ,,·!;:n~· ri!J:: cry ~Q m'i'~ ~"!'iii, j'?~; (Tar!,'Wll
Tht$C m the gencrutions of the.sons ofNouh: Shem, Hum. nnd Japhet. And sons were-
born to them nftcr the llood.
Finally, one more text could be mentioned:
(5) Num. 3. 1
:'to -~~ iiQ'Y\"l~ ii,1i1: ~- ~~·~ :iY'Jl l'iC~ rh 1("~1 ;'i7~: (MT)
Tht$C IlK thc. g~'fl trnti onsof Aaron and Mos.cs inthe day the lord spol:c with ).toscson
Mount Simi.

14. 111c Pcshitta agrees with ckrnents of the OG ('God was plcas~-d with Noah') ood the Amrnaic
('Noah \ViiS an innocent nmn').
66 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

Kal oUTat a'• ytviottS Aopwv.:a't Mwvoi}f.vb hlliPQ fAO>.qorvi<Vpt~ T~Mc.Juafl

Ev Cpu Iwo:. (OG)
Thes< arc the g~o"«rationsof Auron nnd ).fos~ in the day the.lord spoke to Moses on
h(t{X sunt gcnenui<mes Aaron et Mosi in di~· q1w locwm est Dominll.$ ctd Mrue11 in
mome Sinai. (Vulgate)
These are the generations of Aaron and Moses in the day •hat the Lord spoke to Moses
on Mount Sinai.
:•r:, ~l'~ il~ t:¥ .,. ~·~7 ~fl!":l iitr-i jiil~ n:'t.n ~1 ( rargum r
And lht$C IlK the g~'flcnttions of Aaron und ).foscs. on the day whm the Lord spoke with
Mos~ on the mountain of Sinai.

Matthew's Greek ~i~A05 y•.vioE<.» ('book o f genesis') echoesOG Gen. 2.4

and 5.1, the latter of which in tum agrees with the Hebrew n'1';>in-;;~c ('book or
generotions'). Shem 'fob's fom1 o r Matthe.w 's incipit. m, ?1ro;;?~ ('these are
the genemlions'), echoes Gen. 2.4; 6.9; I0.1; and Nmn. 3.1. All but one of these
passages contain genealogical data (the exception is Gen. 2.4). 1n Mt. 1.2-16 we
encounter the recurring formula 'A begat s· (e.g., ' Af3pa0J,J i y i vvT}atV T0v
'loaO:K, 'loaCxK Of Eyi vVfloev T0v 'laKC.::,f), 'laK~(3 O[ iyivvf1oev T0v 'loUOav
Kat ToUS lx&l-¢ous a iJTou, KTA.). Similarly, in Genesis 5 Adam 'begat'
(iyiwqo.v) Seth. and Seth 'begat' £nosh, and so forth (w. 3-32). In Gen. 6.10
Noah 'begot' (fyivvr)o•v) three sons.
l n view oflhis language i1seems likely that readers or Mallhew's Gospel, who
have re-ad or heard the Scriptures read, could scarcely fitil to the allusion(s) lo
Genesis. Indeed, the book of Genesis (Ben·shit in the Hebrew Bible) was known
by the name 'Genesis' in late anti-quity~ at least one gene.mtion before the Gospel
of Mathew was composed and circulated. Philo k 20 BC-c. AD 50) begins his
tractate on Abraham with these word.< (Abr. I):
Of the fi ve book..<; in wbich the holy luws arewTiltcn the fi rst bears the nantc nnd inscri~
tion of Genesis fh npt.lTq Ko:MiTCo ~eo:i i ;nypitcjlno1 yivro15}, from the genesis or
c-reation of tile wortd. an account of which i1 contains at its beginning. It has re«i\'00
this title in spite of its <tnbraclng numberless otheor matters . • .
Two other time.s Philo refers to the first book or Moses as ·Genesis• (cl: Poster
C. 127; Aet. ,\;fund. 19).ln view of what Philo says (and in the next century or so
he is fOllowed by other scribes and writers, both Jewish and Christian15), it seems
most probable that in beginning his Gospel narrative with the words ~~~A05
yeviocCo:Js the Evangelist Matthew intends his readers to think o f the book of
Genesis -a book ofbeginnings and a book of genealogies. 16 Davies and Allison

15. For example~ the y<al Christian oodiocs Alc:tondrinus (A) and Vatie-llnus (B) and the ..-arly
Fatht'rs Justin ~fart)T{Diu/. 20.1}and Ori.~o"~:n (Oral. 23.2) rcfer to the first bookorMoscsas yivt:ot5.
Moreover. the rrnding of A. yiv.:ot5 .:Oouou. approximiltes the incipit or the Latin version of the
Jewish work LAB I .I (initio mumli).
16. IIshould be noted that LABsimililrly begins with .!,'l:nealogical datu: 'In the beo.;inning of t.hc
wortd Adam b<gilt throe sons nnd oncdought(f ... 'c_L.48 I: I: l11i1io mundi Adam genuif tresjiliosel
JtrKtmfilium .. .).
EVANS lJu.' Purpose o/Mauhew in Light (?lthe lncipil 67

plausibly suggest: 'By opening his gospel with another book's title, Matlhew
almost ce-rtainly intended to set up the story of Jesus as a counterpart to the story
of Genesis.'" Acconlingly, lthink Mallhew's incipil should be lrnnslated: 'The
book of Genesis or Jesus Messiah, the son o f David. the son or Abraham' .

2. /ltlalt!Jew's lncipit and Clusters ofFive

Genesis is the first of the five books anributed to Moses. That the books oflaw
given by t\•foses numbered 'five' is suOkiently attested in Jewish literature oflate
antiquity. Philo state.s that 'Israel's sacred laws have 'been written in llve books'
(Abr. I) and, elsewhere, 'the number or the books is live; the first of which
(Moses) entitled Genesis' (Ad. Mwul 19). So also Josephus declares that in con.
trust to the Greeks. whose sat~red books are innumerable and contradictory. the
sacred books of the Jews number 22 'and of them five belong lo Moses' (Apion
1.38-9). Moreover, the fivefold nature ofthe Mosaic corpus is probably reflected
in the legend of2 Esdras 1 4~ in whic.h Ezra. with the assistance of five-st:ribes) is
able to restore the law (esp. \rv. 24> 37, 42).111
As is otlen noted, the Evangelist 1v1a1lhew presents the principal teaching of
Jesus in five major blocks or material:
The-Scm1on oo the. Mount (chs 5- 7)
The Missiooary Discour:;e (ch. I0)
The Parables of the Kingdom (<:h. 13)
The OiS<:outs<C oo Community Life (ch. IS)
The-Esc.hntologicnJ Discour:;e (chs 24-25).
Besides the structure itself; this fivefold patlern is strengthened by the obser.
vation that euch d iS<.~o urse concludes with a Mosaic phrase:
'And when Jesus finished lflcsc: words (On iTiAt:a<:v 0 ·11}0005 TeNs AOyous
rolnovs] .. .' (7.2&).
'And when Jesus had fini:>bed ins1ructin-g hist,vth•c disciples [On i:r!MowO 'JrpoUs
01oTO:oCK.)v rois Ot.J&~eo: uo:&i}Tais o:\rtOOJ... •( 11.1 ).
·And when Jesus hnd finished lhtse-parnbles (on tTiAI:owO ·111ooUs TUS rro~Os
To\rro:S') . •.' ( 13.53).

I 7. J),l\·ics and Allison. T11e Gospel according to- Sai11t Malllll?w. p. 151. It should be noted thut
scn:ml commentators do not agree-with this intcrpretntion; e.g. J. Noltand. Tlw GosJX•I of.A.Iauhew
(NIGTC; Grund Rapids: Emlmans: Blctchlc.y. UK: P.Jttmex>l~~r. 2005). pp. 71- 2. Fora fulkrdiscus·
sioo of the e.vidcncennd arguments. sct-J. Nolbnd. 'Whnt Kind ofGenesis do we have in Mt. 1.1'.".
NTS ~2 ( 1996). 463- 71. In the end. NoiL1nd is not sure ''lilat the Evangdist•s intcntioo wns in using
the words l3i13Aos- yivto-15'. In my view. the proposnl ofDa\'ics nnd Allison is the more probable. for
the words actuuJiydo mean 'bool: ofGenesis'. Theappcar.t.nce ofa gencnlogy coheres with nmcrinl
found in thecarlyehnpt~Tsof Genesis and ksus is presented in Mntthewas the new tnwgi\'Cr. whose
tcnching consists of fi\'C blocks of mnterial.
1S. The fi,·e scribes. writing in turns. produce the (canonical) 24 booksof Scriptl.IK. as wdl as 70
apoc.f)-phnJ books. Howe\·cr. what initiated this rcmnrkabk fcal was the rec.oll~tion of the Law
tt\'caled to Mos~'$ and lhe fac-t tll!lt in the exile it had been lost (cf. 2 Esdr. 1·1. 1--6. 22).
68 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

·And whe-n Jesus had finished these words [On i-ti"fotV 0 'l11ooiis ;005 'AOyou)
ToUt-coS') .. : (19. 1).
"And Jesus had finished all these \\'<lrds [On l-TiMo:<v 0 'tnooOs" n6na5 1'005 Abyoo-;
To\nou:;} .. : (26. 1).
Note that the last concluding summary (26.1) adds the word 'all'. The use or
rrCnnas here means that this summary is the fiflh and final summary. Jesus• flve-
fo ld teaching, presented in five discours~s. has ended. The verb nAf(o) occurs
seven times in Matlhew. But the form fTiAto€v occurs only in the flve summary
statements that have been cited. This simple aorist, a long with hmguage that
accompanies it a striking paralle l to summaries found in the books of
r-,.<toses: ·And ~<loses 1inishe.d spe.aking all these words [.:a'1ouvniAeocv MwuofJs
1\a/\wv rravTas Tous J-oyous Totnous]to all the children oflsrael .. . ' (Deut.
31.1 ).'•
1'he appearance of these summary statements at the <.-nnclusion o f the five dis-
courses- and their appearance nowhe re else in Matlhew - <.~onllrms that the pres-
entation of the bulk o fJe.sus' teaching in five major blocks is both deliberate and
Mosi:lic. Jesus has been cast into the role of the authoritative teacher of the Law
o f Moses~ which is the major point in the first discourse, the famous Sermon on
the Mount. There Jesus declare,, (5.17-1 8, RSV): 'Think not that! have come to
abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to lu lfil
them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a
dot, will pass ffom the law until all is accomplishe<P
l'he Mosaic pnttem oflive is strengthened by the observation orMosaic typol-
ogy elsewhere: Even as the life or Moses is threatened by Pharaoh (Exod. 1.15-
2. 10). so the life of'Jesus is threatened by King Herod (Mt. 2.1-18); even as Moses
is called out or Egypt (Exod. 2.11 -15), so Jesus is called out of Egypt( MI. 2.15,
19-21); even as Moses went up the mountain to receive the Law (Exod. 19.20), so
Jesus ascends the mountain (Mt. 5.1 : 14.23: 15.29: 24.3; 28. 16: and on one
occasion~ Jesus and Moses meet; cf. Mt 17.I); even as Moses views the land ffom
the mountain (Deut. 34. 1-4), so Jesus views the kingdoms of the world lfom a
mountain (Mt 4.8). Depending on how the beatitudes are numbered, we may
h'we the numerical parallel between the ten commandments (Exod. 20.3-1 7) and
the ten beatitudes (Mt. 5.3-12).
Within the Sem10n on the Mount we find five so-called antitheses (5.21-26.
27-32, 33-37, 38-42, and 43-48), where Jesus challenges fa ulty and inadequate
interpretations of the Law. Jesus admonishes his disciples: ' I tell you, unless your
righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven' (5.20). Or course, in the time o f Jesus those widely regarded
as the most careful to keep the law were the scribes and Pharisees. For Jesus, the

19. At leaS! W<oothcr p:.ssa.gcsshould be taken into account ·And M<.'ISCS lini~hcd sp~' to all
lsracl jtcal GVVtl'iA.EotvM(o.luoits .ko:}.Wv no:vrl lopar).kl .. : (IXut. 32.45): 'And when Mosc~
fini~h~-d wtiting all th< words of this law in a book {ouwTi.ktorv MwuoiJ5 yp&¢c.Jv miv-ro:5 roV$
.k0yoo5 ToV vOIWU To0Tou ~is 13tl3}.1ov). even to the-end .. : (Dcut. 31.24).
EVANS lJu.' Purpose o/Mau hew in Light (?lthe lncipil 69

eschatological interpreter o flhe la'v~ Pharisaic interpretation ;.md practice were

Within the framework oft he infancy narrative, which contains Mosaic typol-
ogy already mentioned, we find the fulfilment of five prophecies: the miraculous
conception of Jesus (Mt. 1. 18-25) fulfols Isa 7.17; the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem
(Mt. 2.1-6) fulfils Mic. 5.2; the return lrom Egypt (Mt. 2:13-15) fulfils Hos. I 1.1;
the murder of the infants (Mt. 2. 16-18) fulfild er. 31.1 5; and the settling inN"'-
areth (Mt. 2.2 1-23) fulfils Judg. 13.5.
his against this typology of 11ve the five women in the messianic gene-
alogy of Jesus (Mt. 1.2-1 6) should be. viewed: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the wile of
Uriah, and Mary. The function of the firsl lOur women in the genealogy and how
and if tl1ey relate to Mary the mother ofJesus has been debated. Marshall Johnson,
Raymond Brown, Jane Schaberg and Richard Bauckham, among others, have care-
fully explored the possibilities and the nuances) some of which are rather subtle. 20
Among the lines of interpretation explored is the suggestion lhat the first fOur
women were sinners. yet they contribute to the messianic genealogy. Of course)
this approach is faulted. because Ruth is probably not portrayed us a sinner in the
book of Ruth. Moreover, ifthe point is these fOur women are sinners! what
does that suggest with regard to Mary'? And in any case, there is evidence that
th~se women were held in high regard in late antiquity.zt Another approach is to
see the inclusion o f Gentile women in the genealogy as adumbrating the gather-
ing o f the Gentiles into the Church~ the new people ofGod, which the risen J~sus
commands his apostles to undertake (Mt. 28. 18-20). The dillicnlty here is that we
do not know that Tamar and Bathsheba~ the wife ofUriah, were Gentiles(favoured
by Bauckham). Yet another approach is to see the presence of all flve women as
the results of extraordinary, unexpected occurrences (favoured by Brown)) perhaps
in response to Jewish scribal polemics (favoured by Marshall)." Schaberg has

20. M. O. Johnson, Tlw Purpost rifllw Biblical G~nea!tJgks: WithSpeciul Referenc~ to lhe SellhJg
ofthe Grmeologies of Jesus (SNTSMS. 8: Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Uni'''-TSity l>rt"SS. 1969). pp.
146-79; R. E. Brown. Th<• Birth q{ihe Messiah: A ConmumtaJ~I on the lnfwrc.F Narratiws in the
Gol'{N..fs of.l!utt/urw rord Utf.:i! (Garden City: Doubleday. 1977: llp<bted edition. 1993). pp. 69- 74;
J. Schabcrs. T1re 1/legilimocy ofJesus: A Femit1ist Th~V>iogkallntetptl"luticJH!ltiN! New TeJJamc-m
/nfan<y Narratiws (New York Cros.sro:.d. 1990: n-pr. BibSatl, 28: Sheffiel d: Sheffield Ac.ndcmic
Press.. 1995). pp. 10- 34: R. Bauckham. Guspl'l Wmmm: Sllufi£'softl~ Namc-d Wmmm in tht· Go$f1els
(Grand Rapids: E<rdmans.. 2002). pp. 17-46.
11. On this poinLsoc Bro\\n. Birtl•ofthe ,1,/eJJiuh. p. 72: Johnson. The PurpoJe ofllw Biblical
Genealogies. pp. 159- 75:Schabtrg. T~ //legitimacy ofJesus. pp.21- 32. T11m:~r is exoncrnted in Philo
(QuodDeus 136-37: Cmrgr. 124-26: Vir/. 22()-22) aOO inlaterrnbbinie undition(c:.g,. Gen. Rah. 85.1
(on Gen. 38.1]: 85.8 (on Gen. 38. 15·161). Rahnb is prc:sc.ntcd in u fuvourabk light in Josc.phus (Alii.
5.9- 15) nnd innbbinie lmditionshe is pr11isc:d as 11 proselyte (e.g.. Met. on E.xod 18.1). Ruth is t:tent<d
f<1vourably by Josephus ( 5.318-31) and is r¢gardcd as 11 mode: I proselyte in rabbinic aOO ()(hc.r
traditions {q~.. b. B. Qum. 38b). Josephus. it might be noted. paraphr11scs ·she untO\'Cttd his feet and
lay down•{Ruth 3.7) v.itb the words ·she: (NIIomi) scnt tbc cbmscl toslccp at his feet• (Ant. 5-.328).
thus re-moving any hint of possible. impropriety. AppraisalofBathshc:OO is o\'c.rtak<n witll debate over
Duvid's sin.
22. h is put wdl in D. A. Ha.gncr. MoJt!rew 1- /3 (WBC. 33A: Dallas: Word. 1993), p. 10: •the
women;un: ).(ary by c.nJiing nttcntion to the: abundnnt prcscnce.of both surprise and scandal in
70 BibliL·a l lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

.shed fUrther light on the ques(ion by seeing the fOur \Vomen as outside patriarchal
structures, as wronged or potentially wronged by men, as vulnerable to charges
of se.xual misconduct, ~md then as protected by men and brought back into a
secure social selling.
I think there is truth in all views. with perhaps Schaberg's the most
nuanced and insightful.n I would add that the fOcus may not be so much on the
four/five women, but on their respective o.O~pring. The taint ofquestionable birth
was he.avily Jell by the child. Was the E\'llngelist Manhew concerned with pro-
tecting the reputation o f Mar'/! Or was he more concerned ''~th the reputation or
Jesus. 'son of Abr;.iham, son o f David''?
In view of this larger question, let us take a some.what diiTerent approach to
the genealogy~ not focusing on the women the mselve-s~ but on the ir respective
o lispring. In a catechizing style I raise a question and then provide the answer.
Under what circumstances Perez and Zernh conceived (Ml. I .3)? By Judah
the patriarch having sex with his daughter-in-law~ whom he mistakes tOr a prosti-
tute (Gen. 38. I2-30). Under what circumstances was Boaz conceived (MI. I .Sa)?
By his lather Salmon marrying Rahab the prostitute.(Josh. 2. I -2 I; 6.25)."' Under
what c ircumstances was Obed conceived (Mt. I .5b)'? By his lather Boaz marry-
ing the Moabile widow, who 'uncovered his feel' as he slept (Ruth 3.6-9; 4. I J)H
Under what circ umstances was Solomon conce ived (Ml. 1.6)? By his la ther
David murdering Uriah and then marrying his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam. I 1.2-27;
I 2. I 5-25). Under what circumstances was JestLS conceived (MI. I. I6)0 By the
Holy Spirit, be fore Joseph had consummated his marriage with Mary.
It is not so much the irregularitie.s of the conceptions of these five women1 or
the irregularities o f their lives, or even less their e.thnicity; it is the question or
legitimacy that hangs ove-r their respective offSpring. Matthew the Evangelist is
not portra)~ng the four Old Testament women as sinners (for this probably does
not apply to Ruth and may not even apply to Bathsheba); he is placing the shadow
hanging over Mary and Jesus in a historical context, specillcally the history ofthe
Davidic/messianic lineage. Similar shadows hung over lOur women in the messi-
a nic line. just as one lmngs over Mary.

1hc Messinh 's tineab't''. I nm sympnlhctic to this imcrpre-tation and will suggest a complc:mcntnrybtu
somcwh.1t diffen:n l understanding.
13. A similar view is expressed in J. Nollllnd. ·'fbc Four(Fi,·c) Women and Olhcr Annotnlions in
Matthew's Gcn-c:al~y', NTS 43 ( 1997). 527- 39. See also J. Nolland. 'Genealogical Annolatioo in
Genesis ns Bac\:grmmd for the Mntthc:an Gcnealo~ofJesus', TyiiBu/41 (1996). I 15-21.
24. On the: qucslion of tbc idcnlityofRnhnb ofJoshwwi1h the: Rahabof thcgcnelllogyin Matthew.
sec R. E. Brown. ·Rm·hab in Mt 1.5 Probably is Rnhab of Jericho'. Bib 63 ( 1982). 79-110.
25. And e., •cn if the eupbcmism ·uneo,·ettd his fc:~'1' not be-understood in the- ecnu~·x1 of Ruth ns
!w\'ingtodowilh sexual inktcourse. the mm- fact ofRuth's Moobitc nncesti)'Castshctund~'f:t shad·
ow, in view of texts like-Gen. 19.30-37 and Oetll. 2 3.3 ('No Ammonite or Mo.1bitc shall enter the:
asscmbl)·of the lord: even to !he 1cnth!,'t'nm1tion none bdonging to them shall cntcrlhcasscmblyof
the Lord for e\'cr'). For an assessment of ~-arly Jewish discussion of this lllw. s~'C Johnson. The Pur·
pose oftlw Bihlirol Ge-nealogies. pp. 165- 10.
EVANS lJu.' Purpose o/Mauhew in Light (?lthe lncipil 71

As Brt1ce Chilton has rightly underscored, the question of Jesus• conception

would have placed him in the category of mamze,. (it~), or person of suspect
birth. 26 In the eyes of a sceptical and sometimes hostile synagogue in Matthew's
day, such a person simply could not be taken seriously as a messianic contender.
One should re<.·.all the incident in which Alexande.r Jannaeus, the Hasmonean high and king, was pelted with lemons as he began to oll"er sacriJice. Pharisees
incited the crowd to do this, saying that Alex;mder 'was descended from <.-.aptives
and was unfit to hold o ll1ce and to sacrifice' (Josephus, Ani. 13.372- 3). The allu-
sion here is to the mmour that the grandmother of Alexander had been a slave
(cf. Ani. 13.292). If so, then Alexander would have been ineligible to hold the
ollice of high priest in light of the proscription of Lev. 2 1.7, 14."
Accordingly}the peculiar circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth - and by this
I mean the actual historical memory of Jesus as 'son of Mary' (Mk 6.3) and as one
'born in sin' (Jn 9.34) - would have fostered doubts about the legitimacy of the
conception and birth of Jesus, doubts that were exploited in later rubbinic tradi-
tion in the cmdest fonns.21 It is to this issue that the Evangelist ?v1anhew is com-
pelled to speak. Jesus is not the first in the messianic line to come onlo the scene
in an irregular and unconventional manner and therefore suffe-r under the stigma
of doubtful conception and birth; he is thejij(h. He has been prece.ded by Perez,
son ofTamar, by Boaz, son ofRahab, by Obed, son of Ruth, and by Solomon, son
of the fOrmer wife of Uriah. In this intere-sting tradition stands Jesus, son ofMary.
By being the.fiflh person of doubtful conception and birth in the Davidic line,
Jesus is in fuel the fulfilment of" the messianic hope associated with this lineage.
By presenting Jesus as the fillh and final person ofdoubtful conception and birth,
the Evangelist Matthew hints at fulfilment, which in the balance of his infancy
narrative he will in fact underscore w·ith five citations o f prophecy fulfilled. And
it is in this light that the scheme of 'fourteen generations' (Mt. 1. 17) should be
understood.29 The Davidic, messianic stamp is leO on every epoch of theMes-
siah's ancestry, from Abraham to David. from David to exile, fTom exile to the

16. B. D. Chilton. Rabbi Jesu.e An Intimate Biography - 1T1e Jeu·iJ/1 Lif~ and Teoclring thut
/nspiredChriJfi{mity(Ncw Yor\:: Doubleday. 2000). pp. 3-22. For enrl yrubbi n icdi~ussi on
mom:er. S« m. Hag. 1.7: YehanL2.4·5: 4.1 2-13: 62: 7.5: 9.1·3: 10. 1. 3-4: Ketub. 1.9: 3.1: 11.6:5ow
4.1; 8.3. 5: Gil. 8.5: 9.2; Qidd. 1.3: 3.12- 13: 4.8. The mam:.f'r tradition gJO\\'S out ofDeut. 23.3 (Et r
23.2): ·No bastard f- !Cl;]sbaiJ rnkrthc.asscmblyof the Lord: <V<-n to the te-nth generation none of his
descendants shall mt<·f Lhc ilssembly of the lord' (d. Zecb. 9.6. whe.rc mam:er means ·mongrd".
whcrCils in th-e tmgumic tmdilion it is undcrslood as 'foreigner'). In Targum Pseudo-Jonathan the
mum:~rof Deut. 13.3 is undcrslood as 'one born of fomic-lltion" (lli iC 1'?"nt:,, ).
27. Lev. 21.7, 14 forbids priests li01n marrying. a widow. a divom:d woman. or one profaned by
harlotl)'. Tfle priest is to marry 11 virgin. The assumption was thai a woman who had been a slave
almost ccrtninly would hn\•e bocn s.c:~uall)' violiltcd.
28. As we probabl)' see inb. Sim/1. I06a. ·sh-e who was the dcsec-ndnnl of princes and g.ovcmors
pla)-cd the h:uiO! with carpenters·. and in the il11er ami-Christian mntcrials gathered in the ToledOih
29. That is. the munerical value ofthenanK' On\id (IIi) is 14. UnderstandingM-llUhew·spoinl ilS
an example ofg.f'tllt.llriu is accepted by most commcnlators.
72 BibliL·a l lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

advent o f Messiah Jesus, an ancestry that includes five women whose otrspring
were doubtful.

3. Conclusion
In what direction would Matthew•s incipit. 'The book of Genesis ofJesus ~·lessiah,
son of Abraham, son of David', point his readers? How would readers react to the
inclusion oft he four women in lhe gene.alogy, as well as the IHlh woman - Mary?
Whal would be lhe overall impression of lhe Moses 1ypology in 1he infancy
narrative a nd elsewhere? Of the five prophecies fulfilled in Jesus' conception,
birth and inl~mcy'? Of the five major discourses, each concluding with a summary
taken straight out of Deuteronomy'? Of the five antitheses in the Sermon on the
Moun I, showing how Jesus demands his disciples lo fulfillhe law and prophels
a nd thll<i exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?»
The Evangelist Matlhew may well have edited his narrative here and there. in
\Vays that were intended to help members ofhis community negotiate the Roman
Empire. But no one familiar with the synagogue - whether still a member of good
standing or no1 - could possibly read Mallhew's incipil and Ihen all thai follows
and fail to hear claims and counter-claims that were of the greatest significance to
lhe Jewish people who longed for lhe appearance of God's Me.<siah. Ofcourse, the
appearance of the f\•fes..~iah would have profound implications for Israel and lhe
Jewish people in the context of the Roman Empire. How the l\•l'essiah was expected
to deal with this challenge was, naturally, an item or debate and speculation.
Despite the irregularity of his conception and birth. whereby Jesus may well
h~we been re.garded as a mmmer, the Evangelist rvtatthew a nim1s that Jesus is
indeed a 'son of Abraham', that is, a true descendant oft he first great patriarch of
the Jewish people,.lt and a 'son of David• and therefore-legitimate messianic heir.l 2
Having made this bold confession, the Evangelist chen marshals the witness of
Scriprure, underscoring correspondences with biblic~d patterns and fulfihnents or
biblical prophecies. The purpose oflhis apologelic is io bols1er lhe failh oflhose
who believe in Jesus (bolh Jews and Genliles) and 10 reply to Ihe objeclions and
criticisms emanating ffom the synagogue. If is in this direction that the indpit of
Mauhew poinls.

30. Remember, the Ph.1risocs chirncd to be 'di!iiCipks of ).foscs' (cf. Jn 9.28: b. l'Omu 4n).
31. The claimof()(.inga ·son ofAbmham' orofhavingAbnabam asonc·s · fn th~-r· carried wilh i1
impiK:atioos of election aod right-standing before God. Scc ).h. 3.9 (- Lk. 3.&). whcrc John the
Baptist articulates the. views of so1ru: Jews: '\Vc h:.wc Abntham as our father': or lk. 13.16. where
Jesus suys of the womun with lhc c.urn:d spine. 'this woman. a daughter of Abrnham': or U:. 16.24.
where the rich man in the-parable cries out. 'Father Abrnham. have IUCI'C)' oo mer: or U:. 19.9. where
Jesus says ofZacchacus the ltl:t·colloctor. 'Todaysalnllion has rome to this house~ since he also is a
son of Abraham': or the pokmK:al p.'lssagcs in tile Fourth Gospd . wflcrt-Jesus' criticsclaimrobethc
se<d of Abnthum (cf. Jn 8.33. 37. 39. 53. 56).
32. As seen in Pss. Sol. 17.2 1. ' Behold. 0 Lord. and raise up to them thc:irking. the: son of O..wid.
at the time. in wbiclt you choose:. 0 God. thai h:: Inti)' reign O\"Cr lsmd your s~'1nlnt'

Mark Goodacre.

flllroducl ion
In a great deal o f contemporary New Testament scholarship, there is a love affair
going on with Mark alongside a polite.and patient disdain for his first interpreter
Matthew. for many, it is taken for granted that Matthew somehow dumbs down
on Mark's glorious subtlery. fnsofar dlat Matthew read and understand Mark's
subtle and enigmatic plots, he crassly provides us with a straightforward, worka-
day interpretation ofthem. Not tbr Matthew is the messianic secret, the disciples'
incomprehension or the dark, dmmatic irony ofMark's Passion narrative. lnstead
o f parable, we have allegoJy. Instead of mystery, we have disclosure.
This kind of approach is exemplified in Robert Fowler"s seminal reader-
response work~ Let the Reader Understand, 1 which characterizes Matthew's read-
ing o f f!.<fark as a 'strong' reading. by which he means a reading that etTectively
amounts to a palimpsest of Ma1·k. Matthew stands as ' a creative and powerful
misreading of !\.·lark' which turns !\•lark into its precursor - it has ·vanquished and
supplanted Mark'.l fn seve-ral ways, Fowler is clearly right - the reading grid
Matthew imposes has caused countless reade1·s to approach fl.·lark in a cenain way.
missing and misreading key elements. altering their perception of Mark in all its
distinctiveness. But now. with influential narrative-critical 1·eadings of !\·lark
which treat the book in isolation from the other alongside redaction-
critical readings that rightly proceed on the assumption of Marean priority;~ there
are fewer grounds for complaint that- in the reading community ofcritical New
Testament scholarship at least - Matthew's Gospel continues to exercise a nega-
tive influence on the interpretation ofMark:1 lndeed, what I would like to suggest
in this chapter is that it is time to rethink our negative outlook on Matthew's

I. Robert Fowlc:r. Jll£' Reader Umkrstand: Reader-Response Criticism am( the Gttspel of
Murk (Minneapolis: Fonrcss. 1991).
2. Jbid.p. 237.
3. On Mare-an priotily. sec note:-12 bc:low.
4. For some usc:fuJ rdloc:tionson the difficulties with Fowic:fsappronch.scc Sbnwn Kdlc:y. 'Inter·
tcxlu3lily and the Gospels: An Introduction·. papc-rrend al thc SBL Annual M~Xtin& 2001 Synoptics
Section. online nt http ://pc:rsonal l.stthomas.ed ufdtL<tndrylinlc:rt~ t U;.:11 ity.htm.
74 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

interpretation of Mark and e.mphasize instead one of the key ways in which Mat-
thew might be seen as a successful reading of Mark. By ·successful', I mean a
reading that understands what Mark is doing bm unde-rlines it for his own readers
by strengthening the stronger connections. deleting the \Veaker ones and clarifying
the remainder.
But in orde1·toachievea more sympathetic unde1'Standing of .Matthew's reading
ofMm·k, it is necessary to look in the right places, and here there is a difficulty.
When Fowle1·discusses Matthew·s 1·eading oft\•lark, he focuses solely on elements
where Matthew apparently intervenes to alter Mark. the secrecy theme, the por-
trait of the disciples, the parables. the resurrection. Places where the ditTerences
between Matthew and rvtark a.l'e minor. subtle o1· non-existent do not have any
part to play in the reading. This is problematic. It is a reading too indebted to the
legacy ofredaction-c.riticism. witll itc; perennial stress on scrutinizing the.elements
distinctive in each Gospel.5 A different and more sympathetic appreciation of
Matthew's reading of Mark might pay much closer attention to places where
Matthew correctly interprets and brings forward elements in Mark 's narrative. ln
other words. one of the most potentially interesting facets of Matthew as a read-
ing grid is getting ignored1 the places where Matthew provides a s.ucc.essful
reading ofl'vlark.
One such a1'Ca will be the focus of the 1·em.ainder of this chapte1·, and it is an
are.a that is not mentioned by Fowler in spite of the fact that it is clearly an are.a of
enormous importance to Mark. and one that is con·oborated and carried forwm·d
by f\·latthew. the-equation of John the Baptist with Elijah. He1·e we might fbcus on
Matthew as a successful intertextual reading of Mark1 picking up on the subtle-
ties of Mark's account, understanding their implications and flaggi ng them up for
his own readers in such a way that it then influe nces future readings of Mark,
affirming those who also succeed in reading and understanding the role played
there by John the Baptist.

2. John I he Baptist and Elijah in }vfark

let us begin by reviewing the evidence. It is clear that Mark presents John the
Baptist as E-lijah re-tumed.6 How does he do this? T1le identification becomes
steadily clearer as the first halfofMark's narrative progresses. Tile link bet-ween
John and Elijah is introduced in 1.6 (clothing), elaborated in 6. 14-29 (a new

5. For additional rcAec•ions on these points. with spcc.ial npplication to the charac-terization of
Pel..:r. sec: ).fari.: Goodacrc. 'The Rocl: on Roc.kyGtound: Matlhc:w. Marl: and Pctc:rasskandofon' in
Philip ).fcCosker (c:d.}. JJ!Iwt is it thattM Scnjmm~ S~rs? Essays ill Biblicullllteqm:lmion, Tnmsla-
tion. und Reception in HoMur of He111J' U'onsbrough OSB (Library of New Tc:stnmc:m StudKs:
London and New York: Continuum. 2006). pp. 6 1- 73.
6. For a usc:.ful discussion of the c:vidcnc:c. sec Christine E. Joynes. 'A Question of Identity:
"Why do people: say t:hat l am?'· Elijnh.lohn the: Buptisl and lt$US in Mark's Gospel' inChtistophc-r
Rowland and Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis (eds). Understanding. Sludyingond Reading: Arew h-'Sto·
mem £s.(ays ill Honour ojJol1n .-bhum (JSNTSup. 153: Shc:llidd: Shdlidd Academic Prcss.199S).
pp. 15-29. JoynC$('A Question of Identity'} suggests that the traditional tc--nn redil'illls is inappro-
priate. (~tt espec-ially pp. 16-li).
GOODACRE Mark, Elijah, the> 8ap1ist and Mall}u.:w 75

Ahab and Jezebel) and confim1ed in 9.11- I3 (on the way down from th~ 'frru~sfigu­
mtion). The clothing gives us the first. fumous link to Elijah. Kcxl i)v o lc.Jcxvv~s
iv0£0UUfVO) Tpixo:s KCXUlJAOU KCXl ~WV~V &pUCXTt~V ntpl T~V oo$UvaliTOU
('Now John was clothed with camel's hair and had a leathe1· g irdle m·ound his
waist·. 1.6), in as clear an allusion to 2 Kg.s 1.8 as one could wish for. 1 Just as in
2 Kings I. the very description of his clothing is enough to signal to King Ahaziah
that ' It is Elijah the Tishbite', so here the description of John's clothing in Mark
is enough to make clear to the reader that this is a new Elijah.
With this identification established, many astute readers c.annot help hearing
echoes of Elijah·s complex relationship with the weak king Ahab and his manipu-
lative wife Jezebel as Mark narrnles the sto1y of John the Baptist's relationship
with the similarly weak Herod and the similarl)' scheming Herodias (Mk 6.14-
29).x While some remain unsure about the link between these two complexes.
pointing out, fo1·example~ lhat the verbal echoes m-e limited,9 this might be see.n as
declining the invitation to read Mark intratextually as well as intertexn1ally sinc.e
both the broader context ( 1.6, 9.11- I3) and the immediate context (6.14-I 6) d1aw
the 1-eade.r's attention to Elijah.IOIf the beheading ofJohn the Baptist were all we
had~ we might well join with others in their scepticism. But as part of a develop-
ing discourse in which this theme is clearly impol'tant, it is difficult not to spot
Jezebel's haunting presence lurking in the shadows of Herod's court.
But the most explicit link between John the Baptist and Elijah is the extraordi-
naJy c,onversation between Jesus and the inner group ofdisciples at)er the trans-
figuration (9.1 I - 13). It is this passage. a passage that reveals much about Mark's
narrative technique~ which affinns that the earlier echoes of the Elijah narrative
have indeed been correctly read by the astute reader. First there is an allusion and
then there is the explicit link: the successful reading by the person familiar with
the Hebrew Bible is affirmed.

Mt. 11.9· 13 ~tk 9.9- 1 3

17.9 Ko:l t::cn o:jXIn.<Ovtwv o\rrWv iK 9.9 Ka'• KO:To(icu vOvTc.w oU'Iilv i:~e
TOO Opov5 i:vru!Ao:ro aUroi S' 0 To\r Opoo.; S.:oui)..cno o\rro'i5
'ffJooVs' J..iywv, M11&vl iint)n TO a
i va ,.u;&vi E1&w OtrrrfioWVTOI, i w5 00 0 uiOs ;00 Ov&pt.lnou Ei p~ Onw 0 uiOs To\r O:vtlpc.jnoo
£" vu:::pc:l\1 €ytp60. iK vupWv OvoOTfl. 10 Kal ;Ov
AOyov iKp&TflCiov npOS' EauroV$

7. LXX: w:o:i tl nov npOs: o:VTov' Avrjp 5o:oUs Ko:·, ~~VI'IV Oe~o:TlVJW mpa~(,))..ivos n\v
Oo.pVv ooitoU. Kol r1rrni HA1ou 0 0 rof3i'TrtS 01h0s' i:onv ('They onsweml him. "l-Ie wore a
gam1c-nt of haircloth. with n girdle of leather nbou1his Joins."' And he said. "II is Elijah the
Tishbite-."'). J. A. T. Robinson is one-of the few to T($ist the allusion. 'Elijah. John nnd J(SUs: An
Essa)' in Dctcclion'. in his Tll'd i'E' l•le"' Tes.ramem Studies (Studi($ in Biblical Tbcology. 34~ London:
SCM. 1962). p. 29.
S. On :O.futk 6.14·19 and the- Elijah links wilh both John the- Baptist and J(SUS, see Joynes. · A
Question of Identity'. pp. 10-3.
9. Most ekarly in Robert H. Gundry. MOJ·k: A Commemaryo11 NisApologyfiw ll1eCross(Grnnd
Rapids. Ml: Ecrdmans. 1993). p. 313.
10. One of the narrati\'e tochniqucsso cleverly used by Mutk here is the-.setting up of the.m)'stcry
of Jesus• id¢ntit)' in 6.1-1· 16 nnd !.hen only to hint nl the answct in the narr<tli\'e lhat fo-llows.
76 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

~I')T<inm5 Tl fOTIV ,.0 ~I( VCKpCiv

I 0 "o't inruxSrl')oov aUTOv o'• Ctvoo-rrwo:L II Ka·, inl')pc.)twv
IJ«flnTol ).£yovn5, Ti cVv oi a lrrOv Aiyo~ms . "OTt
ypo pf.!oni$ "i-yovoav OTt ).iyOlJOtV oi ypo~~o:u'is On
'H).lav .Sri EA&iv npWrov; II 0 OE 'HAio:v &i i.Aeriv npC:nov; 12 0 &
O:noKpt&'•s £i mv. 'H>.ias 1-1h" Eo:pn aUrol5, 'HAias IJiv
Epxncu Ka t Cmo~~:o"taon)ou (MC::.v npWTOV 0.nOKo:8toT0\It 1
rrOVTo: n6:VTo:, ~~:a'• nCl5 yiypo;nTo:• f ni T0v
ui.Ov TOO Ov6pWnoviuoa rro).).O: nCteo
Ko:i £~ou&.vtj60 ; 13 c)).).(t
12 hfyw OE U,u'iv 0l't 'HAias ~611 ).iyw u,.itv OTt Ko't 1-IAio:s
~Miw, t<ai olnci n£yuc.JOo:v a\rrOv i>.iy.u&w, .:c£1 i.nolqoo:Y
0:AA0: i noil)Oov fll alm~ Ooo: o:lm;, Ooo:
~6iAnoov· Mt.lS ~eo:l 0 ui05 TOU ~eu.ov. "oeWs
O.vepc;)nou ~).).;~ n6o>,.'t•v Un''TOI tn' oVTbv.
o:lm~v. 13 .Ow mtvf!Ko:v oi. uaflnTol
On rn p'• 'lc.>O:woo mit Bo:rr<to-toi.r
0 • '
tiiUV O:UTOI, ,

~ft. 11.9-13 Mk 9.9-13

9 And as they were. coming down the- 9 And ns thC)' were coming down the
mountnin. Jesus eom1n.1ndOO. them. mountain. he c-harged them
'Tdl no one the vision. until to tell no one wh.1t they had seen. until
the Son of m.1n is ruiscd from the Son of man should have risen from
the-dead.' the dead. 10 So the>' kept the matter to
thcmidves. questioning what tile rising
fro m the dead meant.
10 And the discipks asked him. ' Thm II And they asked him.
why do the scribes say that fi rst Elijah must ·why do the. scribes say that first Elijah
come?' II He: replied. must comc·r 12 And he s.1id to them.
·Elijah dot$ com~·-. and he is to n'$tore 'Elijah does come fi rst to restore
all lhings: all things: nnd how is it written of tile:.
Son of man. that he should sufltr many
things and be created with c.ontcmpt? 13
12 but I tell you that Elijah has alrcad)' But I tell you thut Elijah has
c.omc. nnd they did not know him. but come.
did to him whatever they plenscd. So and the)' did to him whatever the)'
also lhc Son of man ,vjiJ suO'cr ot their pleased. as it is wriucn of him.'
13 Then the disciples und~'1stood thnt he
was spc.1king to lhem of John the-Buptist.

Het·e. we see the impot1 of what has gone betb re. and why it is that the Elijah
identification is introduced by Mark. The)' will see that Elijah has indeed come.
in John the Baptist, and that this confirms the messianic idemity of Jesus that the
disciples are now beginning to pet'ceive (8.30). Further - and this is the key
element - the sharp reader is expected to see that Jesus will meet an end that is
similar to that of John- ' they did to him whatever they ple.ase<l, as it is written o f
him' and so too the Son of Man will "suflCr many things', also as ;it is written'.
T11e reader of this passage in Mark~ who reads in the context o f both the Gospel
and the Hebrew Bible, is left reflecting on the relationship between John the
GOODACRE Mark, Elijah, the> 8ap1ist and Mall}u.:w 77

Baptist. the Scriptures, Jesus' identity, suffering. messiahship and the disciples'
But there is a potential difficulty with reading Mark. It is too complex. too
subtle, its message much too easily missed, especially by the person reading or
hearing Mark's Gospel for the firsttime. Take Mk 1.6. Even if one's eye or ear
catches the quick sentence of reference to John the Baptist's clothing in an already
tightly packed narrative prologue, deciphering the pa1'3llel with Elijah f\."qUires not
a pa..~;s ing acquaintance with the Elijah- Elisha cycle but a detailed knowledge of
it. And what reader will hear the.echo on a first reading (or hearing) with so much
else going on? Moreover, the Herod and Herodias II Ahab .and Jezebel material is
so subtly allusive that one cannot be absolutely cenain that the link is even there.
If Jesus· revelation in 9.13. ·Elijah has come'. is not to be a complete surprise.
one has to be a skilled and en1dite reader. one who combines a careful intratextual
I'Cading of Mark with a good knowledgeofthe Hebre.w Bible and a sharp inter-
textual eye.
One ofthe things that is so suu11ing and yet so rarely acknowledged 11 is that the
fi1·st reading of Mark to which we have direct accessl2 not only sees what !\·lark is
doing but clarifies it, extends it, underlines it. Let us have a look at the evidence.

3. John the Baptist and Elijah ill Mallhew

If a reader of rvtark were to seek help by re.ading Matthew, the problem of puz-
zling out the identity ofJohn the Baptist is now solved in one of Matthew's char-
acteristic explanatory narrative asides, the function of which appears to be to
clal'i fy to the reade1· that which might otherwise be opaque. It comes in his ver-
sion of the dialogue betwee.n Jesus and the inner circ le of Peter, James and John
on the way down from the f\·fount ofTransfiguration (see above).
, The syn?esis sho'Ys. Ma~hew •s ~actional cla:ificatory ?ddition rOn auv1;Kav
0 1 ~<Xih)TO:I OTI IT£p1 IWO:VIIOU TO\J ~O:ITTIOTOU £11!£0 O:UTOI) ('Then l he disci-
ples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist', 17.1 3).
The addition is typical off!.·fatthew. not least in contexts where he is attempting to
explain something the readeroff\·tark might miss. He does the same thing, using
much of the same vocabul:lly in 16.12,just atler the discussion about the leaven
of the Pharisees (and Sadducees) in the boat. n)n ouvl}Ko:v On o\n:: t:1 rrev
rrpooixuv O:rro TIJS ~u~n5 [rc:lv O:prcuv] aMa
imo TIJ5 OIOo:xi!s TWV
<Daptao:iwvKal LaOOouKO:I ('Then they understood that he was warning them

II. One of the: s1rcngt.hs of Austin Fnmr's St Mailll~tt· and St Mark (Tile Edward Cadbury b .oc-
turcs 1953-54: Westminster. Ot~cre. 1954) is lhat hcauempts to usc r..·lallhew- and to a limit.."<! extent
Luke - as aids in Lhc inlc:orpn·tation of Marl:.
12. Ido not simply 1nkc the priorityofMtut fory..1ntcd but hnvc-aucmpted to provide-my reasons
formnking this a key building block in Synopticswdic:s. Soc 11re Cn.wAgaiiiJI Q: Studies in Mtd.un
PriorityamltM Synoptic Pr<>hlem (Harrisburg. PA: Trini1y Press lntcrnnlioMI. 2002). c.haptcr 2 nod
my carlicranicle. 'Fntiguc-in tbc: Synoptics'. NTS 44 (1998). 45- 58. rcprodoccd on 11re Case Against
Qweb site-.'Q.
78 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

not about the leaven [ofbread] but about the teaching ofthe Pharisees and Saddu-
cees'). Yet by this stage in Matthew's nan-ative. the reader is not in the least sm·-
prised by the explicit ide-ntification made betwee-n Elijah and John the Baptist.
We have already heard. at a key point in the lengthy passage concerning Jolm the
Baptist (11. 1-19):
11. 13: nclvns yO:poi npo4l~Tal tr:o'i 0 00~05 {(1)5 'Jw6wov i:npo~~nuoo:1r (H)
~eal ;: j 6(An-i 5i~o:o6co, aUTOs ioTIII 'I-IAioS 0 pi>J.wv ipx<o00L 1
11. 13: 'For nil the prophets and thc:-luw prophesied until John; (141 and if )X>U are
willing to receive it. he is Elijah, the: one who is to come~•
The explicit statement shows rvtatthew's success in penetrating Mal'k's enigma as
well as his de$ii'C to flag this identification up to his readers. dra\•,;ing out the impli-
cations of the identification. The way his narrative \vorks contrasts w ith Mark:
here it is not a c-ase of gradually fathoming out a mystery but of establishing 3
connection and then underlining it, once in 11.14 and again in 17. 13.
One can gauge the importance of the theme. for Matthew by notiC-ing how
eal'ly in the narrative it emerges. He brings tb rward the description of John the
Bapti st ~s clothing {Matthew 3.4 // rv1ark 1.6), M now appearing before the notice
about those who came to John for· baptism (Matthew 3.5-6 II Mark 1.5), the
greater promine.nce not only g iving the reader 3 moment to process the informa-
tion but also linking it directly to the quotation from Isaiah 40 o f the one crying
in the wilderness. One might well see the link between John and Elijah tiu1her
elaborated in the material Matthew adds at 3.7- 10. John's "fie1y' preaching,
where many have heard echoes of Elijah.
Given the importanc-.e that the theme appem·s to have for Mauhe.w, one piece.of
evidence.stands out: it is surprising that it is so much more difficult to hear echoes
of the Ahab-Jezebel complex in his version of the Herod-Herodias story than it is
in Mark's (Mt. 14.1-12 // Mk 6. 14-29). Matthew's much abbreviated version"
grea11y plays down the role ofHerodias in the drama and as soon as Herod takes
the major role, he beg-ins to look les..c; like Ahab~ and his wife less like Jezebel. It
is probably no coincidence that, accordingly, f\·fatthew, UJllike Mark (6.15), does
not introduc-e his version of the story with any mention of Elijah. Given
Matthew's enthusiasm for the Elijah- John the Baptist parallel, so explicit in both
11.13- 14 and 17 .13, we c-an only speculate as to why he chooses to play it down
here. Atler al l~ E. P. SaJlders, useful corrective to dle old idea that Matthew had

13. The key "~rse her~. 11 . 14. is not present in the Luc:an pamlid 7.1 1·35. ForQ l.hcorists. this is tnk~n os a c:lmacteristic Matthacan ml1c-1ionaJ int«\'ention in Q: for those wbo l.hink Luke
knew Motthew. this is luke oharacteristicallyomil1ingrcfcrenoe to the direct Jobn the: Baptist- Elijah
link. On the Iauer. sec rurthc:r below.
14. On the link between John and Elijah here in Mntthc:w. s:c Roben Gundrr. Maulu!w: A Com-
memary m1 His f!mulhoo/.:for lt Mi'(('(/ Church Ul"lder Persmuion (2nd cdn: Grand Rapids: Eerd~
mans. 1994). p. 45.
15. For this pcricopc-as a particula.rl)' clear CJtample of Matl.hcw'sdcpendencc on Mnrk. and l.hc
cditorinl fntigue involved in his version of it sec my 'Fatigue in thc-Synoptics'. pp. 46--7nnd 52. and
rc:fc:rcnccs there.
GOODACRE Mark, Elijah, the> 8ap1ist and Mall}u.:w 79

an innate tendency to abbreviate the f\·1arkan narratives16 encourages us to ask the

question why. in a given instance, Matthew has abbreviated a Markan narrative.
In this pericope, the answer may well be bec.ause the 1\•larkan account takes such
a lot of space to hint so gently at the Elijah theme. In a text in which the identi-
fication between Elijah and John is expticit. there is no need for such a subtle (or
should one say opaque?) piece of writing. After all, contemporary scholars still
debate whether or not the .Markan Herod-Herodias story evokes the Ahab and
Jezebel story of 1 and 2 Kings, so it is scarcely surprising that one of Mark's fi1'St
reade1·s chose to play down potential links in this story.
An interesting patten1emerges here in f\·1arthew·s reilding ofMark ~s John the
Baptist narrative. Where he sees the link betwee.n Elijah and John, and where he
expects his own readers to be able to see the link, it is accentuated and brought
into greater prominence. Where he has the chance, he will inte-rvene and use the
narrator's voic.e to underline the link. And if he does not find his source condu-
cive to forwarding that theme., he will play it down. Here we can see the way that
one of the first readers of Mark reacted to his text: strongly affinning its direction
(John the Baptist = Elijah) but modif)'ing, re-reading, or omitting an)'ihing that
failed to make this clear. This is a strong reading of Mark, but it is not 'strong' in
Fowler's sense of misreading, supplanting, vanquishing. h is, rather, a reading of
bold affirmation, understanding, developing, underlining.
But why is this identifi~tion between John and Elijah important to Matthew?
Why is it that he makes what he does oftvtm·k's inte11extuality? On one level. it is,
no doubt, the very f:1ct that Matthew has here read ~'lark, le.arned it and inwardly
digested it. T11ere is a certain thrill in reading inte.11extually1 rec.ognizing allusions
and teasing out their implications, and tOr no one more so than a reader like Mat-
thew, so sensitive l'O the expression of the gospelas a fulfilment of the Scriptures.
It is worth noting that the first of the two explicit identifications of Elijah with
John the Baptist (1 1.1 3-14) comes in 11.1-19. one of the richest Scripture-based
pieces in the Gospel, where the roles of John and Jesus in salvation-history are
clarified, and John is identified with the prophecy of Malachi 3 and subsequently
directly with Elijah.
But to read Matthew as obsessed with the theme offulfilment of the.Scripmres
at the expense of all else would be to read Matthew superficially. He engages
with tllC Hebrew Bible. and w·orks with Mark's intertextuality in the se-rvice of
his broader literary and theological agenda. To sec this. it is worth taking a closer
look at his reading of Marie 9.9- 13. The extra, clarificatory ve1·se Mt. 17.1 3, stands
out straightaway, as we have seen. It is this that signals so clearly to the reader
that the proper identification of John the Baptist is as the Elijah prophesied by
Malachi. But a closer look at the rest of the passage shows Matthew intervening
in the passage in some subtle but fascinating ways.
First. it is quite.clear that for Matthew, as for Marie, the identification functions
Christologically and soteriologically. The logic is straighttbrward. If ' Elijah has

16. E. P. Sunders. Tencl~llciestJjrlte Synoptic TnuliritJII (SNTSt\.-tS. 9: Cambridge. UK: Cambridge

University Pn'$$.. 1969). pp. 8~7. c.s p«inll)· pp. 84-5.
80 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

already come' (HAlas Jio~ ~MEV, Mt. 17.12), then clearly, to use a Matthaean-
ism, something greater than Elijah is here. If the reader is persuaded by the. link
between John and Elijah~ how much more will s/he affim1 lhat Jesus is the Christ.
But Matthew, Jike.Mark, believes in the gospel of the.Messiah who suffers and he
repeatedly affirms this clem· element in f'-·lark·s agenda, and nowhe1·e more clearly
than here. If Elijah has already come and he was mistreated, then surely lhis
greater-than-Elijah will also suffer at the-ir hands. This is at the heart ofMark and
Mauhew. both of Christ crud fied.
But as well as affim1ing this. Matthew needs to make some changes. To some-
one who knows his Hebrew Bible as well as: rvtatthew. f'-·1ark's ·as it is written of
him' (Ka9ws yiypanr a t i n' aurov.Mark 9. 13) is quite unfathomable. Where
is it written that Elijah would be mistreated and suffet· on his retunt? 11 We know
that Matthew knows and values the prophecy in 1\·lal. 3.24 (4.6) concerning
Elijah 's return (quoted in 11.10) 111 and there is no hint in that key verse about
Elijah 's suffering on his return. So1 unsurprisingly1 f\•1atthew drops Mark's ·as it
is written of him·. Given Matthew' s own fondness for using yiypa rrra t, and the
fulfilment theme to which that mage witnesses 1 we can get some idea of how
much c-are Matthew is taking in working on the identific--ation between John and
But e\•en with this omission. the difficulties with Mark's account are still not
all resolved. One impot1ant thing remains. 'Elijah does come first to restore all
things·, Jesus says in Mk 9.12, O:rroKa9toTcXV€t rrcXvr a. This is, of course. a
clear allusion to the Mal. 3.24/ 4.6 prophec.y. But what sense does it make to say
that Elijah comes first to restore all things if the very point of the passage is that
he was mistreated and - what's more - that this point<> to the even greater mis-
treatment of his successor?•9 Depending on one's perspective. this is Mark at his

17. II is som~-1imes suggested that Mark is 1hinking of I K~ 19.10. 14. "The children of lsrac:.)
hunl an~., my life to tnkc it away'. for example Aus•in Farrer. Sf M(lti/lewond St Mark. p. 5. 11lis is
fur from an obvious reading. !hough. and !he fact thnl conlc:m.pornry n:-.aders dis..-tgrcc.aboul wh~'1her
or not one can read this h~~re in Marl: reinforces lilt poinllhat one of Murk's anc.icnl readers.
Mntthcw. may also hove been uncertain how lo read Matk hen:-. and ns a rcsuh disooUI"'IgCShis own
readers (rom sc~i ng Mark in thai way.
18. Q sceptics might argue: thnl 3.1 isespc:c.ially importnnt to Matthew since it is he who hns
apparc:nd)' lakcn can:-to extract the Mal. 3. 1 c:krncnl from !he composite: quotation (of ls.1. 40.3 +
MaL3. 1) found in Mk l.l ·\·ing th~- Malac-hi dcrncnl fordabor.uion here in Mt. I U-19. Qlhco-
risls h.w~ nJways slruggled wilh lhe minor agnxments/ Mark·Q twc:rlap in this compkx. on which
sec espec-ially MM:had Gouklcr. 'On Putting Qto l.hC" Test'. NTS24 (1978). 118- 34 (pp. 214-5): nnd
E. P. Sanders and M. O.wic:s. Stu<{lring the Spwptic Grupels (linrrisburg. PA: Trinity Press lntc:ma-
lional: London: SCM. 1989). pp. 95-6.
19. For a line ~·xpositioo of wilat Mark is aucmpting to do here:-. s~'¢ Jod Marcus. T1w Way ofrlte
Lord: Clwi.\·tologiml f.n>gesis ofth~ Old TesUJm<'lll in lire Go-sJWI <?{Marl: (Edinburgh: T&T Clnrk.
1992). pp. 94-110. whM:h shows how tile passage: conforms to the ·rcfutnlional form•. by which Mark
is able to ac:hi~vc an c:xcgc:tic:al tec:.oncilintion bc:twc:cn th~'Se oontradictory Scriplutts atld se:riplurnl
c~p~-chltions. The only lhing missing 11om M111cus· \ 'C·t)' helpful analysis is the extent lo which the
prophecy (from ~'l nlac.hi) hns b~n irrcde.:mabl)' modified b)' histot)': it is d C«r thai John did not
'restore nil things· and 1his is going to be n m:.jorstumbling bloc.k to any claim lh..'tl John lhc Baplist -
GOODACRE Mark, Elijah, the> 8ap1ist and Mall}u.:w 81

infuriating worst or his subtle best It is so typical ofhis Gospel to pose the prob-
lem without providing adequate answers. While much recent New Testament
scholarship ha.~ tended to celebmte f\·fark!s opaqueness at such points. lauding the
riddles he poses. Matthew's Gospe.l has none o fthat. His Gospel provides a strong
reading that in many ways takes Mark so seriously that he. is simply not going to
be happy witll such difficulties.
M;.ttthew's strategy for overcoming the conundrum is clever. As Robe11 Gundry
has shown;:!0when Mark's O:rrot<o:9tani:vtl becomes in t\•1atthewO:rroKcnaonlotl.
a simple shift has taken place that in one.bold stroke not only confonns Matthew's
text more closely to the LXX of Mal. 4.6 (3.24). but also •·emoves the problem by
pushing this ' restoration· into the future. Now there is not only a past coming of
Elijah but also a future one. Just as Elijah 'comes first' before Jesus~ first coming,
so he will come again to restore all things before the Parousia. Thus Mark's Chris-
to logical and soteriological piece attains a typically Matthaean eschatological

4. Elijah and John the Baptist Before Mark

Our focus so tilr has bee.n on Mark and on Matthew's reading of ?\•lark. I have
attempted to describe Matthew's reading off!.<fark 's John the Baptist narrative as
a ·successful' inte11exrual reading. by which ( mean that he understands what
Mark is doing but wants to underline it for his own readers by strengthening the
stronger connections, deleting the weaker ones, and clarifying the remainder.
T1lese reflections raise further questions in two areas we have not so far covered.
The first question concerns the pre-Markan tradition concerning Elijah and John
the Baptist: and the second has to do with the post-Matthaean legacy of the con-
nection. I would like to propose that the identification betwe.en John and Elijah
had a much shorter history thaJl is usually assumed, that it originates in Mm·k.
finds full exp1·ession in Matthew, and then remarkably quickly. it dies.

Elijnh.J>O Mnrk docs his best to find a wny around this difficulty. tk does not. like Paul talking nbout
circ.u1ncision in Galatians. simply ignore the troubling text (Genesis 17): ruthe-r. he has Jesus tackle it
i!nd ·refute• it hcad on. It is a bold 100\'C thttt we. would not C.'lpcc.t to be universally popular. And

indcc:d it was not. tukcdocs no1likcthisand omits Mk 9. 1t -t3altog«hcr. in line with
of the link bc:lwcc.n John and Elijah (on which sec. further below).
20. Gundry. Matthew. p. 347:
Far from raising al)d leaving unanswered 11 question. Matthew's Jesus aJISii 'eJ'J the.
c.htonologiCIIJ question - i.e.. ti\'CS further undcrs1allding to those who alrcltdy fta,·~.
undC'tslanding (sec t3.12)- by pulling Elijnh 'scomingand n:stor:ttioo ofall things into
the: future. Cf. Mattht.·w's making the-prediction in 16.28 rcfcrto the parousia. In this
wa)'lhc lirsl cvnngd i~t avoids the incongruity in Mar\: thlll Elijah restores all thinp yet
is maltr~oatcd. Now the m.lltrcatmcntlics in the past- i.e. in the fate of John the Bllptist
liS Elijah - nnd the restoration of all things in the future.
82 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

It is usually assumed that the link between John and Elijah is pre-Markan.
Some think that it may even go back to Jesus' consciousness itself~11 but an
alternative to this view is the notion that Mark himself \\lilS I'Csponsiblc for the
identification. The earliest evidence \VC have for the link is ?\'lark's Gospel and
Mark more than hints at a contrary view, perhaps the view he has taken over
from his tradition. And this view is that it is no1John but Jesus who is Elijah. Not
only do Jesus' miracles often sound similar to those in the Elijah- Elisha cycle,22
but twice.tJ1e identification o f Jesus with Elijah is given as a view held by others
that is in need ofco rrection (6.15. 8.28). And then - strikingly- at t:he Mount of
Transfiguration. Mark Jays al~ tl!e stres~ on...Eiijah:. ·An~ then tJ~.ere...appeared to
them Eliiah with Moses (KCXt <.>¢>9n auTOt) HXta) ouv Mwuo£t).v Elijah's
presence on the mountain is getting stressed all the more so in that the dis-
ciples straightaway ask about Elijah on the way down from the mountain, 'Why
do the scribes say that Elijah must come?' The disciples are surprised because if
Elijah is there with Moses and Jesus on the mountain. tl1e-n clearly Jesus cannot
be Elijah.21 Perhaps Mark is setting up this John-Elijah identification as a means
of oountel'ing a dominant tradition and his reason. as so of\e.n~ is Christological
and soteriological. Rather than. as his tradition, having Jesus as Elijah he.ralding
the great and terrible day of the Lord, he has John as the Elijah who heralds the
embodiment of that day of the Lord, Je.sus. And as Elijah came first and was
mistreated~ so now Jesus will likewise suffer.15

11. For a r«cnl example. soc Joan E. Tnylor. The Jmmem•r: J(Jhl1the BaptisJ ll'ithin S£-ccmd
Temple Jmltrism (Siud)·ingthe Historical Jesus: Grand Ropicls: Effllmans.. 1997). fore-Xomplep. 32 1.
·Jesus seems to haw though! thnl Jobn was Elijah·.
22. For n thoroughc:o:plomtionof lhe links between 1he Elijub-Eiisba cydc-and Mnrk. soc Thomas
L Brodie. Thi! CnJC'f'al Bridge: The f /ljuh-£/i!i/1<1 NmTutitl'aJ urJ lnmpretiw Symhc•!iiJ rJ/G,·Jie!iiJ-
King.s ando Literary MrJddfor th-t' Go!ip-t'ls (CoU::gc\·illc: l iturgical Press. 2000), pp. 86-95.
23. Contmstthe pamllds in ML 17J and luke 9.30 .,...f~ic.h more. nnturally spcal: of·Mosts and
14. Cf. Michnd Gouldcr. 'Elijsh with Moses. or. a RiA in lhc Pre-M a~bn lute'. in David G.
H oiTC!I andChti stoph~~r M. Tucket1 (cds). Christo/ogt: Cootrm>ersyu.ndCnrmmmi{l': New Teswmem
E.uay.f in #anmiJ'ojDaridR. Cau·hpoli'(lcMkn: Brill. 2000). pp. 19J- 208.cspcciallyp. 199: 'Mark
does not like Ibis: 10 him John was Elijah nU right but Jesus i.sdx Son ofGod. Only the stori~o,s lx ld ls
giw-the background Christology uway.· Bul wilh many others. Gffitldcr also 1hinks lhat ·John tbc
Baptist saw himself ns the prophesied Elijah• (ibid.).
25. One potentiul probkm for •his thesis mighl be the alleged Jewish e:o:pcC'Iation th.1t Elijah
would prtte<k tbe-comiO.£. of the Mcssinh. II is debuted wheth~'1tllc:rc was such nn c:tp~X'tnti on. Sec
M. M. faiers.tcin. ·Why do the Scribes Sa)'lhat Elijah Must Come Firsrt.JBL 100 (1981). 75- S6and
J. A. FitT.myer. ·More About Elijah Coming First' .JBL I 04 ( 1985}. 295-6 (against): and 0. C. Alliwn.
' Elijah MUS! Come First.'.JBL 103 (1984). 256-8 and Jod Martus. The Way<(the Lord. p. 110 (in
fn\•our). The b::stt\•kknoe forthecxpoctnti on is Mark i1sdf. and what ·the scribes say' in Mart 9. 11.
but thai ' 'crse only witne.sses. 1o the notion thnt Elijah c:omes. ·fi rs!' . .,...f~ic.h only n«ds to mean before
thcdnyof the l ord. ns in Mnl. 3.24 (4.6}. nnd na. be-fore the Messiah comes. Under this view. Elijah
hinmlfis e-xpected to -come as a Messiah figure who will restoo: all thing:;. The 1\".ason thai the dis-
ciples bring up this e:o:pcc-lation in this context is the confusion thnt hns been introduoed br sc:oc:ing
Elijah and Jesus together at the-Trnnsfigurntion. If Jesus i.sna. Elijah. who is? Just us Mnrk•s lltl!Talor
has left the discerning reader clues as to the tme id~"lllit)' of Elijah. so now Mart's Jesus too rcin-
fom:s !he view thnt i1is John who is Elijah and not himself.
GOODACRE Mark, Elijah, the> 8ap1ist and Mall}u.:w 83

5. The Legacy of 1he Link: The Conlriblllions ofLuke and John

Matthew's success in reading the-Elijah-John the Baptist story is even more strik-
ing if Mark was the first to make the identification. If this is the case, Matthew is
not simply the next uninte1·esting acceptance of a pre-f\·farkan tradirion. but he is
the first endorsement of Mark"s bold piece of propaganda. a piece that actually
goes against the grain o f the earliest traditions.
But if the idea has little pre-Markan pedigree, what of its po..~tt-11<'latthaean
legacy? One get some idea ofjust how bold .Matthew's affinnation o f Mark"s
identification of John with Elijah is by reflecting on the way this identification
was subsequently treated. The identification in tbct causes some real problems.
One is the move Matthew made in I 7. I 1-13 to work his way out of the problem
thal John the Baptist did not restore all things (see above). For all its brilliance as
a means of overcoming the problems with Mk 9.11-13, in the end it can only
create fresh problems. Was anyone in the earl}' Church reaII}' going to buy the
idea that Elijah would return againahead of the Parousia'? Who had ever heard of
such a thing'?
But a second. more serious problem is that the identification runs the risk o f
exalting the role o f John the Baptist too much for Christians keen to demote him.
This is most clearly and famously the case in the FoUJ1h Gospel, where John
issue-s his flat denial that he is Elijah (Jn 1.21. ' '"Are you Elijah?"" ..1 am not"").
Moreover, the link between Jesus and Elijah appears to have been too pervasive
in the tradition to be supplanted as quickly as Marie and Matthew desire. Luke. no
doubt ll1lly aware of the tradition, greatly plays down the idea that John is Elijah,
omitting altogether the key places where the identification is established - Mk
1.6 /1 Mt. 3.4 (John's clothing), Mt. 11.14 (the first of Matthew's explicit identi-
fications). Mk 6.17-29 (Herod and Herodias) and Mk 9.9-131/ Mt. I 7.9-I 3. But
hewing omiued these sections, Luke typically attempts reconciliation between tJ1e
different stream.;; oftl'adition. On the one hand the Gospel early affinns that John
the Baptist will come in the 'spirit and powerof£1ijah · (lk. 1.17). but on the other
hand, the notion that Jesus is Elijah is enhanced. In the synagogue in Nazareth,
Jesus parallels his own destiny with that of Elijah and Elisha (lk. 4.25-27): he
raises a widow"s son to lite (Lk. 7.11- l?'j' and he has an invitation to call down
fire from heaven (lk. 9.5 1-56).21 This is a major depatture tl·om the Marcan-
Matt haean consensus that insists so strongly on the identification between John
and Elijah."

26. Sec I Kgs 17. 17-24 nndd 1 K£$ 4. 18-37. 1'11c people appear to r«ognize-thc links.· A great
prophcc h.1s arim t nmong us· in Lk. 7.16.
27. Scc2 Kgs l.IO· I4.
28. Note nJso how l k. 9.7·9 diOCrs from Mk 6.14· 16. Thl· salt!¢ options ate-pro\·idcd - ksus
could be John the: Baptist. Elijnh or one of lhc prophe(s. Herod ruks out the. first one of these. that
Jesus is John lhc Baptist. but whcrens in Mart the idea that he is EJijah iseompromiscdbytllc: Herod·
Herodias stocythat follows. in which John is al ign~'() wi1h Elijah. tbe-lack ofthat story in Luke leaves
open 1hc possibilit)' that Jesus is indeed Elijah or one-of the prophets.
84 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

6. Couclusiou
If the reading here is on the right lines. Gospel origins, and the role played by
Elijah, could be mapped out as follows. In the pre-Marean tmdition, many were
making the equation between Jesus and Elijah. But Marie sees the potential of
identifying John with Elijah as much more conducive to his key Christo logical
and soteriological agenda. Matthew, who in large part shares that agenda. and
who enjoys the thrill of untangling the message that for him is presented all too
subtly. carries fOI'ward the identification~ underlines it and develops it, clarifying
some of .Mark's idiosyncrasies and in the process adding his cse-hatological
touch, drawing Elijah into involvement in the Parousia.
But Matthew·s move was bold. By affirming the Marean view so strongly, he
only causes his successors to see the problems with the new identification all the
more clearly. The Fo011h Evangelist has John deny it even more explicitly than
Matthew has his narrator affim1 it. And luke typically nods in the direction ofhis
Marean and Matthaean tradition with his ·spirit and power of Elijah• in 1. 17. but
he wants to affinn more.strongly the still pe1·vasive eal'liertradition that Jesus was
Elijah. In the end the irony is that whe1·e Matthew strongly affinns the direction of
Marie. he has done him the disservice of making the identific-ation so clear as to
deter many funu·e readers. far from vanquishing or supplanting Mm·k, he stands
as a powerful and belligerent partner with Mark, alone in the canon in stressing
this identification.


Clay Alan Ham

The M-ount of Olives, so named for its abundant olive groves, is a mile-long ridge
ofhigh hills running parallel lo the Kidron Valley on the east side or Jerusalem.
Three summits constitute the series ofhills, Mount Scopus to the north, ~·lounl of
Destruction to the south (cr. 2 Kgs 23.13), and between them the traditional Mount
of Olives, rising more than two hundred feel above lhe Temple Mount. The New
Testament uses two phrases to designate the ' Mount of Olives•: TOOpos Tc:;)v
il-a tc:\v(Mt. 2 1.1; 24.3; 26.30; Mk 11.1; 13.3; 14.26; Lk. 19.3 7; 22.39; Jn 8.1)
and 0 opos TOKOAOU~EVOV 'EAatWV (lk. 19.29; 21.37; Acts 1.12). The geo-
graphical location is firmly rooted in the synoptic tradition (presumably derived
!rom Mark) orthe triumphal entry (Mt. 2 1.1; Mk I I. I; Lk. 19.29, 37), the Olivet
Discourse (Mt. 24.3; Mk 13.3), and the prediction o f Peter's denial (Mt. 26.30;
Mk 14.26). The Gospel of luke also notes that Jesus spent the night on the Mount
of Olives during his ministry in Jerusalem (Lk. 21 .37) and went there, as was his
custom, to pray (Lk. 22.39). 1 In the account of the ascension of Jesus, the Mount
of Oli\'es is evidently the place from which Jesus is taken up into heaven from
the sight of the II apostles (Acts 1.12).'
Howe\'er, the reader of the New Te.stament Gospels has not been prepared for
any particular connotation associated with this location by frecruentmention ofthe
Mount of Olives in the Old Testament. Only two texts specifically refer to the
locale: 2 Sam. 15.30, where it is called c:rtr.iJ ii 7¥0 or ' the ascent of the Olives',
and Zech. 14.4. Three other texts (I Kgs 11.7; 2 Kgs 23. 13 ; and Ezek. 11.23) may
also denote the Mount of Oiives (cf. 2 Esd. 13.6), although they do not mention it

I. Tflc parnJkls in )oft. 26.36 and Mk 14.12 name a more spccifi'l: locution on the-Mount of
Olives. Gc:thscrnanc.(mcuning 'olive press'). as the place wh~~rc Jesus went to pruy.
2. Elsewhere in the NewTcstnmcnl the Motml ofOlives is menlionod b)' tt."'tnc before the story
of Lhc womnn c.lJught in a place (owhic.h Jesus rctrCllted during the Temple discourse {Jn
8.1}. On the textual evidence whieh makes unlikd y the-original conn~'t'"tion of Jn 7.53--8..11with l.hc
Fourth Gospel. sec Bn1cc t\.-1. Met~._.,., ..f TaftJlfl CtXIfmentOJ)' em 1ile- Greet N~· Tt>Jfamellt(Stullgart::
D::utsehc Bibd gcscll.schafL 2nd cdn. 1994). pp. 187- 9: &rt D. Erhman. 'Jesus and the-Adulteress'.
NTS 34 ( 198&). 24-44: and Danid B. Walhoc:. 'Rccoosidcfing '1'hc Stor)' of Jesus and the Adul-
lc-1\'Ss Rcconsidmd"'\ NTS 19 ( 1993). 190-6.
86 BibliL·a l lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

by name.3 A<.'cording lo 2 Sam. 15.30, David, with his household and onicials,
escaped from Absalom by ascending the Mount of Olives. In I Kgs I 1.7, Solomon
buill an altar to the Moabite god Chemosh and the Ammonite god Molech on the
mountain east of Jenlsalem; Josiah demolished these altars that Solomon had
buih1 ahhough their locution is said in 2 Kgs 23.13 to be al the south of the rvtount
o f Destruction. A vision of the glory of Yahweh leaving Jerus~ilem and stopping
above the mountain east oflhe city, presumably. the Mount ofOiives, is recorded
in Ezek. 11.23. Zechariah 14.1-5 relates the devastation and deliverance of Jeru-
salem, during which Yahweh will stand on the f\,tount of Olives, causing it to split
in two. This anthropomorphism (c[ E:rek. 43.7} may signal the relnrn of Yahweh's
presence. to Jerusalem, after the departure depicted in Ezek. 11.23.J
Neither is a specific connotation signalled in the mention of the Mount o f
Olives, in part, because ofthe.paradoxical uses ohhe general image of mountain
in Scripture, particularly> the Old Testament It can serve as a symbol of refuge
(Gen. 14.1 0) and of military ( I Sam. 17.3), as a symbol of worship
denounced by Yahweh (Ezek. 6.1-7, 11 -1 4) and o f worship required by Yahweh
(I sa. 2.1-5), and as a symbol ofdh;nej udgement (Hag. 1.11) and of divine bless-
ing (Zech. 8.3).5 Given these categories it would appear that, in the Old Testa-
ment relerences to the l\·1ount of Olives, 2 Sam. 15.30 connotes military defeat, I
Kgs I I. 7 and 2 Kgs 23.1 3, worship denounced by Yahweh, Ezek. 11.23, divine
j udgement, and Zech. 14.4> both divine judgement and blessing. Similar to Ezek.
11.23 and Zech. 14.4, the t~stament ofi\lophtali identifies the Mount of Olives as
the place of a vision (r Naph. 5. 1-8)) in whi<.~h is portr.iyed a series of conquests
o f Jerusalem through the Hellenistic period (32H3 BCE).

I . 11Je A1oufll ofOiiw!s in A4althew

The motif of mountain in Matthew appears with some l'requency,t. and thre.e times
the Gospel specifically mentions the Mount of Olives (2 1. 1; 24.3; 26.30). In the
Hrst and third oflhese instance.s, the reference to the M·ount of Olives stands in the
same conlexl with an explicit citation to Zechariah: MI. 21.5 to Zech. 9.9 and MI.
26.31 to Zech. 13.7.7 1n the context of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, MI. 2 1.5 dies
Zech. 9.9 to make explicit the meaning of Jesll.S' action of riding a donkey>

3. On the Moun IofOii\'cs in lht Old Ttslamcnl sc:cJohn Briggs O.nis. ·An ln\•t.stigalionoftht
Mount ofOlives in the Judaco-Christian Tradition'. NUCA 28 (1957). 137-80 (139-41~
4. .\brk Allen Hahkn and Cl<~y Alan Hum. Minor Prophets 1: Nafwm-Maluclti (1'he-College
Press NIY Comrncntllry: Joplin. MO: Colkge Press.. 2006). pp. -ISO-I.
5. Leland Rykm. Jim Wilhoil and Tremper Longmtm Ill (eds). DMimrmJ: ofBibliml Imagery
(Downers Grove. ll : lnterVarsity Press. 2000). pp. 572-4.
6. .\ft. 4.&: 5. 1. 14: S.l ~ 14.23: 15.29: 17. I. 9. 20: 18. 12: 21.1. 2 1: 14.3. 16: 26.30: 28. 16. S«
Tcrcnc:e L Donaldson. JI!SIIS on Jh! Mountain: A SttN~I' ilt Mattftean TheoilJ1,'l' (JSNTSup, S: Shcf·
field: JSOT Press. 1985).
7. For an extended discussion ofthese citnlions. soc Clay Aliln Hnm. The Comi11g King and the
RejectedShepherd: Matthew':; Reading ofz~·~!lan'ah S Me:;skmic IIope (NewTc!itamcnt Monogrnphs.
4: Shcffidd: Sheffield Pbocni:\ PrtSS. 2005). pp. 20-47. 69-&3.
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 87

signifying the humility and kingship of Jesus.8 The wording o f the citation !Tom
Zech. 9.9 omit~ the description of the king, ' triumphant and victorious'> which
would otherwise be inappropriate for the Mallhe-.•m context and whose omission
thereby highlights the humble character ofJesus. The portrayalo rlesus riding on
a donkey's colt further emphasi:£es this humble character, which, when read in
view of Gen. 49 .II >9 may identif)' Jesus a."i king, the legitimate Davidic heir,
whose rule extends beyond Jerusalem to include 'the ends of the earth' (Zech.
9.1 0). Afler Jesus e-ats the Passover supper with the disciples and then leaves with
them for the Mount ofOiives, Mt. 26.3 1 cites Zech. 13.7 to explain Jesus' predic-
tion about the desertion of the.disciples. The citation applies the metaphoric lan-
guage of Zech. 13.7 to the historical realities about to transpire: shepherd = Jesus,
strike = his death, sheep = the disciples, and scatter = theirdispersion. 10 The cita-
tion also fun<.~t i ons theologically to establish that 'the disciples' detection. though
tragic and irresponsible, does not fall outside God's sovereign plan•. 11 Further-
more, ifML. 26.31 presupposes the context ofZech. 13.7-9, in which a remnant of
the people is puritled and in this manner become.s the renewed people of Yahweh,
it may also intimate the promise of the disciples• restoration to Jesus, anticipated
in Mt. 26.32: 'But alier I am raised up. I will go ahead of you to Galilee'-"
Ofwncem to this study is the possibility that the second mention o f the ~<tount
o f Olives in Ml. 24.3 may also be related to material from Zechariah, either
by allusion or through inte-rtextuality.D Such a notion is somelimes asswned. For

8. R. T. Fmnce. Je:ms wrd th<' Old Testomem: His Application of Old Te-mml(mt PmsageJ to
Himselfam/ His Mission (London: Tyndalc. 1971), p. 197.
9. C( Ge-n. Rob. 99.& (on G~'fl. 49.11) und Justin Martyr./ Apof. 31.6.
10. Hcrbcn FmnkrnlOik. Mauhau.\·: Kommemor(2 vols: Di.isf.<:Jdolf: Paunos. 1994--97). p. 453.
I I. D. A. Carson. .!.lauhnv. in Fmnk E. Gacbdein (ed.). f.'.rpruitor 's Bihli' Comment(IJ)'. XII I.
Motfl! t>w. Mark. Lrtke (Grund Rapids: Zondcrvnn. 1984). pp. 1- 599 (540).
12. W. D. Davies and O'Jic C. Allison. T1re Gosp.>/ According to Saint Maulrew (ICC: 3 \'Ols:
Edinbutgh: T&T Clnrk. 1988-97). Ill. pp. 541.
1.1 Sian ley E. Porter. 'The Useoflhe Old Tcstnmcnt in the NcwTcstuncntA Bric:fCcmmenton
Method and Tmninology·. in Cruig A. Evans and James A. S..1ndcrs(cds). Early Christian lmnpre-
tationofJiw Scriptures oflsnwl: lnl'<'stigmionsond Proposals (JSNTSup. 148: SSEJC. S: She-ffield:
Shcffidd Academic Pr<:ss. r997). pp. 79--96(79-88). hlsdc.monstr.ucd wdJ 1he compk\:i'ly of<kfining
1he differe-nt terms used to dc.scribe. the-usc of the Old Tcstnmc:nt in the New Te.stnmcm -and. speci·
fie--ally. the difficulties with the tcml 'allusion'. A stnndll.fd fitcmryddlnition of"allusion' is found in
Lauren-ce Perrine and Thornas R. Arp. Literoturt": Stmclul'i!. Sound. andSense (San Diego: Harcourt
Brace Jo,'anovich. Slh odn. r9SS). p. 623. whoddinc allusionas ''J something inhistol)'
or prt.\ious litcmture'. That ·something' muy be a pma1. placc,conc:cpLtmdition. cnml. ortcxL. but
biblical instances ofallusion gcn-crally assume 1hat the author(s)and reackr(s) share son1e- common
knowledge ofa-shurcd text. that is. beth New Tcstnmrnt author and rc.1dcr know the sumeOid Testa-
ment text l11e allusion and its c.ffoct presuppose the presence of some linguistic similarity in the
second text that e,·okcs the nntoccdcnt text to wh~h the biblienl aulhot alludc.s. On the process of a
n:'Jdcr' s uctualizntion ofan allusion. sec Zi\'tl Bcn-Pomt. '1'he Poetics of l itcrury Allusion•. PTL· A
Joumol for lkscriplil't' Poelies ond DuYJJ~; of Lilerolllre I ( 1976). 105- 2.&.
Furth~Tnlorc. biblic-11l sdtolarship ha.s..uc:cording to Benjamin 0. Sommer. A Pmpllet Rcods
S<riptw·e: Allmion ill Ltoioh 40-66 (Stanford: Stanford Unin:rsity. 1998). pp. 6--31. distinguished
between the notion of ·nJtusion•and 'intcrtcx-tunJity' and thus two distinctappro.1cftcs 10 the relal"ion·
ship b~'twccn texts. diuchronic and synchronic. Allusion (or. as Sommer also tcnns it. ·influc.ncc')
88 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

example, Stanley Hauerwas suggests that in Mt. 24.3 the disciples appropriately
ask JestL~ about the destruction of the Temple and the. sign of the coming age
'because the t\•1ount ofOiives is identified in Zech. 14.1-5 as the mount on whkh
the Lord will stand to save his people from the nations that have surrounded it'·'"
E\•en so. the scholarly literttlUre. has not gener~llly emphasized the use of Zecha-
riah in the Gospel of Matthew 115 leaving such an assumption unproven. At least
sixteen works deal wilh the use of Zechariah in the New Testament; t6 in actualily,

focuses on tbc: rcbtionship bc.twccn thc.antcccdcmtc:tl nnd the author of Lhc second text.lbat is.. how
the-second text e-vokes the antce<dcnltcxl. lntcf1c-:ttuality foc~s on the relationship between the
Sl"Cond text and its rcader(s). that is. how the rcadcr(s) mny understand \'atiouseonncctions betw«n
thesccond text and an nntecedc:nt text whetllc:rsucb a rel!ltionship bctw«n thet~'Ote:tiS were imendcd
or sigtUtllcd by thc-nulhor of thcsocond text. Thus. allusion iseonoemcd wilh the text nnd its uuthor:
intcrtextualit)'. with the text nnd iiS reader independent of its author. An allusion to an OldTcstam~-n t
t e~t by a N~·w TeS1ament author d ep~'tlds on, in the-wwdsofKcvin Vanhoozer./:.- Then-a .4froningin
This Text? The Bible, tlw R~a<kr, cmdtlw Momlit)• ofLitt'riJJyKnowl~dgi'(Gm.nd Rapids: Zon&:n·an.
1998), p. 257. ·what the author co11ldlrm't'done in tending to his words'. An intcrtextual e-Olli\Cction
b::tw«n un Old Testament text and a New Testament text nO(~-d by a reader coosidcrs what the text
would mcnn if the antcccdcru text were in the mind of the reader and lhus. says Steve Moyisc -
' lnterte~tuality !lnd the Study of the OldTeslamcnt in tile: New'. in Steve- Moyisc (ed.). TI~t OldTi!slu-
m~m in/Ire Ni!lf Te-stumem: Essays in Honour fJj J. L Nmth {JSNTSup. 189: SheAlc:-ld: Sheffield
Academic. 2000}. pp. 14-41 (39) - reveals ·scmething nboot the pOientinli~l' of the. te-xt'.
Any critic.uJ methodology tOr studying biblic.1J cilations :md allusion. insists ~fark J. Soda.
'Quolation. A1lusion '. in Sl!mky E. Porter (cd.). Dic/i(mury uf Biblical Criticism umllntt•rpretulifJfl
(New Yo~: Routledge. 2005). pp. 296- 8 (297). should payuttcntion to both di-ilchroniclllldsynchronlc
concerns. Thus. tbc intcrpf'C'Ier. from a di.acbronic perspective-. identifies verbal similarities between the
two te-xts. studies the-largcreontexl of the two texts. and reflects on the usc-of thcaot(('('denttcxt in the
Sl"Cond text and. from a synchronic pcrspecti\'C. discerns the impact of any intcrtcxtual insights on the
reader within the conte-Xt ofthe second tc-~1. SeC' nlso Thomas R. Hatina.. •Jntcrtcxwalityond liistorical
Criticism in Ncw n stament Studies: Is there a Relationship?". Bihlnt7 ( 1999), 28-43.
14. Stnnky l~aucrwas. Matthelf (Bruzos Theological Commcntnryoo the Bible: Grand Rapids:
Br.17.0S Press. 1007}. p. 201 .
15. Crnig A. Evans. · Jesus and Zcch!lriah·s Messianic Hope·. in Brutt Chilton undCraig A. Ewns
(cds). Autlwnticating tire Adilriries q(Je.nts(NTIS. 18.2: Lcickn: E. J. Brill. 19'99). pp. 373--88 {380).
16..\ fark C. Blacl:. ·rhc- Rcjocud and Slain Mes>iah who is Coming with his Angels: The Messi-
anic E-xegesis of Zechariah 9- 14 in the Passion Narrati\'cs· (PhD dissertation. Emory University.
19'90): Mart: J. Soda and Stanley E. Porter, · Li ~;ereture tothe.Third Dcgt'(': Prophecy inZ«hariab 9- 14
and the Passion of Chrisf. in ~ l anud JinOOch.ian and Robert Da\·id (cds). Trodltirt Ia Bihl~ IWbraiqw.
IX Ia Si!plunt~ ir Ia Nom-ell~ Biblr S(>gond(Scicnces bibliques. IS: ~ion trcal: Midia!•p,,ul. 2005). pp.
215- 54: F. F. Bruce. 'The. Book ofZechariah and the Passion Namtti\'cs'. BJRL 43 ( 1960-6 1). 336-
53: idem. Ni!w Testament DerrdfJpmenl q{Oid Testament11remes {Grand Rupids: Eerdmans. 196S).
pp. 100--14: C. H. Dodd.Accordiug to tllf! Scriptures: The Suhstmctuu ofNew Tes/(tm~m ThefJiogy
(London: Nisbet. 1952). pp. M- 7: lao M. Duguid. 'Mes>innK Thc-mcsinZcchariah 9-14'. in Philip E.
Satterthwaite. RichardS. Hess and Gordon J. Wenham (c:ds). 11re Lord's Anoint~d: lnterprt•ftlfiun fJj
OldTe.\·tament Meuionk Texts (THS: Grand Rapids: Buker Book l~ouse,l995). pp. 265-80: Cmig F.
Evans. · 1Will Go before You into Galikc•. JTSNS 5( 1954). 3--18: idt?m. ·JesusandZc.:hariah'sMc:s--
sianic: ~l ope". pp. 373-SS: Paul foster. ·rhc Usc of Zechariah in Mutthtw'sGospcl'. in ChristC9hcr
M. Tud;ett (od.}. T7te &okofledl(lrialr (Ntd Its /nflueltce(Burlington. VT: Asbg,atc, 1003). pp. 65-
85: R. T. Fmnce. Jesus mrd the Old Testament. pp. 1 03 · 10~ Robert M. Gmnt. '1'hc Coming of the
Kingdom'. JBL 67 (1948). 1'97- 303: Ham. 11u~ Coming King and Jl!e Rejected Sheplterd: Scyoon
Kim. •J(<.;US - 111e Son of God. the Stone~ the Son ufMun.nnd the Servant: The Role ofZochariah in
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 89

only two of these deal specifically with Matthew's use ofZechariah: Paul Foster's
'The Use of Zechariah in ~·lalthew• and the author's 1'Jw Coming King and the
Rf(i~·ctcul Shepherd· ,\!auhew's Rcwding o/Ztrchariah ·_.. MessitmiL· Hope.
In contrnst to the assumption that Matthew 24 relers to Zechariah 14, the essay
by Foster attempts to minimize the.use of Zechariah in Matthew, identil'ying lOur
citations (Zech. 9.9 in Mi. 21.5; Zech. 11.12 in Mi. 26. 15; Zech. 13.7 in Mi.
26.31; and Zech. 11.13 in Mi. 27.9-1 0} but allowing for only one possible allu-
sion to Zechariah (notably, Zech. 12.10-14 in MI. 24.30). To some extent, Foster
discounts the citation ofZech. 13.7 in Mi. 26.31, judging thai Mauhew has takeu
the wording from Zechariah direcely from Mark and only secondarily ffom Zecha-
riah. He also proposes that Mt. 26. J5 is better understood as a citation rather than
an allusion lOr two reasons: (I) the verbal correspondence betwee-n Mt. 26.15 and
Zech. 11.12 and (2) the connection ofMt. 26.15 with Mi. 27.9-1 0 thai lakes up the
same text from ZechariahY The identifi<.--.ation ofMt. 26.15 as a ' citation' ntther
than 'allusion' more likely relates to the matter o fdeHning the terms. Five of the
seven <.~riteria proposed by Richard Hays for confinning the prese.nce of allusions
(availability. volume, rec.urrence, history of interpretation. and satisfaction}sub-
stantiate an allusion to Zech. 11.12 in Mt. 26. 15.1 Purthermore, these criteria

corroborate six allusions (Mi. 23.35; 24.30, 31; 25.31; 26. 15; 26.28) and may
substantiate two more (MI. 24.36; 26.56)."
Although an extended treatment ofthese eight texts lies outside the parameters
ofthis study, some general comments about Foster's assumptions. methodology
and analysis disclose what may have contributed to his minimalist perspective on
the use ofZechariah in MaHhew. f irst, fos ter assumes the two-source hypothesis,
so he does not o.-dlow for Matthew, as is the case with his discussion ofMt. 26.3 J,
to recogni:£e or develop further material from Zechariah that may have been pre-
sent in the Markan source used by Matthew.20 Second, Fosler treats the.potential
allusions to Zechariah. dismissing them one by one (with the exception ofZech.
12.10-1 4 in Mi. 24.30) before his discussion of citations. f rom the. outset this
method avoids the use ofcle.o.u and significant citations of Zechariah in l\•1a1lhew
to confirm any potential allusion. Third, Foster rejects some potential allusion.'i to
Zechariah in Matthew by making some unsupported statements about certain Old

the Sc.Jf.kfcnlificalion of Jesus·, in Ouo lktz and Gerald F. Hawthorne (tds). Traditioll and
lnt~1pre1u1ion in tlte Nt"w Testanwm: b .wrys itt Ho11or of£. Eorle Ellisfi,r /lis Sixtieth Binlrtfay
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.. 1987). pp. 134--48: Barnabas Limlars. New Testamenl A)Miog!!tic: Tire
Doc1rina/ Sig11ifirm1<ea/llte OldTestamem Quowtions (Philadelphk1: Westminster Prc!OS: l ondon:
SCM. 1961). pp. 11()-34: Jod 'The Old Tcssamcnl and the Death of ksus: The Rok of
Sc.riptun:. in tht.Gospd Passion Nllrmtives'. in John T. Carroll and Jod B. Grcrn (eds}. TTre fkttlh of in Ear~l' Chril·tionity (Peabody. MA: Hcndrid:son. 1995). pp. 218-20: and Douglas J. Moo.
The OldTe-swment ill theGO.\]NI PaJ.\'imr Nurrotires (Shl:ffidd: Almond Press. 1983). pp. 173- 224.
17. f()S(c.r. ·nc US(' of Zcc:hariah in Mallhcw·s Gospel·, pp. 76-80.
18. Richani B. Hnys. EclmeJ q(Scriptur~ intlw LellerJ of Poul (New l~ a\'Cn: Yale Unim-sity
Press. 1989). pp. 29- 31. The olh-crtwo criteria arc thematic eohcrmoc and historical plausibility. For
discussion of the allusion. sec Ham. nre Coming King and tlk' Rej«led S/replunl. pp. 99-100.
19. Ham. 71tr~ Coming King ami tlk' Rej«ted Shepherd. pp. 84-106.
20. Foster. 'The Usc of Zechariah in ).falthC'\\·•. pp. 67- S. 70-1. 79- 80.
90 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

Testament concepts. For example, he dismisses the possible allusion to Ze<.~h.

9. 11 in Mt. 26.28 by asserting that 'covenant blood' is a common idea in the Old
Testament111 when in fact 'blood' and ' covenant• are rJ.rely linked in the Old Tes-
tament. 'Blood' and 'covenant' evide.nrly do not in the same pericope in
leviticus; their close., I proximity is Lev. 2.13 and 3.2. In point o r fact. only two
texts, Exod. 24.8 and Zech. 9.11, use the specific phrase, ' the blood of the
covenant', found also in MI. 26.28 (and Mk 14.24)."
.Mark Boda and Stanley Porter dn1w on Fosler's essay in the <.~ontexl o f two
broader is.sues. 1) The first part of the essay reviews the research on the use
lier prophets in Zechariah 9- 14, particularly the use of the shepherd-Hock motif
(Zech. 10. 1-3: I Ll -3, 17; 13.7-9). The seoond part reassesses the hypothesis origi-
nally put forth by C. H. Dodd 1' that Zechariah 9- 14 funned part or a collection o f
Old Testament texts or te.\·fim ouia. More recently, Mark Black has taken up Dodd's
hypothesis and argues that the overall stn1cture or Zechariah 9- 14 had some for-
math•e in1luence on the structure of the Passion Narrative.1' Sped, Porter
oJTers three arguments against this idea: (I) the order of the passion story does
not follow the order of Zechariah 9-14, (2) the allusions used to support Black's
conclusion are doubtful, and (3) the citations and allusions in the Passion Narra-
tive do not correspond to Black•s outline of nine specillc events ffom Zechariah.
To support the second argume.nt, Foster's analysis of the allusions to Zechariah
in Mallhew is presented in order to minimize the evidence for linking Matthew's
Passion Narrative with the. arrangement of Zechariah 9- 14.26 Since Foster con-
cludes that Manhew alludes to Zechariah only once (MI. 24.30 to Zech. 12.10-
14), the potential support for Black's conclusion has been greatly reduced (to, in
Poster's estimation, only Mt. 21.5; 24.30; 26.15, 31; 27.9-1 0). likely correct is
the assessment th;.H the Gospel writers ~ippear to cite ffom Zechariah more selec-
tively and for more specific purposes than suggested by the testimonia hypothesis
and that Zechariah 9- 14 has no controlling influence on the fOrmation of the Pas-
sion Nonetheless, while Foster· s study of the allusions in Matthew has
served these positions well, Foster's analysis is 1lot without its dHlk ultie.s. In his
conclusion, Porter himself points beyond these minimal conclusions, suggesting
that Matthew, perhaps resulling from his use of Mark's Gospel.~~> has 'enhanced
this source through specific citation of Zech~uiah, inspired to do so because o f
Mark's usage no doubt, but also because it probably supported a number of his

21. Fos.tcr. ·The Us:: of Zechariah in ).fattbcw'. p. 70.

22. Cllly Alan l~ nm. ·'J'he Last Supper in ).iatthcw'. BBR 10. 1 (2000). 53-69 (62-6).
23. Bodn and Porter. 'l ite-nuun: to lhc Third Ocgroc'. pp. 220-34.
24. Dodd. According to the Xript11res. pp. 64--6.
25. Blnck. ·rhc Rejccltd and Slllin Messiah who is Coming ..,;th his Angds'. p. 8.
26. Soda and Porter. 'l itc-rnturt to tht.Third Ocgroc'. pp. 24-8-50.
27. Boda and Porter. 'litcrnturt to the Third Ocgroc'. pp. 25 1- 52.
28. Even if the priority of Marl: is oftoo nssumed.the issue of sotuccs for the Synoplic Gospels
hns noc bocn cc.mtlusivcly nnsweml. For a d~:1ailed history of the seholtuly debate. soc David L.
Dungan. A 1/il·JtJI~'~lthe Synopti<" Probli!m: TheConon. tM Text, the ContpOJiliMond the ftlterpre·
taliotl qltlw Gospt'ls (ABRt: New Vorl:: Doubb lay. 1999).
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 91

messianic perspectives, such as seeing Jesus as king, good shephenJ or pierced


2. An Allusion to Zechariah i11 Mal/hew 24.30

Such is probably the case with material in the midst of Malthew's Olivet Dis-
course, and what is a.."serled here about citalioll.'~ ffom Zechariah may also hold true
for the allusion in Mt. 24.30. Two statements in the verse may allude to Zecha-
riah: 'all the peoples of the earth will mourn' and ' they will see'. Mallhe.w shares
several words with the LXX ofZech. 12.10-14: rraoon a i <1>ulla1in Zech. 12.10,
y~ in Zech. 12.12, and K&.j!OvTal in Zech. 12. 14. Also, the phrase ' they "~II see'
may relate to the similar phrase in Zech. 12. 10: however, Matthew uses the verb
o <j!OVTQI instead of the LXX's i mjlii'-'JiovTal,lO and both verbs have diJTerent
objects, ' the Son ofl\,1un coming on the clouds o f heave-n' in Matthew ~md 'on
me" whom they have pierced' in Zechariah. The density oflonguage from Zech.
12.10-14 strongly supports the prese.nce of the allusion in Mt. 24.30.
Zechariah 12. 10- 14 appears near the beginning of the second oracle (Zech.
12.1 - 14.21) ofZechariah 9-14. Zechariah 12- 14 envisions both the end ofoppres-
sive ie'•dership and the restoration of Yahweh's purified people. In Zech. 12.1-9, a
series of promise-S cast in first-person statements speak of the empowemlent of
Jerusalem and Judah against the surrounding nations. Yahweh will make Je-ru-
salem a cup of judgement from which lhe nations must drink ( 12.2) and an
immovable rock ( 12.3), strike every horse with panic and kee.p Watch over Judah
( 12.4). make the leaders of Judah like a frrepot and a torch to inflict destruction
on the surrotmding people (12.6), and deslroy a lithe nations who attack Jeru-
salem ( I2.9). Verse I0 begins with a similarly worded statement, Yahweh will act
with grace toward the people or Jerusalem; however, they will mourn 31 fOr the one
they ha\'e pierced, here identified in the context as Yahweh}.l The severity ofthis
mourning is depicted in three similes: 'as one mourns fOr an only child', ·as one
grieve-S ror a firstborn son', and ·as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain
of Megiddo' (12.10-1 1). The third of these may refer to an act o f mourning

29. Boda and Porter, 'l itcrnturc to l.hc Third Ocg~', p. 252.
30. Both Jn 19.36 nnd Rev. 1.7 nlso usc a formof OpO:c,) fori: rul3).£trw in their citations ofZtth.
12.10, and in MI. 24.10 the usc of Op.Xw allows for the possible: wordpla)· bclwten K&o/ovTol and
31. Wbik so•oc English ttanslations(c:.g. NlB and NRSV) re-ad 'tbc: oncwbomthc:y 00\'t-pic:~o:l'.
bolh the-~tT and LXX n:ad ·on me·. which is prcfmc:d for tc:xt·c.ritical rea:sons,aocordingtoManhins
Dc:kor. ·un prob!i.'tllCde c:ritiqlK' tcxtudk ct d'c:xCgCsc: Znc-h 12.10 ct aspicicnt ad me quem con·
llxcnmt', RB 58 ( 195 1). 189-99 (192).
32. Mark J. Bo<b. Huggoi, lt'<:horiah (The N1V Application Commentary. Grund Rapids: Zon·
dtn•an. 2004). p. 485. undcrst!lnds the grace £)\•en to the pe-ople as that which enables them to
respond in rcpcntnnoc:-.
H. Carol L Mc.ycrs nnd Eric M. Mc)·c:rs.lechorioll 9- /4 (AB. 15C: New York: Doubleday.
1993). p. 337. On oth1.' f proposed idcmtlfications of the: one picn:cd. soc Katrinn J. A. l.nrkin. T/t('
f \.·chutologyofS«cnd lerlroriah: A SitJJy of1he Formmkm ofa .1,/unwlogi<ol Wisdom Anthology
(CBET. 6: Kampen: Kok Pharos. 1994), pp. 161-5.
92 BibliL·al lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

remembering the death o fKing Josiah (2 Kgs 23.29; 2 Chron. 35.25).1' Further-
more, this mourning involves the whole land ( 12.12-1 4), that is~ the entire society
of people, including all families, signalled through the redundant use of 'clan'
(:;ry~;;.b), both genders, indicated in the fivefold re.petition of' wives- ~,~ ), politi-
cal leaders, represented in David and Nathan, and religious, re-presented in
Levi and Shimei. Zechariah 13.1-6 indicts the royal and prophetic leade.rship but
lirst depicts a fo untain that cleanses fTom sin and impurity those who have pierced
Matthew 24- 25 contains material sirnihu to Mark 13, some of which is nearly
verbatim and in the same order(Mt. 24.1 -36 and Mk 13.1-37) and some ofwhich
comprises considerable additions on the theme ofj udgement (Mt. 24.37- 25.46).
r-,.<tatthew 24 begins with Jesus leaving the Te.mplc with his disciples and speaking
a word ofj udgement against the Temple; when Jesus assumes the position of an
authoritative teacher on the Mount of Olives (5.1; 13.1-2; 15.29; c[ 23.2),'' his
disciples ask about the timing oflhis desiruction and of his coming and the end of
the age. Even if the disciples· question assumes a certain connection between the
events of the destruction of Jerusalem (70 CE) and the end of the age> it remains
uncertain whether the discourse itself confimts or rejects this point of view, and the
chapter demonslntle-S a certain chronological imprecision.36 While the disciples
(and readers) expect a definite answer, they are laler told that even Jesus does not
know the timing of that day; this disappointing ambiguity serves onl)' to heighten
the admonilions emphasized in the. discourse. 'watch• (24.4) and 'slay alert'
(24.42; 25.1 3),'' and implicit in the parables ofj udgement in Mauhew 25.
The topic of the coming of the Son of Man, represented in the discourse
with rrapouoia (24.3, 27, 37, 39) but more often with !pxo~on (24.5, 30, 39, 42-
44, 46; 25.10, 27' 31; cr. 16.27-28; 23.39), is take.n up in 24.27-31. The tertn
rrapouola has the general sense of 'presence' or 'arrival' (1dt. I0.18; 2 Mace.
8. 12); it t-an connote God's presence and blessing (Josephus, Am. 1.281; 3.80,
203: 4.180; 9.55; 18.284: Divgn. 7.6). In addition, rrapouola serves as a technical
expression for the 'visit' of a king or high-ranking official, requiring funds lOr
a proper welcome (3 !\Jiacc:. 3.1 7).l11 In Mallhew, it means 'arrival' rather than
'return'~ and it refers to the eschatological coming o f the Son of Man, foreshad-
owed in the entry into Jemsolem (MI. 21.5, 9)'' lightning (Mt. 24.27) conveys
the sudden and unmistakable nature of the Son of Man's coming, and the image
is commonly associated with thoophany (Exod. 19.16; Ps. 18.14; Ezek. 1.1 3:
Dan. I0.6; Hab. 3. 11) and divine judgement on the nations (Zech. 9.14). Here

34. Oa,•id l. Pcterscn.Zochoriah 9- /4 and .4tolachi: A Commentmy(On: Louisville: w~'$tmin·

stco'John Kno.x. 1995). p. 1!2. for other options.. sec Ha.hlcn and Bam. Jfinnr Proplwrs 1. p. 466.
35. Fred W. Bumc-n. ·r rolcgomcn-on to Reading Matthcw•s Eschatological Discourse: Rcdun·
dnnc.y and the.Education of the R~-adcr in Mat1hcw'. Semeiu 31 ( 19&5). 91 - I 09 (9S-9).
36. Oa\'ics and Allison. Tlw Gospel According to Soint Muuhcw. \'OI. 3. pp. 31&-3 1.
.H . Wiltcrn S. Vorstcr. "A Reader-Response Approach to Matthew 24.3·28'. fi.,.·TSJ 47 (1991).
t099-108(t t06).
38. M).f. p. 497.
39. Davits and Allison. The Gospt"{ According to Saint .tluulurw. \'Ol. J. p. 338.
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 93

'lightning' with napouola may as.sert divine power against human military and
political power, and the 'arrival' of the Son of t\·1-an ends any claims counter to
God's sovereignty.~ The conse.quence and impact of Jesus· coming is seen in
judgement upon earthly powers who can no longer claim the blessing of deities
represented in the sun, moon and stars (Ml. 24.28-29), mourning among the
nations who see the Son ofl\•1an coming on the clouds (24.30);Hand delivemnce.
lor the elect who are gathered by !he angels from !he four winds (24.3 I).
Mall hew has introduced the material lfom Zechariah, 'all the peoples of the
earth will mourn', before the statement about seeing the Son of rvtan coming on
the clouds ofh~..tven, a statement that alludes to Dan. 7.13 and is also found in Mk
I 3.26 (and Lk. 2 I.27). Some doubt, however, that Mallhew draws the allusion lo
Zechariah from the Old Testament source, since Zech. I2. I0- 14 is conllaled with
Dan. 7.13 in Rev. 1.1 (cf. Justin, I Apal. 52.1 I; Dial. 14.8; 64. 7; l renileus, H"er.
4.33.11). For instance, Foster suggests •hat rv1atthew recognized the expansion of
Dan. 7. I 3 with material lium Zechariah in Mark and incorporated the Old Testa-
ment material into his Gospel without reference to the text ofZechariah.J~ Granted
this is possible, but it cannot be corroborated since the evidence comes from texts
in all probability written ;.-1 fter the 11rst Gospel. A! Furthermore, by virtue of the
citations from Zechariah in Matthew (2 I .5; 26.3 I. 27.9-I 0), one can hardly sug-
gest that rvtatthew is unfamiliar w'i th Zechariah 9-14. Signific~mttoo m~-1y be the
diiTerence in the order of !he combined lexts in Mt. 24.30 (Zech. I2. I 0- I4 then
Dan. 7.13) and Rev. 1.7 (Dan. 7.13thenZech. 12.JO. J4).1fMallhewmerelyknew
of some pre-existing tradition of Dan. 7. I 3 and Zech. I2. I 0- I4, why does he aller
the order found consistently elsewhere in first- and second-centll1)' texts combining
the two texts (e.g. R.-·. 1.1;Justin, I Apol. 52. I I; Dial. 14.8; 64.7; )re.naeus. Haer.
4.33. I I)'I Neither does Mallhew apply the teXI lo the crucifix ion, as do Jn I9.37
and these other texts,.u nor to the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, as is common
among the.earlier Church Fathers (cf. Justin, Dial. 32.2). More likely. Mallhew
adds the allusion 10 Zech. I2. I 0. apparenlly prompted to do so by the presence of
O"'ovrat in rvtk 1 3.26;~ 5 in order to emphasize the reaction of universal mourning
at the Parousia of the Son or t\•fan..lli

.40. WaiTtn Carter. 'Art T11crc Imperial Texts in tht CL1ss'! lnttnCJttual Eu.gks and Matthcan
Eschatology us - Lights Out" Time tOr Imperial Rom~·(Mauhc:w 24-:27·3 1)'.JBL 122 (2003). 467-87
(480- 2}.
41. On l.hc: iliOi:rcncc in wording between iTri Tc:Jv ve¢tACJv -rOO oUpavoU in Mt. 24.30 and iv
vt¢iho1.,; in Mk 13.26. sc:e Muninus J. J. Menken . .4fallheh' 's Bible: Th<' OidTesrami!m Texr ojtlw
Enmge/isr (BETL.. 173: lc:uvcn: Lcuvcn University Pn:so. 2004). pp. 220- 1,
42. Fostc.r. ·fhc Usc of Zechariah in Mauhcw•s Gospel·. p. 71.
43. Karl li cinric:.h Rcng:;torf. 'o1),J.I£icv\ TDNT, VJI. pp. 200-69 (237).
44. Sec also Born. 7.9: Justin. Dk1l. 32.2: 11 8.1.
.45. Christopher M. Tuckett. ·z '-'Churiah 12.10 and the-NewTestamcnt', in i<km(cd.). The Boo/to[
Z(>dwri<th and Its ll!fltli!Jtce (Burlington. YT: Ashgatc. 2003). pp. 11 1- 2 1 {113).
.46. RoblTI Ii . Gundry. The ()seq(I he 0/dTeswrmmt in S1,\./mthew j Go.\]WI wirh Sp«ial R~fer·
em·e 10 tire Me.uianic Hope- (No\•TSup. 18: Leiden: E. J. Brill. 1967). pp. .488-9.
94 BibliL·a l lnterprelalion in Early Christian Go:lpels

Whether lhis mourning lead~ to anguish or repentance is not entirely clear:H

The ambiguity of the connotation of mourning is not unlike.the context ofZecha-
riah 1 2 ~ in \Vhkh some. receive grace ltom Yahweh and through a fOuntain that
cleanses from sin ( 12. I 0- J3. I) and others are remol'ed fro m royal and prophetic
leadership ( 13.2-6). In ML24.30 three Jitclors fal'our the notion of fear and despair
o f judgement: ( I) the preceding imagery about the defeat of human military and
political powers (24.27-29), (2) the subsequent depictionsofthe unwatchfltl who
are unprepared for comingj udgement (ML 24.3 7- 25.46), and (3) the direct con-
nection wilh Dan. 7. 13-1 4, where ' one like a son of man' is ghren everlasting
dominion and an indestructible kingship over 'all peoples. nations, and lan-
guages' .Jil Nonetheless, the broader missiolo$ical purpose o f the Gospel (Mt
28. I 8-20), here implied in wording ( rraoou at <j>uAa l Ti); y R;) reminiscent o f
Gen. I2.3 (cr. Gen. 28. I4; Rei'. I .7; I Clem. I0.3), may intimate the inclusion of
the Gentiles in the blessings o f the <'<>l'e.nant with Abraham and thereby signify
their repentance. Thus, 'the sign ofthe Son o f Man' may be both a sign o fj udge-
tmmt against the defiant among the nations and a sign o f gathering the elect from
'all peoples of the earth '.••

3. Zechariah 14muJ A1atfhew's Olivet Discours,~

The aiiLL>iOn to Zech. I2.10-14 in Mt. 24.30 raises the possibility of other inter-
texrual connections between the Olivet Discourse in Mauhew and Zech;.iriah 9--
14. For example. the Didach f-• contains an intriguing combination or statements
demonstrating that others have read additional texts from these corpuses in
relation to one another: 'And ..then there will appear the signs" of the tn tlh: first
the sign of an opening in heaven, then the sign of the sound of a trumpe.t, and
third, the resurrection of the - but not for all; rather, as it has been said, "The
l ord will come, and all his saints with him." Then the world "will see the Lord
coming upon the clouds of heaven'' (I 6.6-8)-'0 Here a sta!ement from Zech. 14.5
(' Yahweh will rome, and all his holy one-s with him' ) is joined with two clauses
lfom Mt. 24.30-3 I ('then the sign (of the Son of Man I will appear' and they ' will
see the Lord <.~ming upon the clouds of heaven'). Moreover, wording similar to
Zech. 14.5 appears also in Mt. 25.3 I, 'when the Son of Man comes in all his glory
and all his angels with him' . The presence of anallusion to Zech. 14.5 in Mt. 25.3 I
has been questioned on the basis o f fOur inwnsiste.ncies: (I} ditlerent people are
depicted, (2) dill<orent companions o f the people are depicted, (3) different gr.•m-
mutical forms are used~ and (4) the imagery that is used is too common to postu-
late influe nce. 51 Howeve-r, three o f these four reasons are wronglyasswned. First,

~7. 0 .:1\'its and Allison. Thr Go!l~l.4cconling to Saint Mauhew. \'OI. 3. p. 361.
48. Carter. ·Are. thrn:' Imperial Texts in the:.Class'?' pp. 467-87 (486).
49. Schylcr Brown. ' The Mnuhcan Apocalypse'. JSNT 4 (1979). 2- 27 (13--14).
50. l11ce.itntion is taken from Michad W. ~l ol mc:s(cd .). nu' .4poJIOik FUI!wrs:Greek Textsmtd
Englislr TranJ!ations o/lhr!ir lflrilings. {tmns. J. B. Lightfoot nnd J. R. Hnm1er; Gmnd Rapids: B.."'kt r
Book Hous~-. 2nd cdn. 19'99).
51. Foster. 'The Usc of Zechariah in ).fatthcw's Gos.pel'. p. 72.
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 95

the one coming in Zech. 14.5 is 'Yahweh'~ translated KUpto-; in the LXX; the one
coming in Mt. 25.31 is lirsl identified as ' the Son of Man', but later as 'King'
(25.34, 40; cf. Zech. 14.9) and also Kup•os (25.37, 44). Second, the companions
in Zech. 14.5 are 'holy ones' or ·angelic beings', which Mt. 25.31 ' interpretively
(and correctly) renders' as ol Ci:y~Aot'. :.~ 1ltird~ the imagery of a figure arriving
\\~than entourage of angels is in (·ftct not commonlyapplied to the coming of the
Messiah; however, the New Testament writers transfer this imagery (and expec-
tation) without hesitation from Yahweh (Zech. 14.5) to Jesus (see Mt. 16.27-28:
In Zech. 14.5, the coming of Yahweh with the holy ones occurs within the first
of fOur episodes that pre.sent a namttivedescriptiono f the coming dayofYahweh
(Zech. 14.1-5, 6-7, 8-12, 13-2 1). This first episode narrates the devastation and
rescue of Jerusalem. The day of Yahweh is coming ( 14.1) when Yahweh will
gather all the nations to 1\ghl against JeniSalem ( 14.2) and the city will suffer a
crushing defeat (14.3). Yahweh will then intervene, J1ghting against those nations,
and will stand on the Mount ofOiives, causing the mountain to split in two (14.4).
The \•alley created by this split will provide a way of e-scape for the inhabitants of
JeniSalem, and Yahweh will come with all the holy ones (1 4.5). The anthropo-
morphic image of Yahweh standing on the Mount ofOiives adv~mces the concept
o f military vic.tory, and the depiction of Yahweh coming (1 4.5) answers the
notion ofYahweh going out ( 14.3), highlighting the role ofYahweh in rescuing a
remnant ofl he city's inhabitants ( 14.2)' ' The remainder of Zechariah 14 elabo-
rates on the outcome of 'that day', in which Jemsalem is destroye.d and then
restored as the centre of Yahweh's universal reign. In that day Yahweh will be
worshipped as king by 'all the clans of the earth' (Zech. 14.1 7; d'. n&oaoai
<j>u>.ao Tijs yijs in Ml. 24.30). The chapter surpasses any unive.rsal perspective
presented in previous chapters; Zech. 12. I 1-14 speaks of the clans oflhe land o r
Israel, but 14.17, ofthe clans of the earth. A similar perspective appears in Mat-
thew's Olivet Discourse; all nations "~II hear the gospel preached (1\>IL 24.14),
'a li the nations ol'lhe earth• will mourn the appe.arance of the 'Son ofr\+tan coming
on the clouds or heaven' (MI. 24.30), and all nations will assemble before the Son
o f Man who separates them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (1'v1t.
25.32)." Interestingly, the vivid presentation o r Yahweh as king in Zechariah 14
surpa."es that of previous sections o r the book (cf. 2.13; 4.14; 6.5, 7; 8.20-23;
9. 10). and the story of the sheep and goals al the end of the Olivet Discourse

52. Gundry. T1u! Uw: oflilt' Old Testam.elrf ill St Matthen·'s Gospel. p. 142.
53. Fmncc.Je.m.f muftile OldTes1ament. p. 184: cf. Mt 16.17·28: 24..3 1: I 111css. 3. 13: 2 Thcss.
1.7: Jude J.J: Did 16.7: Justin. 1 Apol. 51.9.
54. liahk n nnd Hnm. Minor Prophets l. pp. 481-2.
55. According to Kathlccr~ Weber. I he: Image of Sheep and Goats in Mall 24:31·46'. CBQ 59
( 1997}.. 657- 78 (.6S9. 6i0. 677). thc Old Testament provides sufficient c:vKfcr~cc to suggest thai the
reader of the first Gospel would regard the ·gotu• a1 a posili\'e image (e.g. Gen. I5.9: 31. 14· I5:
Judg. 13.15: 15. 1}: lhw. iLsappcarane.c in the context ofMaHbe-w 24-25 as 'the most surprising of a
series ofsurprising judgments• sm•es ns a wllming for ·readers imperfoctlyprcparOO for j udgmcnf.
BibliL·a l lnterprelation in Early Christian Go:lpels

(Mt. 25.34, 40) is the only place in Matthew that associates the. Parousia of the
Son ofMan with the title 'King'."
The introduction oflhe Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24.1-2) create.s for the reader 'a
confiden<.~e chat the spe-..tker c~m indeed see the future' ,s7 and the redundant infor-
mation given in t\•11. 24.3 ('Jesus was siUing on the Mount ofOiive.s ') gene-rates
the expectation Chat Jesus will reveal something \\~th authority, since he sits (see
Mt. 5.1-2; 13.1 -3; 15.29) on a mountain (see MI. 5.1; 8.1; 14.23: 15.29; 17. 1, 9;
26.30; 28.16). Furthermore, the Gospel has already depicted Jesus as an omnis-
cient chamcter with knowledge beyond human perception (Mt. 9.4; 12.25),
knowledge ofthings hidden from the wise ( 11.25-27), and knowledge of events
before their occurrence (Mt. 16.21, 27-28: 20.18-19). Because of this prior edut-a-
tion, the reader has no reason to doubt that Jesus can answer the disciples' ques-
tion in temporal terms: 'when will these things happen and what will be the sign
o f your coming and the end of the age'?' (MI. 24.3)."' Most disconcerting for the
reader is Jesus' own admission that he does not know 'about that day or hour'
(Mt. 24.36)-''
Both MI. 24.36 and Zech. 14.7 deal with expectations regarding the chrono-
logical arrival of'that day'. The phrase is ollen repeated in Zechariah 14 ( 14.4, 6,
8-9, 13, 20-2 1; cf. 9.16; 11.1 1; 12.3-4, 6, 8-9. I I; 13. 1-2, 4), and the concept
appears with similar vocabulary in Matthew 24- 25 (Mt. 24.36, 42, 50; 25.13; cf.
7.22), where it is also denoted by the term napovola (Mt. 24.3, 27, 37, 39). For
Zechariah, Yahweh comes 'on that day'; for Matthew, the Son of Man <.'.Omes on
'that day' at an hour unexpected (MI. 24.36, 44). For Zechariah 'that day' is a
'never-ending day'&> without day or night; the absence of this diurnal pattern
results in perpetual light.61 This representation of continuous day, 'known to
Yahweh' and thus beyond human comprehension, depicts the reversal ofthe first
day of creation that has produced the original division of day and night (Gen. 1.3-
5). In Zech. 14.7 no human can understand an unending day; in Mt. 24.36 11<>
human or angel or the Son knows the timing of the day's arrival (cf. I Thess. 5.1-
2). These verbal and conceptual similarities may not be sullicient to corroborate
the presence of an allusion to Zech. 14.7 in Mt. 24.36;" nonetheless, the thematic
coherence between the portrayals of the two texts may rather suggest to the
re-J.der an identification of 'that day' in Matthew with the comparable phmse in

56. Hahlen and Hnm. Mi11or Pmph~tsl. pp. 491- 2: Dnvicsu.nd Allison. 11wGo.spelAccording to
Saint .Uaulu:w. vol. 3. p. 41&.
57. 0.:1\'its and Allison. Thr Go!l~l.4cconiing to Saint Mmthew. vol. 3. p. 333.
58. Burnell. ·Prolegomenon to Reading Matthew's Eschatological Discourse:·. p. 100.
59. Son1e MSS (e.g. ~~ l W p 33 vg s)·co) omit the phli!S:C 006£0 vibs. but this omission is b(St
explllined bydoctrin.'ll diflicultics: its authenticity is likely. since. asAJbr.:clu Ocpkc. ·napovola·. in
TDNT. v. pp. 858-71 (867). hilS re.maR:od. ·who wou\d h•wednrcd invent sucfl a snying"!'
60. HALOT. p. 30.
61. .\fcycrs nnd Meyers. Zecltnriall 9- 14. pp. 433-4.
62. So f<l6(¢l. '1'hc Usc ofZcchatin.h in Mallhcw'. p. 11. but cf. 1-lnm. 771,, Comi11g King ond the
Rej£--ct£'11 Shepherd. pp. 97-H.
Ho\M Reading z~.L~hariah and !t(althew':; 0/iw!l Discourse 97

Both Zechariah 14 and ~·la1thew 24 use theophanic imagery in relation to the

coming of Yahweh and the Parou.sia of the Son of Man. Even though the lan-
guage of destruction appears in both contexts. such portrayals imply more th~m
the physical destmction of Jerusalem. The func:tion ofthis mythological language
highlight• the glory of the Parousia, that is. the divine 'arrival' that brings judge-
ment and salvation.6..~ Thus, Zechariah 14 with its stunning represe-ntation ofYah-
weh standing on the Mount of Olives and causing the mOlmtain to split in two
'challenges the reader to <.-onside-r the eventual destruction of Jerusalem us part of
Yahweh's larger purpose and to act accordingly, assured that the victorious inter-
vention of Yahweh results ultimately in the universal worship of Yahweh as
king' .M likewise, ·Matthew 24- 25 with its stylized presentation of Jesus silting
on the. MOlmt ofOiives and ans\Vering the disciples, questions about the destruc-
tion of Jerusalem and the sign of his coming prepares the reader (Or a coming
judgement like.the one that overtook Jerusalem and for a universal commission,
in which the reader is urged to participate,'> and through which results the recog-
nition of Jesu.s as Lord by 'all the peoples of the earth' (Zech. 12.10-14; Mt.
24.30; 25.32: 28.16-20).

6.1 George-R. Bl-aslcy-Mum1y, J e-.u.u and lire Lmt Days: nre lnterpmatiou ufllw 0/ivel Dis·
courst- (Peabody. MA: Hmdriekson. 1991). p. 425.
64. Hahk n nnd Hnm, Minor Prophets 1. p. 478.
65. Brown. ' The: Mntthcan Apoc.nlypsc', pp. 2- 27 (2).

l11omas R. Hatina

Matthew's second chapter, in contrast to the firs t, is dominated by a geogr.tphical

motif. Even the story of the magi, which is ofte.n viewed as a distinct narrative
strand, is oriented toward the establishment of Bethlehem as the birthplace. of
Jesus. Chapter 2 is a t1avel narrative which attempts to explain why Jesus. although
born in Bethlehem. joumeyed to Egypt and eventually settled in Nazareth. T11e
geographical importance is underscored by appeals to Scripture. Matthew uses
place names elsewhere, and even on one occasion refers to six locations (Syria,
Galilee, Decapolis. Jerusalenc Judea, and ' beyond the Jordan· in 4.23-25). but it
is only in ch. 2 that they are all associated with Scripture texts introduced by ful-
filment tb rmulae. Omission of Scripture in other places where they might be
expected, such as associating the magi story with Num. 24. 17, adds further weight
to the geographical emphasis. 1 TI1e aim of this chapter is to provide an explana-
tion for associating Scripture with Jesus' journey of escape from Bethlehem to
Nazaretl1 via Egypt. Although the broader historical question of w hy a travel
narrative needed (o be-incorporated looms tangentially large. it is here secondary.
I attempt to explain Matthew's use of Scripture within the broader process of
mythmaking, \Vhich in general temlS begins with some kind ofhistorical (or fac-
tual) event, is then interpreted withina cosmic structure, and is finally legitimized
historically. It is the last two phases in the process that are of ooncem here. I
respectively divide the chapte-r into two parts by fiJSt drawing atte-ntion to the lit-
erary artistry of ch. 2, namely the mythmaking phase, and then foc.using on the
historical legitimization ofthe trave.l story via the embedding of Scripture. More
specifically. in the first part of this chapter f'.·tatthew's literary artist1y is explored
in light of Northrop Frye's tJ1e01Y of mythmaking which brings attention to
Jesus' portrayal as a divine child who miraculously escapes death from a
paranoid tyrannical king whose J'Ule in turn is subve11ed by his intended victim. It
is a narrative that contains all (oo many familiar tCatures. such as revelations
through dreams, a miraculous birth~ divine parentage, cosmic portents>and the
battle-betwee.n good a nd evil, all of which are reminiscent of hero myths that

I. K. Stcnduhl. ·Quis ct U1ldc:? An AnulysisofMl I-2'. in W. Eltc-stc-r (cd.).Judentum.. Urrlwis·

lf!ntwn, l<irr-l'tt' (Festschrift J. JcremillS: BZN\V. 26: B~"fl in: TOpdm:mn. 1964}. pp. 94- I05.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe-w 2 99

would have been known in various forms throughout the He.llenized/Romanized

Diaspora in the latter pm·t of the first century. They are. similar also to more
remote hero myths in religions that were outside ofMatthew"s direct sphere of
influence. (n light of Matthew's preceding genealogy where gamara clearly
emphasizes David. the emphasis on Bethlehem: and nine refel'ences to the evil
king Herod, Matthew~s hero Jesus emerges as a divinely appointed rival king.
The sec.ond part of the chapter concentrates on how the quotations containing
fulfilment formulae function in the journey narrative. The term 'function; of
course, has a broad meaning, but it is hero again limited to Northrop Frye's
lite.rary-critical insights into myth and ideology. ) argue that Matthew's appeal to
scriptural quotations can be explained as an exercise in historic.izing myth for the
purpose of legitimization. f\·1ethodologically, my frame of reference is not the
early historical-critical bifurcations between history and myth (often depicted as
the division between truth and falsehood) utilized in the nineteenth- and eal'ly
twentie-th-centUiy 'lives of Jesus', nor the redaction-critic-aland tradition-critical
distinctions that have dominated much ofd1e discussion about embedded Scrip-
ture texts in the Gospels. lnstead, my approac-h is more posrmodern, fo1· the lack
of a better word. This is to say that I am in.tere.sted in the pi'Ocess- from what
might be termed historical facts to their mythical inte.q>retation and eventual his-
toricization - which is at home within current theol'ies of lll}rthmaking in both
liten11y and religious studies.2 Putting it another way, my interest is not so much
in theology, as was largely the case in tl1e use of historical-criticism, but in more
inclusive modes of thought and consciousness which have to do with imagination
and the role of metaphor in the construction of reality, particulatly that which is
believed /o be historic--al reality by the devotee.s.

I . Mapping the Literary Artist1y of Matthew 2: From History to Myth

In the history of Western culture. myths that have maintained their ideological
function or have retained some kind of an appeal in society have been translated
into and conve.yed in logos language. The infancy nan-atives of both Matthew and
l uke have particulatly suftered from the supe-rseding ofmythos b)' logos where-
by that which is deemed true is formulated in literal, dialectical or factual ("his-
torical') language. Throughout the history ofinstitutional Christianity, for exam-
ple. structu1·ed logos-formulated doctrine ahvays preceded readings of the infan~y
ac-.counts (and indeed the entire Bible).3 The scholastic and Enlightenment periods
are pinnacle-~li of an obfuscation. and even omission, of the literary artistry and the
imaginative processes that should be credited ro the Evangelists. While logos-

2. From n rcdnction<riticaJ p~~rspcc.tive. lnany huve rightfully pointed toth~oscquotution fomlu-

lae as imporlant oonLTibutors 10 1hc overall theme of fulfilment whe-reby the Evangdi~t used Scripture
typologically to dcmon~LT:tle !he continuity ofGod'spurposcsand theireufmination in ksus. See. for
example. R. T. fruncc:, Matthe-w: £mnge/iJI ol1dTe«ller(E:tctcr. Pllternostcr. 1989), pp. 1 6~205:
The Go-spf!l (1/Mallhf!w(N lCNT: Grand Rnpid~ : EcrdmllllS. 2007). pp. 10-14.
3. Northrop Frye.• H'ord\· 11'ilh Power: Beilrg a Seco11dStudyof'The Bible and Literature' (Toe-
onto: Penguin. 1992). pp. 33-4.
I00 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

influenced readings still dominate in tbrmal ecclesiastical settings, their cultural

foi'Ce has considerably diminished since the blossoming of modem biblical studies
in the nineteenth century followed by more inclusive approaches to the study o f
world religions and mythology. Comparative, phenomenological and liter;uy
appl'Oaches to the study of biblical texts have. understandably tended to be less
apologetic than their theological counterparts, as has often been seen in redaction
and tradition criticisms. Taking our text as an example. the miraculous escape
journey of Jesus. along with his divine conception~ has in traditional Christian
settings been read factually in light of doctrinal stn1ctures; whe1·eas in non-
ecclesiastical set1ings the entire infhncy account is read mythically in light o f
comparative stories in the ancient world.

Genre: From History to Lilermy Artisfl y

The fundamental question is that of genre. What kind of writing is the journey
account in Matthew 2? (s it, from one end of the literary spectn un. a travel log
(logos) recording the events that perpetuated tJ1e journey from Bethlehem to Naz-
areth via Egypt. as it is often 1'ead on popular and institutional levels by Chl'is-
tians? [t is ce-rtainly written to appe-ar as such- which is discusse-d below. ffso. not
only do insurmountable historical problems arise whe-n the account is compared
with that of Luke and the rest of t\<btthew;' but ethical considerations emerge
when similar accounts from the ancient world are brought into the-mix. (n other
words, the same evidence in support of a historical reading of Matthew 2 should
also be applied to related accounts of emperors. sages and heroes. (am. howeve1·.
not aware of any scholarly attempts to historicize non-Christian conception and
birth stories. From a view~ one has to explain the philological,
stylistic and theological fingerprints of the. Evangelist found throughout 1.18-
2.23) in addition to the quotation fornmlae.5 Moreover, the quotations would play
an insignificant role in the compositional sequence of the narrative if Matthew is
giving us an archive.
Most scholars argue for the opposite end ofthe genre spectrum: that Matthew
2 is a lite.rary fiction containing vaJying amounts of factual data~ such as Mary
being the. mother o f Jesus, Nazareth being the village where Je.sus grew up, and
Herod being the king of the Jews. But, precisely how much factual data in addi-
tjon to what is Matthean or pre-Matthean is difficult to determine-) and is largely
irrelevant for the aim at hand. What is ofimpo11ance he1·c is to show that the liter-
ary artistry. \Vhich rese-mbles other ancient infancy and travel stol'ies that are today
unanimously viewed as mythical accounts, is oriented toward the legitimization
o f Jesw; as the divine. king who supematurally averts execution at the behest o f
an ea1·thly king.
(f the context is expanded to include the Gospel as a self-containe.d naJTative,
then it is again literary aJ1istry, not history (understood as archive), which is

4. The most oomprcbensivetrcalmmlisstiiJ R. E. Brown. The Binhofthe MeJsioh: A Cumlll(!fl<

lmJ;rm 1/r~ /nftmcy Ntm"(lliW!.'i in Moflilew rmd Luke (New York: Ooubk day. 1917).
5. Brown. Binh o._{the Messiah. p. 105.
H An NA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe·w 2 10 I

presented. Although there is significant debate about Gospe.l genre. all major posi-
tions agree that whateve1· might be regarded as a1·chive is presented m·tistically.
One of the leading positions today is that the Synoptics resemble Graeco-Roman
biographies. such as Plutarch ·s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Philo-
stratus' Apo/lonius ofTyana. Tacitus' Agricola. ~u1 d Suetonius· Lives ofthe Twe/o;e
Caesars. Richard Burridge. building on previous studies. has pi'Ovided one of the
most extensive.comparative treatments.& Casting his net widely to include.Greek.
Hellenistic and Roman biography. Burridge understands these..ancient writings in
a threefold manner. First they .are writings which naturally eme-l'ge within a
group that has been formed arotUld the teachings o1· leadership of a charismatic
leader. Second, their main purpose and function is found in the context of didac-
tic or philosophical polemic. And third, they are flexible, allowing for adaptation
and growth.7 Bun·idge admits that on some levels the Gospels fall shOI't of an
exact parallel with any one biography - for they tell us nothing of Jesus· home
life, how he spent his youth~ his personality traits. or his physical appearance -
but he concludes that there seems to be no othe1· literature prio1· to the Gospels
that we point to with more precision.
If Matthew is taken to be a tbnn o f ancient biograph>·~ then we must be mind-
ful of at least fo ur chamcteristics that have implications in relation to histo1y.
First, ancient biographers were interested in portraying their main characrers as
re.latively constant throughout lheh· lives. which is a major shift fro m modern
biographers who emphasize change. Events and experiences were chosen not for
a lesson in history, but to demonstrate the exemplary traits and the consistency of
character through difficult obstacles. Ancient audiences paid close attention to
how characters not only acted and reacted to c.hallenges, sometimes through
impressive deeds, but how they carefully articulated their verbal responses. G1·eat
persons were believed to be born great~ and they became models for others to
imitate. Second, ancient biogmphers attempted to e.nte11ain their 1·eaders and often
promoted a vi11ue and philosophy oftheir subject that posed a challenge to main-
stream society. Third, biographies of' holy men· or divine philosophers attributed
dh•ine qualities in va1ying degrees to their subjects. Some were characterized as
sons of god which implied divine parentage (e.g. like Apollonius ofTyana and
P)'1hagoras). whereas others were deemed godlike (e.g. Plotinus) becalL~e they
were gifted beyond ordinary men. despite their human parentage.11 Fourth, although
ancient biographers wrote with historical intentions. a c.ertain amount of fiction
and exaggeration was commonplace. Data collection and verification ofevidenc.e

6. Richard A. Burridge. What c1re the GoJpel.'i? A Comporiso11lt'ilh Gmt-co-Roman Biograpftl•

(SNTSMS. 70. Cambridge:. UK: Cambridg-e Universily Press. 1992). J>revious~udi cs indudcChari(S
H. TalbcrL JI'JuJt is a Gospel? The Gn1re oj1/!e Cononicol Go.\]X!Is (Phil.add phin: Fortress. 1977);
0.1\~d E. Aunc:. ·The Probkm of the Genn: of the Gospels: A O ilique-ofC. H. Tafbcrl's What is u
Go:.-pel?'. in R. T. Fn:mcc and D. Wenhnm (cds). Sludiel· of/lis10ry and TrodiJion{Gospcl Perspcc.-
li\'C$. 2. Sheffield: JSOT Pms. 198 1). pp. 9-()().
7. Burridge. rfllm are tlli! Gospds?. pp. SO- I.
S. Pillricis Cox. Biq;rapi{J' in Lute Antiquity: A Ques.tfortile Holy Man( B~~rkclcy: Uni\'m:ily of
California Press. 19SJ). pp. J0-44.
102 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

cannot be compared to today's standards. Speeches and deeds, Jb r example, fol-

lowed consistent fonns and were freely adapted to situations that would enhance
the subject's traits and characte1·~ which was moulded to an established model. As
Cox summarizes. 'From its inception. biography was marked by its encomiastic
tendencies to exaggerate a person's achieveme-nts and virtues. carefully selecting
traits and deeds that lent themsei\'CS to idealization.' 9This may be.why biographies
for the ancient G1·ee-ks and Romans did not fall within che five majorcategol'ies of
histot•ical writing (genealogy or 111)1hography. ethnography. history. horogmphy
or local history, and chronography)' ' By the Imperial age, Plutarch (P01np•y 8)
makes a clear distinction between histot·y and biography, arguing that history
recalls the chronological account of the life. whereas biography providc.s a sys-
tematic treatment o f characte.r.11 During this period, the lives of the emperors
gained popularity as means of not only promoting Caesar, but retelling and
explaining events on a grander scale.12 (n light of the fUnction of these Roman
biographies. Matthew can be viewed as an alternative explanation on even a
grande1·, cosmic scale. Potter claims that ' Ultimately. the most powerful o fthese
altemative narratives was that offered in the Christian Gospels. and they in turn
reshaped the world in which they were read. ·u
The comparison can be broadened. Comparative mythologists have long
notic.ed that in the ancient wol'ld, the metamorphosis of a historical figure into a
mythical hero is guided by e..~tablished prototypes (be they conscious or uncon-
scious) that in some casesevc.n transc.end largcrculruml fields. Mircea Eliade, for
example. has well documented how retellings ofhistorical personages in popular
epic poems fit into existing pattents. In tlle process he is careful to distinguish
legends or folklore. which are reinforc.ed with supenlatural occurrences in their
l'etellings. from historical persons who are mythicized. Popular memoty seems to
lead naturally awa}' from tlle historical data, howeve-r important it might be~ to a
mot•e imaginative recollection rooted in archetypes which constitute the truly
real. Across cultures, many of the mythicized heroes arc remembered via arche-
typal categories in that they have miraculous births. they have at least one divine
parent, and they undertake a journey to heaven or heti.IJ After death, as is the

9. Co:t. Bicgr(lphy ;, LaJe .4miqui~J'. p. 15.

10. Ch:.rlcs William fomarn. Tllf: Nature ofHistory in A11dem Greece and Romt' (Bcrkde.y:
University of Californ ia Pn:ss, 1983). pp. 1- J. By eonlnast. scveml early Christinn theologians {e.g.
Justin. Tatianand Clement ~lfAI<:tandria) r~-gardo:llhc Gospels a$histories. Justin Mnnyr. for example-.
bclic\·ed lhal non·bd ie\'ers oould be provided with material proof- namely Quiriniu.s' wxdcc.laratioo
found in Romnn re-cords - thnt .\fallhew and bke:•s infancy acrounts 111e historicnlfy nccutntc. Stt
the C-Xtlmplcs in Robert M. Grant. The £arlieJI Li•-es (New York liarpcr and Brothers.
1961). pp. 10- 11.
II. Co:t, Biogr(lphy i11 Late .4miqui~l'. pp. 11- 13.
12. A. Momis.Jinno.T7te Dn>elopnwm ufGr~k Biagrapl{t•(Cambridge. MA: Han•ard University
Press. rev. edn. 1993}. p. 99.
13. 0. S. Potter. /.im·m:t•Texis ami rl~ Romw1 J.listodmt (Approaching the Ancient World: Lon-
don: Roullcdgc. 1999). p. 9.
14. Min.' ta Eliadc. Tht' !16·thofll•t' ftemal Retum(trnns. W. R. Trask: Princ-eton: Princ~~ton Uni·
vcrsit)' P~. 197 I). p. 42.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe·w 2 103

case in Greek tradition for example~ personal memory ofthe individual ceases and
is transformed into an impersonal archetype of the ancesto1·. Eliade argues that
heroes retain the memo1y of their deeds bec-ause they m·e the. exemplars.15 He is
correc1 to a certain extent. but the fUnctionappea1·s broode1·in that myths attempt t'o
alleviate confusion. concerns~ problems associated with etiology. le.gitimization in
the. fhce ofconflict1 contradictory traditions, mediation of polar extremes. identifi-
cation ofimpe1-sonal forces with personalone$, and problems associated with the
l'elationship between nature and culture. 16

The Process: From History to ll·~yth

A more inclusive theoreti<.-.alstarting point for understanding the mythmaking pro-
cess is Northrop Frye's concept ofmyth as it was originally articulated in his Fear-
jill Symmetry and later developed in Words willt Power. 11 Recently. Glen Gill and
Robert E.llwood have argued that unlike the theories of his contemponuie$ in
the middle ofthe twe.ntieth centtuy. namely Mircea Eliade. Carl Jung and Joseph
Campbell, Frye's theory does not suffer from poststructtll'alist criticisms that
pointed to the problem of ontological or metaphysical prioritization.'" Fo1· many
critics, the problem with the theories of these mythologists lies in their bifurcation
oft he mythic sou1·ce-as an external entity or agency and consciousness upon which
the m)rthic 'othe1·' acts. Eliade, for example. assumes that the interplay between
the sacred and profane-is considered to be the objective reality to which m)1h
speaks.l9 For Jung, assumed archetypes exist in an abstract state in the collective
unconscious and (without explanation) rransitjon into the conscious sphere.20 And
for Campbell, the assumption of a grand monomyth unifies all the pa11iculars, often
witl1 little 1·espect for contextual factors like loc-alities.:U The missing insight in
ead1 case, according to Gill, is ' an oversight oft he essentially phenomenological
or imaginative condition of consciousness> of which all thought and reality is a

15. Eliadc. 11w J\(1-th oftlw fl£'1'11(1/ Rnurn. p. 4 7.

16. Sc:c !he more op~n~tndcd \'icw in G. S. Kid:. M}th: Its Meaning tmd Fundi01u in.4ncient trlld
Ot!U'r Cuiltlrl'S (Salhe.r Cias~icnJ loctun-s. 40: l ondon: C-ambridge Uni\•.:rsily Pr¢ss: Bcrkc:k-y: Uni-
\'ersit)' of California Press. 1970). pp. 253-61. 284.
17. Norlhtop Ft)'C. Fearful S,1111t1U'f1y: A Study of William B/ah•(Princctun: Ptinockm Uni\•ctsily
Pres.s. 1947): idem. JJ'ordf IVitiJ Power.
18. Glen Robert Gill. No11hrop Fryi:' ami til£' PlrenomrmoltJgy ofAtrrh (Toronto: Uni\'crsit)' of
Toronto Pt~-ss. 2006}; Robert Ellwood. Tlli' Politics q{Myth: A S11uly q{C. G..lung. Mirceu Eliad£'.
andJoJeph Cumphd/ (Albany: State University of N~·w York Pl't'$$. 1999}.
19. Sec Robert Baird. Catego•J' FtJrmmion ond the- History ofReligion (The Hague: Mouton.
1971). pp. 74-89: Guilford Dudley. Rt!ligitJIJ 011 TJ·ial: Mircea 1:'/itUie ond His Critics (Philadc:Jphia:
Temple Uni\'etsily Pr~. 1977): BryanS. Rennie. ReronJtmctilv; £/imk: Moking!*nseofRe/igion
(Albany: State Uni\'c:rsity of Ne.w York Pr.:ss. 1996}.
20. Sec Eric Goold. Mythicul Jntentimu i11 Mndt~m Literaurre (Princeton: Princeton Unin:rsity
Pre!:s. 1981). pp. 21- 3: I. J. Clarke, In Sean•/• ofJmtg: HiJtorirnl and PhiloJophicol fnquirits(lon·
don: Roullcdgc. 1992).
21. Sec William Kerrig<~n. ·n.c Raw. The Cooked. and the:- Half-B.1ked'. Virgim'u QuoJ·ter~'
Rn·iew 51 ( 1975). 651- 5; Waller B. Gulick. 'The Thousand and Firs! Fac:e'. inPatlu tothe Ponw tJj
Myth: Joseph Con~pbe/1 011(/tlre StudyofRe/igion(cd. Daniel C. Noel: New Vorl:: Crossrood:s. 1994).
pp. 29-44.
104 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

function, and myth the perennial expression·.n ln Frye's theory there is no gap
between the archetype's origin and its occurrence in consciousness. and hence
expression in language. because-the archetypes are the structure-s in language.
Since Fl)•e is leery about an 'unconscious' that is somehow known. the sepm-ation
between the physicaJ body and mind is more ofa distinction whereby the physical
is at the same time the ground of language and the source of archetypal form.23
Frye' s conception of myth is rooted in the unification ofsense perception which
is at times called 'the literal' , :lJld consciousness which constitutes 'the im.agina-
tion ·. Anothe1·way of putting it is that it is an integration of material and spiritual
aspects o f a culture. Tile whole of life is a single mental foml which attempts to
transform the totality of human experience imos}'lnbol or m1. For Frye, this single
mental foml is the drama of life, which is the archetype of all prophecy and art,
even if each only reveals and transforms reality in pieces. Myth is this sing le
mcmal tbml which seeks to make sense of a unified reality. As Ftye puts it, myth
is 'the end of the journey of our intellectual powers' .u In The Crilicol Path, the
cullural or societal fttnction of myth is fut1her developed whereby he increasingly
obsen•es myth's cohesiveness. at least as far as wot·ds have the power to achieve.
Myth as cultural or societal cohesion is a socially establishe.d truth and reality,
though not necessarily tied to or derived fi'Om evidence or reason. Truth is that
which a society does and believes. It is as Ft·ye puts it, 'the language of belief out
of which literature and art is existentially commissioned and t'eceivcd.2:. Where
Frye d iffers from other mythologists is in his unification schema, which moves
beyond a comparison of rituals and the subconscious commonness of m.ythopoeic
dreams. which he regards as crude 311 fot·ms or rough drafts of the artist.26 A spiral
pattern ofm)1hic development occurs from individual (rough dmfts) to commu-
nity and back again. Frye explains:
In time lhe communal mrlh precedes the indi\·idual one. but the-latt« focuses and d ori·
fics the: former. nnd wh<'n u work ofan deal.s with a primiti\'c myth, the essential mean·
ing of that myth is not di.s,!,'Uised or sublimated. or refi ned. but rc\'~"tllcd. A comparutivc
studyofdrc.:mlS and ritunls can lend us only to a vague and intuiti\•escnscof the-unity of
the:. humnn mind: u comparative study of works of art (inc:luding liu:roture) should
demonstrute it beyond conjec-turc.17

Early Christian use of Scripture, when understood as an at1istic process, well

fits a spiral pattern of mythic development. Like the Irish olla\'es, the legendary
01'Uid bards, the pre-Homeric figures such as Orpheus, or the Hebrew prophc.ts,
the Evangelists arc the poets of their communities who retell the. past in light of
the pt·esent, and vice versa, selecting the mythological information that their

22. Gill. Nrm llmp F'ryf!. p. 172.

23. Gill. Nor1llmp F1J·e. p. 187.
24. Frye-. FeOJ:ful Symmrtry·. p. 340.
25. Nonhrop Fry<'. The Critical Pt~~fl: An f rm1ht SociiJICome.rt {IfLiterary Critid.nn (Bloom·
ington: Indiana' Pn:ss. 1971). p. 36.
26. Frye. Fearful Symmeuy. p. 424.
27. Frye-. Fearful Symmeli)'. p. 425.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe-w 2 105

communities needed to know.1li The poet's connection with the past, through
various means of retelling, allusion or quotation, is a manoeuvre that garners
authority by a kind ofosmosis whereby the old accepted wisdom. be it in Homer
or the Evangelists. finds a ne.w context in the present. Thus, the poet's panicular
attribute is not so much a knowledge of style. but a broad knowledge of data
stemming from his understanding of we might call a mythopoeic history. In
the cycle, individuals b1·eak with accepted ideology and are freed (and instinc-
tively compelled) to create. their own.
Frye also distances himself from theological language. because it must rely on
subjects and objects even when speaking of God as immanent or transcendent,
and this leaves language in a ve1·y limiting state. \Vhenever humans are the sub-
ject and God is the object the distance seems unbridgeable even in the use of
analogy.lnstead of analogy, Frye finds mOI'e cohesion in identity, which is the
principle behind metaphor and imagination, and ultimately myth.Thus, paradoxi-
cal claims that two diffe-rent things are the same, such as 'God is man'. or 'Christ
is a l amb~, is at the heart of both religious and literary language, which resist
habitual thinking, expand the mind. and incline toward the imaginative. In concise
manner. Frye writes, ' ( think the real conception "'God" must st<u1 in typological
metaphor: God is the existential reality of the '·au one body we" metaphor.' 19
Identity as the principle of myth is clearly seen in the earliest stories of creation
and re.demption wherein the gods were identified with the partjculars ofa created
order. such as the sun, the moon, rivers. oceans, plants, and the life and death
cycle. These stories allowed for the identificationofindividu.als and people groups
with the world and its life cycle. The identific--ation process in myth occurs within
the historicizing of the stories. In other words. we. are who we are bec--ause of
events that have happened in a distant past. The prese.nt and the past are brought
together in the myth, though never apart from the universal human na1Tative
whose plot extends from creation to apocalypse.30
(n light of Frye's identity principle, the use of Scripture b)' Matthew can be
viewed as a means by which his group is identified with the ' history' of Israel.
Indirectly, the process leaves his Jewish adve.rsaries with no such identity since
they do not share in the goal of history as he understands it. Matthew's
ment of one group with another allows him to the past in light of an
entirely different present, which now takes place even outside of geographical
Israel. Since histo1y has content for Matthew and is a circumlocution for tran-
sce.ndence and supremacy, the result is a re-mythologiz.ation.ll Consciousness of

28. Frye. Words with Pouw·. p. 54.

29. Rob~'rt D. Denham (cd.). Norllll'op Frye '5 Notl!books and Ll-'Ctures on tiJe Bib/£> ood Other
Religious Te:tts (Collected \Vorb of Northrop Frye. Volume 13: Toronto: Uni\'tTSily ofToronlo
Press. 2003). p. 350.
30. Robert D. D<nh:un. .fl.r(}J'Ihrop Fq~: Religious VisioJiary (IJU/AJ·chilecl oftl.e Spirirual World
(Charloncs\·lllc: Univcrsi1y ofVirginia Prcss. 2004). p. 9: Northrop Frye. A~·J!JandM<'Wplror: Stlec1i!d
f .uuys, /974-1988 (cd. Rob~'M D. Denham: Chariottcso,.·illc: Uni\'C'rsityofVirginia Press. 1990). p. 115.
31. On history as rcllce~ion of lmnsccndenoc. sec Nancy K. lc:''tnt. 'Soun."CsofHislor)·: My1h 11nd
hn.1gc•. J.4.4R 74 (2006). pp. 79-101.
106 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

realty is expanded and the new Christian experience is given fom1 and order by
placing it within a cosmicizcd world pem1eated with meaning.J~
At the most the process from the historical to the mythical take-s two or three
cenmries. and at the least it can begin to take shape within a few decades after the
figure's death. An example of a standard time span in the ancient world is found
in Suetonius's Lfle ofAugustus 94 in The Twelve Caesars. ln the midst ofa fairly
typicalnon-supematural biographical narrative, Suetonius insct1s an account of
Augustus' binh w hich is filled with supernatural events, including a human-
divine conception. After the birth account the narrative reverts bac.k to a more
secular tenor. A key point of the mythologization is to unify the transcendent and
immanent planes of reality as they impact the empire and its role in world
history. The time span between the death of Augustus and the writing of The
T"'elve Caesars is approximately a century.
Mit·cea Eliade recalls a fascinating modem example ofmetamotphosis which
has strictly developed in the context o f oml transmission within a tb t1y-year
period while. man}' o f the contemporaries of the actual events in the-story \vere
still alive. The stoty, which is actually a baJiad of tragic love. was originally
recorded and investigated by the Romanian fOlklorist Constantin Brailoiu just
before the Second World War. The account, as it was widely circulated in the vil-
lage of~·laramures. is summarized as follows.
Th~ young suitor had bocn bewitched by n mounlain fniry. and a few days befort-he was
to be married. the fairy. dri,•cn by jealousy. Md tlung him from a cliff. Tbe nc:tt d.'ly.
shepherds found his body and. caught in a tn:t'. his haLThey cani~-d the body b.1ck to
the village and his fianctc. came to meet them: upon secill,£. her lo\·cr d~d. she poured
out a fun¢ral lamc:nt. fuU of mythological allustons. a liturgical tc:tt of rustic bc:auty.lJ

Eliade continues with a summary o fBrailoiu' findings.

In lhc ooursc of recording the C\'Cnts of the. v..1ri:utts that he wns able (0 collect. th~­
foll:Jorist tried to lcum the-period when the trogcdy hadocc-utrcd: he was told that i1 was
a very old story. which Md hnppell('d 'kmg ago'. Pursuing his inquirK.s. howe\'et. he-
kamcd that the event h.1d taken place not quite for1y years earlier. He final!)' even
disco\'crcd lhst the he-roine-was still alive-. He went to see her and heard the.stor)' from
her own lips. It was a quite commonplRIX' lrngcdy: one e\·cning her lo"~'f h.'1d sl ipp~-d
and fallen over a d iff: hc: had not died insltintly: his cries had b«n h~-ard by moun·
t!lin«rs: he.had bocn carried to the viUage. where he hnd dtcd soon after. At tbe funernl.
his fiancee. with the other wom~'1l at th~· "illage. had repented the customnry ritual
lnmcntations. without the slightC"Sl nllusion to th~- mountain fairy.

What is fascinating about this example is that despite the presence of witnesses
and eve-n the fiancee's retelling ofthe accoun t~ the events were mythicized within
the lal'gercommunity. The more f.'lctual account. explained as a simple accide-nt,
did not seem to satisfy the tragedy o f a yoUJlg man dying on the eve of his
wedding. The reside.nts of the village needed to provide meaning by retelling it in

32. W. Tnylor Stc\·cnson. ' Myth nnd the Crises of Historical Consciousness'. in lee W. Gibbs
and W. TnyforStcn:-nson (c:ds). MytiHmd the Crisesojf.listoriml Coosrkiii.\'JWSs(Missoula: Scholars
Press. t9 75). p. IS.
33. EJiade. 17te Myth ojJI1e ftemal Remrn. pp. 44- 5.
HAn NA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe·w 2 107

mythical categories. What is mo1·e, when Brailoiu infom1ed the villagers about the
authentic events, they discounted the fiancee's memory by saying that the grief
permanently affected her mind. In this case, popular memory retained archetypes
to the exclusion of h is tory_:~~ Collective memory theorists, like Barry Sch\v:u1z.
have likewise noticed a mythicizing proc.ess ofcultumJ icons within a fe w decades
o f their deaths. most notably George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.35 h is a
pattern that is reminiscent of ancient re tellings of suffel'i ng, particularly of per-
secuted political and religious groups.

The Artistry of Mal/hew 2

First otT, the infancy stories in both Matthew and Luke, which have long been
viewed as late appendages to the earlier written so\ll'c es Mark and Q. are dist inct
from the rest of their respective narratives, conta ining a number of inconsis-
tencies which have gamered them the name ' (nfancy Gospels' . Whatever the
editing process, the Evangelists were not able to erase traces that the ministry
stories were composed without a knowledge of the infancy material. The clearest
indicator of this is that the Gospel proper never refe1'S back to the infancy narra-
tive.J6 Exactly why the infancy storie.s were originally constlllcted and added has
been the subject of much debate. While nume1·ous theological and social theories
have been proposed - from a curiosity about Jesus· f.'lmily to an apologe.tic in
response to rival birth stories1 or hostile groups who denied Jesus' messianic
identity. to allegations that Jesus was bom illegitimateJy31- a common denomina-
tor has emerged. At the root of most theories lies the view that the accounts are
not intended to reconstmct historical events, but are primarily written to legiti-
mi1J! Jesus and belie f in him as God 's salvific hero 1 at the exclusion o f all others.
As one chronologically surveys the earliest Christian writings, it is apparent that
reflections on the resurrected Christ in Paul's writings led to re flections about
Jesus' min istry, which eventually Jed to reflections about his origins. In a sense,
the infancy narratives atte.mpt to claim that Jesus· identity in his resurrection was
consistent with that ofh is birth. From that point, re flections on the unification of
the resurrected Christ and the so-called ·earthly' or ' historic--al' Jesus escalated to
a fusion of t he two whereby the latter was subsumed into the forme r, as is seen in
John's Gospel and later in Christian- Roman debate and syncretism.l8
Matthew 2 significantly contributes to the legitimization of Jesus as the divine
hero, particularly in relation to the existing monarchy. While the archival source (if
any) is impossible to verify, the literary artistry is vibrant, consisting o f symbolic,

34. Eliadc. Tlte Myth ufthe flemal Rewm. p. 45.

35. Barry Schwa rtz. .4brohum UntYJ!tlandIlk? Forge ojNmional MelllfJI)'(ChK:ago: Univcrsi1yof
Chicago PrtSS. 2000): idem. ·n.c Soc\alConlc:\1of Commemoration: A Study in Colkctiw Memory'.
S«iol Forr'es 6 1 (1982). 374-402.
36. On ~·xampl es of incongruCfloc nnd the problemof corroboroti.n.g, witnesses. sec Brown. 71w
Birlh <>/the Mes.tiuh. pp. 31-3. 48-9.
37. A SUIVC)' is pro\·idcd by Brown. The BirJ/1 of the MeJsiuh. pp. 26- 32.
38. Hugo Raimer. Gt\~ek My1luand Christian # rslf!IJ'(trans. B. Battcr~w: New Yorl:: Harpe-r
& Row. 1963): Robin Lane: Fox. Pagans ondCIIrislimu (San Francisco: Hnrpcr & Row. 1986}.
I08 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

metaphorical and typological language along with common mythical events such
as dreams. c,osmic po11ents and miraculous escape. The aim of the narrative is to
subven Herod' s reign by legitimizing Jesus as the divinely established king
whose J'eign. for Matthew, is the goal ofhistol)r. Jn her study of the ·ideal king'
in Classical and Hellenistic litemture. Deirdre Good observes that Hei'Od. as he is
portrayed in Matthew 2 falls sho11 in every categOI)' (e.g. Leller ofAristeas 290-
4). Instead, it is Jesus in the balance of the Gospel narrative who fulfils the chief
Helle.nistic virtues of gr.tce, justice and compassion even toward his enemies in
times of crises.19
In connec1ing Jesus with Israel's histo1y, particularly in relarion to Moses and
David. as well as Israel's future (as redefined in Christ). Matthew retells the cos-
mic story. Frye's principle of identity figures prominently in that Matthew and
his community participate in a recreated cosmic reality which is pe.rceived as a
continuation (i.e. fulfilment) of the old. In shOI't, it is a retelling of the Jewish
national myth with a new David - similarly born in Bethlehem and escaping the
mmderous threats of the reigning king - establishing a new kingdom.
Without duplicating the encyclopedic tradition-cl'iticallists off\·latthew' sinter-
pretations of scriptural images and persons,J0 the artistry ofsubversion and legiti-
mization can be sufficiently shown through the stOI)' of the magi following the
star. For Matthew, tl1e 'king of the Jews· becomes the king of the ea11h, to whom
the magi pa)' homage. They are not kings. however, but probabl)' are meant to
convey Gentile (Persian) priests andfor astrologers who. unlike the Jewish reli-
gious leaders, are perceptive in not only re-ading God ~s signs. but identifyi ng
God's king:11 Their actions are subversive toward the antagonists and in turn
legitimate the protagonists, extending in ethnic. political and religious directions.
In telling the story, the Evangelist retains a Jewish pattern whereby those who
were supposed to recognize djvine revelation become obdurate and even hostile
in encountering Jesus, while those who were outside the accepted ethnic and I'Cli-
g ious circles recognize the divine signs of a new king. The reference to Herod
sununoning the chief priests and scribes to search the Scriptures in order to dis-
cern where the impostor king was to be born (f\·1t. 2.3-4) is a clever case ofirony
that generates the series of fulfilment quotations in the re-$t of the chapter. Not
only do the religious authorities legitimize the place of Jesus' birt:h and hence
Matthew's point that Jesus is the divine king, they in turn subve1·t Herod's mon-
archial authority.
What might be operating in the background for Matthew is a popular pre-war
messianic expectation, of which there were.many. Josephus, for example, refers
to a wi de..~pread belief, revealed in both an oracle and the Scriptures. that a ruler

39. IXirdrc J. Good. Jesus the Meek Kil~g (HarTisburg. PA: Trinity Press International. 1999). pp.
40. Sec ~•"'ially the trcutmc:nts of Motthcw 2 in Ulrich l uz. Muiiii'E'w 1- 7: A CoJ1Wlt>nla(l'
(ltllns. \VilhdmC. Linss: Minnc-.apofis: Augsburg Fortrcss. 1989); W. 0. Davies ond Dale C. Allison.
Jr. Tite Gospd A«ording w Saim Matt/few. Volume 1 (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clork. 1988).
41. Warren Cat!cr. Mmtl~nmdJhc> .Jdargim: A Socit>-PoliticalaJtclReligious Reading (JSNTSup.
20:1: Shcffidd: Sheffield Acad~·mic Prcss.2000). pp. 74-6.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe-w 2 109

of the wol'ld would emerge from Judea. Although Josephus identifies Vespasian
as the fulfilment of the oracle because of his proclamation as emperor on Jewish
soil;'1 he at the same time records that the oracle was widely interpreted as a
reference to a Jew (War, 6.3 I2- 14).
The subversion ofJewish religious authority becomes evenmOI'e pronounced
when one rakes into account the negative reputation of magi among Matthew's
conte.mporaries. Certainly it is no surprise that Matthew's direct opponents, who
repl'esent Pharisaic Judaism, \vould have had considerable difficulty with magi as
conveyors of the divine. In addition to being Gentiles>astrological insight, which
inherent!)' assumedsupematural power and knowledge, was considered foolish at
best in the Jewish Scriptmes and early Jewish traditions because it was in d i1·ect
competition with the prophetic office a nd established schools of
thought (e.g. E.xod. 7-9: lsa. 47.1 2-15; LXX Dan. 2.5;Jub. 12.16-24; Philo,
Moses 293). Mauhew·s w1usual description of Herod summoning 'all the c-hief
priests and scribes of the people' conveys on the one hand a consensus among
Israel's religious authorities tl1at the Messiah was to be bom in Bethlehe-m. yet on
the other hand it conveys a collective inability to recognize that the Scriptures
refer to Jesus. T11e devaluation of the Jewish authorities' ability to interpret the
Scriptures in contrast to Matthew' audience is an irony that pervades the Gospe.J.
According to Josephus, the Pharisees were especially utilized by Herod. despite
their mutual disdain for each othe1·, because they gained a reputation of having
di\•ine fo resight (Alii. I 7.4 I - 2).
Roman \\'Titers likewise express negative sentiments toward ao;trologers and
related prophetic claimants. For example, Pliny explains how the unorthodox
medical practices of a certain Asclepiades were foo lishlyexaggel'ated beyond the
normalcy of medicine and taken up by magi (NH 26.9). Tacitus refers to a yow1g
man who, because of his thoughtlessness, fell prey to the delusions ofastrologers,
magicians and inte-rpreters ofdreams (Ann . 2.27). Later, Tacitus rec-alls how the
Senate expelled astrologers and magicians from Italy (2.32). On the death bed of
Claudius. Seneca has Mercu1y say, ·Do let the astrologers tell the truth for once;
since he became emperor, they have never let a year pass. neve-r a month. without
laying him out for his buriaP (Apoco/. 3). And Philostran1s attempts to e levate
the status of Apollonius by explaining that it is incorrect to associate his
prophetic abilities with the Egyptian magi (Apolloniu.'i 1.2).
Apart from the odd negative reference in Jewish literature..o the star (along
with other c.elestial signs) which the magi we1·e following, was a ve.Jy positive

42. See also Suelonius. Yt~l·pru·ia114; Tacitus. HiJWti£'S 5. 13.

43. Stnrs were on occasion used in a ncgati\'c way to conn:y future destnlc.tion. For example-.
Josephus rec-alls how a star resembling a sword stood O\'cr Jerusalem prior to ii.S dC'Struc:tion (H'or
6.289}. I hnvealsoarguod that <:c-ks t:ial portcnis in the tradition nssociah:d with Mk 9.1. 13.14-25. nnd
14.62 are symbols of judgeme-nt. It is stresse-d. howc\'Cf. that these symbols ltli'£CI the temple
cstnblishm..:nt. notlhe infancy of Jesus. Sec Thomas R. Hu1inn./n Setrn·hof aGmtext: The Funt·Jirm
q{ Scriptw·e in Mark's NCJJ'I'lJ/i\'e (JSNTSup. 232: SSEJC. S: london: Sllcffidd Academic Pross.
2002)~ idem. ·who Will S« the: -Kingdomof God Coming with Power" in M:uk 9. 1- J>rotagonists
or Antagonists?'. Bihlicu 86 (2005). 20-34. Bro""' (The Birl!1 ofthe Messiah. p. 52) has nq,;ucd that
the Matthean account is p.1ttc:mc:d uftcr the ·m:t.b'US' Bslaam who cum::.from the-Eost and suw nstill
I I0 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

and promising symbol in Graeco-Roman superstition. Celestial phenomena asso-

ciated with the birth of extraordinary individuals were used as signs of optimism
and hope b)' Roman writers. It was believed that the tl'imscendent realm was not
only connect'ed, but pleased with the birth. Though the births of wonder workers
and teachers were associated with celestial signs, as is the case with the sto1y of
Apollonius ofTyana (Apolloniu:o. 1.5), most o f the literary evidence points to the
bil1hs of political figures, such as AugusniS, Tiberi us and Nero ..u The celestial
signs conveyed a new era ofpeace a11d justice tOr the entire empire. First-centtuy
Roman coins utilized astrological signs to depict the birth of emperors (e.g.
Capricorn for Augustus) along with a single star, which probably propagandized
supreme authority and on occasion even divinity. as may have been the case with
the silver denarius issued by Augustus which depicted the comet of 'divine

2. Legitimizing the Arlistry: From JWylhto History

In this section I examine the final phase in the mythological process as it relates
to the functjon of the fulfilment quotations in Matthew 2. According to frye's
myth theory. broader acceptance of the infancy account would have inevitably
led to its legitimization. be it in response to opposition, the need tbr unification,
or simply to satisfy curiosity. T11e legitimization~ as discussed above~ was the his-
toricizing of the tn.wel narrative which subtly shifts myth into ideology. Jesus'
journey of escape from Bethlehem, to Egypt 1 and eventual re-turn to Nazareth is
associated with Scripture so as to convey that the journey was divinely predeter-
mined and thus facwal. Whether one understands the fulfilment fonnulae typo-
logically or as literal prediction plays no role in the historicizing process.
The standard debate.over the last few decade.s on the relationship between the
quotations and the which they are embedded has focused on their com-
positional sequenc.e. In broad terms, one side. of the debate has argued that the
quotations have given rise to the narrative;JG whereas the other side has argued
that the quotations were appended to an already existing namttive.J7 Redaction
critics have well demonstrated over the years that Matthew uses Scripture to
append Mark and Q, but it has also been convincingly shown that sections of
MaHhew have bee-n composed from Scripture even when Mark is used as a
souroe.Jk Forcing the discussion into an either/or strict11re, ho\vever, is not the

arising from Jacob. ~mbo1i.zing the dcstructioo of lsrttcl's Clll:mfcs (Num. 24.17). While some
similarities can be gmnted. the tcnorofM ntthcw 2 is much closer to thttl ofGraoco-Roman cd (bru4
tion of a new political ruler who is expected to bring peace and compa~ion4
44. Rcspectivdy. Suctonius. Augrtstus 94.2: Tibi'rilu l.f.2; and Cassius Dio. Roman /1isJOIJ'
6 1.2.1.
-l5. ~iolnar Collt'Ction. RIC L 37a.
-l6. E.g. G. D. KiiPQttick. The Origin.\· ofl/w GoJpd According toSt. Mollh£-'li'{O~ford: Clarendon
Press. 1946): Stcndahl. 'Quis ~ Undc-'?'
4 7. Brown.. The Birth oflh£' .1-.ftmia/J. pp. 99- 100.
48. See. forexample. the dimrssion of Judas' dcnU.J in Frank Kennod:c. TheGene.(is of&cn'C')'.'
HAn NA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe-w 2 Il l

best way forward, since both appear to be utilized by the Evangelist throughout
the Gospel. f\·1orcover, we are comple.tely in the dark when it comes to the Evan-
gelist's redactional process, which may have even taken on a spiral progression
before the final tb nn was completed. Haggadic processes may have already been
at work prior to the insertion of the quotations and their fuJfilment formulae.J9
Certainly the distribution offulfllment quotations is unbalanced. with the.majority
ocCUlTing in the prologue material that is unique to Matthew. With regard to the
sequence - at this juncture in my own resem·ch - I am comfortable in follo wing
the conclusions of Ulrich Luz and George Soares Prabhu~ who have argued in
the majority of the cases the quotations were appended to the narrative mate.rial
as commentary.S<O
When myth is developed into a social contract it tends to present data histori-
cally. l11e reason for this may well be that early societie..~; did not have a clear
knowledge of their own histories, but they attempted to make se-nse of their lives.
especially disasters. cn1elty, injustice and death~ in light of similar eve-nts experi-
enced by their ancestors. Even storie-s of the origins of the world, rise aJld fall o f
kingdoms. key battles. bil1hs of heroes and the like. which appear a~; actual events,
are not specifically intended to be proto-scientific or factual in contradistinction to
the totality of human experience. but are ultimately oriented towm·d the expression
ofhmnan struggle, passion, anxie-ties and beliefs in the context of an authoritative
trndhion. Ultimately, it is not that myths actually satisfy the fundamental human
conc.erns, but they satisfy the anxiety of not getting them satisfied.51 Frye captures
this idea \veil.
Myth e-xc-ns a counterbalancing foo:c to such history a\ they know. with its suggestion
that the e\·ents th~-y ~·ncounter :uc rcp¢11ting th~·i r ancestral myths or working out their
de-crcc:d meanings. Such myths nrc not merely 'tnlcsof the: fnthers.•. in ihomas. Mann ·s

On 1/w Ttlt..-rpretalim• rdNorraJiw•(Cambridgc. MA: Han·nrd Uni\'Crsity Pl't$$. 1979). pp. 84-95: nnd
Petri Mcrenlahti. P«ti<:> jo1· tM Gospelf? ReJIJit1ki11g JVtrrmtil'l! Critid:~m (Edinburgh: T&T Clarl:.
2002). pp. 86--9.
49. See Brown. The-Birthf.?{lhc' Messiah. pp. 36-7: Rober! H. Gundry. 71te UseoftheO!dTt"sla-
mem in St. Mattllew 's Go.~JX'III'ith Special Reference Jo thi! Messiut1k Hope (No\'TSup. I &: l ciden:
E. J. Brill. 1975). Tfle problem. according to Bro\\TI. is. Lhat midrash popularized and c;,:pandcd bib-
lical accounls for the purpose-of mnklng them intelligible. Brown argues that Lhc infancy narratin:s
were wriltcn to make 1cstls' origins intelligible in light ofscriptural cxpc:c.tations. thst the
heavy reliance on the Scriptures in t.hc infancy accounts allows the Church to present its message
through the imagery of ls.:rad. Whi le- the~- is no doubt that early Christians. att~lllp(cd toj ustifyaeon·
sistCflC)' bctwem the Scriptures. and their own mcss.nge-. Br~nvn.•s. distinction bctw«n what is and is
not midr..1sh is too fine-of a cut. and may well scr\'e-to protect his compositionnl rcoonstruction that
theqoo1<1tions were appended. His usc-of ·intelligibility• is the probkm. Ha.;g.adic midrash certainly
c:\pnndcd biblic-t~l accounts into narrali\'es.. but like the Evangelists.. specific agendas (be they political.
social. legal} guided all nucmpts. at in1elligibility. One-is hard pressed to d e1~rote that haggadic
midrash was driven by a ncutml altc-mpt to make Scripture intelligible. Myth theory is here helpful in
that it "icws hcrmcncutic.s us the unification of hum:m ~·xpcricnce.
50. Luz. Malthe"·l- i. pp. 156-63: G. M. Soares Prnbt.u. n.e FormulaQJr<>UfliOJIS itii!Je lf!(OIIC)'
Narrative rif Malllleh' (AnBib. 63 Rome: Biblical Institute-Press.. 1976). pp. 162- 91.
51. Frye-. JJ!ords ll-ith Poll'er. p. 43.
I I2 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels
phrase. but confrontations wilh a ptc$Cnl s.ignificancc:.druwing otlt the rescn•csof cour-
age a1Ki energy n~'t!dcd "~:ithc:r to maintain routine:.or tom««n crisis.52

The social function of myth in the technologically undeveloped ancient world

fused fact and speculative science (especially cosmology) with the <Ut.xieties of
society. As mydlS became mot·e acce.pted and took on an ideological function they
were.treated as descl'iptions ofhistorical events.51 The actual historical events and
themes were transposed i nto the present whereby the author 's and t'eader's inde-
pendent ~)eriods merged into a unified vision that transcended history. For it is
only in the contemporizing of the past through myth that the present is atTected.
So, although myth may take on a historical tbnn, it actually dehistoricizes past
events by viewing them not as unique, but as patterns or repetitions. :.4 At the root
of tl1is process, according to Frye, is a Spenglarian influence of the universal
interpenetration of symbolism. whereby 'eve1y thing that happens in the world
symbolizes everything else that happens'. The unity of culture is thus viewed
organically instead of cyclic--ally or linearly. However, the progression ofhisto1·y
still guides Frye ·s thinking in that the apocalyptic analogy of this interpenetrating
process is the incamation because it libe.mtes one from eternal recurrence. for
F'1ye. this is the an..">wer to the philosophical problem of the one and the many.SS
When it comes to the events narrated in Matthew 2. the point (oconsider is not
that the mythical aspects falsify history as if myth is simpl)' an effect of a his-
toric-al process. but that myth is a social vision oriented toward a tmnscending of
history. But when myth is socially accepted it is historicized. Again, it should be
viewed as an attempt to unify the totality of human experience. Matthew. like
many ofhis contemporaries, merges three pel'iods oftime: the past ·sacred' realm
presented in the Scriptures, the rransmitted collective memo1y of Jesus, <Uld
Matthew's own social world. Yet it is the final period that is ultimatel)' the her-
meneutical driving force.
1\·latthew 's historicizing use of Scl'ipture is thoroughly consistent with his
overall tendency to chronologize and to loc.ate events geographically in his story.
h has been well documented that Matthew tends to place traditional material into
linear t1t.">hion. His appending of the chronological tb nuula ' arrO TOT£ to Mark,
for instance. is one of several indications where chronology is used to emphasize
a temporal and linear movement. The situating ofevents aJld nebulous locations
into geographical categories is a historicizing feature that is even closer to ch.
2. One example given by GeOI'g Strecker is a comparison between Mark and
Matthew's treatme-nts of the idea of the ' house· wherein Jesus stays. for Mark,
the concept of' house · is topological, ti.mctioning within the larger theme of the
messianic SCCI'et as a place of revelation in conn-ast to the pubtic arena, which is

52. Frye-. H'ortl.f uith P{}wer. p. 26.

53. Frye. H'ords uitlt Power. pp. 31- 2. 34.
54. Frye. H'o('(l1· with Power. pp. 6. 60.
55. Ocnhnm. Nmthrop Frye. pp. 38-9.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe·w 2 113

the place of secrecy. Thus the ' house· is not a fixed geographic--al term.56 Matthew.
on the other hand, understands the corresponding passages geographically. The
house is located at Capemaum and is identified as Jesus' 'dwelling· (4. 13) and
·own city' (9. 1).57 The movement from the topological to the geographical liter-
alizes the account by turning the nebulous. symbolic, catego1y. which is open to
literary ·ptay· into a fixed literal category that locks these passages in a distant
past. Matthew's overall use of formula quotations likewise contributes to his
historicizing tendencies.S3 The promises in Scripture (o the people of Israel find
their fulfilment in the life of Jesus, and in the pmcess Judaism as an open-ended.
anticipatory and eschatologically oriented religion finds its culmination or centre.
Even Israel's law is viewed as coming to its fulfilment, not in the sense of aboli-
tion or a c.ontinuation in a fuller sense revealed by a new ]!.<loses, but its authority
seems to sidestep Israel's long legal tradition by replacing it with an instanta-
ne.o us messianic law ofjustice that is legitimized by Jesus· works.>9 for lvlatthew
a Judaism without Christ has no eschatological featlu'e and is thus locked into an
irrelevant past. Israel's understanding ofwhere hist'OI)' was leading is now l'eplaced
by an anticipation of Jesus· return to a wol'ld that has been evange.lized in a way
thal unifies messianic belief and social justice (ho\vever sho11sighted it may have
been, especially ethnic-ally and institutionally). Nationalistic history takes on a
unive.rsal, even utopian, aim. Likewise the theme ofthe conquering of the land in
ls1-ael's tmdition has been replaced by tlle conquering of the. world tbr ' right-
eousness'. which ultimately leads to a period in time when punishment and 1·eward
are distl'ibuted in accordance. with one's deeds. As in othN eschatological systems.
the re.worked fu ture.whic.h seeks to preserve linear continuity (from past to future)
becomes the basis for the present; but unlike in other systems (even some in
the NT). the historicizing of Jesus serves as a template tbr the new way of right-
eousness (e.g. baptism)~ as of course it begins to take on an institutional tb nn.60
That Scl'ipture was used to legitimize and historicize the life of Jesus by the
Evangelists is made explicit in the second cennuy by Justin Martyr. ln the pro-
cess ofarguing tllat the Gospels are historical narratives, and that they should not
be confused with ·wonder stories' or myths. Justin claimed that the Evangelists
have shown that Jesus has accomplished the prophecies of Scripture. Justin"s
distinction between historical narrative and myth appears to resemble that of the
early second-century V.'Titer Aelius Theon. who in his Progymuasmala m·gued

56. Cf. Murk 2.1; 3.20: 7. 17~ 9.28.. 33; I0.10. GeorgSttcd:er. ·r ite ConceptofHisiOI)' in ~htlh~w· .
in G. Slanton (od.). Tire /nt<•rpretoJiiJII ofMaJtlww (Issues in Religion nnd Theology. 3: London:
SPCK. 198.3). pp. 71- 2.
57. Cf. Mt. 8.14: 9. 10. 28: 12.46: B . l. 36: 17.25.
58. S<c Der Wrg der Gerechtigkeit: Unte~"JtKhllx:g :ur 11lrolq;i.-des Matlhiiur
(FR lANT. 82: GOttingcn: Vandcnhoc:ck & Ruprecht 197 1: Jrdcdn). pp. 72.84-5: idem. ' Tbc Con·
ccpt of HiS(ocy in Matthew\ pp. 72- 3: E. Krentz. ·fhc Extent of Mntthew's Prologue'. JBL 83
(1964).409- 14.
59. Strcckcr. ·r hc Conc:cpl of History in Matthew'. pp. 15-6.
60. Succkcr. 'The Concept ofHistoty in Muuhcw'.pp. n-.s.: H. KOster. ·fNOMAil\IA<I>OPOI:
The. Origin and Nnture of Divcrsifica1ion in the Hislot}' of Early Christianity'. 1/TR 58 (1965).
279-3 18..
I I4 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

that myth is ·a false account po1·traying tmth', whereas a narrative is ·an accow\t
descriptive of events which took place or might have taken place' .61 (n light of
today's d istinctions. the bifurc-ation was simple.
When Matthew's historicizingof Jesus' escape journey via appeals to Scrip-
ture is read within the broader context of the Graeco-Roman wol'ld. it remarkably
compares more to Jewish historiography than to Graeco-Roman. Matthew is
intent on showing that the divine is present and l'eveals his plan within the
confines of space and time, not unlike what we find in the Jewish tradition from
the oldest historical narratives of Israel to the narratives that are contemporary to
his own day wherein supematural acts, seasonal festivals and cosmic symbols
were connected with Israel's histo1y. In short, historical events were believed to
convey religious meaning, and hence were objects ofknowledge. Thus it is no
wonder that he engage$ in a legitimatization process that atte.mpts to place Jesus
within the paradigm of Israel's histo1y. TI1e same historicizing proc.ess would
have undoubtedly been employed by his Jewish oppone-nts. who argued con-
versely that l\•latthew's messiah is inconsistent with the Scriptures. and thus the
goal of(srael's history .l11e utilization ofthe same kind of argumentation by two
oppo..~ing groups was as much a nom1 in the ancient world as it is today.~
~·latthe.w's Jewish historiography comes into sharp reliefwhen compared to his
Graeco-Roman counterpart'\ for whom historical events d id not carry a soteri-
ological message. Despite their varied interests in the gods) historians like Hero-
dotus, Thucydides, Polybius aJtd Livy did not attempt to legitimize or disclose a
divine plan through the events of their narratives. The main reason tOr this seems
to lie in their religious systems, which did not include a single personal god who
inte,Jvenes in history. Historical events were vie-wed as only a part of a larger cos-
mic process ofeternal becoming, conveying the chronological pattern ofsocieties
from their inception to their demise; but in and of themselves these events could
not be. objects of knowledge. Historiogmphy as a mnemonic activity was bene-
ficial only insot1u as it contributed m the process ofbecoming.63
Apart from these differences between Matthew and major Gra.eoo-Roman his-
torians~ the Graeco-Roman material is not altogether irrelevant. First, Matthew·s of myth is similar in intent to the historicizing of poetry among
some of his Craeco-Roman contemporaries. Charles fornara has noted that the
turning of mythical poetJy into litemry prose was a well-established practice,
viewed as a kind ofcon·ective) since the time ofHesiod. Clement of Alexandria
and Josephus are cited as observers of the practice. Fornara writes, ·Clement of

61. Min.'ta Elindc. Myth tmd Ri!trli~l' ( tl'll.1lS. W. R. Tmsk: New York: liarpc-r & Row. 1963}. p.
165: Grant Thf' Eudiest U~l--'S ofJesus. pp. I 0-1S. 21 . 39.
62. One immediately thinks of the oontrovcrsi~-s bclween the Marcionitcsand the Gnostic grot1ps
oo one side. and proto-onhodox grot1pson the otheor. Both side:> rdtcd oo Graeco-Roman gram-·
marians who in Eli-ade's t~'flllS 'claimed to be nbk to separate the mythologica1 excrescences from
antique tllc:ological tex-ts' (.4fyth and Ri!ali(l'. p. 165}. In more recent times. E\'angdical groups have
commonl)·emplo)'Cd the-same ratiooofistic m~'1hods in dcf~-nding tbc historiciJy ofthc Gospel acrotmts
as th~·ir counterparts who hn\'Cargued for more-tbcologization of the Gospels.
63. EJiadc. Myiil ond Reolity. pp. 134-S.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe·w 2 115

Alexandria (ca. 200 A.D.) charged (FGrHist 2 T 5) that "Eumelus [of Corinth)
and Acusilaus [of Argos], the historiographers, turned Hesiod's poetry into prose
and published it as if it were lheir ownH• and Josephus wrote that (FGrHist2 T 6)
·Hellanicus of Lesbos had corrected Acusilaus in the same way Acusilaus had
corrected Hesiod' .64
Second, there is a body ofwriting known as Greek "sacred history ~ that shares
some affinity with the historicizing of Matthew 2. though rarely discussed in
Gospels research. These writings were local histories that focused on a specific
cuh in a paliicular region or polis based on religious traditions (such as temple
archives)or authorities (such as cult officials). That regional or popular histories
were practised by poets even before HerodonLc; is often supported by appealing to
Dionysius of Halicamassus' Drt Tlmcydide 5.1, which explicitly mentions local
public traditions and myths on various topics preserved in secular and sacred
archives.65 But the epigraphic rec.ord of the Hellenistic period is particularly rich
with names ofregional historians \Vho engaged in this kind ofwriting.~6 (n a series
ofsignificant articles. Hans-Joachim Gehrke, who defines this kind ofwriting as
' intentional history·. argues that dtC)' are combinations of histo1y and myth which
retell a given group's understanding of the importance of its geographical loca-
tion usually in c.onnection with the gods. In a sense they are legitimizations of
group identity for purposes of honour. po\ver, prestige. recognition, and the like.
Fo1·Gehrke. such self-categorizationshould be regarded as constituting the "main-
stream tradition of Greek historiography'. The. relevant point that can be drawn
from this kind ofhisto1y in comparison to the quotations in Matthew 2 is the cor-
robomting function ofpriestl)• written records.
The Chronicle of Lindos. dating to 99 CE, is a particularly good example. Con-
sisting of four sections - a decree which authorizes the inscription (section A), a
series ofvotive.s to Athena Lindia (sections Band C), and a series of the goddess's
epiphanies (section D) - the. Chronicle explicitly mentions a 1-eliance.on priestly
letters, official acts, and authors of local histories. Dillery cites Text B. lines 18-
22, as a good representation:67 ·Minos. A silver drinking-cup. upon which was
written: ..Minos to Athena Polias and Zeus Polieus; · as Xenagoras says in the.first
book of his Chronological Composilion, Gorgon in the first book of his [Books}
Concerning Rhodes, Gorgosthenes in his letter, [and] Hieroboulus in his letter.'
T11e combination of the priest's letters, which appear to have. the same value as
histories (despite their inclusions ofepiphanies) along with the literary histories

64. Fom:un. Th.:> ,l!,.ruture ofHis1my in Auciem Greece ami Rm1N!. p. 4. Italics nrc mine. On 1.hc
btoud usc of the-clussKal poets in Roman literary onjstry. sec Sup hcn Hinds. Allusion u-nd lmerte:rt
(Cambridge. UK: C-ambridge-Uni\'crsity Pres!:. 1998).
65. John Dillcry. 'Greek Sncrtd History'. .4merican Joumul ofPhilolog)ll16 (2005). 505- 7.
66. Sources are eolloct~-d in Anb•-c:los Chaniotis. llistorie u11d 1/i:.-toriJ:er ill d i!ll griec-hisdlt'll
ln:.-d wiftm (Heidelberger :.Jthis.torisdx- Beitriige und cpigrophi~he Studicn 4: Stuttg-art: Su·incr
Verlag Wicsbndcn. 1988).
67. Oilk ry ('G1eek Sacred Histor)". p. 51 5) rdies on the 1cx1 in Carolyn Higbie. TM l.indiu-n
C!lnmic-lf! and J!le Gn1ek Creution q(Their Prul {Oxford: Oxford Uni\·ers.ity Press. 2003).
I I6 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

has been observed to be an important part of Hellenistic historiog:rnphy.611 For our

purposes. the reinforcement of the prese.nt via appeals to religious archives pre-
served in the te-mples was a common me-thod in the legitimizing role oflocal his-
tories. ln the absence of an ·o fficial' Scripture, the legitimizing role of religious
archives seemed to have played a similar autlloritative role in defin ing their
identity, needs and aspirations within the power dynamics of their region. lfwe
reduce the comparison to a simple statement, then like the Chronicle of Lindos,
which is essentially a ' ''history of the temple" as seen through ''the history of its
treasures'"/~ Matthew 2 is a history of Jesus' escape journey as seen through the
history oflsrael"s sacred treasure. Scriptme. Since each is a historicizjng enter-
prise initiated by religious compilers who were pi'OfotUldly cult-centred, each in a
sense can be called 'sacred histo1y'. There is no need~ however, lo push the genre
question in the comparison since. according to Mikhail Bakhtin, this is a strntegy
employed in a variety of literary genres that attempt to ac-hieve a semblance of
reality by means ofa fusion between 1he te.mpoml sequences of an individuaJ life
(time) and historical events or plotlines (space).ro
Since myth is eschatological and all-encompassing, attempting to incorporate
the totality of human expe.rience. its medium can only be symbol; and in this way
it surpasses the ' litem I' function of ide.o logy in culrure. This view is broader than
that of more recent mythologists. such as B1·uce Lincoln, who regard myth as an
ideology in narrative fonu.11 f rye would have most likely incorporated tJlis notion
into a wider realm of human consciousness. which seeks to bring ideologies into
more eternal or transcendent perspective tJwough imagination and art the-real
fomls of myth. Ideology, for f rye, is subordinated to myth; not the reverse.
Mythology creates ideology. which in tum selects, adapts and applies myth in the
formation of a social belief system. tvfyth in this context provides an identity and a
shared knowledge proclaiming \Vhat must be known.n The belief is akin to adher-
ence and obedience.• and is of\en reinfOrced by a power structure. Since ideology,
according to Frye. is mono logical and exclusive~ it is vel)' guarded in permitting
competing ideologies as dialogue partners. To restrict dialogue and hence chal-
lenges to existing ideologies is for Frye a centralizing tendency that is authori-
tative and aggressive. T1le mythological underpinnings become especially visible
when an ideology is enforced or advanced in extreme ways.1l
The b1·eaking with the dominant ideology also has political consequences at the
instin1tional level. f\·lyth is potentially threate.ning to the. fo undations of societal
strucnLre because it elicits new visions of reality. G. S. Kirk has well articulated

68. Dilkry. 'Greek &tcrcd History', p. 5 1 5~ J.·M. B::rtnlnd.lllst·riptimu Hiswrique.f Grffqllts

(Paris: l cs Bd ks lttti'C$. 1992). pp. 25-6.
69. Dillcry. ' Gre-ek Sacrt:d History•. p. 518.
70. Mikhail M. Bakhtin. ' Forms ofTimcand Chronotyp:.i:n the Novel'. in The Dialogic !m«gino·
lion (cd. M. Holquis1: trans. C. Eme-rson and M. Holquist Austin: Uni\·crsily ofTt);IIS Press. 1981).
pp. IJ I-40. 2 16-17.
71. Bruce l incoln. Theorizing Myth: :Vmrutil~. ld~V>Iogy, cmdSt'ho/arship (Chic-ago: Univcrsily
of Chtcago Press. 1999).
7'1. Frye. H'on/.1· with Power. p. 31.
73. Frye-. H'ords lt-ilh Power. pp.23--4.
HAnNA The Historicizing Function ofScripture in Matthe-w 2 117

how in the ancient wol'ld (particularly Mesopotamian culture) nature-gods devel-

oped into city-gods and in the process re-established the-natural and social orde1·.
At its root is a quest ioningofthe relationship between nature and culture.iJ Devel-
opment ofand/or dissension from instirurion frequently results in a new, perhaps
synthesized, institution. Nascent Christianity fits well within the process of institu-
tional separation and as it b1·oke from its Jewish moorings through a
Christo logical he-rmeneutic ofScripture. Given the absence of dialogue. Matthew's
entire story can be categorized as a legitimization of power. e\•en if it was origi-
nally directed against an oppressive group or inst itution. Certainly throughout the
histo1y ofChristianity. Matthew has been utilized with relative ease for legitimiz-
inganti-Semitic sentiment and even tl1e denigration ofJudaism. Mo1·e specifically.
inch. 2, the use of tb mmla quotations transfom1s the story of Jesus' miraculous
escape and re.turn into a historicized and geographically literalized accowlt which
becomes frozen in time, mythically speaking. and as a result contributes to an
emerging ideology that is legitimized in the face ofa compe-ting tbm1 ofJudaism.

3. Conclusion
My approach to understanding the function of Scripture in Matthew 2 from the
perspective of comparative myth theory is certainly on the fringes ofcontempo-
rary biblical stu dies~ and can be deemed experimental. Undoubtedly~ (expect
some critic-ism that I have not inte1-acted sufficie-ntly with historical-Jesus critics of
the nineteenth century along witl1 the many form critics and history-of-religions
schools of the first half ofthe t\ve.ntieth cenrury, who readily incorporated ancient
mythology in their studies ofeal'ly Christianity.a rvty preliminary response is that
the aims are different today. The rationalist assumptions that bifurcated factual
material (called •histo1y') and theological, or reason and faith, or object and sub-
ject, has reached an impasse in our poststmcturalist/postmodemist period. Gone
is the era when Gennall fom1critics domin~lted the methodological discussion in attempts to understand nascent Christianity and early compositional develop-
ment, but what remains, and is ripe tbr the picking. is their encyclopaedic aware-
ness ofthe religious context ofearl}' Christianity. One nee-d only to skim through
the foo tnotes of Kittel and Friedrich's TDNT to get a glimpse of that breadth.
Another foreseeable criticism is that I have not sufficiently interacted with the
potentially influential stories in lhe Hebrew Scriptures and their early Jewish
exegetical interpretations. Again. my preliminal)' response is that I have not
atte.mpted to verit)r and trace the exact tradition that Matthew and/or his source
used. Early Jewish traditions are c.ertainly vital for understanding nascent Christi-
anity, but when it comes to the process ofmythmaking - from history to myth
and back again - the Jewish religious tradition is not unique in the ancient world.

N. Kirk. My1b. p. 253.

75. On Manhew•s inrnncy namlivc. set-espec-ially the list or rcrcrences in Soares Pr..1bhu, The
Formula Quoialions in Ihe' !11/ancy iVarroJ;I'f! ofMallllfM. pp. 1- IS.
I 18 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

T11e continuous assumptions in many cuJTent writings that the ·superiority' or

rationality of the Bible supersedes pagan myth needs to be seriously questioned
when process is at issue.i6
New Testament studies in 01)' estimation need to build on the wealth of ancient
sources provided by our predecessors and view them in light of contemporary
myth theories which attempt to understand religious language in more unified
ways. moving beyond the theological/historical impasse. Part o f the cun-em prob-
lem is that the discipline of biblical studies (at least on the NT side) in general is
ill infOrmed whe-n it comes to the broader field ofthe study ofreligion, especially
the.nature of religious language. imagination and memory. Eric Csapo well speaks
of the postmodem period in cautiously optimistic terms given its openness to
incorporate and even synthesize what once were striclly independent method;;.17
T11is is the methodological awareness that I have also tried to conve}'· T11e use-
fulness ofapplying myth theol'y in general and Frye's phenomenology of myth in
p~u1icular to t:he function of embedded Scripture texlo; and traditions certainly
requires further discussion. but the success of an article or book that takes no
risks is, in Frye's words, ·hardly wo11h achieving' .1S

76. Sec the criti ci~•ns in Michael Fishb.'lnc~ Biblical .lt(rth and Rabbi1tic: A(tthmukillg (Oxford;
O:dord University Press. 2005), pp. 6- 21.
77. Eric Csapo.71t(>oril'.uifM>Yhology( llnd Mllfdcn, ~iA: BlaclwdL 2005). pp. 296-301.
78. Frye-. H'ords lt-ith Power. p. uii.

Michael P. Knowle-s

I. lntroductiou
In thosc-d.1ys. I wus the:. one: who came:. down from N!l:t.llrcth to be by John in
the: River Jordan. And the Gospel of Mnrk would that on my immersion. the:.
ht:a\'rnS opened and I snw ·a spirit liken dove: descending·. A might)· voice said. 'You
arc:. My beloved Son in whom I :un wdl pk ascd'. Then the Spi1it dron:. me into the
wlldcmcss. nnd I was there for forty days and was tc:mptc:d by Sutan.
While I wouf.d not say that ~fark's Gospd is false:-. it hns nwc:hc:x.ngg(filtion. And I
would offer less for ~fatthC\v. nnd for luke:. and John. who gave: me words I ncn:r
uucred nnd dt$Cribcd m~· as gentle whc-.n I wns pnlc with rage:. Thc:.irwords wc:rc wrillc:n
many )'t"ars aflcr I was gone and only rcp~-ot wh.11old men told thc:-m. Very old mcn.l

So begins Nom1an Maile.r 's The> Gospel According 10 the> Son. a novelistic
account of Jesus' lite and ministry narrated through tJ1e eyes and voice of Jesus
himself. Even while copying verbatim from all four Gospels~ Mailer supplies
much that readers both ancient and modern have fOund lacking from the canoni-
cal acc.ounts: a single~ authoritative pe1·spective on the events of Jesus' life, a
running description of his thoughts and emotions. and in particular a partial tran-
script of Jesus' ongoing inner dialogue with God. As Mailer tells it, a growing
sense ofself-awan~ness. emerging out of persistent doubt, ambiguity and uncer-
tainty. provides the unifying narrative thread around which the plot and purpose
of Jesus· ministry develop.
As might be expected ofa Jewish ?\•lessiah, Mailer's Jesus reflects at le-ngth on
the meaning oflsrael's sacred texts. Sometimes God spe.aks to him directly: more
frequently. however, the words of Scripture become. personal words of divine
instruction and admonition. As noted above, Mailer begins his wol'k by c.iting the
flrstofo nly three audible divine voices reported in the Gospels (Mk 1.11 par.: cf.
Mk 9.7 par., Jn 12.28). A few chapters later, ho\VC\•er, the novelist provides a
mo1·e revealing accotult of Jesus· baptismal experience:
I heard a \'Oicc. and i1came from the.hrnn:ns. ll came in1o my car nnd ~'lid: 'Before I
forrncd thi."C In l.hc btU)'. I knew thee· . •. I n iscd m)' fnceto the h~'a\'crlS nnd said. 'lord
God. I urn like a child.'

I. Norman Mailer. TheG(}spel According to lhe Sou(Ncw York: Random House, 1997). pp. J-4.
120 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels
And lhc:. Lord spoke 11s l·k hsd to the propbcl Jc:rcmi.ah. I heard: ·soy nol .. l nm a
ohild". for you shall go lo all the places thnt I shall send thoc.•2

Even more explicit is this paraphrase of Ezek. 2.2-4, sel immediately followi ng
the baptism:
He said: 'S!and upon )oot feet•.
Whtn I did. He told me: 'Once I spoke to the proph~1 Eze-kiel and he snvcd our
pooplc in Babylon. Now these words given to Eukicl arc: for yot.: ··son of Man. I s¢nd
thee to l.hc children of lsrnc.l. to a nalion that hath rebelled ag.uinst Me. even unto this
\'~~t)·day. For they arc impudent <:hild:ren nnd stiff-hearted. Bul you wiUspc-nk Mywocck
unto them•.."' ..l

Particularly as Jesus fasts in the wilderness, the words and experiences ofGod's
prio1· servants become his own, shaping his sense of identity:
Th~· prophets we-re ofl<n with me in these. wee-ks: Elijah and Elisha. lsniah and Daniel
and Ezekiel. I could recall their words ns if they we-re m)' own ...
I pondered the praye-rs I would use.with sinners nnd dec-ided thnt I would td l them.
c.vcn as had lsainh: ·was-h you. mnkc you cl~n : put away the cvll of your doings:
rdicw the oppressed:"
As the narrative progresses and Jesus' sense of himself grows more sure.
howevet·, the voice of God comes to him less frequently. As in the canonical
Gospels, Jesus increasingly applies the words of the sacred text to himself and
his circumstances. 11\us, when overturning the tables in the Temple courtyard,
Mailer's Jesus paraphrases not only Isa. 56.7 with Jer. 7. 11 - 'My house shall be
known before all nations as a house of prayet·. Whet·eas you are men of Mammon
and have made it a den of thieves' - but Isa. 28.8 as well: ' These tables arc a pool
of vomit. In suc-h tilth, nothing is clean! ·s Indeed. he be.comes ever more certain
that his own voice is the voice of God: · t could hear the voiceofthe lord coming
forth from me. without errant thoughts of my own.' 6
Yet Mailer's reliance on canonical texts both fm his narrative depiction of
Jesus and to record Jesus' interior perception of the divine voice represents no
concession to conventional piety. for the author is elsewhere not shy
from orthodoxy. Rather.l\<failer appears to have grasped a key feature ofthe Evan-
gelists' litermy and theological technique. one that he applies even more ovenly
to Jesus himselt~ Or to state the matter in more cautious tem\S, the dual con-
tribution of Hebrew Scripmre and auditory experience to plot development and
characterization in T!Je Gospel According 10 the Son poses the question of how
the canonical Evangelists employ Scripture and reported experience to constme
God's voice in t•elation to character and plot development within their own
accounts of Jesus' life. Here we will pursue this que~c;.t ion with reference to Mat-
thew's Gospel. not least because his account relies so extensively on scriptural

2. Maikt.Acam1ing to til" Stm. p. 34. m:alling J cr. 15· 7.

3. Maikr. According to II~<• So11. pp. 35- 6: cf. Ezck. 2.1 ·7.
4. Mailer. According to tile Smt. pp. 42- 3.
5. Mailer. A«ordiltg to tit(' Smt. pp. 154--5: cf. Mt. 2I. 13. par.
6. Mailc:r. According to tile Stm. pp. 1 67~ d. pp. 169. 173. 204. ctc.
K NOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 12 1

motifs. together with allusions to and direct quotations from the sacred texts o f
Israel. i

2. Afallhew's 1\1ain Character: Invisible but No/ Silenl

Approached from a literary-critical pe1·spective, the Gospel o fMatthew presents
its readers (and modern readers in particular}with a curious conundrum. At least
on first reading. God - the prime mover and agent behind the Gospel narrative
and therefore, arguably, its main character11 - is invisible and mostly silent. Not
only does God have no more. than a single line of direct discourse in the entire
Gospel (a mere ten words of Greek). bm the same line is repeated twice: 'This is
my Son, the Beloved. with whom lam well pleased. [Listen to him!)' (Mt. 3.17,
17.5; echoing Ps. 2.7 and Js.a.42.1 ).9 Given the Evangelist's conviction that Jesus
is the Jewish Messiah and ·son o fGod', this seems somewhat less than might be
expected. CertainI}' Matthew reports that Jesus addresse..~; his heavenly Father
directly, and e.noourages his tO!lowe-rs to do the same (6.9-13; 1 1 .25-26~ 26.39.
42: 27.46). Andce11ainly - as Mailer is aware - God seems to have spoken both
directly and frequently to the prophets of old. Where, then, is God's voice to be
found throughout the remainder of rvtatthew's Gospel'? Although the p1'0cess
untblds far Jess smoothly or sequentially than in Mailer's more recent imitation.
Manhew depicts an invisible divine speaker who in the course of the Gospel nar-
rathre prefers to speak indirectly- initially via Scripture - doing so in order uhi-
mately to transfer his voice and authority into the mouth of Jesus himself.
Whether by means of this gradual appropriation or by downplaying other voices
that might detract from Jesus' own, the narrative focuses increasingly on the
identity and verbal authority of the Messiah.

A. The Voices of.-lngcls aud 1/Je Voice of Scriplure

T11e first voices sin1ated so as not to conHict with that of Jesus are those of the
Matthean (in both Gre.e-k and Hebrew. literally, ·messe-ngers'). Angels are
prominent throughout this Gospel. both as characters refe1·red to in discourse and.
in five instances, as participants in the narrative itself. But they speak only when
Jesus is physically absent from the action. Lest there be any confusion as to the

7. For a c-Oncise: inLroduction to the: cor~cpt and \•ocubular)' of inlc-rtc::ttualit)'. and iL<> various
c:tpressions in Matlhcw. see Ulric.h Lw.. ·fntcrtc:tts in Lhc: Gospd of Matthew', HTR 97:2 (2004).
119- 37. Tht- fotm<btiotl31issues for literary-critical analysis of Matthew·s natntlivc: nrc laid out by
Mark Allan Powell. ·Toward a Na..rrnti\'C·CriticnJ Undcrsumding of Mntth::w'. in Jac:k Dean Kings-
bwy {ed.}. Grupd Jmerpretolion: Narraliwr-Criliml andSodai-S<ielli(K' Appmudres (Han·isburg.
PA:Trinity. 1997). pp. 9--15.
S. Burnett defines 'charllc.tcr' ns ·n paradigm of attributin: propositions constructed during the
reading proc~ from illdicalors along the textual con1inuum . • . A . . . is a parudigm of
construc.tcd trnits 1hat the rcad::rau.,te.hcs to a name• (Fn:d \V. Burnett. ·chlllnctc-rization and Re<~dcr
Constn•ction of ehamctcrs in the Gospels•. in El iznb~·th Struthers Malbon and Adck Berlin (cds).
C!lmucteri:ation in Biblical UteiYJl/lre (Semeia. 63: Atlanta: Scholars. 1993). pp. 1- 18 ( 16-17).
9. SoW. D. Oa\·iesand D. C. Allison. T1reGospdAccordingtoSaint Mauhew(ICC: Edinburgh:
T&T Clarl:. 1988-97). vol. I. pp. 33~9.
122 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

d ivine origin of these messengers. Matthew specifies in each case that it is an

'angel ofthe Lord [ayy£AO) Kuploo)' who tells Joseph in a dream to take Mmy as
his wife ( 1.20, cf. 24). to flee to Egypt with his f.'mily (2.13), and to t'etum home
following the.death of Herod (2. 19-20). Again. it is ·an angel ofthe Lord. descend-
ing from heaven' who explains to the women why the re-su1·rected Jesus is no
longer in his tomb (28.2-7). By contrast. when present wilh Jesus the anqels min-
iste~ in silence, their divine origin unmenlioned (so Mt. 4.11, Ko:l iOOU O.yy£~01
rrpooilAfkv; par. Mk 1.1 3). Given the evident authority of angelic- voices in this
Gospel - indi£ated botl~ lD' Joseph's consislent obedie-nce and especially by the
emphatic i6ou £lrrov U~nv of 28.7- such comparalive silence efl'eclively (if
indireclly} acknowledges the authority of Jeswi' own voice.
That Matthew intends such a relali\•ization of angelic voices emerges more
clearl}• from closer study of the texts that report them, at least in his first two
chapters. Specifically. each angelic annotulce1uent in the int:1.ncy narratives is
followed immediately by a citation of Scripture that focuses more directly on
Jesus and provides a more definitive interp1·etation of the. reponed events. The
angel's first appearance to Joseph. fo1·example, inC-ludes an explanation of Jesus'
origin, name and purpose: ' the child conceived in her is from the Hoi}•Spirit. She
will bear a son. and you are to name him Je.sus, for he will save his people from
their sins' ( 1.20-21). But the angelic aJmouncement, momentous a.<.; it is, is inune-
diately overshadowed by the ensuing editorial comment: 'All this took place to
fulfil what had been spoken by the l ord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin
shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel". whic.h means,
"God is with us" (Mt. 1.22-23; citing LXX lsa. 7.14, 8.8). The visitation and
voice of the heavenly messenger are thus ullimately subsen•ie-nt to the voice of
the prophet. in its own decisive affim1ation of Jesus' ide-ntity. A similar patte1·n is
evident with subsequent angelophanies. An angel commands Joseph to depart for
Egypt and remain there until the death of the tyl'ant. But this sequence of events
is already foreseen by Scripture: ·This was tofulfill what had been spoken by the
lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son'" (2. 15: citing
Hos. 11.1). In due course Joseph is instructed, not to leave his place-.ofexile speci-
fically, but rather to ·go 10 the land oflsmel' (2.20). Vet this too takes place only
'so Ihal what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, " He will
be called a Nazorean'" (2.23). However enigmatic the latte1·reference has proven
and however elusive its source, its intended authority is unmistakable.
The voice of Scriptme thus takes precedenc-e for f!.·tatthew over the voices of
angels. True, they are ' messenge1'S t?_{the Lord' . O:yy£Ao1Toli Kl.lpiou, bU1 so like-
wise in 1.22 and 2.15 the Evange-list describes the "!OfdS?f~cripture. f!S 'wh~t ha~
been spoken by the Lord throngh the prophet' . TO p1]9£v urro KUptou 5ta TOU
rrpo<fJntou. Of Matthew's various fulfilment fomlulae, only these two include
the important qualit}'ing clause UrrO Kuplou. Yet both here and in nine additional
instances, with tJle majority of these in the first half of the Gospel, the narrator's
consistent use of the passive voice (TO Pn9€.v, 'that which was spoken') and the
preposilion 6td (here meaning 'through·, ' by means o f ) indicate the intel·medi-
ary role of the prophets and point clearly to the divine source of their words (so
K NOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 123

to pn~v (o pn9£1s] lita toG rrpoqn\tou in 2. 17, 23; 3.3; 4.14: 8. 17; 12. 17;
13.35; 21.4; 27.9: c f. 2.5).
To this point we h;we seen, first, that the Gospel of Matthew relativizes voices
whose own, more evidently divine origin might odlerwise appear to challenge the
voice of Jesus; second. that the author of Scripture is ideJHified as kllptO),
"l ord'; and, third, that even where this title does not appear, rvtatthew's c itation
fonnulae point to the divine author and mover be.hind the words of the prophets.
Now we tum to examine furthe-r narrative strategies that set forth Jesus' affi nna-
tion and appropriation o f Scripture. as he (and !vlaUhew with him) begins to
make the voice of God in Scripture his own.

B. The Voice ofJems and the Voice oft he Lord

Where rvtatthew identifies ' the Lord' as the source of propheric i nspiration~ Jesus
specifies more clearly that Scripture represents the actual voice of God. Thus. for
instance-, he 1-eplies to the tempter, ·Jt is written, ..One does not Jive by bread
alone, but by every WOJ'd that comes from the mouth qj'God" (l\·11. 4.4}. From a
redaction-critical perspective. it is worth noting that the critica l apodosis like ly
did not originate with Q. 1osuggesting that such an a ffinnation ofdivine speech is
significant fo1· Matdlew. Read as part ofa canonical corpus. the quotation of LXX
Deut. 8.3 amounts to a scriptural validation of Scripture's own authority: Jesus
thus a tlirms what Scripture affirms about itse-l t: Similarly in debate with the Phal'i-
sees and scribes, Jesus declares, ·For God said, ''Honour your fllther and your
mother", aJld, ..Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die'" ( ML
15.4; cf. 15.6: ' You make void Ihe word ofGod'). Again in 22.3 1-32~ he rebuts
certain Sadducees with a pointed question: ·Have you not read what was said to
vou by God, " I a m the God of Abroltam, [etc.]"'. Here Jesus' words c losely echo
·th,e formula of 1.22. 2. 15. and subsequent iterations: rOPn9£vUrrOKupiou . . .
Ae:yovTOS. Matthew. it would appear: bases the language of his fulfilment fonnu-
lae - his a ffim1.ation o f the voice ofGod in Scripture - on the language of Jesus.
Parenthetically, the theological solipsism of th is parallel is striking: Jesus
affirms that Scripture directly represents the voice of God, while Matthew
employs the language ofJesus to a ffirm his messianic fulfilment of the Scriptures
that point to him. We will retum later to consider the narrative and theological
signific-.ance o f this merging of perspectives.
Resuming our considera tion of specific nalTative strategies, Jesus' challenge,
' Have you not read . . . (o\ncc:iv€yvwn.]'. appears a total of six time-s in this Gos-
pel (cf. 12.3. 5; 19.4; 21 .1 6. 42). in each instance both assuming and affi nning the
primacy of Scripture. This is likewise the impo1t ofthe formula Jesus first uses in
Mt. 4.4: yiypcmt<:u, ' it is written· (also Mt. 4.7, 10; I I. I0, 26.31: cf. 26.24). His
high view of Scripture is particulal'ly e\•idem in 11.10 (par. f'.,tk 1.2) where lhe
combined citation oftwo quite.distinct passages, Exod. 23.20 and Mal. 3.1. implies
that the whole ofdte biblical text speaks with a single, authoritative voice. 11

10. So O$ies and Allison. Tlw GoJpel According 10 Saim Malllww. vol.l p. 363: cf. luke ~.4.
II. On Mauh.:w's usc of such fotmulae. see furthtt Michnd P. Knowl"!!s, 'Scripeurc. History.
124 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

In one se.nse, Jesus' high C$timation ofScripture is ofitselfhardly t'cmarkable:

notwithstanding the relative fluidity and variety of biblical texts at this period,12
his view would have been shared by the majority o f Jews in the Second Temple
ern. But the same cannot be said for the way in which Jesus i nterpret.~> the sacred
text as re tbrring to himself. So. tb rexample. Jesus uses the language offulfi lment
to account for his enigmatic use of parables (Mt. 13.13- 14 ):
The reason I spe!lk to them in parables is thnt ·seeing tbty do 001 pcrociw. and hearing
they do not l istcn. nor dotbcyund~TStand'. With dtt<mindeed is fulfilled L«volT).qpOOTal)
tile prophc'y of lsninh that snys:
·you will indocd listen, but nc.vcr un<krstand.
and you will imkcd look. but ne\•e r pcrcei\'e. •
According to Matthew's formulation of this passage, Je.~us cites and adapts the
text o flsa. 6.9-10, both \Vith and without explicit notice tha1 he is drawing on the
words of the prophet (cf. Mt. 15.7-8. ' Isaiah prophesied rightly . . .', c iting lsa.
29.1 3).
Jesus· self-re ferential intet·pretation o f Scripture intensifies as the climax of his
ministry approaches. A number of the interpretative strategies reviewed thus far
e merge clearly in Matthew's account of Jesus' entJy into the sacred precincts:
Then Jesus mte:rOO the temple and drove out all who were sd ling and buying in the
temple. and he ovenumod the: tables of lhc money changers and the SCllts of those who
sold doves. He snid to them. •Jt is ll'rill~ll•..My house shall be called a house of pmycr"':
but you arc mnking it "a den of robbers.... The: blind and the lam~· came to him in the.
temple. and he: eurOO them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the: amnzing
thinp that he did. ond heard the children crying out in the tempk. · 1~ cmmnn to the Son
of Oavid'.thcy bocame nngry and $lid to him. 'Do you hear wllllt these-are sa)·ing?'
lc:$US snid to them. · ves~hal'(l.r-ofltk'\'erreud. -out of the mouths of infants and nursing
babies you 113\'C prepared prnise for yourself{t::aTf)pTio(.J a.,tvov)"?' (Mt. 21.11-16)
In his initial declaration, Jesus in effect arbitl'ates between t\vo alternative
descl'iptions of the Temple: the fit·st fi'Om Isa. 56.7 and the second from Jer. 7 .II .
Notwithslanding the authority of the fOrmer (i.e .. ' it is written .. .'). Jesus pro-
claims the greater accuracy ofthe latter in light of the situation at hand. Then in
the second half ofthe passage - unique to Matthew - Jesus applies a furthet· text
to himself. Here the reflexive or middle voice of the verb KO:Taprl~ttV, from
LXX Ps. 8.3, is all-imponant For by means o f it Jesus allows that the children's
praise of him is the praise that God inspires for himself. That is to say: ( I) Jesus
explains the true meaning of the sacred text in relation to contemporary event~;
(2) he explains it as a ret'Ct·ence to himself; and (3) he implies that, according to
Scripture, such praise identifies him with God. f\·fatthew's depiclion of Jesus citing
Scripture is not merely polemical or apologetic, bul specifically Christological: it

Messiah: ScriptumI Ful6lment and the: FullMss of Time in M.tJtthcw·s Gospd'. in Stunk y E. l>one:r
(ed.).J.Iroring the Old TeJtamem in the New TeJiamtmi (Gr.!nd Rapids: Eerd.mans. 2006). pp. 59- 82
(62- 6).
12. Sc:c:. th~· summarydiSCllS$Km by Ri,hard B~ton. f.faialt :f Texl ill Matt!J{?l\' 's Go.\pe/(SNTSMS.
113; Cambridge. UK: Cambridg~. Uni\·ersity. 1003). pp. 52--6.
K NOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 125

designates Jesus as the authoritative interpreter oflsrael's Scriptures, of contem-

porary events, and. more to the point, of his own identity and significance.
Even more obviously self-referential- given that it concerns the.identity of the
Messiah - is his interpretation of Ps. 110. 1:
Now while- the Pharisc~~ \VC-I'C gathered together. ksus asl:OO the-m this question: 'What
do you think of the-Messiah? Whose son is hcT They said to him. ·The son of Oa\'id.'
He said to them. '1-low is i1the-n that David b)' the Spirit calls him Lord. soying.
- The. Lord !';1id to my Lord (El n:v 1<\ipto:i ;t:) Kupit.;t uou}.
·sit at my right hund, until I put your enemit'$ under ym•r feet.,..!
If Oa\'id thus c-nJis him Lord. how can he be his -son'?' (Mt. !2.41-45)

According to Matthew, Jesus himself initiates this exchange~ refuting the views
o f his rivals, and interpreting the text to mean that David, inspired by the Spirit of
God. testifie.s to the true identity of the f\·tessiah. By way of background to this
episode, \Ve recall once more that in two of its earliest appearances in this Gospel,
the title .Uptos refers to God as the author of Scripture (1 .22, 2.1 5), and thai
throughout Matthew's narrative this ttm n frequently refers to God.n Conversely,
the citation oflsa. 40.3 in Mt. 3.3 1 ' Prepare the way of the Lord' . clearly implies
that Jesus himself is the "Lord' to whom the prophet refers, insofar as John the
Baptist prepares the wa}' fo1· Jesus within the narrative sequence of Matthew's
account. For all its boldness1 this is equally the significance ofJesus' implicit self-
reference in hi.s refutation of the tempter: ·Again it is written, ··Do not put the
lord your God to the test"' (Mt. 4. 7. citing Deut. 6. 16). Most c learly of all. Jesus'
c itation ofPs. 110.1 indicates that there is not one ' lord' but two: ·The Lo1·d said
to my Lo1·d'. In his classic discussion of !<Upto.:; as a Matthean Christo logical
designation. K.ingsbUiy observes that •In 22:41-46 . . . Jesus the Messiah stands
behind the term Ayrios as the divine Son who wields divine authority. •JJ In sum,
then (apart from the lL:;e oh:UptO) as a form of personal address), Matthew as
narrator e.mploys this title with reference to God. but reports that it is Jesus who
applies it to himself. And he does so on tJ1e basis of Jesus' authoritative exegesis
o f Scripture. Matthew's theological and naiT".ttive strategies are thus of a piece:
Jesus test ifies that Scripture- the authol'ity of which may be take-n for granted-
itselftestifies to his identity as ·Lord ', thereby affim1ing the authority with which
he speaks.
Along the same lines, Jesus' quotation ofZec.h. 13.7 offers more than a simple
explanation of why his own disciples will abandon him in his hour of need. !t.·lore
than this, it identifies him as the 'shepherd" of Israel: ·Jesus said to them, ·You
will aU become deserters because of me this night: for it is wrillen, "(will strike
the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered"·• (Mt. 26.31). Even

13. Of the 80 occurrenc-es of KUp10S in ~ill!thew. at least IS refer unambiguously to God: e.g ..
11 .25: 'At tlmt time Jesus said. "I thank you. Fathc:r. /.ordofhct~venand earth'" : 21.9: 'Blessed is the
one who c.omcs in the nome of the Lord': 27. 10: 'thc:y ga\·e them for the potler's fidd. ns the Lord
comlll3ndcd me·. etc.
14. Jack Ocun Kingsbttry. Maohew: Slructure. Chri:;to/ogy, Kingdom (Philadd phia: Fortrc~.
1975), p. 110. Similorly in I.f.2S-30and I1.4. wh~·re Peteraddn::s.scsJesusas ·Lord'. 'M-Iltthcw asso·
ciotes the tcnn kyrios more imrncdiatcly with Jesus ns the Son of God'.
126 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

more momentous - given that it seals his fate before the-High Priest and San-
hedrin- is his appropriation of Ps. 110.1 and Dan. 7. 13: 'From now on you will
see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of
heaven• (tvh. 26.64), or his cry of dereliction from the cross, by which he applies
Ps. 22.2 to himself: 'My God, my God. whyhaveyou forsaken me?' (Mt. 27.46).
Pa11icularly at the beginning ofMatthew·s GospeL freque-nt fomlUia citations
indicate various as.pects o f Jesus' origins and personal history to be in fulfilment
of scriptural expectation. In the unfolding chronology of Jesus' life, Matthew
prompt-; Scripture to speak of and for Jesus either before Jesus is able to speak
for h hnselt~ or before his authority has been fully established. By the time the
Gospel narrative reaches its climax, however, fulfilment citations in the fonn of
editol'ial assertions or narrative ·asides' are infrequent (21 .4-5: 27.9- JO). But that
is because Jesus himselfhas largely taken over the method and language ofscrip-
turnl fulfilment. both in gcnernl tenus (so 26.54. 56). and with respect to the parti-
cular text,o; indicated above. While similarities of language imply that Matthew
has derived his scriptural hermeneutic from Jesus, by the end of the Gospel Jesus
himself is its ~re-emi nent practitioner. With or without the use of formulaic lan-
guage (ooKioooe rron a veyvc.:>n , yeyparrt <X<, avo:rrA~poiitat, !!A~pc.:>9<.Jo<v.
etc.). Jesus' pnlctice of scriptural exegesis implies that just as there is not one
"Lordt but two within the narrative and theologic-al st111cture ofMatthew"s Gos-
pel, so there are two sources ofauthority: not simply the biblical text per se. but
the text as interpreted in relation to and especially by the f\·fessiah himself~ The
Evangelist d~picts in practice what the ascription ofKUptOS entails in titular or
appellative tenns: Jesus speaks with an authority equivalent to that ofScl'ipture
itself. such that both convey the voice of "the Lord". As we will see further
below, Jesus now emerges as the source par excellence of divine authority - of
God's voice - within the Gospel ofrvtatthew.

C. The Voice of/he Scribes and the Voice o.fMoses

Just as Matthew's Gospel begins with Ule relativization and rhetorical silencing
of angelic voices, the same narrative strategy accounts for the Evangelist's sub-
sequent treatment of Moses and of the 'scribes and Pharisees". two rival sources
- ancient and contempormy - ofteaching authority. As one ele-ment of a narrative
strategy, the de-authorization of these voices again serves to affinn the greater
authority of the Christ
That Manhew presents Jesus' teaching in five blocks (5. 1-7.28; 10.5- 11.1;
13. 1-53: 18.1 - 19.1; 24.3-26.1 ) is widely acknowledged, although the significance
of this division remains subject to strenuous debate. These sections can be iden-
tified not only on the basis of content. but also b)' vinue of the transitional state-
ment.<; with which they each conclude: Kal Ey€vno On hiAcoev0'lnooUs. etc.
(7.28, 11.1 , 13.53, 19.1 . 26.1). Particularly as it appears in 26. 1, this formula bears
a close ,·esemblance to LXX Deut. 3 J.24. which marks the conclusion of Moses'
teaching. 1>Since the content of these sections is not unifomll}' didactic. and
K NOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 127

emphasizing a five tbld division leaves out of consideration the aH-impo11ant

infancy and Passion narratives. scholars are typically reluctaJlt to speak of a
Matthean ' New Torah·. Nonethele~~. it seems likely that the Evangelist seeks to
present Jesus· teaching in a generally pentateuchal implying that he has
authority akin to that of Moses to articulate the voice and will of God.
Jesw;· authority is particularly evident in the first such section, the Sem1on on
the f\·1ount. Toward the beginning ofthis discourse. Jesus declares, ·Do not think
that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets: I have come not to abolish
but to fulfil [rrAnpc.locu]' (M1. 5.17). But whereas(as we have seen already) both
Matthew and Jesus consistentI}' affirm ' that which was said' by God through the
prophe-ts, Jesus repeatedly contradicts the words o f the Torah. the teaching o f
Moses: ' You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you'.li In all six
instances, the force of Jesus· words is conveyed by an emphatic personal pronoun
and advorsative: £y<.) o£ }.i yw u~iv (cl' 19.7-9). Elsewhere Jesus confim\S the
Torah to be the very voice and word of God (4.4; 15.4-6; 22.3 1), eve-n counsel-
ling obedience to Moses· teaching (8.4). Yet on the Mount ofTransfiguration.
Moses' subordination to Jesus - implied ah·eady in the Sennon on the Mount - is
explicitly depicted. Appearing in visionary tb rm, Moses and Elijah are said to
speak with Jesw; (17.3). Yet for readers and hearers o fthis Gospel. tl1ey remain
silent: Matthew does not report the substance oftheirconversation. l\nd whereas
in the past God is known to have spoken with both Moses and Elijah. here God
addresses Jesus alone, in the most intimate and affinning ofte.rms: ' This is my
Son. the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased' (1 7.5}. Rec-alling the revelation
at Sinai, God speaks from a cloud (as in Exod. 24.1 6),111 fulfilling in the person o f
Jesus Moses' proph£CYof one like himselfyet to come. In particular, the impera-
tive ch:oUn e aUtou echoes Deut. 17.5, 'The LORD your God will raise up for
you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a
prophet [LXX auToU aKooowlle)'. Whereas Moses 0\\11 words do not imply the
superiority of this future prophet God's emphatic ' Listen to him! ' clearl}' indi-
cates that the voice of Jesus c-arries mot·e \Veight than those of either Moses or
Elijah. Het·e, then. is a clear narrative exposition of Jesus' authot·ity, as one greater
than Temple ( I2.6), prophet<( 12.41 ), (12.42), and even Mooes himself"

timv To'i5 po6nT«i5 ooh oU) with LXX Deut. 3 1 .2~·25: ~v1Ko:6i ouvrrU.Eotv ~~5 yp0:¢1wv
ncivTo5 ToUs M yovs TOU v6s,tou -roVTou ... rol iVf:n iAo:ro To\s tuulToS ••. Mywv ...
16. So. <.g.• luz. 'lntcnexts in the Gospel or Matth!."\v•. p. 129.
I 7. So ML 5.11·22 (citing Exod. 20.13. IXut. 5.17: Exocl. 2 1.12. <tc..): 5.27·28 (Exod. 20.14.
Deut. 5. 18): 5...B ·34 (Ex.od. 20.7. Lc\·. 19. 12. e-tc.): 5.38.·39 (E:tod. 21.23·H. U:.v. 24.t 9·20. DcuL
19.:?1}: 5.43-44 (Lev. 19.18. etc.): cf. S.J I (DeuL 24.1·4).
18. Jobn Nolfancl. 11~<• GosjX'I of Ma/llf(!lf: A Commer~tary rm rlw Gred Text (NIGTC: Gra1ld
Rapids: Ecrdmans. 2005). p. 70~.
19. As a runht'1' c:umpkor tl31TClti\'Crdati\·izat;oo. Knri Syrccni ('Pc•crasChnractcr <ul<i Symbol
in the Gospel orMatlhcw'. in Dnvld Rhoads ond Kari Syrc.:ni fodsJ. C!laructeri:ari(m in ihe Gospels:
Rmmcdl'ing Narrmiw Critici!JIJ fJS"'TSup. 184: Shdlidd: Sheffield Academic Pn-ss. 19991. pp.
106-51 ( 151j)argucs that Matth(\VOORStruct:> nnd ultirn,,tdydcconstruc:tsthc ch."!mctcrofPctcr. C\ 'CO
though he is first among the aposdes.. so as to point beyond him to the: unsubstitutnble-authority of
128 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

The parallel processes ofappropriation and t•elativization reach a high point in

Jesus' conflict with the "scribe-s and Pharisees' . who as contemporaries ofMatthew
and his community offe r tJle most significant rival claim to divine authority.20 On
the one hand Jesus rebuts specific points of interpretation and t•cligious practice
(e.g. 12.1-8: 15.1-14). Yet his criticism applies to particular details rather than to
their teaching in principle, which he in fact affirms, instructing his hearers~ ' Do
whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not
practice what they teach' (Mt. 23.3) . Even so, the relativization o f Moses' own
teaching applies even more cle-arly to those who. he says. ;occupy the seat of
Moses' . .A.s a command directed both 'to the crowds and to his disciple-s', neither
they not· the 'scribes and Pharisees' are to be designated 'rabbi' or 'teacher' (23.1-
2). ·For you have one teacher [Ot6cim::aAO))'. Jesus e.xplains, and ·one instructor,
the Messiah' (Ka9t)yt)nl5 u~6>v EOTIV ils 0 XptorO,: 23.8, I 0). With this state-
ment, since the audience has from the opening sentence known the nat·rati\•e as a
whole to be Mattltew·s BI~AO> yevioews 'h)OoU XotOToU. the transfer of author-
ity to Jesus - and Jesus alone - is unmistakable and complete.
Where, then. is the voice of God to be heard in Matthew·s Gospel? It is con-
veyed in the first instance by angelic messengers, but more definitively by the
prophets of old, with Moses. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, rvtic.ah, Zechariah
and King David prominent among them. Yet previous or competing voices are
e ithet· sile-nced or subordinated to that of Jesus. while the voice of God in Scrip-
ture gradua lly merges with Jesus' own. both in the-course of the t\·fessiah 's authol'i-
tath•e exposition of sacred texts. and by virtue o f the fuc.t that Jesus, like.God, is
acclaimed as t::Up!O) - in more than one instance as an interpretation of Scripture
itself (so 3.3; 4.7; 21.16; and 22.43-45). Given that ·God's point of view !u nc-
tions as the norm tOt· the world o f this Gospel. by which all events are evalu-
ated ' ,11 this convergence of perspectives is of primal)' Christo logical significance
for Matthew.
At Jesus' baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration in particular. the
audible voice of God follows the same strategy we have seen both Matthew and
the Messiah employ, applying to Jesus the divine voice recorded in Scripture and
thereby reite.rating that his authority is equivalent to God's own. As to the
purpose and intended effect o f this merging of voices. f\·1atthew as narrator and
implicit disciple concurs with Jesus in identifying him as God's Son, conveying
to the hearer/re-ader God's own point of view in this matter and thereby inviting
the audience to adopt in tum the perspective of believing d i sc i p les. ~

20. Note that. within this narrati\'c. ·scribes a1ld Pha.risc~-s· collccti\·d y tcprcs~"tl l those who
oppose ksus on religious grounds: sec further Dnvid R. Bauer. 'The MnjorCh111nelcrs of:O.fatthcw's
Story: Their Function and Signilknnoc'. f nJ. 46 ( 1992). 35i-67 (364-7).
21. Warren C111tcr. 'NmTntivcll itcrary Approaches to Manhean Theology: The " Reign of the
Heavens'' as an E:tnmplc: (Mt 4 .1 7-5.12}'. JSNT 67 ( 1997). 3-17 ( 19- 20): similarly. Mark Allan
Powell. ·r hc: Plot and Subplo ts of Mau hcw's Gospel•. NTS 38 ( tm). 187- 104 ( 199).
21. So Jack Ocun Kingsbury. 'Tbc Significance: of the: Earthly Jesus in lhc Gospel of Matthew'.
E.vAud 14 ( 199&). 59-65 (61. 65): similarly. Andrie-s G. \'all Anrdc. ·111c First Tcshlmcnt in the
Gospel of Matthew'. fll'TSi 53 ( 1997}. 126-45 ( 129-30).
KNOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 129

Although the process appears far less orderly Ol' incrementa I than in Norman
Mailer's version ofevents. the Gospel narrative clearly recounts Jesus' identifica-
tion, appropriation and inte.riorization of divine authority. an authol'ity that not
only points to him. but ultimately becomes his own. For rvtatthew. the voice of
the lord God in Scripture testifies that Jesus is greater and more authoritative
than any previous messenger in the history of IsraeL As a character aJld partici-
pant in Matthew 's narrative, God remains largely out of sight> as seems only
proper. But because of Jesus God is, in the last analysis, far from silent In this
account> the chal'acters ·God' and ' Jesus' are mutually referential: just as the
character and identity of Jesus come into focus primarily as his rela6on to God is
clarified. so God steps into the narrative- emerges as an active-characte-r - almost
exclusively as God authorizes, identifies and c.haracterizes Jesw; in relation to

3. New Voices: Spirit, Apostles. C!Jurclt

Thus far we have contended that the voice of God (whether by way of cloud.
angels. or the prophets of old), the voice of Jesus (in both his self-referential
appropriation of Scriptul'e ru1d his 1-ecasting of the Torah), and the voice of
Matthew (via the evangelist's narrative shaping and use of fulfilment citations)
all ascribe divine authority to the Messiah. All c.oncur in their Christoce.ntric read-
ing of Israel's sacred scriptures. In this specitlc sense, although in diftC.ring degrees
and only from within the perspective.of the narrative itself. aJI three articulate.the
·voice of God'. In fact. the same may be said of the apostles. and arguably of the
Chlll'ch as a whole. To see how this is so requires a brief review of the consistent
theological parallels that Matthew establishes between Jesus> John the Baptist,
and lhe earliest disciples.
Just as Jesus begins his minisny with the words, 'Repent, tOr the kingdom of
heaven has come near' (4. J7). so he subsequently instructs the Twelve tbr
O\VIl mission. ;Proclaim the good news, ..TI1e kingdonl of heaven has come near...
(Mt. 10.7). Indeed. he says. their ministry will closely resemble Jesus· own: 'CUI·e
the.sick, raise the dea~ cleanse the lepers, cast out demons' (I 0.8). Yet within the
confines of the text, these are not actions that we see the Twelve actually carrying
out if they are to be accomplished at all. these will be the responsibility of post-
narrative disciples. In any event the Twelve, like Jesus, are sent only ' to the lost
sheep of the house oflsmer ( 10.5: 15.24).just as they too will be persecuted and
rejected for their trouble (5. 11 ; I 0. 17-25), even to the point of being crucified or
killed ( I 0.38-39; 16.24-25; 23.34: 24.9). John the Baptist. whom Jesus identifies
as a prophet in his own right. is the first to suffer such a fiue. ( 11.1 1-13: 17.12-
13). In thL'> latter respect the disciples resemble not only Jesus, likewise a rejected
prophet (so 13.57; 23.37), but also the prophets of old (5.1 2).
Thus there are. fundamental similarities of mission and experience between
John. Jesus and Jesus· disciples. But a IUrthersignificant parallel concerns the role
of the Holy Spirit in inspiring and expressing the words of God through human
servants, an issue of particular relevance tOr those ofhis emissaries whom Jesus
130 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

identifies as prophets (23.34). Jesus' conception, says rvtatthew, is the-v.:ork of

the Holy Spiril (1. 18, 20); the voice of God at Jesus' baptism accompanies the
descent of the Spirit upon him (3.16-17); and the Spirit leads him in preparation
for public minisuy (4. 1). In a passage with close verbal resemblances to the
audible.divine words at Jesus' baptism and Transfiguration. Matthew dec.lares that
Jesus' ministty is in fulfihnent ofthe prophecy of lsa. 42. 1: 'Here is m.y servant,
whom r have chosen, Ill)' beloved. with whom my soul is well please.d. I h'ill put
"~V Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Ge.ntiles' (Mt. 12.18; cf.
12.28). 1f Jesus· ministry is inspit•ed by the Holy Spirit. so too, he says. is that of
his disciple.s. particularly so when it comes to the matte-r of faithful testimony
amidst persecution:
Yotl will be dragged before governors and kings b~-couse ofmc.os a testimony to them
and the Gentiles. When they hand you O\'Cl'. do not worry about how you are to speak or
what you arc to say; for what you are to say will be-given toyotl at that time.: for it is 001
you who spc:.:~k. but 1he Spirit ofyour Fmher Jpt"akillg thnmg!l you. (MI. 10.18-20)

That is, just as Jesus calls God ·Father' ( 11.25-26; 26.39, 42) and bids his disci-
ples do the same (6.9; 23.39), so he promise.s that his followers' faithful testi-
mony will, by virtue of God's Spirit. express the voice of their heavenly Fathet·.
For whom is this assurance intended'? Even as the voice that declares,· Listen
to him!' is addressed as much if not more to Matthew's church than to the three
sleepy apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration. so this promise is directed
ultimately to those of the. Evangelist's da}' as they encounter the persecution
Jesus foretold. Both in the suffering they face and as to the privilege ofspeaking
words inspired by God. says Jesus. ·It is enough for the disciple to be like the
te~chet·, and the slave like the master (o .UptO) O:UTOu]' (Mt. 10.25). With this
assurance, the voice ofGod portrayed in Matthew's narrative finds its final mode
ofexpression, allowing us to link the words from ancient texts and contemporary
theophanies~ from prophe.ts old and new- John the Baptist, Jesus, his apostles,
and members ofMatthew·s church among them- in a single (ifhierarchical) line
of divine authorship and inspiration.
Within the narrative world ofMatthew·s Gospel, this linkage is all-important.
For it permits us to see the conclusion of t:he narrative in a distinctive light. as
Jesus sets the agenda for the Church of a later day. Matthew's repeated emphasis
on God's prior use messengers has prepared the way, in the narrative,
for the Evangelist's audience to hear the voice of God first via the human agent
Jesus and now via the human proclaimers of the Gospel envisaged at the con-
clusion of his account:
Jesus came nnd sujd lo the-nt.. ·All ttuthorit)' in hc.wen and on earth httS btlCn given lome.
Go therefore and make d i~iples ofall nations. baptizing them in the name of the Fnther
and of the Son and of the-t~ ol y Spirit. ond teac-hing them to obq e.verything thut l h.wc
commanded rou. And r~·m~·•nbc--r. I am with you ttl wt~ys. to the end of the. age..> (Mt.
28. t&-20}

Here neither the abiding presence nor the enduring authority of Jesus are con-
sequenl solely upon his resun·eclion. Rather. as Reese obsen•es. the linked themes
KNOWLES Characterization, Identity om/ the Voice> of God 13 1

ofdivine presence and divine authority, evident throughout this Gospel, come to
nai'I'<Hive fulfilment in joint transfer tfom Messiah to disciples and Church.~_.
Just as Jesus has been 'God with us' from infancy ( 1.23, cf. 18.20), so he speaks
throughout with the voice ofGod1 not only echoing and appropriating God"s
words from of old but definitively interpreting and even overriding that ancient
voice with words of his own. Thus the disciples· own testimony in the. form of
baptism. teaching and disciple.-making is buttre-ssed, in one sense. b)• Jesus' endur-
ing presence among them. and in another by the assumnce that they themselves-
above all in the face ofinevitable opposition - will speak with words inspired by
their heavenly Father. Whethe1· from a litenuy, theological, or more specifically
ec.clesiological and missiological perspective, then1 Matthew"s ·plot' is resolved
not at the conclusion of the text itself1 but rather in its thematic continuation
through the life and ministry of the later Christian conun unity.l-' Or perhaps we
may say that the literary and theological tr.ljectories of this Gospel - to the extent
that they apply to Jesus· followers - find repeated yet provisional resolution
beyond the boundaries of the text, in anticipation of the ultimate resolution that
will constitute ;the e nd of the age!.
The narrative voice of Matthew fits well within this litemry and theological
scheme. Willem Vorste.r notes perceptively that whereas tbr Marie, the Scriptures
oflsrael are fulfilled in the Gospel narrative and the events that it !'elates - within
the wol'ld of the text itc;elf - Matthew's fulfilment citations point more directly
and to the person of the Messiah as the one in whom the Scriptures
are fulfilled."l5llms while rvtatthew implicitly claims to convey tl1e perspective of
God, such a claim does not absolutize his own voice1 but, on the contrary. rela-
tivizes it in relation to the !\·lessiah. His narrative. in other words, carefully points
beyond itself to Jesus. In this regard, Matthew"s literary technique places him in
the same position as eve1y other follower to whom Jesus has declared. 'All
authority in heaven and on eaJ1h has been given to me. Go therefore and make
disciples .. .• That is, the voice of God in ancient Scripture. in the Gospel narra-
tive, and in the mouth of the rvtatthean church. while properly authoritative, is in
ea.d1 instance nonetheless qualified by and subordinated to the voice of Jesus.
Matthew as Evangelist testifies to the rvfessiah with an authority bestowed by the
Messiah himself. Matthew's narrative stmtegies and the theological foundations
they imply set the stage tbr the eventual acceptance of this text into the c-anon of
the Christian Church.

23. J. M. R~-.cst . 'How Mn!thew Portrays the Communication of Cluist's Authority'. BTB 7
( 1977).139-44("1).
24. So van Aarde. 'First Testament>. passim.
25. W. VOJstcr. ·n.e Function of the. Useofthl!'-Oid Testnmml in Matk'.Neot 14 (1981). 62- 72
(70). cited by vun Aorde. 'First Teslttment'. p. 132.
132 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

4. Ajlerword
In The Gospel According 10 1/Je Son, the heavenly voice at Jesus· baptism speaks
to him alone; on the Mount ofTransfiguration, the three apostles see and hear
nothing.16 And by the end of the sto1y, Mailer"s Jesus laments, 'tvly Father . . .
does not of\en speak to me. Nonetheless. I honor Him. Surely He sends forth as
much Jove as He can offer; but His Jove is not without limit •!? Although lhis
modem Jesus expresses a plaintive hope that love will prevail~ by the end o f the
story the voice of God falls silent. Written in and tOr a sceptical age. Mailer"s
narrative proposes, in et1"'ect theological defeat. By contrast, the shaping and con-
clusion of Mtltlltew's narrative- particularly in terms of characte1· development
and the voice of God - testify eloquently to the depth of conviction from which it
arose.~ thereby accounting for the.depth of c.onviction to w·hich it has given rise in

26. Mailer. Accordi1rg to lite S011. pp. 34. 128-9.

27. Mai lcr.At~ordingtoJ!teSm•.p. 240.



John Nolland

The concentration ofquotations and definite allusions to Zechariah in Matthew is

in chs 21- 27. There are three quotations: Zech. 9.9 is used in Mt. 21.5 (a royal
figure approaching Jemsalem in humility}; Zech. 13.7 is used in Mt. 26.31 (the
shepherd struck down and the sheep scattered); and Zec.ll. I 1.12- 13 is used in Mt.
27.9-10 (thirty pieces of silver used to procure the potter's field). The fir.;t and
the third of these have.generated a series of allusions within their immediate con-
texts. To these is to be added a larger list of certain or likely allusions. The casting
o f the mountain into the sea ofM t 21.21 is likely to have links with Zech. 14.4.
There is a definite allusion to Zech. 12.12 in Mt. 24.30 (all the tribes of the earth
will mourn). The trumpet blast of Mt 24.31 may \Veil owe something to Zech.
9. 14. ' Blood of the covenam' in Mt. 26.28 evokes Ex. 24.8, but probably also
Zech. 9.1 1. The reference in Mt. 27.52 to 'the holy ones' is likely to be indebted
to Zech. 14.5. which may be echoed again in Mt 27.53 ("entered into the holy
Earlie1·in the Gospel it is likely that an allusion to Z-ech. 11.16 has been woven
into rvtt. 15.30-31 in the description ofthe he.aling actions o f Jesus. [f this is so. it
make$ it more likely that Zech. 10.2 is the main text that stands behind 'sheep
without a shepherd' in Mt. 9.36.2
The aim ofthis chapter is to explore the role of Deutero-Zechariah (i.e. ch.'li 9-
14) in the Gospel of f\·farthew. What is the function of these quotations and allu-
sions'? (s the1'e any coherence in how these texts are used? My thesis is that most
of the quotations and allusions from Deutero-Zechariah are to be understood as

I. Contmsl P. Fos.ter, 'The Uscof Zcoharinh in Matthc:.w's Gospd'. inC.Tuc:h1t(ed.). The &oJ;.
oflechuriohond lis brfluence (Aider.ohot: Asbgate. 2003). pp. 65-85. who onf)' finds an allusion in
Mt. 24.30 - cwn then oot one that came to Manhew from Zechariah. ( ~l owc\'er. I share FOSlc:or'ssccp·
licism about most of the. su~'(stcd allusions he reviews - I want to rescue two and add H"c\'cral new
ones.) C. A. Ham. Til,. Coming King and Jlw Rr?jtV:It--d Shepherd: Mat/he"·'s n•uding ofledwriuh S
Mcssiuflk HoJX! (Sbeffidd: Sheffield Phoenix Press. 2005). is more generous. accepting - as I count
them- seven allusions (two in common with mine). Given spac-e constraints I sl.'1 aside without com·
ment the proposed nltusions tbnt I do not consider likdy.
1. The quotations from Zech. 9.9 and 13.7 and thc-lil:dy aUusions to9.11 and 14.4 arc not dis-
tincti\'e to Malthl'W.
134 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

designed to suggest, and then to bolster, the ide.a that Jesus, as the king ofZech.
9.9. is the one who is to ti.1lfil all the ideals fOI' the shepherding of God's people
that are (mostly indirectly) attested to by the shepherding imagery in Deutcro-
To appreciate the cumulating significance of the links with Zechariah 9-14 in
Matthew we probably need to start with a texl tl1at is not from Zechariah. but
which performs a vital role early in Manhew·s story by drawing together two key
categories: a renewal of Davidic kingship and the shephe-rding of God's people.
Mt 2.6 offers as something that ' has been written by the prophet' a version of
Mic. 5.2. The text tO! lows neither the MT nor the LXX closely, but is somewhat
closer to the MT. T11ere are several editorial modific-ations of the First Testament
texl, but the one that inte.rests us he1·e is the inclusion, at the end, of ·who will
shepherd my people Israel'. The wording 'will come from me a ruler', on which
MT and LXX agree, becomes ·will come a ruler who will shepherd my people
Israel'. T11e role ofshe.pherd is attributed in Mic. 5.4 to this figure to arise from
Bethlehem, but the language in Matthew is the.result of a merging into Mic. 5.2
of a clause from 2 Sam. 5.2 (pamllelcd in I Chron. I I.2). The text from 2 Samue.t
points to the way in which a shepherding role tbr the king is embedded in the
foundation of the Davidic monarchy. Ps. 78.71 -72 makes the same.point by imag-
ing David as one who moved on from te-nding to the needs ofsheep to tending to
the needs oflsrael. The role o f the one prophesied is to be tl1e king who would. in
his rule, faithfully shepherd the people of God.
'Sheep' and 'shepherd' turn up in f\•lt. 9.36. but we cannot immediately speak
ofa certain allusion to Zechariah. The idea ofsheep without a shepherd allows tbr
a number of possible First Testament links. In Num. 27.17 the. imagery is used in
connection with the need for a successor to Moses - shepherding is n1le-. but not
yet royal n.1le. ln Ezek. 34.5 (cf. v. 6) the imagery points to shepherding the people
as the proper function of the Davidic king.~ I Kgs. 22. 17 does as well. with its
vision o flsrael as shepherdless because the king is to lose his life in war. Finally
there is Zech. 10.2 where 'the people wander like sheep; they suffer tb r Jack of a
shepherd'. which is follo\ved in v. 3 with 'my anger is hot against tl1e shepherds' .5
Zech. I0.2-3 echoes Ezek. 34.5- tO, and as in Ezekiel ·no shepherd' is the tack of
a functioning Davidic monarch and ' the she.phe-rds • are such leaders as the people

3. Ham. nu• Coming King. shares my focus on king and shcphml. but Olhcrwisc-our studies ha\-c
littlespoci6eground incommon.
-4. Ezd:. 34.8 oOCrsthc parndox of·no shephcrd'. but ·shepherds (who) hll\'eno4 ... '. Thc- rcf~"f4
cnc-e scents 10 be to the lackofa functioning Oavidicmonarchand then to Lhc (badly Aawcd) role. of
such leaders as the people still had. God's response will be. ·1myself will be Lhc shcphad of m)'
sheep' (v. 15)- Sir. IS.I J off~·rs a universal and atcmpoml v-ersion of th~ - nnd ' I will set up over
the-mone shepbcrd. my sen·un1Dnvid' (Ezcl:. 34.13).
5. The LXX seems to hnve b~"t'n based on a Bcbrew text that rend:i!>l ot possiblytot!)i mthcr
than';li- . which is rendered ' there is no heoJing' instcOO: of 'there is no sh~-,hcrd ' . ihc likely LXX
basis hc.rcmay wd l be: u·correction' based on the difficulty ofcorrelating ·ooshcphcrd' in Zech. 10.1
with 'the.sheph«ds' in\'. 3.
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 135

actually have (see note4) - shepherding is the role of111lers. but especially ofthe
Davidic king.6
It is likely that Matthew is picking up this First Testament thread, rather than
focusing in a narrow way on any one of these texts. T11e prominent role of a
Davidic she.phe1·d in these texts is striking, and is not likely to have been lost on
Matthew. particularly after Mt. 2.6 with its investment in highlighting the
shepherding role of the messianic king.
There is, however, some reason for thinking that Zech. I0.2 is specific-ally in
mind, though certainly against the wider thematic background created by the set
of texts. In Zech. 10.3 God announces his hot anger against the shepherds and
begins to lay out his intended re-sponse. a response which finds its basis in the
statement in v. 3 that ' the LORD of hosts cares for his flock·. which is reiterated
in V. 6 with the language. ' I have compassion e r/.Jni) on (the people of Judah
and Jsmel]'. Zech. I0.3-6, thus, b1·ings together the three key features ofMt. 9.36:
sheep, the lack of a shepherd, and a 1-esponse base.d in c-.ompassion.1 Jesus has
God's heart for his people and he acts for God as he intervenes on behalf ofGod's
needy people. (t is Jesus who will step into the breach: he will see to the shep-
herding of God's people; the Davidic shepherding role will be fulfilled in hinL
We move onto Mt. 15.30 whel'e Matthew seems likely to have woven in an
allusion to Zech. 11.1 6. To see this, we need to appreciate something ofthe intri-
cate.pattern of cross-1·eference Matthew C.l'eates in his text. This is even more than
usually the. case in 15.29-31. where ·starting from a minimal Markan skeleton,
Matthew appears to have taken the opportunity to fommlate an account that
draws togethe1· phrases and motif's from quite a range ofearlier material' .8 Within
just v. 29 there is an echo of 12.9 that links to a more general pattern in Mauhew
that is used to point up the regularly itinerant nature ofJesus· minisny: and there
are links to the call of the fishermen in 4. J8-22, to the teaching sce-ne of 13. I
onwards, and to the mountain scene in 5. 1 for the Sermon on the Mount.9
Our interest here~ however. is specificall}' in the list of afflictions in 15.30. In a
general sense the Jist echoes other rvtatthean lists and othe.r mention in Matthew
of some of tJ\e specific maladies, but it has a quite specific link with the list in
11.5. !\·tt. 15.30 and 11.5 have in common the mention of the lame. the blind, and

6. Ou!Sidc Zec.bariah the: only othet rdc,·nnt matcriul on shepherds is Jcr. 13.1 -6. where the
shepherds ore chc. ka<krs. B.1d le..'lders arc. c~ig-n tc:d: nnd good leaders arc p10miscd and corre-lated
with a promised Oavidic. ruk r. O!herwi se. in the. Fi ~ Tcslam::nc God is identified os shepherd: and
.shepherd language: is used in its normnJ litcrol sense.
For Zechariah II. C. l. Meyers and E. r...l. Mcycn . Zeclwrialt9- U (Anchor Bible: New York:
Doubleday. 1993). p. 250. want 10 include proph~·ts within the shepherd category. but this involves a
confusion bccwccn what the prophe-t was as n prophet nnd \>.ilal he was imaging in his role of 1he
shcphcrd. In the First Tcstamcnt. shepherd imt~gcry is nc:"c-' used of the rok of a prophet.
7. Sir. IS. 13 links .:ompussion wilh God as a sh~-phcrd. but the fit is much k ss compktc:.
S. J. Nolland. TI1i!Gospd (ifMallhtw(K!GTC: Grand Rapids: Ecrdmans.. 2005). p.638 ..\l:uthc:w
.seems to in:;. this "to rcfTCsh the me-mory of the n:-adc-r. to provide n point ofi ntcgrntion for di!>-
parntc ml!criok:. and to ereale lhc sc::nsc thnl Jesus kept oo doing the \'Urious things which have b« n
reported c-nrlier' (p. 638}.
9. For cktnils s« Nolland. Matthew. pp. 638--9.
136 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

the Kcu<Poi (likely to be covering, for Matthew, de-.atbess and muteness as a single
atlliction 16). The link is made yet stronger in 15.31 , which repeats from 11.5 the
idea of people seeing the outcomes o f the healings. and includes fro m the list
from 11.5 the lame h'alking and the blind seeing 1 and has an understandable vari-
ant the K cuq,ol speaking. where 11.5 has them hearing.11
What remains to be accounted for is the maimed (KUAAoUs) who become whole
(Uyti t)). The1·e are several possible explanations. The man with the.withered hand
in Mt. 12. 10-13 was maimed and his hand was restored. so that it became whole
(uyn\s). like the other hand. A link is highly likely. So does tl1is account for what
we find in 15.30-3 1? Acnmlly, if we compare Mt. 12. 13 with the parallel in Mk.
3.5. it looks as if Matthew is responsible tOr adding ·whole like the other' .12
However, since Mt. 15.31 has Matthew's only othe.r use ofi.tytl}S'. it seems most
likely that it was introduced at 12.13 precisely for the sake of making the link
with 15.31. So we probably need to look for another explanation for the presence
o f the maimed who become whole in 15.30-31.
Is the use ofl::uAAoUs here tOr no bette1·reason than that KuAAoUs ('maimed')
and xwAoUs ('lame') make a good aural pair. much as the other two elements in
the list. TU<j>AOOS ("blind') and Kc.:><j>ol)s ('deal)'mute '), make a good conceptual
pair'?This is certainly possible, but the word orders do not pm·ticularly suppon
this suggestion. u There is a third possibility.
In rvtt. 15..32 the use once more of compassion language creates a thread that
leads back via 14.14 to 9.36 - the only three uses of this vocabulary to this point
in the Gospel. Given that the shepherd and sheep image of9.36 has been recently
refreshed by the reference to 'the lost sheep of the house of Israel' in 15.24. the
compassion language is likely to function to reinforce the image of Jesus as the
compassionate shepherd. and therefore, pe1·haps, the Zech. 10.2-6 1ink that bl'ings
together compassion ~nd sheep who lack a shepherd. KuAAO$- is not a Septuagintal
word; and the use ofuyn}s occurs in connection with healing only in lsa. 38.21 . 1 <~
But the idea of the healing of the maimed as a task for the shepherd with the sheep
of his Hock seems to come to expression uniquely in Zech. I 1.16,15 which is part
o f the continuing thread of references to the shepherd role in Deutero-Zechariah.
beginning from Zcch. I 0.2.

10. Sec Nolland. M11ttltew. p. 403.

II. The absence of reference in ~it. 15.30·31 to lhe dead and to lqx-r.> is to bc. ~pccted, p,'tn the
selling in 15.29 30. ns is lhc loss of 'Lhc poor are-being brougtu good n~-ws· .

12. The synut:t appear.> to be-brokm - <trr£Ko:nonit111 vY•~S (lit ·it was rcs1orcd w'hok') is not
natural Greek idiom- ot perh.1ps better. ·wt.ole like lhcoth«' stands d lipcically for 'IIbecame whole
like-the other.•
13. Lame-blind-maimed-dcaffmule in Mt 15.31 and deaf/mutc-mai m~-d41amc·bli nd in v. 32. But
bceause.of te.xtual variants the.order in \'. 31 is not secure~ In 8 02&1<te.. Sll.... mac. the middle-two
arc interchungcd to gi"c n more natural pairing. but the reading is suspect for thai very rca!iOl\ nnd is
not supported in any 'WI)' by the order in v. 32. Other less wdl-aucstod re-adings are.also likely to be
the rcsuh of scc.king better pairings.
l·t The n~:tl d oses! is the: usc of uY•frs' in connection with health in Sir. 17.28: 30.14.
15. Ezd:. 34.4 has rd ated materia]: the shq>hcrds luwe not ·strengthened n'M lil1"';~ (thos.c made
weak by exhaustion or illness]'. 'healed the sick'. ' bound up !.he injured•.
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 137

The NRSV ' heal the maimed' in Zech. 11.16 is an unproble-matic translation
for both the MT and the LXX language, but both the MT and the LXX represent
·maime-d' with participles that suggest an imag,e-of the maimed state as one of
being broken o1·ci'Ushed (r1i;:j"'Ji1. ouvTH PIJ.IJ.I€VOV). f\·11. 15.31, instead, makes
substantival use of an adjective (KUAAoUs) which is mostI}' applied t'O deformed
limbs. but the idea of brokenness is not lost sight of. in that the adjective chosen to
represent the restored state. Uy1cls. rep1·esents health under the image of whole-
ness or soundness. Though there. is no LXX language, the likelihood of a link to
Zech. 11 .16 is strong.
There are textual and language difficulties in Zech. 11.16, but the}' probably
do not a fleet in any central way the relevance ofZech. 11.16 for Mt. 15.30-3 1.
Indeed, each ofthe other phrases potentially adds something to the case for iden-
tifying a .Matthean interest in Zech. 11.16. NRSV has ·a shepherd who doe$ not
care tOr the perishing. or seek the.wandering, or heal the maimed. or nourish the
healthy'. ·The perishing'links well with the three Matthean uses ofO: rrOAAu}.u
('be lost' . 'perish' ), 8.25; 10.6; 15.24 (the last two with sheep imagery). 16 'The
wandering' fits with 'the-lost sheep' ofMt. 10.6 (15.24 makes use of a closely
related idea).11 ·Nourish the healthy! .111 matches the I'Oie of the imagery of feed-
ing19 in the immediate context of the ret"el'ence to 'the lost sheep of the house of
Israel' in ML 15.24. as well as with the actual fee.ding that in vv. 32-39 inunedi-
ately follows the healings of 15.30-3 1.
So there arc various indications that Matthew is likely to be thinking ofZech.
11. 16 as he introduce.s the role of the healing of the maimed into his text in Mt.
15.30-31 . The implication is that Jesus is being seen as the.shephe1'd who is every-
thing that the uncaring shepherd announced in Zech. 11.16 is not. Jesus is the
positive oounte-rpaJ1 to the diselS-trous shepherd ofZech. 11.16, the 'should have
been • implied by the acted-out failure. Jesus is being ide-ntified as the positive
counterpart to the disastrous king that the prophet had been called upon to repre-
sent symbolically (v. 15). The interest in the Davidic royal shepherding role
The first actual quotation from Zechariah in _r..,tatthew comes in Mt. 21.5. words from Zech. 9.9 are quoted. T11e allusions to Zechariah thus far have
concentrated on lhe role of the shepherd. though a Davidic connection has not
been far from sight. As we will see, Matthew has carefully embedded this, his
first quotation, into his text. already preparing the ground ahead of time tb1· the

16. For ' the. perishing' MT uses the: nipha/ participle-of- r.::l and the: LXX TO i:KAIIJnci:\K)v.
17. Underlying 'the watKf~Ting' in the NRSY ofZcch. I l.l6 stnnds -L:-~ii ('the youth') in the MT:
the LXX has ,.0 Oaoxopntop£vov('thc: scattered'). pn-st•mably based on o diOCrcnce in the: Hebrew
Vorlage ot this point (n,Jil has been conjc:"!Urcd). The- NRSV has bcc:n guided by the Syriac
IS. The MT of Zcch. 11 .16 has~~· ii:l;:;i:l ond the: LXX has K«trufhlvo TOOXO.:).qpov. The
1r11nsla1i-on of the: r-.rr is fnr from cc-rtnin. bu1Ithink the mo!-1likcly sense for the-.\tT is ·provide food
for those {slill) standing'.
19. Mt. 15.26: 'the: children's foocf>: v. 27: 'cat the: crumbs lh.1t fall from the: maslcr's table'.
138 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

use to which he intends to put the quotation. And this time tlle foc us is sharply on
the Davidic. connection: here is a monarch entering the Throne City.
From our discussion above of rv1t. 2.6 we have seen how Matthew is capable
of merging texts from different First Testame.nt sources (there f\·fic. 5.2 and 2
Sam. 5.2). Zech. 9.9 begins "Rejoice greatI)'. daughter Zion' . and Matthew will
want to include this idea, but in Matthew's context, it is the crowd accompanying
Jesus into JeiUsalem (Mt 2 I .8-9) and not Zion whic.h rejoic-es. lsa. 62.11 is the-
matically similar: ·see. your salvation [your saviour in the LXX] comes' where
Zech. 9.9 has ' triumphant and victorious is (the king]'. lsa. 62.11 is introduced
with ·say to daughter Zion'. So Matthew makes a subs.titution.zo In Matthew's
story there is no confidence at this point that Zion will rejoice at the arrival in
Jerusalem of this f.1teful visitor. Mt. 21 .10 leaves us with the question hanging:
'What will the city make of this strange claimant to royal dignity'?'
The piece in Zechariah about the role of the king, from which Matthew draws,
embraces Zech. 9.9- 10, but his quotation is quite selective. The opening call to
rejoice is repeated in a new tOmt., but Matthew wants to keep it compact. The
next piece is fundamental and Matthew reproduces it fully: ·Look your king is
coming to you.· The royal identity of Jesus and tlle idea that a royal entry into the
Throne City is being enacted here are of central impo11ance for MattJlew. Royal
messianism in the line of David is the.first Christolog.ical category Matthew intro-
duces (Mt. 1.1). It is a category that remains prominent through chapters I and 2,
but then moves to the background while other categories are developed, and
while the actual shepherding function of Jesus is introduced. Matthew keeps the
royal messianism category alive by having people identify Jesus as ·the son of
David' or question whether he m ight be s uch (9.27; 12.23; 15.22: 20.29, 31;
21.9, 15). Matthew a lso allows ' the Christ' to slip thi'Ough in 11.2 as paJt of his
own personal diction tOr speaking of Jesus. And he treats ' you are the Christ· as
a key insight to emerge at a pivotal point in the unfolding ohhe story (16.13-20).
But it is with the staged entry to Jerusalem that Matthew brings to the fore once
again the Davidic messianic category.11 Jesus claims a royal role as he enters
Jerusalem and he. will be executed as a royal pretender.
1\·latthew drops out the next claw;e ofZech. 9.9, which tlle NRSV represents as
'triumphant and victorious is he' . How significant this deletion is de.pends on
some interlocking interpretative, translation and textttal issues.
In the NRSV the immediately followi ng ' humble.' seems rather out of place at
fit·st. However, we can make adequate sense of the text if we correlate ·humble·
with ;peace to the nations' in v. 10 and ' triumphant and victorious' with "he shall
cut ofYthe chariot from Ephraim . .. t The king, having established his authority

10. Ma!thcw's language is that of the LXX. but the LXX langu..lge. is lhc ob\'Wus rctldering into
Gr«kor thcMT.
21. ihc lnnguagc 'in your kingdom• in ~ft. 20.21 points ton rok ror 20.10-29 in prcp!!ring for tile
emergence into rte$-h prominence in Mntthe.w•s story of On\'idic. messianism.
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 139

and imposed peace. is able to enter Jerusalem with no need ofany of the accou-
trements ofpower.~2 His authority is fOI' the benefit of those he n1les, and not to
serve his own self-importance. But I doubt whether this is how the text should be
read. Only a very abbreviated discussion can be o ftered.
There is fi1·st the question of translation. ( I) The.nip!Jal pa11iciple ofitit"' means
not ·victorious', but ·helped' or ·receiving help·. (2) 1"17:6 does not mean ' tritun-
phant'. but 'righteous'. It is tn1e that the cognate noun ;"":li::t sometimes has over-
tones of 'deliverance' .u But, while there are 110 uses ofj.i!l: in the rvtT, in none
of the others is there any sign of influence from this noun usage. The pairing in
Zech. 9.9 seems to be.' righteous' and 'having been helped' rather than the NRSV
' triumphant' and ·victorious'.
Then there is the.question of whether to begin Zech. 9.10 with the. first person
of the MT or the third pe1·son of the LXX. Is it God or the.king who will see to the
1·emoval of the instruments of war? 'Righteous and receiving help' in v. 9 works
better with God as the subject in v. 10. The king would then gain a subordinate
role later in the ve1·se.
Our question has been: how significant is Matthew's deletion ofthe clause we
have been exploring'? If Matthew read Zech. 9.9- 10 as the NRSV does then we
could see him as totally changing the fOcus of the language of humility. There is
no \rulnerability involved whe-n the 'triumphant and victorious' king enters the
city without pomp or self-assertion! The situation is much more open-ended if
the king who is righteous and helped (by God) makes his humble enhy. '111is king
must await God for help, and with this construal of the text it is an open question
whether God's intervention in v. I0 should be thought o f as preceding the entry
or as following it. Matthew needs an entering king who can be vulnerable, and
without disto1tion Zcch. 9.9-1 0 allows for one.
Though his ve-rsion ditTers from both the MT and the LXX there is no signi-
ficant abbreviation in Matthew's use of the rest ofZech. 9.9. It looks as though
Matthew has drawn on both the ?viT and the LXX.14 The only choice involved
here that might be significant is his double use of 'u rl ("on' -
matching the double. use in the MT of .U :,).
The reader of Matthew can look back to 11.29 for the significance of Jesus as
'humble'. As !\·loses had been (Num. 12.3). Jesus was free of the self-importance
of those who are focused on theil· own interest<>: his ways are marked by mod-
eration and other-centredness. And in the context of the entry he is vulnerable to
the actions ofothers. This is a reasonable enough gloss on the place of · humble'
in Zech. 9.9.

22. One could unde-rstund 'LTiumpflant and victorious' ns pointing fon'r.lrd to of Z-ech.
9.10. seen liS futur-e fromthe time.ofthe cnlty. The main point r.:ll13insthcs:unc: he m tcrs Jerusalem
as one who has hnd major stlcccss in imposing his rule.
23. E.g. in lsa. 46. 13 il:Ji!: stnnds in parallel with ill.'tJ\V-':1 ('salvation').
24. Fordclails on how ).fatthcw shows hims.dfonce ag-11in to be-a mnst~·r of multiple t::x1 fonm.
incorporating both MT fcatutes und LXX f«~IUI\'$. sec Nolland. Mauhew. p. 835.
140 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

In the narrative that frames the quotation Matthew guides his reader to the
specific way of applying the quoted text to Jesus that he has in mind. In Mat-
thew's story there are two donkeys to be fe.tche.d (Mt. 21 .2) and Jesus will ride
them both (v. 7). This is not literally whill Zechariah intended, aJld I have sug-
gested elsewhere that Matthew is likely to want his readers to see the Gospe.l
fu lfil ment of Zech. 9.9
as a piec-e of prophetic symbolism. akin to •he OT sign nc.lsrsJ .... more-a state-ment
about the appropriate messianic aims and goals to be properly nssociatOO with Jesus and
an insistence that their fullilment was on its wny tlun 11 clnimthnt thcc:tpect:uionsof l!.:.
9 were rccei\·ing thl·ir d~·finitivc impkmcnlation at prcc.i~cly that monxnt 1'

Jesus procures the donkey as one whose authority will be immediately recog-
nized (v. 3): but he has to make his ·grand' entry on a borrowed donkey. The
humble circumstances of this messianic claimant are carefUlly underlined. The
Son of David language (v. 9) ensures a Davidic me-.s..~ianic understanding o f the
king of Zech. 9.9.
The next Zechal'iah link is likely to be in Mt. 21 .21 . Writing elsewhere I have
pointed out that since Jesus has just come across the Mount ofOJives this is the
natural referent for ' this mountain', and also that the removal of the Mount of
Olives from in front of Jerusalem is something: anticipated in Zech. I4.4, the only
OT reference to the Mount of01ive.s.17 Ifthere is a link here, and l think it likely,
it adds nothing to our theme of shepherd and king. But it does contribute to the
eschatological framework within which rvtatthew would have us set the signi-
ficance of the other Zechariah links. And it does add its own small contribution to
the need to recognize the signific--ance o f Zechariah f'o1· Matthew.2fl
Much tlle same may be said for the clear and universally recognized allusion
to Zech. 12. 10, 12. 14 in Mt. 24.30. Ma!thew·s ·and then all the tribes of the
earth will moum ' is ratller cty ptic and it raises some f.1SCinating interpretative
challenges that. unfo11unately, cannot be addressed here. Matthew clearly draws
on Zec.h. 14. I7 to get the universal sense he intends (all the tribes of the earth~ not
just all the groups of Jews). In Mt. 26.3 1 he is going to offer Jesus as a version o f
the struck-down shepherd ofZech. 13.7 ~ so this is likely to be the event which is
mourned. This presumably involves Matthew identifying the sti'Uck-down shep-
herd with the one pie.rced/stabbed in Zcch.ll. IO. For reasons that cannot be
rehearsed here.~ I think that the prophet in Zechariah is thinking: ofhimselfa.s the
one to be stabbed/ pierced. Jesus has been identified by Matthew as the counter-
part to the prophet as one who was c-alled upon to image the leadership t•ole of the
Oavidic mler. Does lv1atthew consciously make a further link with the-prophet

25. See 2 Kgs 13. 1 4- 1 9~ lsa. 20. 1-6: kr. 32.9·1 5: Ezd:. 4.1·5. 17: 12. 1·7: 24. 15-27: Hos. 3. 1·5.
16. Nolland. Matt!l t•w. p. 8-37.
27. Nolland. Mattlrew. p. 853. I have since done further worl: on the-link. btu the W'Ork remains
incomplete a1this point
28. Anolhcr minor link to Z..."tharinh comes in ML 23.35 with the mc-nlion of ' Ze>.:h11riah son of
Bcre>.:lmiah•. which «hoes Zcch. 1.1. MI. 23.35 hns its own interpretative cb..<illcngcs. but our focus
here is on Oeutcro-Zcdl3riah. and thc-chllJkngesofM I. 23.35 hsn: nothing lo do with M-111Lhcw's u.c;c
of Zcch. 1.1.
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 14 1

here? Perhaps he sees the prophetic pattern as repeating itself and reaching its
culmination with Jesus. Certainly. applied to the prophet, the ultimate vindic-.ation
implied by the-mourning 1'emains only partially realize<l,1~ because the glories of
his prophetic vision remained largely unrealized.
Given the clear link to Zechariah in ~·h. 24.30. another minor link is possible in
the following verse. God is responsible for trumpet blasts in various First Testa-
ment texts;.W and a;; e-lsewhere in Matthew 24- 25 Jesus as the Son ofHumanity is
in 24.31 playing the role of God.J1 It is the First Testament texts that have an
interest in God"s inte1·vention on behalf of his people that mesh best with Mt.
24.31 ; and these are Isa. 27. 13 and Zcch. 9.14. Since in Isa. 27.12-1 3 the exiled
Israelites are gathered. these ve1·ses are almost ce11ainl)' involved in the fonnation
of?\·tt. 24.31, which has the same juxtaposition ofnumpet call and gathering; but
the same sense of rescue is involved in Zech. 9. 14- 15 (cf. vv. 11 -12. 1 6)~ so fol-
lowing on from the clear Zechariah link in Mt. 24.301 the Zechariah text may
well be involved as well. The motifofgathering is available in the larger Zecha-
riah context in I0.8, I0.
?\•It 25.2 does not offer us any Zechal'iah link. but (note it here because it has
a shepherd and sheep. The imagery here would seem to be developed on the basis
o f Ezekiel 34.32 But given the other Zechariah-linked use of shepherd and sheep
imagery. the potential interplay with ML 25.2 will not be lost on Matthew. Here
we have a king who is a shepherd>in whose hands is the fate of t:he sheep (and
the goats).
'Blood of the covenant' in Mt. 26.28 clearly echoes Exod. 24.8> where the
covenant is solemnly scale.d in blood. But the only other First Testament use of
"blood of the covenant" is Zech. 9. 11, where the Exodus covenant is cited as the
basis upon which God will intervene to free his people: 'bec-.ause of the. blood of
mycovenant with you, l will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit'. Given
the importance ofZechal'iah in f\•tatthew it is more than likely that Matthew has
Zech. 9. 11 in mind as well~ and inte.nds to echo God's fresh affinnation there of
his covenant commitment to the saving of his people. Ho\vever in the Matthean
comext we have a fresh sealing of the covenant in the blood of Jesus, which
belongs in the tradition of the wider prophetic expectation that the way forward
be)'Ond the devastation of the Exile - brought about by the people"s failure to
adhere to the cove.nant - would involve God freshly initiating a covenant rela-
tionship with his people.JJ
These extra allusions to Zechariah 9 provide eschatological links for the use of
Zech. 9.9 in connection with Jesus. But the last may o ffer us more, as suggested
The second quotation from Zechariah comes soon at1er, in Mt. 26.3 1. Thus far
a link to the Zechariah shepherd theme has only surt3ced in Matthew at the.level

29. C.:tlainly partly \'i ndicat~-d bC"CUuse his work c--nme to be- recognized as Scripture.
30. Sec Exod. 19. 13. 16. 19;20.18: Ps.47.5 (lXX ..J6.6): Zcth. 9.14:cf. ts.1. 18.3: 21. 13.
31. In Mt. 14.31. ·his nngds' in relation to the Son of t~ umsnity is striking.
32. See disc.US$ion in Nolland. .4faulw-w. p. I025.
33. Sec Iss. 55.3: 59.20-'2 I: 61.7-8: Jer. 31.31· 34: 32.37-41: Ezek. 16.60-63: 37.24-28.
142 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

o f allusion, and therefore not always with cenaintyl but, with a quotation from
Zech. 13.7 that speaks of the striking of the shepherd a11d the sheep of the flock
being scauered, the Zechariah shepherd image1y becomes explicit
The quotation is used to support Jesus· prediction that ' this night you [the
disciples] will all take offence at me' (Mt. 26.30). The disciples' expectations in
relation to Jesus will be shattered (temporarily as it mrns out) and they will
abandon him. 'Ta ke offence· links the disciples with what is wamed against in
Mt. 11.6, and with people. earlier who had not responded positively to Jesus
( I3.57; I 5. I 2). It is used to mark a major lapse of discipleship.
The quotation from Zech. 13.7 is loose. but not tangentiaJ..l4 The first half ofthe
verse is dropped: its substance is repeated in the sec.ond. The. final clause is also
peeled away: it provides a headline summary for the account of the fate of the
sheep, to fo llow in vv. 8-9; and f\·fatthew·s focus is narrower. There are tvo•o nota-
ble change.s from the Zechariah \Vording. ·( will strike' replaces an impe1-ative
·strike \ which was directed to the sword introduced in the missing firs t half of
the verse. That the final dropped clause has the fi1·st person fom1reasonabl}' justi-
fies the change. But in the Gospel context the direct attribution to God is striking.
The divine necessity in relation to the Passion has been emp hasized~ but we seem
to go a step ftu1her here: the use of the quotation identifies the fate that will befall
Jesus as the judgement o f God. The other c hange is with ·of the flock'. This has
no immediate counterpart in Zech. 13.7. Matthew is not content with just 'sheep';
he wants ·sheep' together in a ' Hock'. This is implicit in the imagery o fshephe.J'd
and sheep, but it is likely that Matthew makes it explicit in orde1· to echo the use
of"fJock' as a standm·d image for lsraei/Judah.H rvfatthew is unlike ly to be think-
ing only of the immediate scattering of the disciples; their scattering anticipates
and is the first pa11 of a much wider scattering, which comes into focus in rvtt.
24. I 5-22."
The immediate cause for Matthew's application to Jesus may be found in lan-
guage fro m the omitted first halfo fthe verse. God identifies the figure spoken of
as ·my shepherd' and as ' the man who is my associate'. Some sort of stan1s as
God's vice-regent is involved. But the geneml scholarly consensus is that in
Zechariah the shepherd figure is a negative figure, something of an echo of that in
Zech. I 1.16- I 7. Could Matthew have read Zechariah this way and still used the
text as he has? We will come back to Zech. 13.7 in f\·11. 26.3 1 when we have
before us as well the use ofZech. 11.13 in Mt. 27.9-I O. In the meanwhile there
are two furthe.r likely or at least possible Zechariah allusions to note.
The final two allw;ions to Zechariah add little to our theme, so it will be con-
venient to deal with them here out of order. For our purposes they simply point
again to the eschatological framework within which ?\•latthew is able to use mate-
rials fro m Zechariah to interpret his story of Jesus. The use of ' the holy ones' in
Mt. 27.52 is probably to be linked with the use of the phrase in Zech. 14.5. Their

34. ll is not based on the Greek text of Z~'Ch. 13.7. which hns the plumJ·she:pherds'.
35. E.g. Jer. 13.1 7: Ezekiel 34. passim: Zech. I0.3.
36. Contrns. the gnlhe:rin.£.langlUlgc-of Mt. 2.'U 7 (where !he imagery is of a moth~·r hen nuhcr
1han of a shepherd).
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 14 3

entry into the holy city in Mt. 27.53 may echo the coming of the same verse tTom
The third and last quotation fro m Zechariah is found in Mt. 27.9- 10 where a
version ofZech. 11.13 is quoted.33 Given Mauhew's very significant editing of
this quotation, it m.ay be that in some ways we can look to this quotation to
provide a key to Matthew's wide1· interpretative procedure.
Zech. 11 . 13 has a command followed by its implem:entation. Matthew
ates by foc using on the implementation. but compensates by drawing in quite a bit
oftJle intbnn~ltional content from the dropped section. Notably ' the. price of the
one priced, whom some of the sons of lsrnel priced' in Matthew COI'responds to
' the magnificence of the price. at which I was priced by the.m· in the rvtT. Mat-
thew drops the irony involved in the use of ·magnificence' [-,,~ ] tbr the rather
small sum involved. 'Them· in Zechariah is the sheep merchants - literal sheep
merchants. but seeming in the imagery of the scene to represent those who have
influence and wield power (as in a rather specillc way the prophet's own taking
onofthe role of a shepherd does). Matthew's 'some ofthe sons of lsraer points
to the role of'tJle chief priests and elders' in buying Judas' services as a betl'3yer.
But it is the move from •J was price.d' to the third pe1son, ' the one priced', which
is at the heart o ff\·fatthew's approach here.
In Zechariah the one who has had a value placed on his se1·vices is the same
person as the one who brings to the Temple t:he money involved. The prophe.t
himself is both, as he. provides an enacted image of the failure of leadetship
within the people of God. For his shephe.,·ding work he gets paid money that he
does not really deserve; and he marks his recognition of his failure by disposing
of the money in the.Temple. But 1\•fatthew has divided this character into two di t~
feren t people. And tb r Matthew 'the one pric.ed' becomes a positive figure, pre-
sumably one-now to be seen as a good shepherd. The price connected with him is
no longer payment for his flawed shepherding work: it is instead the money that
changes hands to get the shepherding work stopped. An inversion has taken place;
now. good shepherding is being sabotaged, not bad shepherding coming to its
natural end. The part of the negative image taken up by Matthew is bestowed
upon a quite different person, the one who has taken payment for his part in get-
ting the good shepherd's woric stopped. But at the point where we e-ncounter him,
this second figure hassee.n the error of his ways and is disposing oftJle money he
has received.
.Matthew is clearly taking quite a lot of freedoms with the text o f Zechariah.
But is there anything principled about what he is doing'? Perhaps Matthew's
treatment ofZech. I 0.2 and 11. 16 in the allusions in Mt. 9.36 and 15.31 can help
point the way. (n the former the Zechariah text is about the Jack of a shepherd.
and Matthew implies that Jesus is to be the shepherd. ln the latter tJle Zechariah
te.xt is about the failu res of the dis::t.strous shepherd, and Matthew implies that

37. Sec the discussion in Nolland. Matrhew. pp. 1214-17.

38. A disc-ussion ofwhy Matthew in Mt. 27.9 attributes the: tc:xt loJc:rcmiah would take us too far
afidd for this study: Mal1hcw sc:ems to be wanting to link some: fcntures from Jc:rcminh 18. 19 und 32
wilh l.hc Zcch:lriah tc:xt. Sec:. Nollnnd. Mallhe•.,.. pp. 1155- 7.
144 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Jesus is to provide the positive counterpo:u1 to the shepherding role envisaged in

this text from Zechariah - the ought-to-have-been implied by the repo11 o f what
was to be. As I see it (see below) all the shepherd refe.rences in Zechariah are
negative: they are all about shepherding that has fuiled in one way or another.
But they implicitly set up a positive image of shepherding, i.e. o f the leadership
thal the ~)cople need. The one very positive image of leadership in Deute-ro-
Zechariah comes in the opening chapter, and it uses the language.ofthe king and
not of the shepherd (Zoch. 9.9- 10). It will be from this point ofreferenc.e that
Matthew feels justified in reading into dle subsequent shephe1·d texts a positive
counterpart to the failures of shepherding that are written about. The king of
Zech. 9.9-10 will be the positive counterpart to the f.1ilures of shepherding that
the Zechariah texts are invested in. So with appropriate inversions we may find
an image.of this shepherd king in the shepherd texts found scattered through the
I'Cst of Deutero-Zechariah.
The idea of splitting the identity of the figure in Zech. 11. 13 may have sug-
gested itself to Matthew from reflection on the double identity already involved
for the prophet in Zechariah 11. The prophet is at one and the same time-the one
who listens to, obeys and speaks for God and the one who has been called upon to
provide an acted parable of the failure of leadership that is evident in the people
of God. He is both an admirable figure and a despicable figure. Here is something
Matthew can play with and develop. He can produce the inversion involve-d in
getting a good shepherd out of the Zechariah material by ( I) giving half the role
of the shepherd to Judas and half the role to Jesus, and the.n ( 2) attributing to the
Judas-half the negative features of the image and investing the Jesus-half with
the qualities of a positive counterpart to the tbilure.c; of leade1·ship imaged by the
prophe.t as shepherd.
With all the material now befo1'C us we turn again to the use 13.7 in
Mt 26.31.
As already intimated. one ofthe inte1·pretarive challenges of Zechariah 11- 13
is to determine the relationship between the shepherd figure of I 1.1 5- 17 and that
o f 13.7-9. ( think the two figures are to be correlated (which does not nec.essarily
mean identified), but not all agree: despite his fate, the shepherd of 13.7 is not
identified negatively.-~ and some would prefer to separate the two figures cate-
gorically.... Given space limitations it must suffice. in favour of correlating the
two shepherds, to point to the thematic connections between the-first oracle and
the second (chs 9- 11 and 12- 14) and to note that 13.7-9 as a whole piece is about
a coming period ofjudgement and refining and not about the basis upon which
God intends to act in this way. Correlating the shepherds ofZech. 13.7 and 11.1 7
will involve relating both to the failure of leadership and in pa11icular to the
ure of the house of David to provide a king who would rule in a wo1·thy manner

39. E.g. S« S. L Cook. ·The Me1amorphosis of nShcplh.'!fd:The: Trnditioo li istory of Ze-chariah

II :17 + 13:7-9'. CBQ SS ( 1993). 453- 66.
40. E.g. Cook. 'The: Metamorphosis of nShepherd. pp. 453-66: Meyers and Mcycr!:.l«harial•.
pp. 385-6.
NOLLAND The Role ofDeutero-Zechariah in Manhew 145

in the nameofGod.lfMa!thew read 13.7 1ike this, could he still have used
it for his positive shepherd figure'?
To get a positive shepherd out ofZech. 13.7 .Mattl1ew docs not need. this time.
to d ivide the role. Zech. 13.7 already points to the vital role of the shepherd in the
defenc.e of the shee1>: it is the removal of the shepherd that makes the sheep vul-
nerable. All he has to get rid of is the presumpdon in the Zechariah text that the
shepherd is himself part of the problem that brings God's judgement and his
l'efining fire. Matthew needs to make his division this time between shepherd and
sheep. and to locate the problem in the sheep. The shape of the Zechariah text
helps him here: the shepherd is removed so that God can deal with the people in
judgement and refinement. And in any case Matthew, who takes his point of
departure from Zech. 9.9~ is interested in the positive counte.('part to any negative
elements in the shepherd images that emerge.
The transformation o f the role of the shepherd ofZech. 13.7 to its positive
counterpart 1night, however, have involved not a shepherd who is struck down,
but rather one who evades tl1e strike and protects the sheep, but this is not how it
plays out in the Gospel frame. Why make a positive virtue out of the striking of
the shepherd? At one level the answe1· is simple: Jesus suftered! But are there
things in the text of Zechariah that can help us make sense of this interpretative
move? If the. double nature of the role of the prophet in Zechariah I I helped
Matthew in relation to the use ofZech. I I .13. it may be that something about the
role of the prophet helps Matthew here as welL Apart from that in Zech. 13.7-9,
there is another image ofsuffering in as suggested above. the
sufferer of 12.1 0 is probably tlte prophet himself. The prophet in Zechariah is
ah·ead}' linked to the she.pherd image because of Zechariah I I. f\•tatthew has a
good prophet who is (I} c-alled upon to act out the role of a worthless shepherd
who will sutrer judgement for his failure and who is (2) himself (as prophet)
destined to sutler because of the unwe.lcome challenge his words represent to his
people. This anticipated suffering of the pi'Ophe.t is already linked in Christian
tradition to the suffering oftl1e messiah/Son ofHumanity... 1 And he.ha.~ finally in
Zech. 9.13 'the blood of my covenant' as the basis in Deutero-Zechariah for God's
saving intervention. Surely there is enough here to identify a track of redemptive
suffering to sit alongside the suffering of judgement and of refining!
It seems. then1 that Matthew has first provided a foundation for his use of
Zecharialt by prominently linking shepherding and kingship in Mt. 2.6. In 9.36
there is the first allusion to Jesus is the one who will see to
the neglected shepherding ofGod's people: the Davidic shepherding role will be
fulfilled in him. Mt. 15.3 1oners a second allusion: Jesus is the positive counter-
p~ut to the disastrous shephe1xl ofZech. 11. 16; the 'should have been' implied by
the acted-out failure; the positive oounterpaJt to the disastrous king that the
prophet had been called upon to symbolically represent. Shepherd imagery drops
from sight for a time and it is king language that is used in Mt. 21.5, in the first

.JI. Suggest~'<~ by the e.xistence.of Jn 19.3i: Rev. 1.1.The:.situation with regard to Jewish lrndition
is unclear.
146 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

actual quotation. We are infol'llted about the appropriate messianic aims and
goals to be associated with Jesus. But we are also provided with the main henne-
neutical key to 1\•latthew's approach to the Zechariah shepherd texts: they are to
be mined for their potential contribution to the positive image of the shepherd
king that Matthew identifies Jesus as. Several minor links to Deutero-Zechariah
serve, for our purposes, only to emphasize the eschatological frameworic within
which rvtatthew develops his Deutero-Zechariah-infJuenced picture ofJesus (Mt.
21.21; 24.31; 26.28; 27.52, 53). Tile most challenging texts are the two nu·ther
quotations: Mt. 26.31, where the shepherd's role is shared between Jesus and
Judas: and 27.9-10. where Jesus is the sn·uck-down shephel'd - a shepherd who in
the Zechariah context is to be \'iewed negativel}'· For the former I have suggested
that Matthew's division of roles may be rooted in a double identity already
involved for the prophet in Zechariah (himself and his acted-out role). For the
latter I have suggested that once again the prophet may be the key, this time as
the sufferer ofZech. 12. 10. Following in the foot'i.teps of the prophet as one who
suffe1·s, the shepherd king Jesus dies as the one who seals the covenant with his
I 0.



Lidija Novakovic

In his well-known criticism of Kittel 's nu?o!ogical DictionOJ:yofthe New Testa-
ment. James Barr accused the contributors of' illegitimate totality transfer', which
happens when the semantic value of a word in one context is added to its seman-
tic value in another context ' The same criticism can be. in Ill)' view. exte.ndcd to
those interpreters who, following the-lead of C. H. Dodd,l presume without fur-
ther ado that whenever tJ1c New Testament authOI'S quote scriptural passages.
they have theirenth·e original contexts in view.l wish to challenge the suitability
o f this approach for the quotation oflsa. 53.4 in Mt. 8.17. The significance of this
citation lies in the fact that this is the-only explicit quotation of any po11ion o f
Isaiah 53 in the Gospel ofMatthew1l and one of the only tv.•o explicit citations o f
Isaiah 53 in the entire synoptic tradition . ~ In the Matthean context, the quotation
oflsa. 53.4 provides the prooffOI' Jesus· healing ministry. A number of
interpretet'S1 however, have suggested that in addition to this, the entire context of
Js.ajah 53 is implied. Titus. for example, Barnabas Lindars believes that "it is not
enough . . . to see it merely as scriptural justific-ation for the miracles, fo1· it comes
from a chapter which describes the sutl'ering of the Servant himself. The funda-
mental issue is that Jesus· own suftCrings are rede-mptive.'5 Robert H. Gundt·y
proposes that Matthew's application of (sa. 53.4 'may be partially based on the
observation that the.verse forms a 1ransition from the Servant's gro\ving up1 being
despised, and knowing sorrow and sickness on the one hand to his suffe.ring and

I. J. Barr. Tlw Si!mamiN ofBiblirnl LallgtJ£/gt"(London: O:tford Uniwrsity Pr<'ss. 1961). p. 2 18:
' The cnor thut.uriscs. when thc:"mcaning'" ofa word (understood as a totul serie-s of relations in whtch
it is used in lhc litcnuurc) is read into a itss-.:nsc !lnd impiK:ation Iller<. may lxcalkd
..illegitimate-totalily uansfer".'
2. C. H. Dodd. Accordi11g to the Scriplllres: The Sub.srructmvtJ/Ne•)·Testament Thc-ologt' (Lon·
don: Nisbcc. 1952}. pp. 88- 96.
3. For the sake ofcon,•cnicncc. I will usc th~·tradiJjonal d¢signation 'Mauhew' as a n:fercnce to
the author of the.Gospel. 111is study is bused on the premises of the: two-doc-ument hypotllc:sis.
4. The second citation is in l k. 22.31. whic-h quotes lsa. 53.12.
5. B. lindars. New Teslelmtllt Apo/tJg(!fic: The D{JclrinalSignifimtlt'e(!{lhe OldTestnml'lll Qtto·
tmimu (l ondon: SCM Press. 1961). p. 86.
148 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

death on the other'.(, Otto Betzcontends that ' Matthew certainly knew the spirirual
meaning of Isaiah 53.4: Be-aring and taking away our sicknesses acn1ally refers to
the vic.arious suffbring of the Servant because ofou1·sins. ' 7W. D. Davies and Dale
C. Allison. Jr ponder that ' perhaps he unde1·stood the healing ministry to be a type
of Jesus redemptive suffering' .s Pe-te-r Stuhlmache-•· argues that ' fom1h
Servant Song was available. to early Judaism and Christianity only in the context
oft he book oflsaiah and the Dcute-I'Oisaianic sa}•ingsabout the.Servant as a whole·
so that every citation fro m this poem should be related to Jesus' sacrifice."
In contrast to these authol's, I wish to show that in Matthew. the citation ofls.a.
53.4 is devoid of the idea of vicarious suffering. Rather. this text is applied to
Jesus· healings through a method that be called the ·atomistic use of Scrip-
ture·. TI1is is achieved through a selective use ofthe content of Isa. 53.4 and a
verbal, even tb rced, translation o f the Hclwew text, with the purpose of making it
applicable to Jesus' healing ministry which is, in the Gospel of Matthew, insepa-
rable from Jesus' identity as the Davidic Messiah.1o
The concept of the atomistic exegesis is not a new idea in biblical studies. It
was originally proposed by Henry J. Cadbury, who argued that the atomistic use
o fScripture characterized both early Christian and their Jewish con-
temporarie.s.11 In his elabonlte e.xamination of the term rro:ls ewU, Joachim
Jeremias acknowledged the frequency o f this type o f exegesis in early Jewish
interpretations of the servant of God passages in Deutero-lsaiah, 12 but failed to
appreciate the full significance of this insight.ll. The Jatte1· has been done by
Morna D. Hooker. who on tl1e basis of the atomistic use of Scripture in early
Christian texts concluded that the conc.e-pt of vicarious suffering of the se.rvant
from Deutero-lsaiah had no formative influence on Jesus' understanding of his

6. R. 1~. Gundry. The Useofl/re OldTeJitWlNII ill St. Mattlww :S Gospel witII Sp«ial Riforer/ce
Jo tire Mes.siunic' Hope (NovTS'up. 18: leickn: E. J. BrilL 1967). p. 230.
7. 0 . lktz. 'Jesus and tsaiJh 53". in W. ~1. Belling-er nnd W. R. Fnrm<'r (cds}. Jes11.umd the
5J{tferillg Sm·anf: lsaiall jJ ond Christim1 Origitu ( l~ nrris:butg. PA: Trinily Press lnlcmntional.
1998). p. 81.
8. W. D. Davies and 0 . C. Allison. .4 Critical and Exegetical Comme111ary on the GiJspel
Acrordi11g to Saint Mmtl""'' (ICC: ,·oL 2: Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1991}. p. 38.
9. P. Stuhlmacher. ' lsaiah 53 in the Gospels nnd AciS'. in B. Janowski nnd P. Stuhlm.'lchcr (eds).
nli' SJrtferillg Smunt: lsaiuh 53 iiiJe'lriJhamiChristian Stmrces(trans. 0. P. Bniky: Grnnd Rapids:
\Villi:un B. Eerdman.s. 2004). p. 158.
10. For an e.xploration of the:. link between Jesus:' messianic idcntit)' and his hct~li ng ministry soc
L Novako,·ic. Mer.siah.Jire Healer ofllw Sick: A Study ofJe.nts as 11/e Son ofDav-id i111lw Grupe/ of
MaJthew (WUNTt1L 170: H1bingrn: Molu SicbC<'k, 2003}.
II. H. J. Cudbury. ·nc Titles ofll-sus in Acls'. in F. J. F. lackson and K.lakc (cds). The Begi11·
111.,1gs ofChriJiiuni(l'. part I : Tire Acts o.ftlw ApoJtles. vol. 5: Additio11al Nmes to 1l1e Commentary
(cd. K. Lakennd H. 1. Cadbury: lo1.don: Macmillan. 1933), pp. 369- 70.
12. J. kn:mias. ·na'is 6toU'. TD.l!,r'f 5. p. 682.
13. In his "le.w. ' the-rcc-utrcntapplicutionsofi ndividual scn•anl p:wa.ges:to indlvidu.1l 6gum; arc
\\"ilhout significance. for such reference.:; ... ate all wi1hout exception references lo individwl \'C-I'SCS
which do not •ell us how the rabbis:conocmcd c.xpmmdcd !he pa!>Sagcs in context' (Jeremias:. ·nai5
6toti". p. 686). For a critique. sec D. JucL Messiank Exegesis: Clrril·tological lnmprelatiofl ofthe
OldTesronwm inl:."arly Clrristianity (Philaddphin: Fortress P~. 1988). pp. 125-6.
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 149

own mission or on the earliest layers ofChristian tradition.14 Even though some
scholars supponed Hooker's conclusions,15 others challenged it. 16 The fbilowing
analysis is meant to o tTer a contribution to this ongoing discussion. Matthew's
interpretation of Jesus' healing ministry in tenns of lsa. 53.4 is clearly l'edac-
tional and has no direct relevance for the question of whether Jesus hirnselfunder-
stood his mission in terms of Isaiah 53, which lies at the core of this debate. At
the same time, howeve-r, since the citation oflsa. 53.4 in f\·fatthew is one of a ve.ry
few dil·ect quotations of Isaiah 53 in the NewTestament. 11 it can contribute to our
understanding of the application of the tb urth servant song to Jesus in primitive
I will first address some genernl issues related to the meaning o f Isaiah 53 in
the Old Testament and its subsequent interpretations in early Jewish literature.
T11is will be tbllowed by an examination of the textual fom\ ofthe citalion oflsa.
53.4 in Mt. 18.17 and its tlll\ction in the Matthean context. (n the concluding sec-
tion, I will try to find out the rationale. both conceptual and scriptural, which
infom\s the messianic application of this text to Jesus · healing activity. My goal
is to demonstrate that Matthew,s method of reading Scripture exemplifies the
atomistic use of Scripture that was common in early Jewish exegesis.

2. Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament aud Early Jewish Literature

Ever since.Bernhard Duhm isolated the so-called servant songs (I sa. 42.1-4; 49. 1-
6; 50.4-9; 52.13- 53.12)." there have been sn·ong objections to the idea o ftreat-
ing these poems as a group in isolation from their context in Deutero-ls.aiah.19

1 ~. M. D. Hooker. }£!SUJ tmd th~ Sen•ont: 11•e lnjhli!llceoftl~e SetWtJ1t C011cept ofDemero-Jsaiull
ill the New TeJintm'tll (london: SPCK. 1959). !-looker reaflim1ed her original position fony years
later in her essay. ·oid the Use of Isaiah 53 to llllerprct His Mission Begin wilh Jesus?'. in Btl linger
and Farmer (eds). Je.\·u.o; am/tile Sl!O'ering Sen um. pp. 88-103.
15. Jud . Messianic E.n;gt>sis. pp. 119-33.
16. M. C. Parsons. 'lsainh 53 in Acts S: A Reply to Professor Morna Hooker'. in Bellinger and
Farmcr(eds).J esus a11d tile Sufforing Sen'tlnt. pp. 10-1--19: W. R. Fllllll('r. 'Reftoctions on Isaiah 53
and Chris1inn Origins'. in Bdling-cr and Farmer («is). Jesus and the Suffering Smvnt. pp. 260-SO:
Stuhlmachcr. ·1s.1iah 53 in the Gospels and Aels'. pp. 147-62.
17. Some copies oflhe 15th chnptcr of Mnrk•s Gospd ( L e, 0112. 0230.F ·u) contain verse 28
which quoits lsa. 53.12, but this is most likdy a latcr S<:ribnl addition to Mark's text under the influ·
encc of Lk. 12.37. which also q uO(~-slsa. 53. 12: Jn 12.38 quoteslsa. 53.1 : 8.32-33 quote lsa.
53.7-8: Rom. 10.15· 16 quote. Jsa. 52.7 and lsa. 53. 1: Rom. 15.21 quotes lsn. 52.15: I Pet. 2.2 1-25
quo1e Jsa. 53.4. 5. 6. 9. 12. Only the quo1ations of Isa. 53.4. 5. 6. 9. 12 in I Pet. 2.21-2; point to the
atoning sign i6 ct~noc ofChrist's death. II is certninl)· noteworthy. as Hookeor re-marks. 't.hat in none of
the scYcn pnssagcs where a quotnlion from ls.1iah 52- 53 is introduocd by a formuln indicating that s
ciLllion from scripture follows is that quo1a1ion int«pretcdo/J/w meani11g of Jesus' death· ('Did the
Use.of Isinh 53 to Interpret His Mission Begin with k sus?•. p. 91).
18. B. Duhm. Das BuC'II Je.~aja (GHAT. IlLII:.GOningcn: Vnndenhocd: & Ruprecht 1&92).
19. T. N. D. Meuinger.A Fart"''r-ellto lhf! Sen um Songs: A Critical £wminaJionofan f.Yt"'getical
A:riom (Lund: Gk erup. 1983): F., Si11g1 tkm J.leJT dn llt!lles Lk d: Die Hymmm IN1m'ro·
jesaja (SBS. 141 : Stuttgart: Kntholisches Bibclwcrk. 1990): A. Laato. 17te Senu111of rNWH om/
C:rms (ConBOT. 35: Stockholm: Afmqvist & Wikscll lntemationaL 1992).
150 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Nonetheless. many scholars continue to regard these songs as separate composi-

tional units~ even though the)' acknowledge the significance oftheircurrent place-
ment in the canonical text of Jsaiah.20 The f..1:SCination with the identity of ' the
servant' and his fate, especially his suffering on behalf of others, which scents to
surf.'lce in the so-called fo urth song.11 has been the driving force in this research.
T11e main difficulty here is caused by the interplay betwe.en corporal and indi-
vidualcharacteristics ofthe servant. Plausible arguments have-been proposed that
the songs presume either a corporate personality. i.e.lsnlel,:u or a particular indi-
viduat.1:l The latter is especially pertinent to tlte fourth servant song, which appar-
ently distinguishes the corporate ·we• from the servant. Tvlo main themes of the
poem are the servant's humiliation/vindic.ation and his suffering on behalf of the
othe-rs. Prior to (saiah 53. as Henning GmfRc vemlow argues~ ' there was no insti-
tution and the-1· institutional languagedescribing the unheard-ofoccurrence
that the suffering of a single man could have the power of removing the con-
sequences of the guih o f a whole group ofpeople' .14 K. Koch called Isaiah 53 an
·eJTatic block' in the history ofideas.25 For our present pu!pOseS, however, it is
more important to look at tlte ways these poems were read in the subsequent
Jewish litemture. Can we find there some clues about Jewish perceptions of the

20. Cf. H.-J. Bcnnisson. ·voreiligcr Abschicd von dm Gotlcskncchtc:liOOcm •• TR 49( 1984). 209-
21: H. G. Rt\'crltlow. 'Basic Issues in lhc lnttrpre•ntion of Lsainh 53'. in Bellinger and Fanncr (cds). ond lhf! S11jJering Sermm. pp. 1J -3S.
21. II is no! clear whether thesuffering ofthe servant in Isaiah 53 coostilutcsa substitutionat)'. !lnd
lhuscxclusi''<. suO'cring (suAC:ringinstcad of olhcrs) ora rcprcsenta!iw. and thus indusi\'e. suff~'fi ng
(suffering alongside. others). A helpful explanation of terminology and n rc\·iew of diffcrcn! \'itws
taken on thi,; issue can be found in D. P. Baile)'. 'Conccpcs ofStell•·ertretlmg in the lnteiprctation of
Isaiah SJ'. in Bellinger and Farmer (eds). JeJus and th~ Suj}'ering Smmt. pp. 223- 50.
22. In the ,;eco1.d !iJCn.•anl song. Jsa. 49.3 i<kmifies !he scrvanl with Lsmd : iir n-.-·- :!t:- ~::..,..
(' You are. my ,;cn·tmc. l,;rac)'). Outside the sc-rvnnt J>Ongs. the term ·servant of Yuhw~h ' is frequendy
understood in a collccti"t sense: lsn. -11 .8·10: ~~. 1 -2. 21: 45-.4; 48.20. For a proposal that ancient
lsradi1c.s h.'td the scnsc-of"oorporatc pcr:>oMiity'. which blurred a distinction between the individuality
of a person and the group to which tbc person belonged. see-H. W. Robinson. ·The Hebrew Conception
of Corporote-Personality'. in p. Volz. F. Stummer nnd J. ~I empel (cds). w~rdm lind We$en dts .. fltts
Teswments (BZAW. 66: Be-rlin: A . TOpdmnnn. 1936). For 11 crilique of this idea.. sec R. E. ClcmeniS.
·rsaiah 53 and the Rcstoralion of lstnd'. in Bellinger and Fnm1cr (tds). Jesus amf tlw Suffering
St'n:am. pp. 42- 3.
23. C( Re-vcntlow. 'Busic Issue-S in the-lnlerpn·tuion oflsaiah 53'. p. 14. Clm1ents. ·tsaiah 53
and the Restoration oflsrnd•. pp. 44- 54. discussesthrtt most likely possibilities which could pro\'ide
a plausible-background (Of a link between a distinc:ti\'tly personal e:tpericnc:e of the s~'f\'illlt and the
corporate identity of lbc: sccvant-lsrnc-1: the royal strvilnt. lbc servant as prophet. and Moses ns the
24. RC\•enllow. "Busic tssucs in the lntcrprc(ation of lsaish 53'. p. 28. Revcntlow's conclusion is
valid even if one-concurs with Martin Hengel thai Lhc concept of ntoning death wns well kno\\1\ in
antiquity: ~e).i. liengd. T1•r At<mermmt: The Origin oftlw Doctrine i11 tlw Nell-' Te.\·tammt(London:
SCM: Philaddphia: Fonress Press. 198 1). pp. 19- 32.
25. K. Koch. Sput'i'Jl des hebriiisdwu Dtmkeru: Beilriige : ur alttestamentliC'!Iom Theo/Qgie (cd.
B.lano\vsl:i and M. Krau~: Gesammchc Aufsiit;x. 1: Ncukirchcn-VIuyn: Ncukirchcne-r Verlag.
1991), p. 10J.
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 15 1

identity of the servant and his mission, pru1icularly his vicarious suffering, which
were ooncurre.nt with the Jesus movement and the rise of Christianity?
In Sir. 11.1 2-13, Isa. 52.15 ('Thus shall many nations be amazed at him') is
applied to a righteous person who at first experiences misfommes but is eventu-
ally exalted by God. which provokes the amazement of others: 'The1·e is another
who is slow and needs help. who lacks strength and abounds in pove-rty: but the
eyes of the Lord look upon him for his good: he lifts him out of his low estate-and
raises up his head. so that many are amazed at him.' Sir. 48.9-10. on the other
hand, uses a short clause from the second sen•ant song ('to l'ise up the tribes of
Jacob' in (sa. 49.6b) and combines it with a prophecy from Mal. 4.6 ('He will turn
the hearts of parents to their child1·en')to descl'ibe one of the activities of Elijah
whose return is prophesied in Mal. 4.5-6: 'You who we1·e taken up by a whirl-
wind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire; you who are ready at the appointed
lime. it is written, to calm the.wrath of God before it breaks out in fury. to tum the
heart of the f.1ther to the son and to 1·estore the tribes of Jacob.·
Dan. 12.3 applies (sa. 53.ll b ('The righteous one. my servant shall make many
righteous' p:~:,; ~;~.D p•i:: ; p· ,~·n to tlle righteous who will be resurrected at
the end of days: 'Those.\Vho are \vise (Ct ;:l\l:.'Oit) shall shine like the bl'ightncss of
the sky. and those who lead many to righteousness [o· :~ -~oi · p · i~O},Iike the stars
forever and ever.' Thehiphil of the verb p11.:, which appears in both passages.
means 'to make righteous' rather than having the usual sense 'to declare inno-
cent' .26 1nterestingly enough. Daniel makes no reference to the statement 'and he
shall bear their iniquities·. which immediately follows in Isa. 53.11 c. Rather, the
text expaJlds the idea of exaltation of those who have previously suffered. Tile
wise ones are those whose martyrdom will be rewarded by the resurrection from
the 'dust of the earth• and everlasting life (Dan. 12.2). It is therefore t3 ir to con-
clude that the passage in Dan. 12.2-3 inte1·prets Isaiah 53 collectively as a refer-
ence. to the martyrs who will be 1·aised and exalted in the end-time.27
The i\ramaicApoc1yphon ofLevi. prese"•ed in 4Q540 (4QapocrLevi'? ar) and
4Q541 (4QapocrLevib·] ar). contains several allusions to Isaiah 53. The largest
among the existing fragments is fragment9 of4Q541, where the speake1·(presu-
mably Jacob addressing his son Levi) mentions an unidentified figure who ·will
atone (-~~:=t~) for all the children of his generation' and who "will be sent to all the
children of his [people]' (4Q541 frg. 9 1.2-3)." Lines 5-6 describe the suffering
of this person: 'They will uttc.r many words against him. and an abundance of
(lie]s; they will fabric--ate fables against him. and utte1· every kind of disparage-
ment against him.· 4Q540 also contains several, albeit fragmentary, references to
suffering: ' distress will come upon him, and the linle one will lack goods' (line 1)

16. J. A. :O.fofllgomery. A G·ilica/ a1td£t:q;etical C(}mmenrm:r(Jfl the BmJk t;?{Dallie/ (ICC; New
York: C. Scribne.r's Sons. 1917). pp. 47--8.
27. Cf. M. Hengel wi1h D. P. Bailey. 'The Effoc1ive HislOI)' of tsniah 53 in th~· Pre-Christian
Period•. in Janowski and Stuhlmnc-hcr (cds). The Suffiriltg Sen·anl. p. 98.
28. The English translation used llc:rc is taken from F. G. .M:artin¢Z nnd E. J. C. Tigchd.aar. Tile
DemlSea Scrolls Study Edition (vol. 2: Leiden: Brill: Gl\lnd Rapids: \Villiam B. Ecn:lmuns. 2000}.
pp. 10 79-81.
152 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

and ·a loss will come to it, and he will lack goods' (line 2). Puech suggests that
these sections refer to the end-time priest who procures cultic atonement within
the framework of a 1'Cbuilt or reconsecrated sanctu:uy mentioned in 4Q540 line
5.~ Nonetheless, as Martin Henge.l notes. ' no vicarious surrende1· of life is evi-
dent in the fn1gments'.l0
The-re are several indic--ations that the LXX understands God's servant as a col-
lective tem1, which refers to Israel and Jacob. Tims. fo1·example. the LXX trans-
lates '1::Jll ('my servant') in lsa. 42. 1 as 'laKe.:>~ 0 IT<XiS' ~OU CJacob. my child '),
whereas Isa. 49.3 LXX (5oo>.O, ~0\J 11ou 'lopa~}, - ·You are my servant, Israel')
1·etains the collective meaning found ah·eady in the.MT (~~i~ 0r~~-~1::.D - 'You
are my servant. lsmel'). This collective interpretation is much less visible in the
foUJ1h servant song. which seemingly preserves the individual notion (0 rro:l$
IJOU in fsa. 52.13) found in the MT, but even here 'collective and individual inter-
pretations need not be.mutually exclusi\•e ·.:11 The LXX also retains the c,oncep1 of
vicarious suffering. but shows a tendenc.Y toward spiritualization. Thus. for exam-
ple, the servant c.a,·ries •our sins' (TO$' a·I.J o:ptlo:s- fu.Jc3v) instead of"our infirmi-
ties· (n•'m). T1le sin spoken of here is frequently interpreted :15 lawlessness ..n
Furthermore. the honour and shame dichotomy is mo1·e emphasized in the LXX:
the servant ' had no form or beaut,)' (oUK s1xev E15os ou5s KcXAAOS in lsa. 53.2).
his form was ;without honour' (O:TiiJOV in Jsa. 53.3}. aJld 'he was not hono1·cd'
(ftTt~cio9rt in Isa. 53.3)-" Finally. the emphasis llllls on the justification of the
servant as a righteous pcl's on, mther than his ability to make many righteous.l4
The motif of exaltation o f an innocen1sut1brer is especially elaborated in Wis.
2. 13-20 and 5.3-6. Both passages apply the servant imagery to the righteous per-
son who suffe1'S unjustlY.. He is P.Ortraycd as the one who ·calls himself a child/
servant of the Lord' ( rro:i5o: K1!ptoo 'saurov ovo~ci<et in Wis. 2. 13). Like in the
fom1h servant song, there is a distinction between the collective "we· and the
righteous sufferer. The latter becomes to the former a reproof of their thoughts,
who in turn decide to test his trust in God by condemning him to a shameful

29. Cf. E. Puc:ch. ·frngmenls d'un apocryphc de te\·i et le personnuge cschlllologiquc::

4QTc:.stlCvi' 4 (?) c:1 4QAJa'. in J. T. Borttr<l ond L V. Monllmc:r (cds). The Madrid Qumnm Con·
gresl·: Prowcdi11g.s ofJ/w lntl'malionol Co11greJs 0 11 11/e /)e(J{} Sm Scrolls Madrid 18-11 March
}991 (Studies on the Texts of the: Oc::scrt of Judah. I I.2: vol. 2~ l cidc:n: Brill. 1991). pp. 449- 501.
30. tic:ngd with Builc:y. 'The EO':clive History oflsoi:th 53 in lhc Pre Ciuislian Period'. p. I I7.

Pu!Xh's O\Vfl condusion i$ more aud:a,iotiS. be~usche could envision a violent denth of the 'Pricst 4

s~·rnmt': cf. Puc:c.h. 'Fragments'. p. 499. The evidence for this conclusion. however. is very unec:r-
lain, as Puc:ch himself udmits.
31. Hengel with Buiky. 'The EO'eelive History oflsui:th 53 in lhc Pre.-Chrislillll Period'. p. 121.
32. Cf. B. Wilhcrington tiL ' Isaiah 53: t -12 (Scptu.:1gint}'. in A.-1. l evine. D. C. Allison. Jr.and J.
D. Cro~n (eds). Thi' J.lisl<>ricol Jesus ill Co11text (Princclon Readings in Rdigions: Princ.eton and Princeton University Press. 2006). p. 402.
33. According•o Witherington Ill. 'Isaiah 53:1-12 (Scptuaginl)'. p. 401. 'the preocrupa1ion wid1
his outward fom1or beauty or ··face" probably rcAC'Cts how some of Lhc Grec:l: virtUC$31\' in the mind
of the trJJtSialor'.
34. Wi1hcring1on ttl. ·tsui:th 53: I-12 (Scptungint)'. p. 402: H'--ngcl with Bailey. 'The Effcctiw
~t islory oflsniah 5J in the: Pre-Christian P~"l'i od'. p. 118.
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 153

death. Yet they are proven wrong at the final judgement, when they see that the
righteous one. (0 5lt::at0)), whom they held in derision and believed to be
without honour, is vindicated by God and numbered among the children of God.
T11ese descriptions contain numerous allusions to lsa. 52.13--53.12, but the domi-
nant is not vicarious suflbri ng on behalf of others. but God's vindication
of an innocent sufferer. Also. similar to the ·we· group in Isaiah 53, his perse-
cutors do not recognize their own guilt until after his exaltation.
Only the Targum of lso.tiah, composed some.time. bet·ween 70 and 135 CE,H
consistently interprets lsa. 52.13--53.12 as a reference to the Messiah. This is
indic-ated already in the opening line of the tburth song~ which translates ~,~ ii
from Isa. 52.13 with ~rn::c .,:iii ("my servant the Messiah"). The identification
of the servant with the f\•tessiah occurs only here and in lsa. 43.10, and is most
likely based on Zech. 3.8. which juxtapose$ the messianic temt ' branch· (nC::.:) to
the term ·my servant' (~i:::!.IJ). 36 1n other instances, the targumist understands this
term collecl"ively as a retCrence to lsraet.Ullte messianic interpretation oflsaiah
53 is, however. achieved through a dmstic reinterpretation of the Hebrew text,
which removes eve I)• allusion to sufYering from the messianic figu re and transfers
it either to his enemie$ or to Israel. This reinterpretation. howeve1·, is not arbitrary.
but seems to be based on the targumist's understanding oflsa. 52.1 3. which speaks
about the prosperity and ofthe se.rvant. and the change in the Hebrew text
ft·om the.third person singular ("1~1') in lsa. 52. I 3 to the second pe1'Son singular in
Jsa. 52.14 ('many we.t•e astonished at you [j ' ;v]'). From dtis. he most likely con-
cluded that the references to suffering must apply to the Messiah's adversaries..!*
Verses 3-4 are quite illustrative of this tendency:
Then !he gloryof nU!he kingdoms will be for oontempt andcessc:: the)' will be faint and
mournful. behold. ns n mttn of sorrows nnd appointed for sicknesses: and ~ wbe.n !he
fac1 of the: Shekhinah 'vas tnken up fro mus. they arc dcspisl-d nnd nol esteemed. The-n
he. will beseech concerning our sins and our inquitic:s for his sake will be forgi,·c:n: ye1
we were cstoc:nn-d wounded. smitten before the LORI>and nnlic.ted..i9

T11e f\·fessiah is presented here in the int:el'cc.ssOI)' role-he shall pray on behalfof
lst'3el's t:mnsgressions. which will be pardoned for his sake.

35. Cf. J. ..\dna. ·The Servan1offsniuh 53 ns Triumpflanl and Interceding Messiah: The.Rcttption
of Isaiah 52: 13-53:12 in lhe Tnrgu:m oflsninh wi1h Spceial Attention to lheConcc:pt of the Messiah•.
in Jnnov.rski and Stuhlmachcr (eds}. TIJe Sufforing Semml. p. 197.
36. Cf. Adna, ·nc S-ervant of Isaiah 53 as Triumphant and Interceding Messiah'. p. 199. Adna
further explains that ·bcc3use. the Isaiah Tnrgumist already 11IKkrstands the Brnnc,h as tbc: l ord's
Messiah in Targum of Isaiah 4:1. the: equalion of IlK- Lotd·s SC-f ''anl with the messinnic Brunch of
Zcdtarinh 3:8 makes it possible for him to idlTitify the Servant wilh th~· messiahc"en where.the Bible
le:tt has only ' "i~.i} •.
37. For e:tnmple. the targumist preserves t:hc Kientilknlion ohhc servant wilh lsrud in lsa. 49.3.
while in lso. 49.6. ·my Sc::t\·ant' (singular) boc:onn-s ·my scn •ants' (plural).
38. Adn..'l. 'The Sc:rnuu of Isaiah S3 as Triumphunt and lntc:roc:ding Messiah'. p. 199.
39. English LTnnslution is ~t~ken fromB.D. Chilton. Tlw lsaitlll Targum: JntrmhK"ti<m. Tiutb·fmif.m.
Apparatus ond ,ftlota (The. Aramaic. Bible. I 1: Wilmington. DE: Michael Glazier. 19&7).
154 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

We can thus conclude that in the first century there was nothing like a unifom1ly
defined concept of the-·servant". even less the. ·suffering Servant' ..tO There is
simply no evidence to uphold the view that ·early Je,vs read these Servant Songs
as a whole and did not atomize and compartmentalize the text the way we do
today', or that 'they did not read or interpret the chapter in isolation from the pre-
vious Servant Songs':" Rather>as the survey of the relevant documents indicates,
eal'ly Jews referred to individual portions of these songs without much regm·d for
their context or a unifying message. The most striking characte1·istic of these texts
is lhat. apart from the LXX, which stands close to the sense of the Hebrew text,
the theme of vicarious suffering of the set·vant is conspicuously absent.Jl Even in
the LXX. the theme ofsubstitutionary sufl'ering is downplaycd. The IsaiahTargum
is especially instructive, because it demonstrntes just the opposite tendency - the
text llltet·s out any reference to the servant's suffering and ascribes it to his ene-
mies. lf thet'e is a motif that early Jewish writings take over from Isaiah 53, it is
not the redemptive sufferings! but the idea of exaltation after undeserved humili-
ation. Even so, the references are scattet-ed and do not capture the sense of the
whole. Finally, these texts show that ...Servant of God... whether in Greek or
Hebrew. is never treated as a title like Christ. It does not appear in Jewish litem-
lure in statements like. "So and so is the servant ofthe Lord". •.u Even in the New
Testament. the ' Scr\'ant of God· is not treated like a title.: Jesus is never confessed
to be the ·servant' .H The reason tbr this see-ms to be.quite obvious: the temt 'ser-
vant' could be applied to mal\y diflbt-ent pet'SOnalities and had no specific content.
Broadly speaking, 'God's servant' was an appropriate term forevetyone who has
been faithful to God."

40. Cf.Jerc-mias. · nais etoU'. pp. 682- 3: Hengd wilh Baiky. 'The Effective 1-listof)' oflsaiuh 53
in Lhc Pre-Christian P~"l'iod'. pp. 79-80.
41. Withcringlon Ill. 'lsniah 53: 1· 12 (Scptuuginl)'. p. 403.
42. Cf. 1-lengd wilh Bniley. 'The Effcccin: History of lsainh 53 in !he P~-Chti.s.lian Period'. p.
140: 'ihc txf)\.-"ttation ofan eschatological s.u ffcring figureconncc-100 with l<:aiah 53 Cllnnotlh~~rdorc
be pron:n lo exist with absolute «rlainly and in a d cnrly outlinl"<i form in pre-Christian Judais.m.>
43. According to Rc\·cntlow. ·the third and. above all. the fourth Song were not in !he snmc: \'18)'
open to a re-use. as the aspcC"I of suffering. above aUa vicutiou.s. suffering. blodcd the.dc\·clopmenl
of new ideus· (' Bas-ic Issues in the Interpretation of Isaiah 53'. p. 33).
44. Jud. MeJJitmic ExegeJis. p. 124. Hookcringcniot•slyc:tplains thnt · !.he~- \vas no notice of !.he
•·Jobs Voc.unf' column of thqmpcrs rending ·'Wanted: IlK- Servant of the Lord''• ('Did the Use of
lsniah 53 to Interpret I-I is Mission Begin with Jesus'?' p. I 00).
45. None ofa \'ery few New Tcstamcnt occurrences- of no:Is in n:lation to Jesus is titular: in Mt.
12.18. this tcnn is part of the quotation of Isa. 42.1; Acts- 3.13 contains- the expression ' his s~"f\'hn t
Jes-us-'. Acts 3.26 hns ' his ser\'ant'. while-Acts 4.27 nnd 4.30 comprise-lhc pbr<~sc ')'our holy sernml
Jesus·. In none: of 1hesc c:~ses do we find a formul<l. 'Jesus is the Servant' . nnd in coch of lhcsc.c.uscs.
Jesus' nnme-is added forthc-sake of c.larit)' - to idcnti(v whichscrvanl is meant Chis scn•anr in Aces
3.26 dcri"es its mc.uning from ·his servant ksus· in AC'Is 3.13}. Luke-Acts ulso me-ntion olhcr · scr·
vants•: Luke: 1.54 refers to ' his servant Israel•. Luke 1.69 to ·his scn·ant David' .a1ld Acts4.25 to ·our
fnther Oa\'id. )'Our servant'.
46. Cf. Hooker. ' Did the Usc of lsniuh 53 to lnt.::rprel His ~i ission Begin with Jesus?' p. 100.
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 155

3. The Form aud Ftmc fion ofIsaiah 53.4 in the Gospel <?f :\1atthew
T11e quotation o f (sa. 53.4 in Mt 8. 17 is linked to a mini-summary of Jesus'
healing activity~ which alleges that ' they [the people] brought to him many who
were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirit'i with a word, and healed
a ll who were sick' (Mt. 8.16). This declaration is followed in 8. 17a by one of
Matthew's fommlaic introductions into scriptura l quotations, 'in order that what
was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled' (onws nA~pc.>llfi TOp~9£v
ota 'Hoaiou roii npooj>nrou 1-iyovros)." Like most of the other formulaic
introductions, this statement is articulated as a purpose-clause::.s In this way,
Jesus' healing activity is prl!'sented as a purposeful fulfilment ofan ancient pi'Oph-
ecy uttered by the prophet Isaiah.
The Greek text of the. quotation (auTOS rixs ixo9EV£io:s ~~wv 11\a~EV Kal
tO:s v6oous £~0:oto:oc.v - ·He took our infimtities and carried away the dis-
eases') in 8.17b differs sigJ~ificantly fr~m the ~pirit~uallzed i_nterpre!atjon~ ~fl!<'L
53.4 found in the LXX (OUT05 T<l5 o:~o:pno:s ~~wv oj>£p€1 KCll n£pt ~~wv
OOuvCnat- ·This one carries out· sins. and sutTe.t'S pain for us').l\·tauhew's version
ofls.a. 53.4 is closer to the sense of the-Hebrew text, which t•efers to the physical
condition of the sick: ~;:c n~~~::lOi ~~ ~itl i:-·'" f::l~ ('Surely he has bome
our infirmities and carried our pains'). Since ,,we possess . two
,, additional
tmnslationsoflsa. 53.4a. produced by Aquila (ovTWS' auTOS' T0:5 VOOOUS' ~~wv
Greek . .
ixvii-o:~ev Kal reus nolli~ous ~~c.3v uni~etv£v [cod. 86)) and Symmachus
fOVTWS' Ta) VOOOU5 h~c.3v O:UTQs avii-o:~£V Kal TOUS' novous ~~c.3v
unf~Et VEV).~ which are closer to the MT than the LXX. rvtatthew's t•endering can
be compared to theirs, even though, given its chronological priol'ity, it is com-
pletel}' independent.

~7. O!hcr cxamplesof Matlhcw's formulaic inttoductions into scriptural quowt;onscan be found
in 1.22: 2.1S. 17.23: 4.14: 12.17; 13.35: 21.4: 27.9. Some.ofthc ~ important studies ofMntl.hcw's
fom1ula quot!ltions arc: K. Stc-nduhl. nu: School ofSt. Mallhi!~<>' and f1s Ustr oftluo Old Testamem
(ASNU, 2 0: Lund: C. W. K. Gl«rup. 19 54). pp. 9?- 127. 183-206: G. Strcc.kcr.!Nr Weg der
Gm't'hligkeit: Untersuchu11gen :ur ThtVJiogk des Mulliliitu (FRLANT. 82: GOuingcn: Vandcnhoock
& Ruprecht. Jrd edn. 1971). pp. ~9-85: Gundry. The Useof tluo Old Testament ill S1. Matthew's
Gospel. pp. &9·127: W. Roth fuchs. Die fJ:fii!lung,\·zitute des Maulliius· £rongeli1mu: fine biblist·h·
Jllf!ologisclw Unt~r.nrd11mg (BWANT,8&: Stuugart: W. Koblhamnll:r Verlag. 1969). pp. 27--44: G.
M. Soam. Prabhu. The Formulo Qrwtatimu in rile lrif(JJwy J'Vurro,;,,... of,\.Jutrl~t.•w: An fnquby imo tht•
Troditi(JII HiJIO(I' tifMatt 1-l (AnBib. 63; Rom~·: Biblicallnstihuc Press.. 1976). pp. 18-161.
~S. MI. 2.23. 8.17 nnd 13.35 conlaif) purpose c.lauscs introduccd with Onw5. \\'hcrcus Mt. 1.22.
2.15. 4.14. 12. 17 nnd 21.4 conmin purpose clauses introduced with'iva. The only exceptions from
this p:.Ucm arc the introductions in 2.17 and 27.9. whic.h are fonnulatcd u.s dcdarativc sk1tcmcnts
with l.hc verb nAEpOw in aotist passi\·c indic-ntivc.
49. Tbc lrnnslations by Aquil:. and Symmachus were produced in the sccondocnturyct:. Aquila's
text is characterized by n literal rendering of the Hebrew original. which frcqucnd>' results in
awl:ward syntnctical constructions. Symmuchus' trunslatioa is. in contrast. cha.ractcrizcd by lite-m y
dcgancc. C(. H. 1-lcgcrmann.Jesujo 53 i11 Hemp/a. Targum wrd Pt•scltiuo (BFCT. 11156: GUtcrsloh:
C. lkrtelsmann Verlag. 19 54).
156 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

1\·latthew's quotation starts with the personal pronoun a·Ut6s 1 which is a more
natural rendering of the Hebrew personal pronoun ~·ri1 than the demonstrative
pronoun ® TO$' found in the LXX, as the tmnslations of Aquila and Symmachus
demonstrate.~ Next, rvtatthew's citation contains the term O:o9€v£tCX~ which is
c loser to the meaning o f the Hebrew noun · ;;, ("sickness. disease') than the
LXX's translation ix~aptla. Even though there are instances, such as Judg. 16.7,
I I, 17; Hos. 11.6; Ezek. 34.4; and Dan. 8.27. where ihe LXX translates the ve1·b
il ';n ('to grow weak. to be ill') with O:o9evi!v. it never uses the noun O:oeivE ICX as
a rendering of· ~- Matthew's c hoice ofixo9ivtto: as a translation · ';n is similar
to Aquila's choice ofv6oo) as a translatjon o f the same Hebrew noun.SI Mat-
thew's phrase Td$' O:o9evcfo:) can be therefore understood as a literal
rendering of,~ 52 Further,~ unlike the LXX. which translates the verb~C'I) with
¢i€pcu, Matthew uses Aa·IJ~O:vcu.u In view of Aquila's and Symmachus ' choice
of a similar verb (0:vaAa1J~civUl) tbr the same purpose. Matthew's translation is
an acceptable, and quite natural, rendel'ing of the Hebrew equivalem.5J
In the next clause. Matthew's choice o f the noun v6oos ("disense /'5 to ~rans­
late ~~:JC ('pain~) ditl'ers fi'Om the LXX, which combjnes the verbOOuVO:OIJO'I
with the prepositional phrase rrep'1huWvto produce the cJause "he suftb1'S pain tbr
us'.56 Matthew's 1·endering also differs from Aquila's noAEIJOS' ('strife') and
S)•mmachus· nOvO) ('distress, affliction'). Matthew's translation is intentional and
purposefill - he understands the pain mentioned in the MT a~ the physical pain
caused by illness and select~ therefore an appropriate term (VOOO>._) to communi-
cate this idea. He completes this task by choosing the ve.rb ~O:OT0:~(.)51 as a trans-
lation of;~o. which is attested neither in the LXX nor in Aquila and Summachus.
Even though the semantic range of~o:otci<G.> includes the ideas such as 'c-.any·,
' bear' or ·endure.', in the Matthean context it is narrowed down to the idea of
·carrying away· or ·removing·, which is apparently not the sense of'=.C ('bear a
heavy load'),5ll even though the latter is not opposed to it.59

50. Cf. M. J. J. Mc:nkeon. 'ihc: Sourc.: oflhc Quotation from Isaiah 53:4 in Mauh::w 8:11'. l1lovT
39 ( 1997). 317.
51. Even though O:oeivuo is nlwpa:r legomemJII in Mauhcw. A. Schlatter. Der Enmgelist Mull·
hiiuJ:Seine Sproclzc. Jl!in sd11 Sdbstiilfdigkdt (Stuugan: Calwer. 6th odn. 1963). pp. 282- 3. hns
shown that Matthc:w'schoKc ofthis lcnn is no1 surprisinggl\'en !he fact thnt O:o&un:iv and O:o&nn)S
belong to Mnlthcw's \'otabulary (~11. I 0.8: 25.36. 39).
52. Cf. Gundry. The Use q( tlw Old TeJtumt·m in St. M(Jttflcw 's GoJJJt.>/. p. I 09: l) .;wics and
Allison. The Go.fJ><'I .4c•<TJtding JiJ Suint ,\.lutrl~<.•w. p. 37.
53. Ao:jX'iv with tile meaning •to take away• c.nn be: found in Mt. 5.40 and 15.26.
54. The LXX translates Mil with Ao:1.1f3&vw in lsn. 40.24~ 41. 16: 57. 13.
55. vOoos- appears in MI. 4.23. 24:9.35: 10.1.
56. In tile LXX. v6oos is nen:r used ns n translation of~~~-
57. f3ao-tci:~fl\l wilh the. meaning 'lo bring awa y' nJso appears in MI. 3.11.
58. Cf. G. A. Oc-issmnnn. Bible Siudie.e ComributioltSc!liejlyfrom PopJTi(f"fld hucriplions Ju 1/w
Hiswry o/111~ lAnguage, the Lit!!rature, undlht> Rrligio11 ofNellcmi.wicJ11daiJm ami Pn'miti,·e C/uiJti·
anity (tr.,ns. A. Grien:: Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1901). pp. 102- 3.
59. Cf. Gundry. Tlrt· UJt> (}jthr OidTcstammt i11St. Mauhell' 'sGafJ><'I. p. t II . Aquiln 's trnnsla1ion
of 'r.lo with !XtoTCX<w in lsu. 53.11 show'S thnt !his is a possible 1"(-ndcring of !his verb.
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 157

Matthe\v' s citation hence does not have any exact parallel in the existing Greek
versions and most likely represents Matthew's own rendering of the Hebrew text
oflsa. 53.4.60 ft is apparent that Matthew exercised great freedom in adapting the
quotation of lsa. 53.4 to his desired purposes. Krister Stendahl called this method
ofquoting Scripture a 'targumizing procedure'. which is certainly a suitable term
for ?l.<fatthew's cilation technique.61 By staying close to the sense of the Hebrew
text Matthew was able to apply the citation to Jesm;' healing activity. The tCI'Il\S
O:oeivucx and vOOos.which are found together only in Matthew's translation, link
the quolation finnly to ils new context. Even though they do not explicitly appear
in Mt. 8.16. for which the citation of lsa. 53.4 provi~es scrien~!·al justification,
they belong to the same semantic. field as the phrase TOU) KO:KW) £XOVT«) ("those
who were sick') which immediately precedes the qu9tation. This conclusion is
further supported by the observation that the te-rm VOOOS' appears in other sur-
roundingsummaries of Jesus· healing minislry, such as rvtt. 4.24 (teal rrpoorivey-
KOV aUT~ rrO:vras roUs KaKc.3) fxovras- rtOIKI)\o:l) vOoot)- ' and they b1·ought
him all the sick who were afflicted with various diseases ~), which directlY. associ-
ates v6oos and rous KOK~ h;ovros, and Mt. 9.35 (Kat IT€pt~yw 'il)OOUS' o
ras ITOA£1S' TlQOCXS' KOt TOS' KUl~OS' .. . 9opcx IT!UUlV naocxv vooov KCXt naocxv
IJO:Aoxlav - 'and Jesus went about all the cities and villages .. . healing every
disease. and every infim1ity' ). On tJ1e other hand, Matthew's choice of the verb
~aorci~cu moves the sense of the quotation in the Matthean context away from
the sense. it has in Isaiah 53. Unlike tJ1e servant of YalnveJ\, who carries the
infirmities of others on his own person, Jesus carries away the infirmities of the
sick that are brought to him. He is not a sick person himself, but a mighty healer
who remove.s the sicknesses of others.~
The citation of Isa. 53.4. however, is linked up to its new context not only
through what it says. but also through what it does not say. It is ve1·y significant
to notice that Matthew stops sho11 of quoting the text that follows in Isaiah: ·yet

60. Cf. Stendahl. Tire School ufSI. Mollhew. p. I07: li. J. HeM. 'Matthew us lnlerprete-r of the
Mirode Stori~-s' . in G. Bomkamm. G. B.mth und H. J. Held (cds). TnJdi/i()l1 trlld lnJerpreMioll itJ
MoJt/rew(truns. P. Scott: London: SCM P~ 1963). p. 259: Gundry. TM lheofJ!te OldTeJtamarl
ill S1. MallIre"' 'sGospd. pp. I09-11: Rothfuc.hs. Die E1jiiflu11gs:ilme<ks Muttlliitts·£1-etJgelimns. pp.
73-4. Differently. Mcnk~·n. ·The Source of thcQuotntion from Isaiah 53:4 in Manhcw 8: 17'. p. 313.
argul!s thai Matlhcw's truns1ation 'docs 001show dear signs of Matthean n:daction'.
61. StendahL nre School ojS1. Mall/tell'. p. 127. In Stmdahl's view. Manhew•s quotations nrc from the.quotations that ha\'C par.tllels in o1hcr Synoptic Gospels. Gundry. The Use oj1/w
01</Tntoment ;, S1. Mauhew'J Gospel. pp. 155-9. hns shown. howe.vcr, that n mixed te-Xt·fonn of
scriptural citations c-nn be found in aJJ groups of ~tjc. quotntions.
62. A diff«enl view is endorsed by Gundry. wflo argu~'$ that 'the Matthacan context requires
remo\'al only from thc.sic.kto Jesus. bt1t not nsubsequent taking away' (The Usafthe OldTe.ftomem
ill S1. MatthewS Gospel. p. Ill). The~ is no e\'idcnce. however. that ~fatthcw wants to suggest thnl
Jesus took O\'Ct the infinniti..-sof others on hintsdf. Ralhcr. as l~ ooker notes. 'the words arc applied
only in a very loose s~·nsc to Jesus: for while he-cured those who suffered. he did noc tnmsfc-r their
ailmcniS to himselr (Jesus and the Ser•am. p. .!1-3): see nlso 0 . Hill. 'Son and Servant: An Essay on
Matthcnn Chrislology' .JSNT6( 1980). 9: Men};en, 'The Soon:e oftbc.Quotation from ls.1i11h 53:4 in
MatthewS: I&'. pp. 323-4.
158 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

we accounted him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted• (iijit01 O"ii~"' ii;:jO
~i); 'liil~iZ.V'I D~:~1 in (sa. S3.4b f\.~1); ':n~ we confidered ,h h~l to be i1~ trou,ble.
tn blow(s). and tn Iii-treatment" (K<XI nPHS tAOYIOO:ptBa O:UTOV tTV<XI tV ITOVW
KO:l £v rrAny(i Kal £v KO:KWotl in lsa. 53.4b LXX). Both versions of lsa. 53.4b
emphasize the suffering of the servant which is entirely absent from the Matthcan
context Furthennore, Matthew also stops short of quoting Lc;a. 53.5. which in both
versions, the MT f But he was wounded for our transgressions. he was crushed
for our iniquities; upon him was the-punishment that made us whole, and by his
bruises we are healed') and the LXX ('But he was wounded because ofour law-
lessness and has been weakened because of our sins: the discipline of our peace
was upon him: by his bi'Uise we were heaJed"). interprets the suffering of the se-r-
vant as a substitutionary suffel'ing on behalf ofothers. T1le reason fo1·this omission
is quite. apparent: in the Matthe;m context, the idea of Jesus' vicarious suffering
plays no role. At this point of his ministry, Jesus neither suffeJS nor bears the
sufferi ng ofothers.63 Matthew interpret~ the p1'0phecy oflsa. 53.4 neither as vicari-
ous sutrering nor atonement fo1·sin, but as elevating the suffel'ingof others caused
by illnesses.
Has Matthew thereby falsified ' the intention of the original context', bec-ause
'the application of lsa. 53.4 to healing miracles is not really appropriate'?~
Davies and Allison that ' it cannot be rightly said that the New Testament
verse captures the true sense of the OT text' . and ask, 'Can Matthew be delivered
from the charge of eisegesis?' 65- ls, in view of such a critique, ' the pi'Oper Chris-
tian understanding of this verse .. . the atoning efficaC}' Ofthe Passion', so that
an interpreter must ·relate Christ's healing mi racle~~ to his total work of redemp-
tion~. as LindaJS suggests?G~> The survey in the previous section has shown that
this was not the way Matthew's Jewish contemporaries 1·ead Isaiah 53. Rather,
they we1·e able to refer to individuaiJXH1ions of this song without much regard for ove-rall context and have shown little, if any. interest in the rede-mptive
suffering ofche servant If so, Matthew's application ofls.a. 53.4 to Jesus' healing
ministry is neither an exception nor a falsification of its original intent. Matthew
made. use ofonly that paJ1 oflsa. 53.4 which was able to illuminate his narrative
about Jesus' healings. The po1tions of (saiah 53 that are not quoted, such as the
references to the.vicarious suffering of the servant of God, we1-e inten-
tionally omitted because they had no l'elevance in the ne-w context into which the

63. Cf. U. lux. ,\/att/U'w 8-lO(Irsns. J. E. Crow: h.: Hc:mlcnc:ia: Minneapolis: Fonress Press.. 200 1).
p. 14. Diffcrendy. W. Caner. Mattb!!..- (tlrd tilt' Margin.f: A !i«Wpo/iti<ul und Religiou.f Reading
(Mnryknoll: Orbis Boob.2000). p. 106. argues lhat 'this citnlion.nppfied to Jesus. d oims thai God
works in the: midsl of impcrinl power und tm iblc sickness through lc:sus. He: is God's servant or
agenl. one who suffers on bdtalfof and for the bcndit of God's people:.'
64. Und:us. Neh' Tesfumf!nt Apologetic-. p. 154. In Lindars' ''iew.this \'Crsc: ·dots noc mean thllt
Jesus cut~-d diseases. but thlll he bore: them himself'.
65. Oavi<s and Allison. T!w GoJpel.4ccording to Suint Matthew. p. 38.
66. Lindars. Ner..• Tes/Ument Apologetit:. p. 154. See also Stuhlln.'lcbc:r. ·1s.1iuh 53 in the Gospc.Js
and ACis'. pp. 157-S. Stuhlmadtcr rends thc:-quotnlion oflsa. 53.4 in Mt. S.J 7 inconnwion with lhc
quotation ofls!l. 42:.1-4 in MI. 12.17-21.nnd cond udc:s that both c-itations rc-fc:t to Jesus' redemptive
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 159

quotation was embedded.67 Hooker has probably overstated her case when she
concluded that • if the very quotations which would, used in cert;.lin contexts.
make abundantly evident the identification o f Jesus with the Servant who by his
suffering expiates the sins of others are instead used only o f his work in other
spheres. then this is strong evidence that such an identific-ation was never made,
either by Jesus or by his earliest followers' .6~ Even though, in my view, the cita-
tion oflsa. 53.4 in ?\·ft. 8.1 7 cannot be taken as decisive evidence that Jsaiah 53
was never associated with redemptive sutTering by Jesus himself or in primitive
Christianity~ it ce11ainly shows that it did not have to be associated with this idea
unless such correlation was required by the context In Matthew. Jesus' healings
are not d irectly associated with his suffering. Rathe-r. they comprise a signific--ant
part of Jesus' public minisuy through which he expresses compassion for his con-
temporaries, because ·they were harassed and helple$S, like sheep without a
shepherd' (Mt. 9.36b) .
.l\·latthew's decision to use Isa. 53.4 ;15 a scriptural basis of Jesus' healing min-
istry is thereby still not explained. Isa. 53.4 was certainly a suitable passage for
the purpose of showing that Jesus took away the infiml itie$ of the sick. but one
still wonders why Jesus' healings needed scriptural justification at all. Donald Juel
points out that 'Christians did not search the whole of the Scripture for passages
that struck them as paralle-ls to Jesus' career or as possible lbreshadowings. There
was more logic and order in their movement through the Bible.·~ I propose that
the answer to this question should be sought in the overall chaJ'acte.r of Jesus'
healing ministry. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus' healing miracles have a messianic
9uality. '!hey are 'lot j ust act;; ofcompassion. but ' the works of the f'.·fessiah ·(tO:
tpya rou XPIOTOUin f'-·t t. 11.2), as Matthew explains to the reader while recount-
ing the e.pisode about John lhe Baptist. who he.ard about Je.sus' miracles but could
not conclusively perceive their messianic significance. Mol-eover~ Jesus' identity
as the Davidic Messiah is closely linked to his healings. On several occasions. he
is either addressed by the messianic title ' Son ofDavidt when the sick approach
him asking for a cure (Mt. 9.27-31 : 15.21 -28; 20.29-34), or his healings provoke
a question concerning his me.ssianic identity: ·can this be the Son o f David?'
(Mt. 12.22-24). If so, the citation o flsa. 53.4 in Mt. 8.1 7 appears in a new light.
h offers a scriptural proof that Jesus heals the sick in his capacity as the Davidic
Messiah. Since, at the.end of the miracle cycle in Matthew 8- 9, Jesus is addressed
by the 1\vo blind men with the messianic title ·son of Da vid ' ~ the quotation of
Isa. 53.4 c-an be understood as the preliminary him which Matthew offers to his
reade1·s concerning the messianic significance of Jesus· healings.
The Targum of Isaiah shows that by the time of the composition of?.,•latthew's
Gospel. the fourth se1·vant song was read in some Jewish circles as a messianic
text. It should be stressed, however, that the messianic reading o fthis poem was
just one among several diO''erent possibilities. We cannot therefore speak about ·a
Messianic intention be.hind the Se.rvant passages' and ·a recognition of that

67. Cf. l uz. Mmthew8-10. p. 14.

68. Hooker. JeJtu and the SetYOIII. p. 83.
69. Jud . Mm kmic E:u.oge.\·is. p. 130.
160 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

intention from the beginning'~ as Gundry proposes.10 The messianic potential of

Isaiah 53 was recognized only in some reading communities, pl'esumabl)' those
that linked their messianic hopes to certain individuals, such as Bar-Kochba 11 or

4. The Underlying Principle ofthe :\lfessianic lutcrprelatiou of

Isaiah 53.4 in Mallhet.o,•
T11e scriptural warrant for Matthew's identification of the servant with theMes-
siah can be fou nd in several biblical passages in whid1 the messianic figure is
called God's ser\'ant. Two parallel statements in Ps. 89.39-40. for example. juxta-
pose ·your anointed' (1n·\tio) and ·your servant' (j1:..D), thus closely associating
the two. The messianic passage in Zech. 3.8 comprises the promise that God is
going to bring ·my servant the Bmnch· (iiO!l .,:.D}.n The messianic promise in
2 Bar. 70.9, which assei1S that ·all will be into the hands ofmy se,·vant.
the Anointed One·. further indicates that the juxtaposition of both designations
was quite common by the end of the first centuryCE.
Yet. similar to the Targum of Isaiah, t:his link only provides the basis for
Matthew's messianic reading of Isaiah 53. Othe1· texts, especially those that
infom1his understanding of Jesus as the Davidic Messiah. seem to have played a
more significant role in his application oflsa. 53.4 to Jesus. In view of the fact
that the. messianic title "Son of David', which J!.•latthew finnly links to Jesus'
healings, is attested in pre-Christian Judaism only in the Psalms ofSolomon, its
influence on Matthe.w's Gospel could have been quite p1·otbund. ln fact. it is m·gu-
able that l\·latthcw's choice of the temt O:o9cvclo: as the rendering of~ ;n~ which is
not attested in any other existing Greek version. might have been influenced by
Pss. Sol. 17.38-40. In this passage. the expected Son of David is described as a
caring shepherd, who will not let any ofhis flock weaken (ao9£vnocu) (17.40).
He himself will be "strong in his actions· (17.40) becaw;e "the blessing of the
Lord will be with him in strength. and he will not ·weaken' (Kal oUKboSnrr)oEI)
( I7.38). Such an UJlderstanding of the Messiah is certainly closer to f\·1atthew's
portrayal of Jesus as a mighty healer than the servant from Isaiah 53 who takes
on himself the infirmities of others.
This description of the Son of David as a compassionate shepherd of his
people resembles the description of the ideal Davidic king in Ezek. 34.23-24.
The fact that in this passage this ideal king is called twice •my servant David'
(i"'li ~i:!iJ)H could have provided the most direct link betwee.n the Davidic

70. Gundry. 11•e UJe ofthe Old Testamer/1 ill St. Mut1ltew's Gospd. p. 230.
71. Cf. Adna. 'The Strvum of lsaiuh 53 as Triumpllun1and Interceding Messiah·. p. 197.
72. The ·brunch' melaphor is u common d~ ignution for a D.widK: Messiah in the Oeud Sea
Sc.rolls.. 4Q252 (4QCommGen A) 5.3-4 identifies 'the righteous Messiah IJ'1~ii n ·c:o) with 'lhc
BranchofOa\·id• (1'1- liC~ ): 4Q 174 (4QFior) frgs l - l and 21 1. 10-11 inlerprct God's promise to
David from 2 Sam. 7.13-14 in term!> of 'the. Brnnch of David' (1'-.r 110'!:!:) who will uppcur in the
latter days: cf. Novakovic. MeJ.da!J. I IIi! Hea!eJ· ofli•e Sick. pp. 16-19.
73. The d::signa.1ion ·m)' servant David' is frcqucndy opplicd to King David: 2 Sam. 3. 18: 75. 8:
NOVAKOVIC Jt1attllew 's Atomistic l.h;f! ofScripture 161

Messiah and the servant of Isaiah 53, which informed Matthew's messianic
interpretation o flsa. 53.4. fn Ezekiel 34, the-ideal Davidic king is prese-nted as a
benevolent shepherd who takes care of his flock, unlike the current leaders of
Israel who take care only of themselves (Ezek. 34.2-3). The shepherd/sheep
metaphOI's enable the prophet to describe the neglected people as weak (r 11'x1:ii~
i)o9EV11K05 [LXX]), sick (;;'m;; ; KO:Kc.)s EXOV [LXX]), injured, and loS! (Ezek.
34.4}. Even though these de.scriptions are not explicitly repeated later in the
chapter when the ideal Davidic king is introduced. they are CCJ1ainly implied.
Tite Davidic king will be the perfect shephe-rd who will tend his wounded flock.
Ezek. 34.23 explicitly fuses the metaphor of the shepherd with the David/servant
link: ·1will set up over them one shepherd FUJi; ITOt~iva [LXX]). my servant
David(,,,, ,,:lil: TOV OOUAOV~ov Llaut5 [LXX}). and he will shepherd them.'
Mattlte\v's portrayal ofJesus as a he-aler who takes away the diseases and infir-
mities of the people is profoundly shaped by this image ofan ideal shephe-rd. In the
closing sunmlaJy of the miracle collection in c.lts 8- 9, Matthew explains that Jesus'
t~ching. preac.hil~g a~d ' healing eye1y disease and every infimtity' (ae:po:rrsUwv
no:oav vooov Kat rro:oav JIOAOKtav) (9 .35) are. the expressions of Jesus ' com-
passion tOr his afflicted contemporaries, 'bec-ause they were harassed and help-
less. like sheep without a sheP.herd' (OTI ~oav SOKUA~ivot KtX·, ipp1~~ivo1 W<lsi
rrpo~o:Ta uh £xovTtX ITOI ~iva) (9.36). The metaphor of a shepherd is also
explicitly linked to Jesus' !'Ole as a healer in Mt 15.24, where Jesus explains to
the Canaanite woman that he is sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel
(OOK 0IT€OTaAqv si ~n sis TCx ITpO~tXTIX TCx ITOAWAOTIX OtKov' lopo:i)A).'' In
Mr. 2.6, which conflates Mic. 5. I and 2 Sam. 5.2, God's promise to David that he
will shepherd his people lsrae~is directly applied to the expected Messiah of the
Davidic line ('ooTI5 rrot~tXVEt Tov Xo:ov ~ou Tov' lopaqA). 11lese references
suggest that Jesus fulfils the role of an ideal shepherd, the j>J'omised Messiah from
the Davidic line, by healing his people. tvtatthew 'concretizes this OT metaphol" 15
by oscillating between its literal and metaphorical implications, which enables
him to apply it directly to Jesus' ministry of healing.

5. Conclusion
The p1·eceding analysis has shown that Matthew's choice oflsa. 53.4 as scriptumI
justification of Jesus· healing ministry is guided by his desire to show that J esus ~
healings belong to his messianic duties. By employing two interpretative tech-
niques, messianic and atomistic exe.gesis. f!.·fatthew facilitates a textual interplay
between the servant of Isaiah 53, the portrayal of tlte ideal Davidic king in Eze-
kiel34, and the depiction of the Davidic Messiah in the Psalms ofSolomon 17.
T11e scriptural warrant for this complex process can be fo und in

I Cluon. 17.4. 7: I Kgs I 1.32: 14.&: 2 K~ 8.19: 19.34: 10.6: lsu. 37.35: Ps. 89.3. 20.11tis idiom is
applied to the idcuJ Da\'idtc king only in the Book or Ezekid : Ez~~k. 34.23-24 und Ezck. 37.24.
74. cr. a simil:u comrnand gi\'cn to the discipk s in ML 10.6.
75. F. Murlin. ' The lmagc or shepherd in the Gospel of Saint Mallh<w'. 5<& 27 (1975). 177.
162 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Ezek. 34.23, which provides the verbal link between the te-rms 'shephe-rd',
·servant' and ' David'. This hermeneutical method is based on a simple principle
that ·Scripture interprets Scripture', which characterizes many early Jewish and
Christian texts. This notion presuppo..c;es that the meaning of a certain passage is
neither fixed nor inseparable from its context but be detennined. if needed. in
light of another passage. Yct, which scriptural tc.xt provides a key
foranothe.r scriptural text is in many cases t:1.r from being obvious. To uncover
this interplay of texts ' behind the scene' frequently requires a tedious and, by its
very nature. tentative process of reconstruclion.
Textual interpretation never happens in a vacuum but is guided by a number
of preconceived notions of a reading community. I propose that in this case.
Matthew's messianic reading oflsa. 53.4 in light ofEzekiel34 was induced by
his prio1· conviction that Jesus was the expected D:.widic Messiah.7' This belief
infom1ed his selections of texts with potentially me.s:sianic implications. The
fourth servant song was certainly prone to such a reading, as the Targmn of Isaiah
clearly demonstrates. If so. Matthew's atomistic reading oflsa. 53.4 and its appli-
cation to Jesus' messianic healings. with no referenc.e to his t•edemptive.sufferi ng,
are no longer surprising but represent a legitimate, and quite plausible, reading of
this portion of Scripture.

76. Cf. Jud . Messianic £.n:gesis. p. 13 1.




Andries G. van Aarde

I. lntroducliou
When one.explores the ' intertexf in which the word O~<U is used in the Gospel
of Matthew {1.21c; 8.25; 9.20-22; 14.24; 16.25: 19.23; 24.14: 27.39-40. 41-43,
49). tvl:ttthew's presentationof JeslL~ as the ·Hea l er-~·1essiah ·becomes intelligible.
Several scholars have~ however~ cautioned that us ing the. concept o f· inrer-
texnlality' merel}' as a new label for what used to be called historical-critical
approaches can be problematic. These historical approaches were employed to
study texts and their intra-, inter- and extra-textual relationships, focusing on
assumed authorial intention. The emphasis was on a diachronic analysis of an
authol"s use ofGallungen and text types (genres}, sources, uaditions, motifs and
the transmission history of motifs and their social locations, as they become
visible in the redactionaJ and compositional tende.ncies ofauthors who were inevi-
tably embedded in their own social settings.
Eve-n when exegetes shifted their emphasis from a diachronic analysis of a
text's history to a synchronic explanation of the immanent poetics of a text (such
as its nat•tative constitttents}, they wen;- often tempted to recycle only old insights
and approaches d isguised in the vocabulary of a postmodem thesaurus. So, tbr
example, in the I970s, in some literary-critic--al studies by Gospel scholaJ's (such
as the studies by Kingsbury}) 1 tem1s such as composition c.riticism and redaction
criticism merely renamed ~narrative criticism·. Later) clearer distinctions
were made by scholars such as NonnaJl R. Petersen 2 and Jack D. Kingsbury~
between literary-critical and approache-s to a text Kingsbury. for

I. J. 0. Kinp,buty. Mauhew: Structure. Christology. Kingd(}m (Philadelphia. PA: Fonrcss.

2. N. R. Petersen. ·The Composition of Mnr\: 4: 1-8'. HTR i3 ( 1980). 185-6: idem. ''
Criticism for New T'-'$.lament Criti-cs'. in R. A. Spc:nc<r(c:d.). OrientaJiqn by Di.rorirmfolton: Studies
in Liu>rmr Crilt'ism und Bihlrcal Lirerory Criticism- Presmtcd i11llon(}r ufH'illium A. BeanMec
(P i tt~burgh. PA: Pit·kwi<k.
1980). pp.15- 50.
3. J. 0 . Kingsbury. Matthew lU SJury (Phibddphia. PA: Fortress. 1986).
164 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

example. state-S that 'litermy criti<·ism stands apart from the historical-biographical,
the tbrm-critical. and the redaction-critical approaches to Mauhew· ...~
Similarly. within the ·guild' of biblical scholarship it seems as though • inter-
te.xtuality' has become a mere synonym for tradition c.riticism and fom1 criticism.
In this regard a caw!al from literary critics to biblical scholars should be heeded.
In his essay 'Presupposition and htte11extua l i ty~. Jonathan Culler states: 'The
study ofinte11exn1ality is thus not the investigation of source..~; and influences as
traditionally conceived; it casts its net wider to include. anon}•mous discmsive
prac.tices, codes whose-origins are lost, that make possible the signifying practices
of later texts.·s
When they used a historic--al-critical paradigm: sc-holars have tended to
focus on questions pertaining to the evolutionary making of a document. They
have not really been particularly intere..~ted in the composition of the literary end-
product. Even when a exegete did examine the stniCtlll'e and
compositionof a document. suchexegesis would usually consist ofquestions about
the redaction or editing that gave rise to the creation of a ' new· document. Such
exegeses tended to concentrate on the history ofdocuments, more than anything
else. A historical-critical investigation typically focused on questions aimed at
establishing by whom a document was written, to whom it was addressed, and
when and where it was written. Such an investigation presupposed that insight
into the hislorical process of producing a document could assist the exegete in
finding answe1·s to questions regarding c-ause and etlect - and the discovery of
this evolution would assume that the process would make it possible to ascertain
I he meaning of the document
This chapter aims to explore and to apply two ·Jimited approaches to intertex-
tuality' ~as Culler calls them.t. Theone pertains to ·me specific presuppositions of
a g iven text, the way it produces a pre-text, an intertextual space whose occu-
pants may or may not correspond to other actual texts". (n this regard1 the ·given
text' is Matthew's Gospel. T11e ·second ente.rprise", according to Culler. is ·an
account of how texts create presuppositions and hence pre-texts for themselve-s·.1
The forme1·enterprise.eJltails exploring intertextuality at the synchronic level. and
the latter examines inte1·textuality at the diachronic level. The second ente1·prise
entails an engagement with all 'pragmatic presuppositions, the conve.ntions of
discourse, and the sedimentation of priot· texts designaled by 'inte1·textuality".ll
In this chapter, the ·pragmatical presuppositions· concern a discussion ofwhat
Gerard Genette refers to as types de relations transtextuel/es (kinds oftranstex-
tual relationships) and what Ulrich Luzcalls the ""Enzyklopiidie" des ..tutorsoder
Er.sth•sers' (encyclopaedia of the author or the first/original reader).9 The

4. Kingsbury. Matt/u-w as Stmy. p. I.

5. J. Culle-r. 'Presupposition and tntcncx•uality'. in J. Culler. The Purs11it ofSigm:
St•mioti<s. l.ileral/lre, Deconslrllrtion (JthaCII. NY: Cotnd l Univcrsit)' Pn'SS. 200 1). p. 103.
6. Culler. ' Prcsuppo~ition and lntcncxtuality'. p. 118.
7. Culler. 'Presupposition and lntcrtcxtuality'. p. tIS.
S. Culler. 'PKsupposition and tntcrtc..xtualiiy'. p. 118.
9. G. Gen~':ltc. Polimpsestes: I.a /iuenru're 011 .f«rmd ckgrV (Pnris: Seuil. 1982). p. 8.: U. l uz.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 165

synchronic dimension involves the ' inte1text11al space, in which specific 'occu-
pants' (in this case, f\·fatthew's intended readers) could be addressed by the 'pre-
texts' of the word ocJ~<.V.
The chapter consists of three parts. The first represents a concise re.f!ection on
criteria and methods relevant to an investigation of inte-rtextuality: the second
exemplifies the "encyclopaedia' of Matthew' s intertextuality: and the third dis-
cusse.s the 'p1·e -texts' of the various occurrences of the word ocJ~(,.) in Matthew.

2. Criferia aud i\ttellmds

With regard to an investigation into Matthew's 'inte11exts' . the ' texts' behind his
use of the word oc.)~w. one should also remember that, according to John Dominic
Crossan. ·crileria. no matter how good. do not constitute a me/hodtulless they are
organized on some theoretical basis into some operational syste.m that can be used
by anyone' .16 A brief theoretical reflection on the notion of · inte1·texn1ality' is
therefore essential to this chapter.
lnte11extuality looks at the ·making' of a text, and both its composition and
message, from a radically difYerent aJlgle than historical criticism does. The fbi-
lowing precis by Jonathan Culler expresses something of this novelty: ·tnteltex-
tuality thus becomes less a name. for a work's relation to pm·ticular prior texts
than a designation of its participation in the discursive space ofculmre. ' I I From
this perspective. a text is not a configuration of language. symbols as such, but
mther a complex language.symbol witllin a OOit.'l-tellation oftexts. Essentially. lan-
guage is a product of sociological interaction. The social context can be 1·egarded
as the mechanism 1hat generates texts. Eve1y text reflect.:;. the social context from
which it is communicated. Danow quotes a remark from the work ofUspenski
and Lotman with important intertextual implic--ations: "A text can only be undel'-
stood if it is compared extensively with the-culture, or more precisely with the
behaviour of the people contemporary witll it; and their behaviour likewise
only be made sense of ifit is jlLXtaposed with a large.numberoftexts.' 12 However,
social context is an indirect. mther than a di1·ec.t. ·mechanism· behind the genera-
tion of texts. It is people who are directly responsible tb r the production of texts.
This does not imply that historical criticism has no1 contributed to the. under-
standing of the ·inteltextuality' ofa text (such as Matthew' s text). h also does not
mean that historical criticism•s concern with sources prior to the production ofa
text is irrelevant when Matthew is ;juxtaposed with other texts·. However. his-
torical criticism does not constitute the exegetical paradigm of an intertextual
appi'Oach. Therefore~ the study of the intertextuality of Matthew l'equires an

'ln!C"rtcxtuaJitiit im Mnuhaus~''angdium' . Paper rend to the Gospel of Matthew S¢minar, Studiorum

No\·i Testam('nti Societas. 57th Q(tlcral Meeting. Bonn, Gcrmony, :29 July- 2 August1003.
10. J. D. Cross.1n. The RinllofChristilmity: D&t'Ol<ering What Napp""ncd ittthf! YearJ lmm~-diatdy
afier the £.wx ution ofJesus (San Francisco: HorpcrS:t.nFrancisco. 1998). pp. 143. 145.
II. Culler, ·Presupposition and lntcrtc-..xtu:dily'. p. 103.
12. D. K. Dnnow. ' lotman and Uspcnsky: A Perfusion of Mock·-ls'. Semi01ica 64 ( 198i). 351.
166 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

acknowledgment ofa frame o f reference with which scholars approach this con-
cept today. It means donning a differen t thinking cap, while not disregarding
previous scholarship.
For example, Ulrich Luz asserted that. in his exe.g etical, historical and herme-
neutic work. he isgrmut~titzliclt (fundamentally) inteJ-ested in intertextuality as a
source of a model in terms ofwhich an author's ideology and technique- what he
calls the Art uud Welse (nature and manner)- of using "intertexts ·can be uncov-
ered.13. To Luz, there are ways and means to identify and investigate germane
inte11exts methodically so that the process occurs in a scholarly, controlled man-
ne-r. It also remains on the level of reception aesthetics that the task of herme-
neutical work is to assess ditTercnt receptions ofa text by evaluating them within
the constraint'>ofthe text itself. In other words, the CJ'UXof the matter is the ques-
tion whether the idenrjfied intertext is really connected to' s intention
and whether the method used in identifying this intertext is properly applied.
It therefOre makes good sense to note Stefan Alkier's distinction between, on
the one hand, a ' restricted" and an ' unlimited' conception ofinte11extuality.1J On
the other hand, he distinguished between the. phenomenon of producing texts
and the practiceofrec.eiving texts. In the first distinction, the tem1 · intertext' is a
synonym for culture. in general. as opposed to an ' intertext' as a c.oncrete text.
T11e second catego1y entails a distinction betwee.n intcrtextuality at either the
textual level of authorial intent or at the level of reader reception. In respect of
the latter distinction. Luz has said that, as a historian and hermeneutics scholar,
he prefers exegesis at tl1e Testeben~ (textual level), that is, the ;level ofauthorial
intent'; and that he would prefer to reduce his interest in tl1e Leserebcne (reader
level). that is, the ' level of reader rece.ption', to the. concrete text. 1.s
Alkier. building on the work of the theorists Charles Sanders Peirce (cf. J. J.
Liszka) and Umbe110 Eco, defined the concept ' text" from a semiotic perspective
by distinguishing between syntagmatic-s. se-mantics and pragmarics.16 In syntag-
marics, texls are regarded as 'signs· related to other "signs'. ln semamics. texls
are seen as ·signs' which signify other signified 'signs'. In prngmatics. texts are
seen as 'signs· related to users. An investigation into these relations can be done
from a text-extemal or a text-internal perspective and each of these points of
view requires two steps in 'semiotic reading'. The first perspective implie.'> an
intratexn1al reading which considers a given text a world in itself, thal is a ·uni-
verse'/'d i scou rse~ consist-ing of·word structures' and· ideology stJ'Uctures'. The
second, according to Eco, pertains to a texfs ·encyclopaedia ~ which provides the

13. Luz. · tntcnc:xtualiliil im Maub.<iusc:\'angdium•.

1~. S. Alkicr. ·From Text to lnlc:rtc:tt: lnt«texJualit)· as a Paradigm for Rending Muuhc:w'.
Hen·ormde Teologisf! Studies 61 (2005). 2.
15. l uz. · tntcrte.xtualitilt im Matth."iusevanbo.clium•.
16. C. S. Pcin:c. Collert.-dPU(H'rs ofC/Jarles Peirtt. Volume Y (Cambridge. MA: Harvard lini\'c:t·
sily Press. t934): 1. J. Liszka. .4 GenerallntrodiKticn to the Semeiotic ofCiwrles Somkrs Peirre
(Biooming1on: lodiana University Press. t996). pp. 9t-2: U. Eoo. The Role ofthe Reader: f.rplora-
tiotls ill the So!miotic.~· ofTe.vts (Bloomington: tndiuna Uni,•crsily 1984). p. 14.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 167

reade.r with the knowledge o fcuhural codes (such as political, geographical and
social codes) to interpret the text by filling in the blank spaces of a given text. 11
Atler reflecting on Julia Kristeva ·sand Roland Barthes's dictums. 111 Luz com-
mented: ·rntertextualitllt ist also letztlich nicht anders als die textliche Gestalt, in
der sich Kultur, Geschichte und Gescllschaft in Texte eingra\•ieren [Ultimately,
inh!'J1exmality is nothing other than the textual foml in which culture, histo1y and
society engrave themselves on texts)' .19 This quotation reveals that the exp1·es-
sion '1!!.\'//iche Gestalt' (textual fonn) denotes ·texture', interwoven with culn1re.
history and society. These three notions provide the conscious and subconscious
echoes that J'eveal the world of either the author or the reader at a diachronic or
synchronic level of interaction with the text.
lntertexts on tlle first level. that is conscious echoe-s. include lhe sources of the
text that disclose the memories of both the author and the intended readers embed-
ded in these sources. Tiley are.memories that narrate e-ither consciously or implic-
itly the life stories of figures from a sac1-ed histo1y who serve as models of identity
and behaviour for the author ami loJ' the reader(s). (ntertexts on the second level.
that is subconscious echoes. penain to code-s that ae..,thetic theorists have high-
lighted in reception theol'ies.
This chapter focuses on the so-c--alled ·conscious echoes·. This is done by
exploring the ' me-mo1·ies' embedded in Matthew's text and those of its intended
reade1·s through those text-internal signs that r referred to earlier as the text"s
encyclopaedia. In order to accomplish such a goal. codes should be provided for
reading f\·latthew's Gospel within its cultural context. B)• presenting such infomta-
tion I intend to fill in blank spaces so that the of this chapter can follow
my interpretation of Matthew's intention in using the wo1·d ocJ~c.v.
Howeve1·, more theoretical reflection seems necessary to undet·stand what is
meant by the tenn 'encyclopaedia·.

3. The ·Encyclopaedia' o[!Watthew's lnterlextuality

A. Clar!ficaiion of ideas
To recognize the echoesofthe world in which meaning is attributed to a text. the
author and first J'e.aders need to be de-contextualized. This is done by means of a
reconstruction of the authorial intent by distjnguishing between the ·voices o f
sources· and an author"s particular intent. T1lese 'voices' constitute the so-called
encyclopaedia of the document. Here the tbcus is only on the level of the Tc.tte-
bene (text level). that is, on Matthew as author and the.text's intended addressees.
the· Erstleser· (the first OJ' original reade1'S). Thus. the so-called synclll'onic mode
ofapproaching f'.·latthew's language usage. lhat is. focusi ng on the text's rec.eivers

17. Eco. 11Fe Role ofJ!Fe Reoder.

18. J. Kris1cva.. Sim~i<>Jike: Rec!F~rches pour unc .H!moml{l'se (Paris; ScuiL 1969}: R. lktnhcs.
'Tcxtc (theori-c: du)'. in £«yclopoNI/u Uniwr.wrlis. \'OI. 17 ( Paris: Scuil. 19SS). pp. 996-1000:
1-1. ~l i lknnar. Rol(mdBuriluts: E.risf(;lll/iali.\'1/lt'. Semi01id: Ps}'-rll(.l(lll<llys~· (Punlkomma·Rttl:s: Literatuur
en Kommunil:asic: Asscn: Van Gorcum. 1982). p. 53.
19. Luz. · lntcrt~·xtual iliit im r...tntlhausc''angdium·.
168 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

or readers through history to the present day(" Leserebene' [reader level]), is not
explored in this chapter.
The explicated aim ofthe chapter requires clarification with regard to the term
Te.Yiarchtiologie (archaeology of the text). I use this term to refer to an elucida-
tion of the tradition and transmission histOJ)' of the Gospel of Matthew. Such a
study describes the history of the text's ol'igins. lts function is to define the com-
mwtication strategies in the text. If the focus were to be on the text's receivers
and prese-nt-day readet·s, the hermeneutic assumption would be that the text does
not have a precise meaning. Such a readingstrategy would be interested in broad-
ening the scope.of the possible meanings of the text. Although this chapter does
not pay specific attention to reader aesthetic-s. cleal'ly each aspect of the elucida-
tion of Matthew's communication stmtegies presented here reveals some signs of
my subjec-.tive. (re)construction of the text
The study of the ·archaeology of the text· entails an investigation into ·sec-.on-
da.ry texlo;'. Gerard Genette has identified differe.nt types of'secondill)' texts•.:::o
Titis is helpful for recognizing the specific category which is implied when Mat-
thew's ' intene-xntal' perspective is considered, that is, his ;authorial intent'. We
have seen that this can be done by separating Matthew's intent from the 'voices'
ofthe sources he alludes to. These 'voices' are what Genette refers to as (I) the
intertext. (2) the pamtext, (3) the hypertext (4) the hypotext. (5) the architext. and
(6) the metatext.21
In Luz's application of these cate.gories to the Gospel of Matthew, the. tem1
intertcxt 1-eters to the occunence of another text in a specific text (for example~
quotation..<;, copying as plagiarism. and alhtsionsVu In addition to inter/ex/. there is
also what is t•efcrred to as paratext, that is. the occurrence of texts witltin another
text. such as forewords. footnotes. marginal notes and even the title. Then. thirdly,
there is thehypcrtcxl. which refe1·s to the type of text that was produced at1er a
'base text·. the so-called hypotexf. but which is neither taken up into tlte hypotc.YI
as the ·first' text (like an 'inte,·text') nor functions as a commentaty on the ·first·
text (like a ·metatext'). (Virgil'sAeneid. for example, is a 'hype11ext' to the Odys-
sey as ' hypotext'.) An archiwxt refers to a general te-Xt type which serves as a
model for othe.r texts, that is a Gal/rmg (genre). Finally, there is the so-calle-d
metatexl, which is a text such as a commentaJy, which should be distinguished
from the 'Grundtexl ' (hypote.YI).

B. Atfatthcw 's Secoudmy Texis

Met(l(ext. To begin with the last category mentioned. namely metatext, the general
scholarly assumption is that the Markan tl'adition served as the framework for
~·1atthew to which material from Qwas added. This assumption raises the question
whether the Gospel of Mark should be seen as Matthew's hypotext ('Grundtext ')

20. Gcn~'tte. PalimpseJit!.f. pp. 7- 16.

21. Gcn~11c. PalimpJe.des. pp. 7- 16.
22. Luz. ' lntcnc:xtualitlit im Matlhausc\'angc:lium·.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 169

and whether Matthew should be read as a ·commentary· on Mark or as a l~}per­

fextto it.
If one deems the Gospel of Matthew a hypertext, that would entail a lesser
degree of independence from Mark - an option which previous scholarship
would not endorse. The first option is more e.asily defended: it implies that the
Gospel ofMatthew as a whole is a nu?IO!tttt, essentially distinguished from lvlark
as hypotext, and that Q is an inte11e.x t taken up in Matthew (and Luke) as its
hypote.\'1 .
If one sees Matthew as a mefalt.•xt (that is, as a ·commentary' on Marie). one
can describe ?vlatthew's contents as comments in the format of an independent
narrative. These ·comments' are based on a diffc!rance between Matthew and
Mark with regard to an evaluation of the disciples· relationship to Jesmt as the
Healer-Messiah. This assessment results from my understanding ofthe narrator's
viewpoint with re.gard to both Jesus' and the disciples· interaction with the
·crowds' in lvlatthew's plot as a story.~~
Thus. seen from the pe1·spective of Matthew's use ofQ, Matthew is simultane-
ously hypotext and metatext. As a diff'erent te.xt which substitutes Mark, Matthew
cre.ates an analogy between Jesus' commission and that of the disciples towards
the ·crowds'. Both commissions are distinctly different to those de.picted in Mark.
In this sense, Matthew se1·ves as a specific kind of'commenta1·y' (that is, a meta-
text) to f!.·(ark. Let me explain my exposition of .Matthew's interaction between
Jesus. the disciples, and the crowds.
Central to Mark's Gospel is the death ofJesus on the cross. Jesus comes into
conflict not only with antagonists such as the elite, but also with the Israelite
crowd (Mk 4. 1-2), those who are supposed to be his fr iends, his family (Mk 3.20-
21, 31-35). and fellow villagers (Mk 6. 1-5). Alienation is reported throughout
Mark and it leads to Jesus' sutlering and eve-ntual death on the cross (Mk 15.25-
4 1). Mark shows that Peter (Mk 8.29-30), the Twelve (Mk 9.33). and the sons o f
Zebedee (James and John) (Mk I 0.35-45) do not undet·stand what God intended.
T11e Gospel of Matthew is about understanding and doing God's will. Comment-
ing on Mark. Matthew changes the roles of both the disciples and the crowd. In
Matthew. the disciples f.11c better lhan in f\·1ark. They do know who Jesus is, but
they have difficulty doing God·swill as Jesus does. The crowd's role in the story
is to demonstrate the message of Jesus, which is God's love for all people. TI1e
disciples are supposed to emulate Jesus. but they display an inability to do so.
Although rvtatthew warns against the teachings of the Pharisees (Mt. 16.5), he
does not advocate a total break with the Second Temple customs (Mt 17.24-27).
Had he taken Mark over as it stands (see for instance Mk 7.14-23; IO.l - 12) - that
is. seeing Mark as inlet/ext and not as hypotext- he. would have defended a break
with Israelite culture as codified in Leviticus I I and De-uteronomy 14 and 24.1. 3.

23. See A G. van Aardc:.• ·Jesus' Mission to All of lsrad Emplotted in ~fatth~·w's Story'. N(-'0-
/estameruiro 4.1.2 (2007}.
170 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Architext. Matthew's texture represents the genre (architc."(/) of a discursive-

biographical Gospe-l type and, as a result. the narrative and argumentative structUI'e
ofthis Gospel is imponant. The Gospel ofl\·fark as Matthew's h)'potext represents
the so-C3lled biogrnphie31 Gospel type. The Gosp<'l of7110mas and Q m·e ·sayings'
Gospels and the Protevangelium ofJames is a discursive Gospel. like Matthew,
the Epistula Apostolorum and the Acts of John are examples of a discursive-
biographical Gospel type.''
An unde-l'standing of tJ1is archifext has importaJlt heuristic consequences for
the unravelling of the communication strategies in ?\•latthew that are concealed
within its texture. consisting of discourse alternating with biographic--al materiaL
The five.discourses of Jesns (Mt. 4.23- 7.29: 9.3tH 1.1 : 13. 1-52: 18.1- 19.1; 23.1-
25.46) mostly contain material from Q as an inter/ext. This fivefold division is
characte-ristic of the concentric chiastic composition of Matthew as a hyp<He~rt in
the light of the fonnula in Matthew 7.28-29; II. I; 13.53; 19.1; 26.1: 'And when
Jesus finish~d these sayings . ... (Kal iyivETO o n h iA£O€V 0 'lnoous TOUS
A6you) TOUTOO$' •••) . This concentric chiastic structure is based on a different
Matthean formula, according to which Matthew is divided into three main parts
(Mt. 1.1-4. 16; Mt. 4.17- 16._20 and Mt. 16.21 - 28.20), m~rk"'! bY, a typically Mat-
thean fonnula: 'From that tune on Jesus began to . - .. (A ITO TOn np~<XTO ...)
(Mt. 4. 17; 16.21).
The five speeches (Mt. 4.23- 7.29; 9.36-11.1: 13.1-52; 18.1-19.1; 23. 1- 25.46)
should therefore be seen in relation to the narrative discom·ses (Mt. 1.1-4.22;
8.1- 9.35; 11.2- 12.50; 13.53- 17.27: 19.2- 22.46: 26. 1- 28.20) which appear along-
side and between them. This combination creates the analogy ben.vee-n Jesus'
commission and that of the.disciples. E-ach narrative discourse links up with the
speech that follows it in an .associative manner, which continues the spiral to the
next narrative discourse and results in the integration of Jesus' commission with
that of the disciples. Both the disciples (Mt. 5.1: 9.37; 10.1; 13.10: 18.1 : 23.1)
and ihe lsmelite crowd (Mt. 4.23-5 1b: 9.35tT.: 13.2f.: 18.2: 23.1 ) are present at
the beginning of each speech by Jesus. These five speeches are directed at the
disciples and have particular relevance to the relationship between the disciples
and the Jewish crowd.

Hypertext as a Comnwuication Stratr?g:yat a Concrete Level. We have seen that

the concept hypertext refers to the type of text that was produced by relying on a
'base text'. In Matthew's case, the base text was the Gospel of Mark. However~ as
has alre-ady been noted, Matthew developed as an inde.pendent narrative with an
autonomous point of view. A consideration of Matthew a.~ a Jwpertext lherefore
entails a reflection on the dominant communication strategy used in Matthew as a
story by meticulously comparing this strategy with that in Mark 's story.
I \VOuld contend that Matthew's narrative point of view is a foc us on God,
who sent J es\L~ as a Joshua figure from Egypt as Mose.s' successor to save Israel.
In other \vords. tJ1e Joshua story actually serves as f'-·1atthew·s h)pertext. However,

24. Sec Crossan, The' BiJ·t/r ofCI!riJtianity. pp. 31--40.

VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 17 1

this doe-$ not mean that the book of Joshua as a specific text among the Hebrew
Scriptures, or any other text in which the Joshua figure from the First Testament
functions as the protagonist, was used as an explicit intcrtt•.\"1 for the author who
produced Matthew's Gospel.
Seen from another perspe.ctive. the term J~yperrext refers to something similar
to what J.-f . Lyotard calls a 'bigstory' .15 but not in the.sense of what Lyotard in a
postmodern context calls an ' incredulity toward metanarrathres' (that is. 'grand
narratives').2' If the Joshua story in the Hebrew Scriptures was the ' big story'
upon which Matthew's author re l ied~ his Jesus st01y would be. in Lyotard's temls.
a 'little story'. From the perspective ofsuch a postmodcrn argument, f'.·fatthew's
' linle stor)" is about the man Joshua whom Mary gave birth to in the Judean
village of Bethlehem. Gina Hens-Piazza quotes Lyotard, who comments: 'You
make up little stories. Or even segments of little stories, listen to them, transmit
them, and act them out when the time is right' .27 Hens-Piazza asks why the tenn
'little story' would be chosen. She finds an answer in Lyotard's explanation:
"Because they are short, because they are not ex(racts from some great histo1y,
and be.cause they are difficult to fit into any great history . . . Histo1y consists ofa
swann ofnm·ratives, narmtives that are passed on, made up, listened to and acted
out; the. people do not exist as a subject . . . ~2s
Here. with history, Lyotard means the history of the 'reigning Westem dis-
course·. However, at the tum of the Common Era, the 'big story' in Jsmel's history
was the expectation of an apocalyptic saviour who would liberate God's people,
in a Joshua-Jvfoses fashion. T1lese people were not regarded as 'subjects' in the
grand narrative of the Pat Romaua. The}' we1·e exploited and forced from their
land - almost like lost sheep without a shepherd. bearing in mind how their own
leaders c~l l a borated with the powerful individuals whose power was enforced by
Rome. As the}' were a people who d id 'not exist as a subject', their voices and
their stories \vould have become unhem·d if it were not for an author who. in his
own words in ~·latthew 13.52, became like a ·scribe tl·ahted for God's kingdom'
and who told his ' little sto1·y' in the light o flsraePs history. lt is, as Lyotard sees,
·a mass of thousands of little-stories that are [at] once futile and serious, that are
sometimes attracted together to tb rm bigger stories, and which sometimes dis-
integrate into drifting ele.ments' .19
Matthew's narrative is not a ' little story·. in the-sense that it deconstructs tJle
Joshua story as a metana1·rative. Anothe1·type ofhistory formed the metanamtive

25. J.-F. lyotllrd. ·Lessons in Pragm.1ticism•. in The L)YJtan:l Rwffl.•r(cxf. A. Benjamin: (rolns. D.
Moccy: Oxrord: Busit Bluck.wc1J. 1989). p. 131.
26. J.-F. lyot11rd. The P{u /modem CcnditiQfl (tram:. G. Brnnington nnd B. Masrumi: Theoryand
History ofli t~"fll turc. 10~ Mi.nnc-npolis. MK: Univcrsily or t\.·linnesota Press. 1984). p. >:>:i\'. Cf. A. C.
Thisdton. ·A Rcltoscpctivc RcappraisuJ: POS«nodernity. l anguagcand Hcmlencuticr:. in A. C. Thisd·
ton (od.). TIJi. wlton j11 ffrrmm~111ks: Tire ColleC'IedWorkr amiNe\!' £Mays ofAnilwny Thisellon Ash·
gate ContempornryThinkcrs on Religion: Colkc1ed Works: Aldcrsbot: As.hgate. 2006}. pp. 667- 71.
27. G. He-ns-Piazza. 'Lyotard'. in A. K. M. Adam (.cd.). Hmrdb{}(lk of Prutmodt·m Bihlictr!
lnterpN!IOiion (St louis..MO: Chulic<. 1000). pp. 164: Lyotard. 'lessons in Pr~lgmnti cism•. p. 131.
28. Lyocard. 'Lcsson:s in Pmgmaticism'. pp. 132- 3. 34.
29. Lyotard. 'Lessons in Pragmaticism'. p. 134.
172 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

o f Matthew's time. Instead, his story about a new-born Joshua deoonstructs the
coalition between fii'St-centtuy Roman Imperialism and Pharisaismas the ·meta-
narrative/grand narrative' of that time. In such a context, the Joshua-Moses story
functioned as a hypenext - a social-cultural context in which the first-ce.nnuy
Pharisaic formative rabbinate. loc-a lized in the authoritative setting of various
synagogues. began to collaborate with the Roman Empire.
Set against this and in the midst o f such a ·grand narrative' , Matthew's 'coun-
ternarrative' was one about anothe1·Joshua-Moses - one who came from Bethle-
hem and not f1·om the ' royal city' of Jerusalem (Mt. 2.4-6). If it is looked at in this
way. Matthew's story constitutes anothet· ' little story' in which the Joshua-Moses
metanarrative forms the Such a hy;xmexl occurs in many texts. These
texls can be regarded as 'intertexts' to each other, but that does not that the
one is delibe.rately take.n up in or alluded to by the othe-r. Othet· ' intenextual'
motifs which also share c,ommon cultural imagery or ideas appear without being
consciously quoted or alluded to from a specific text They are found in differe.nt,
a lthough ' intenextually' related, contemporaneous documents. (n Matthew. the
Joseph tradition is a case in point.lO

30. ll is found. among~t other pl30t$. in the TeJIUhli!IIIS q{the Twe/1-e Patriarch:;(c.g. T. Benjamin
4.2: 4.4d: T. Zebulon6.5: 7.Jf.: T. God2.1: 2.3-4: 4.1·2: 6.3-4. 7). Cf. H. W. Hollandcr.Jo..fephtrJUn
Elhica/ Modt!l in 1/11! T~laments <1/the T•whte Patriarchs (Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pscudepi·
grnpha: Lcidcn: BriJJ, 1981): ~1. W. Skbr. ·The Fighter of Horizons: The Story of JOS('ph as a Mockl
for Sooial aOO Spiritual Rcroocllintion'. MA thesis.. Grnduatc-Theological Union. Bcrkd ey. CA. 1994:
G. M. Zerbe-. Non·R(!taliarion it• E-01·~•' Je\i·isll and Nell' Te.ftammt Texis (Sbc.flldd: JSOT Pn:ss..
1992): A. W. Argyle. 'The lnfluen.:c ofthe Testamcntsofthe Twd\'e Pauiarchs upon dlt N~"'v TcSia-
mcnt•. f.rpT 63 ( 195 1- 52). 256-8: aod in the roJn.'lncc Jo:;cp/• andA:;erwth (e.g.Jo.(.4J (Ph) 15:7-S:
JruAs 17:9 {B)). Matthew shares and mnkes usc.of this tradi1ion in its <kpic:tion not only of Mary's
husband btu also of Jesus. Sec. A. G. \'an Aank ·Jesus aOO Jos~'Ph in ~intthew's Go~I and Other
Tc:tts', Nco1eswmmtica 35 (2000). 1- 21. Altllough Ascnnih's "irginity i~ na. mentioned in lhc
GenC$is account (G~·n. 41 AS. 50). both th~· t13ture of Joseph's marriage to Asennth nnd her ''irginity
were already well known in the fi rst century CE liS widt$pn:ad literary motifs. Sc.e M. Philon¢nl:o.
Joseph et A.mH!Ilt: Introduction. Texte Crilique em Nmes (SPB. 13: Lcidcn: E. J. BrilL 1968): A.
Stnndaninger. Das FmiJ£'nbildimJmktllum derhclleniJiiscllr.·nli!iJ: fin Beitrag mthtmd •:on 'J(J.S(!ph
& As£'1k'lh '(Arbl· iten zur G(:S('hiehte des AnlikenJudcntuln.<; und dl'S Urchrist~·ntum~: Lciden: Brill.
1995). p. 311: C. Burch11rd. Umerst~c-lumgel/ :u Joseph umfA.JeJk'th: OINr/iifenmg·OrtbeJiimmung
( \VUNT. 8: Tiibingc-n: Mohr. 1965). p. 311. Forexnmple. Josephus (JA ii. 9). a pGrnlld toJo:wpll and
A.feruu/J. n:.fers. to their 'most distinguished mnrriagc' and Ascmuh's \'irginity. Cf. R. 0 . ChesnutL
'From Tc:tt to Context: Tbe Social Mntri:\ ofJoseph and Asc~:~eth'. SBL /996. S~minar Pupt?rJ (Atbnta.
GA: Scholars Press. 1996). pp. 285- 302. 11 is th~"l'cfo-re notcwonhy that the ·biblical Joseph's !'~:'Ia·
tionshipwith hisbrothcrscmergcsas thn! p:1n of the-story whic-h is most simibr 10 Josephus' own life'
(compare Jos. Ant. ii. 16 with Jos. Life 314, 306. 333. 3S9. 353). Marcn Niehoffwrites. 'For one reason
or aoothcr. Joseph s.cems to represent for each 113rratc.'r a c«tain Jdealtyp• ( nw Figuu of JtJ~(rplt in
PoJt·BiblimlJe,riJ/1 Literature(Arbe.iteo r.urGC$C'-hichte<ks Antiken Judcntums und dC$ Urchri~tcn·
tums. 16: lciden: BrilL 1992). p. I 06). \Vilh regard to possibk .'Christinn intc1p0lations' in the Te.flo·
mentJ ofthe Twdre Putriurclt~. sec-especially M.l de Jongc-. The TNlamentscfthe Twe/1·1! PalriarriJS:
A SnulytJjnwir Text. CompruitiorwndOrigin (Assen: Gorcwn. 1975). pp. 96- 110: and with n:gu.rdto
Joseph lmdA.Ji!JI<tJI•. scc:.R. M. Price. ' Implied Reader Response and 1he E\"olution ofGenrc.s: Tnmsi·
tionaI Stages Bccwecn dlt Ancient No\·ds ond Apocryphal Acts.•. Hermm1de Teo/q;ise Studies .53:4
( 1997). 909-38. Howe-ver. unlike IX Jonge~ Hollnndcr (p. 10) would :ugue that the TeslnmenJJ ·arc
cmainly not 11 Christian oomposilion'. Ahhough Iam largdy in ognxm::nt with HolloOOcr. it docs not
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 173

1\·latthew's representation of the Joshua motif is trnnsfom1ed into a story about

a choice ofleadership. This choice is c,oncretized in either the people's acknowl-
edgement of 'lnooU} ('Joshua~) as the Davidic Messiah who was commissioned
by God to sa\>e (O~Ul) all of Israel from its sins. o1· in their killing him and
letting their descendants share the responsibility tOr his blood (Mt 27.25). Those
who remain faithful to the; Jaw of the messiah'. which is the ·Gospel of the King-
dom', will live in the presence of the God-wiih-us (Mt. 28.16-20).

Hypc11e.w as a Communication Strategy at mt Abstract Level. Part of our reflec-

tion on the •voices' that constin1te Matthew·s •encyclopaedia' requires us to focus
on the text's intended addressees (the ·£rstleser' ). Matthean scholars usually
locate the discourse in Antioch before the end of the first century CE, 'where he
wrote tOr a church that contained Christian Jews but that was already largely
Gentile Christian in composition' .u Matthean scholars have expounded various
possible scenarios within which the text could be read by its first addressees.
Such a reading scenario could also be re-garded as a type of hypenext, not in the
concrete sense of the word, but at an abstract level.
For many scholars ofa previous generationll, the concept ofa Heilsgeschichtc
(salvation histo1y) has provided a hyper/ext at an even more abstract level than
I'Cading f\·latthew in the context of fi1'St centUJy Antioch}l Hanz Conzelmann's
theory of the salvation-historical approach toward the Gospel of luke appears to

mean thai I deny any Christian interpolation at all. The n:Jercncc-in 1he TeMu.nmll ofJoJeph to the
;lamb of God' born from n \'irgin wbo takes away tbc ·sin of the worM· is inall probnbility socb an
i nl~'1polation. 1'11csc arguments arc the c-oncern of complicllled <kbatcs wi1h regard 10 intracanonicaJ
n:Jatcdness. lhc order of passages rcsuhing from cditorinl ac:ti\·ity. probable and less probable
hypoihescs regarding the da1ing ofdocumcms. the d ustctin.g of ·canonical• groups ofliterature.and
the locations of the audiences of these doc.umc-niS.. and eorpuscs of documcn1s etc.
31. 0. R. A. I-I arc. Maulww: lntt>rpfl!lalion- A Bible ComJIWIFimy}Qr Teoc!Jing and Preoc!Fing
(louisville. KY: 1o1m Kno~. 1993), p. 2.
32. In the prc\·i~•s gcncr:uionofscholars. propon~'fllsoftbc: s!lhation-historical approoch included
G. Barth. ·oas Gcsclzcs,·crstill<inis des E\•angdisten ).faithiius•. in G. Bomkamm. G. Bnnh nnd H.-J.
Hdd (cds). Oberliefenmg undAuJit>gung im MauhiiuJeWtllgdium (Ncukirchcn: Neukirchen Vcrl:.g..
1961. 2nd cdn). pp. 54-154: W. Trilling, Dus wahre lsroel: Swdi£>11 :ur T11eologie des Mmthiius-
J:,•angelimJu (3rd cdn: Miinchcn: KOsc:l l%4): G. Strtcl:cr. /Jw Jlt>g dt!J·Genxhtigkrit: UJFii!fSFKhlllf:S
: ur n,~o/ogiedt·s Maulliius (2nd cdn: GOuingen: Vnnde:nbo«k & Ruprttht. 1%2): R. Walker. Die
Heil.\ges('hichre ime1"S1e11 fwmgelium (GOtti ng~'=tl.: Vandenhoock & Ruprecht. 1967): J. 0. Kin£;>bury.
'The Struc.turc ofMatth~"'v's Gospel and 1-lisConc~,x ofSah•ation-History•. CBQ 35 ( 1973). 45 1- 74:
H. Fr.tnkemOile-. Jalrwebrmd wrd Kin:lle ChriJti: S111die11 zur Form· und Tmdilion.~gesdu'('htc> des
•£vangelirmu· •noc/1 Mallhiius (MUnster. Aschcndorf. 1974). From a rheological pen:pcc-CiR onec.nn
sa)' thut this approuch is less concerned with the characters in M:ttth~·:w's discourse thtin with the
Church·s stnucc before-God and that it looks for lcnsionsbetwccn 'grace• and ·l_sw·. 'judgement• and
·mcrt)·'. and · faith· and ·works'.
33. See. forexomplc. Donald A Hagner 'Matthew: Aposltlte. Reformer. Rc,·ofutionaryT. .ft.ifS 49
(2003}. 193- 208: ef. \V. Caner. Matt!Fell'aml;he Margins: ~t Sodopolilical a11d Rdigious R£>trding
(Maryknoll. NY: O~is. 2000). pp. 14- 29. 36-B: idem. Matt/Few and Empire: Initial Evp/oralions
(H:urisburg. PA: Trinity Pre~ lntemutional. 2001). pp. 9- 53: idem. 'M-Utthenn Christologyin Romun
Imperial Key: ).fauhew 1:I'. in J. Riches and D. C. Sim (005). The Gospel ofMullht>w in its Roman
Imperial Coniex/ (London: T&T Clark. 2005). p. 143.
174 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

have influenced these Matthean scholm·s from the previous ge.ne1·atio n ~ who
worked with an 'older' redactional-critical paradigm.JJ According to this theory,
salvation histo1y is divided into the lhree areas, which can be clearly distin-
guished as the era of fsrael, the era of Jesus and the e.ra of the Church}:.
Salvation histo1y (Heilsg(~'ic!Jicllle!) has functioned as a kind of reading strategy
to interpret rvtatthew from the Pauline (Lutheran) perspective o f an indic--ative-
imperative relation. From an exegetical perspecthrc, it serves to explain the para-
dox between the so-called particular and universal background o f Matthew.J6
Although both Strecker and Walker were influenced by Conzelmann's study of
l ukan salvation history. they differ in respect to certain finer detaHs. Howeve.r~
they agree Lhat three phases c-an be distinguished in Matthew·s salvation histOJ)I:
the prehistory of the Messiah (beginning with Abraham); the history o flsmel's
commission (including the ministry of John the Baptist as the precursor of the
Messiah and Jesus as the ce-ntre point); and the history of the mission to the Ge-n-
tiles (beginning with Jesus' crucifixion and resurreclion, and extending until the
day of God's final judgement).
However, the salvation histo1y approach has not convinced Matthean scholar-
ship at large. This approach sees the history oflsrael as being replaced by that o f
the Church. In Matthew, this does not happen.J.i The turning of the tide does not

34. Hanz Conzclmann. T11t- Tht'ologro/51 Luke(ltllns. G. Buswdk London: Faber & Faber. 1960).
p. 3.J. This ,.;cw has cmued some differences llmong S(holars. but there was som~· conS(nsuson i1by
scholars such as Der Wt•g tier Gerechtigkeit: Trilling. DttJ wullre lsroel: and Walker. Die
Heill·gesdu'chtt' im ersrnr £wurgdium.
35. D. B. Howell. Marthe-or's lnclusire SUn)': A Study in the Namttivt> Rlwtork oftlw First Gospd
(JSNTSup. 42: Shcffidd: JSOT Prcs.s.. 1990). pp. 59- 77.
36. Sltcd:cr (Der Weg JerGt-nYiuigkdt. pp. 45-9. 184-8) bclie\'cs lhatthcdday oflhc Pan>ltJiu is
the main issue in undcrsJanding We salvation history ~:onecpt in Maltbew. As a malu'toffact. Matdt~w
did compose a life of Jesus wiW cs.:hntological rclevan~:e pertaining to thcprcscribod way of righteous·
ness in the historyofsah'alion. According 1oJ. P. r..kicr(·Salvation-Hinory in Matthew: In Sciltch of
a Starting Point'. CBQ 37(1975(. 203- 15). Matth~·:w's intauion W'tl!> to set up a sal vation~historic-nl
schema with national (l!>r:td) and gcographicallimi1n1ions (Mt. 10:5·6. 15:24. 28). By comrast.
R. l·lummd (Die Atuf!illandusel:ung ;,)·isclr~u Kirc/1-e mWJudentum im MuJJ/tiiusewrttg<'lium{Bci·
tragc :rut C-\'angd ischcn Tfleologie. 33: :O.funich: Chr. K-11iscr Vcrlag. l963(.p. 25) has poimcd out that
the most importnnt ,·icw is that Jesu.sproclai m~-d salva1ion to Gentiles (suc-h as tJu:- ccmurion 8.5·13.
or the Canaanite womnn 15.21·18). Therefore. :O.fcier ('Salvation-History in :O.fatthew: In Scaroh of a
Su1rting Point'. p. 205) d nims that Mauhcw ·conS(tously drnws up a schrn1:1 of S.'ll\'ntion-history
which widens the geogrnphieal nnd national rcsttictionsof Jesus• public ministry into a univcrs:.l mis-
sion (mission ( 0 lhcGcntilcs) aftcr thc death-r<sumx tion'. GcorgStrcckc-r•s (fNr lfeglkrGert'dUig·
lit'it. p. 87) \'le-w was similar to lh!U of Jack D. Kingsbury ('The Structure of Matthew's Gospel and
His Concept of Salvation-Histor)·'. CBQ 35 [1973). 451- 74 {470)). who become-known among
Mntlhcan sc-holars for his s:ll\'ntion-historical emphasis basod '-' n thcso-cnJk d 'lime fonnuln' in Mat·
thew 3.1 nnd 14. 19. 22.29 (Kingsbury. p. 470). According to Kin.gsbwy. this lime fonnula hss an
c:tdusi,·e eschatologic-al connotation that ~fers to ' that period of lime whic-h pn"Cl-dcs 1hc consum-
mation of the age and the rc1um of Jesus. Son of Man·.
37. Sec imcr aliu D. C. Sim, ·The Gospd ofMn1We-w and We Gentiles'. JSNT 57 (l995). 19-48:
idem. Tift' Gospel ofMaiiiJt-wwtd Christian Judaism: Thr !liJto1r <mdSoda/ Se-uing of thr Morthtu.n
Cummm•i~r (SJUdie-s of the New Tcstnmrnlllnd iiS World: Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1998). pp.143. 46.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 175

mean a separation oflsrael's history from that of the-Church. The ltist01y ofJesus
and the Church is pan and pm·cel of lsrae.l 's ltis1o1y. that is. in Matthew's ( l.l)
own words: BI~AOS ywioEc.» 'inoou Xp1otou."
Another hyperte~tl. at a highI}' abstract leve.l, is the so-c-aJied end-rime apoca-
lyptic approach ..i9 In this regard it is important to bear in mind that apocalypti-
cism is unthinkable without a belief in the resurrection from death. I also
consider it highly likely that Emst K~semann 's view is COI'rect~ namely that it
was the reaction to the death of Jesus by the earliest Jesus group in Jen~salem that
led to tlle ol'igin of' Chl'istian theology'."" Ho\vever, I am not convinced by David
C. SimJ' - to use my own terminology as set out with the purpose of this chapter-
that Matthew's hyperte;t/ bears witness to a conflict between chal'ismatic follow-
ers o f Jesus who refused to to tvlosaic or Tahnud Jaw and apocalyptically
oriented followers of Jesus. In the words ofMohrlang, Matthew and Paul present

Contra U. Luz.. M(I/IIW'>•' 1/-1& A Cmnmt'IIIOJ:t'(Htmu'1ltia: Minn~-apolis., MN: Fortress. 2005). p. 6 31

38. A. G. \'an Aarde. 'Matthew 27 :~5-53 and the Turning of the Tide in lsrad "s Histor)'". BTB
28.1 ( 1998). 16-26.
39. Proponents of this nppro.1c-h include 0. L Cope. "'To the-Close. of the- A~'·: Tt.c Role of
Apocalyptic.Thought in the Gospd of Matthew'. in J. .nnd M. L Soards (cds). AJXKO~Iptic
and1/le New Testument: f.fs«ys ill Ho1ww·tljJ. Louis M(II'IJII(JSNTSS. 24: Sh::Oield: SheAield Aca-
demic Press. 1989). pp. 113-24: D. Hagn~'f. ·Apocalyptic Motifs in the.Gospel of Matthew: Continuity
and Discontinuity'. Hori:rms in Riblica/Thrology 7 ( 1984). 53-82: nnd n. C. Sim, 'The Meaning of
na>... ~vfoi q.: in Matthew 19:28'.JSNT50 (1993). 3--11. Howe\'t:r. l>a\·idSim(Tirt• GosprlofMot-
i/wwandCIIristi«IIJuJaism disagrees with scholars such as Hagnerrcg.nrdingas;poctssuch llS whctht:r
Matlhcw's community had already separutcd from formative Judaism or whether the. separation
bctw~o'C'n ·synagooe'Ue· and 'churth' was not ye1 complete. Attording to lu~(M«ttiKw 11-18. p. 6 31).
for Matthew
and his-churches the stpamtion of Israel into a mujority hostile to Jesus and a minority
consisting ofdisciples of Jesus is ddinitive. AI the.\'CT)' ltu~ since.the J~·wi sh War they
were no longer li\'ing in the lnnd of Israel but in Gentile S)'ria. In S)'ria. theit own
mission v.-as the proclamation of the C()llUnandmcnts of Christ to the Ge-ntiles u.ndcr the.
signature of the universal mis;ion com1n.<tnd of the risen lord.
40. With n•gard to ·'. Kiiscrmmn ('l'hc Beginnings orChristian Theology·. pp. 82-
107) shows that M!ltthcw contains small bits and pieces that do not occur in other Gospe-ls. but thnt
help us to reconstruct Chti~ian origins. 8)'1ncansof citations from lhc Hebn..-•w Scripturcs(c.g. MI.
7.22-23: 23.8.-10: 5.19). ht indicates that behind these tc:tts there-is n history in which there is d early
tension that cntt~natcd from 'theological' differences conccming lhc rcnnion to ksus' denth. The rt'tonslruction of this 'rt-aetion• (p. 82) is difficult. as only frngments rdating to the
first Jesus group arc-a\'ailabk in Acts. Howe\·er. because or all the small bits and pioc:cs of lhc:
mosaic. no clcntdc:lincation is possibk of wh.<tt c:tnctly the earliest 'theology• tntnilc.d. See A. G. van
A111dc. ·nc ~l istoric-ity of the Cirelc of the Twdvc: All Roads lend to Jerusalem·. Her•ormck
T£-"Oiogise Studies 55:2- 3 ( 1999). 795~26 .
41. Sec imer aliu D. C. Sim. Ap(1('(tf>711if: E.w:lwrology ill tile GoJJ~I ojMotJIIl•w(Cambridgc. UK:
Can1bridgc. Uni\'«sity Press): idem. The Gosprl ofMatthewandCI!ri:uianJuckti:mt:idem. "Matthew's
anti-P<tulinism'. Herwm11de Teologise Studies 58:2 (101>1). 767- 83.
176 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

'two examples ofhow the early Christian community perceived Je..~us to provide
a new basis fOI' ethical living'.·0
In a similar vein. Wim Weren, in his dissertation on Matthew's eschatology,
rcters to Matthe.w' sde.-apocalyptizing tendency (£ntgesclticlnlic/nmg der Escha-
Jo/ologh.>).4'J By resc.i nding the typic-aldualism fOund in apocalypticism betweena
present despondent time and an imminent time ofsalvation, Matthew refocused
attention on the ethics ofcaring tOr the poorest o f the poor (cf. Mt. 25.45), whom
Weren referred to in the title o f his book as 'de broede1'S van de Mcnsenzoon'
(the bi'Othe-rs of the Son ofMan}They were the object of both Jesus' commission
and the disciples' commission.u T1ms. co n c lude-~li that the eschaton in
Matthew functions as a continuous present perspective by means of which the
readers are challenged not to make pe-ace with their immediate concrete need. but
rather to ove1'Come it by concrete actions ..~s Eschatological pronouncements are
thus ethical appeals,"" explicitly expressed in the Lord's Prnye1· by the pethion
that God's kingdom should come. followed by t:he phrase ·on earth as it is in
heaven' :n According to Weren. 'Matthew c-annot [therefore.] be regarded as an', because the ethical actions of human beings do not attest to a
passivity that is thought to go along to the end of time when this injustice oiOn is
replaced by God's judging act o f retribution, avenging tJ1e-rightoous.-lS
A significant view that is worth considel'ing on Matthew· s hype11ext at such an
abstract level is the one recently advocated by Wan·en Cm·tc-r in pa11icutar.49 Carter
rejects the notion that salvation is a merely spiritual phenomenon, and not a social
one.ln Mediterranean cultures. politics and economy were pan and parcel ofcultic
life. T11e salvation-historical approach is a textbook example of an anachronistic
reading that tends to dichotomize vertical and hol'izontal dimensions ofsalvation.
Acco1·d ing to Ca11er, Jesus as Joshua, the saviour, was a political figu1-e who dcliv-
el\."<1. people fi'Om political oppression. lt has become a cliche to say that Jesus was

42. R. .\iobrlang. Mallhew am/ Paul: A CcmpurUoo ojE1hkal PersJWdit't'S (SNTSMS. -18-: Cam-
bri dg~. UK: Cambridge Uni,·~rsi ty Press. 198-1). p. 131.
·B. W. J. C. \\'c-n:-n. De- Broi!der.f mn tk MrJJWfl.:omr: M1.l5. Jl-46olJ Toegm~g (01 de E.w:hoJolo-
gie wtn Mattt>ils (Amsterdam: Ton Bolland. 1979). pp. 188 n. 16,13-6. refers imer alia to
1he wort of A . Sand. ·zur Fruge Melt dcm ..Sitz in Leben" dcr apokalr ptischen Te.xtc des Nc:ucn
Testomenls'.."-7'5 18(1972- 73). 167- 77).
+t In my :utick 'Jesus' Mission to All of lsro:cl Emplottcd in Matthcw•s Stol)''. I argue. thaL
slllloogh the-'crowd• and lhc ·gcntilc.s' do not fulfil the same charJ:ctc:.r roles in Mallhew·s plot both
groups funclion togctherasthc:.objc:cl of both the missionof Jesus and that ofthc:.disc:ipk s in the post·
paschal period. ibis \"iew disputes the a~urncnl that there is a disc:ontinuity between lhc 'Israelite
crowd' 3S thc obj~Xt of Jesus' commission nnd the Gentiles as lhe object of tile disciples' commission
at the post-paschal lc,·el. The commission reported in both Mauhcw JOand Mt. 28:16-20 olludes to
the mi~ion ofJ esus'twch·~ disciples to the ' lost shocp of Israel•.
45. W~rcn. De Broedtr.r wm de Mens.rlt:OOIJ, p. 190.
46. · . . . in de rc:doctic: \'an Mattheiis hn wotd(n oongemcrkt. dat hij esdtatologischc uits-pruk( n
vc:rbind met concrc:k-appels' (in Mauh~~w·s redaction. it can be noted tltat he.c.ombirtes cschatologicaJ
statements wl1h concrete appeals((Wcrtn . De Rroetfl!rs wm de Mellst.,.:oon. p. 190j.
~7. Wercn. Df! Broeckr:.· wm de M~nseltztKm. p. 190.
~S. Wercn. Df! Bmeckrs t•un di! Meti.SeiiZOOtt, p. ISS.
49. E.g. Canet. MmtJu.waml the Margins.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 177

not a political messiah as expected from the son of David. Cm1e1·emphasizes that
Je.sus. as ~o:ot.A€.US'. was the. alternative to the emperor as saviour of the people.
He concedes that leaders oflsrael were Jesus· opposition, but only in the sense of
their collaboration with Rome. The emperor was the real enemy.

4. The Encyclopaedia of oc,}(GJ in Matthew

Seen from the perspective of the insight of Jonathan Culler, namely thal inter-
texnJality pe.rtains to a v.:ork 's ' participation in the discursive space-of culture',
MaHhew·s ntuTath•e d iscourse echoes the po11rayal of the Israelite-elite that col-
laborated with Rome.5° This 'discursive spac.e.ofculture' constitutes an 'encyclo-
paedia' in terms of which Matthew's inclusion of the. idea that ·Jesus saves'
should be understood.
In Matthew's story~ the protagonist Jesus, as~aotMU), stood in opposition to
the emperor. The contrast was between how Jesus saved and how the emperor
func(ioned as ·saviour' (oCJTI)p!o~~CJ). Jesus' approach was that of a shepherd
caring for his sheep, whereas the emperor exploited the p:eople from whom he
demanded loyalty. There was no n.,rcy (EA€0)i5tKCXIOoUVT)). Jesus, the main
character of the narrative. was killed by Roman amhorities in a Roman
fonn of execution.
Jesus announced the-"empire of God' (~O:Ol~tia). Because the Roman empire
dominated the world in the first century, the meaning ofthe word ~a01Aela would
denote this empire. The ~ao1AEla of God would directly oppose the Roman
empire. f\·lanhewdepicts the leaders oflsrncl as the allies of Rome. God punished
the leaders oflsrael as allies of Rome by ironic-ally using Rome as instrument to
destroy Jerusalem (Mt. 22.7)5 1
Using mainly f\·lark as its hypo/ex/ and Q as an intertext, Matthew - as a meta-
lex/ to .Mark- retold the Jesus story against the background ofa particular hyper-
lex/~ namely the Joshua story. The context of this hype11ex1 can be described as a
process and a mindset. T11e process was that of the so-called separation between
the synagogue and the Church that sta11ed at)er the destn1ction of the Temple in
Jerusalem in 70 CE. The mindset was tl1at ofan apocalypticism that Matthew took
over from Mark and (a later version) ofQ.51 The apocalyptic expectation was that
this world would be transtbnned into the final kingdom of God. Accord ing to a
p~u1icular prophetic tradition (the so-c-.alled idea of the nations' pilgrimage to
Mount Z.ion),53 the new age would da\Vll when Israe-l's Messiah was revealed in

50. Culler. 'Presupposition and lntcncxlualily'. p. 103.

51. In lhw: chnpteu. the instruments of Rome. the client kings Herod the Gn:al (Mnuhcw 2) nnd
his son Herod Antipas (M!llthcw 14). and the Romnn gowrnor Pontius Pilutc(tvlallhew27). dominate
thcs..'(nc, Twicdcsus instruciS people to puy their (U.'(C'S.In these pericopes Jesus e.xprcsscs his \•ision
lhat God is grc.nlcr •han the-powcr o r Rome (Mt. 17.14-27: MI. 22. 15-12).
51. J. S. Kloppcnborg Vcrbin. £ m rrati11g Q: Tlli! 1/istOJ)' and Selli11g q( tlw Sayiug.o; Gospel
(Minneapolis. MN: Fortress. 2000). p. 2>6.
53. E.g. Mt 3.11 fJ l k. IJ.2Sr.: Zcch. 2.11: Targum o r lsa. 2.2b: 1 Esdras 13.49: 2 Bar. 71.3-6.
178 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

Jerusalem as the Son of Man causing the nations to come to Jerusalem to join the
unified Israel.
]..·(any scholars are convi nced that Matthew confOrmed to the Jesus group in
Jerusalem.SJ For Matthew the ' twelve apos tles' represent this restored Israel.
According to the Evangelist (see ~'It 19.28),the twelve disciples as healed healers
obtain justice (KplvovT£S) for the twelve tribes of Israel in view of the prophetic
notion of the pilgrimage of ' all peo ple' to the ·new Jerusalem' . ·All of Israel'
( IT(XVT<X ra
€61/Tl) fomlS the SKKAqoia (the 'Christian' cult) as opposed to the
ouvaywyq (the Temple cult).
In my opinion, Matthew originated not in Antioch, but somewhere in no11hem
Galilee and southern Syria after 70 CE cr
aAoAaia TWV kevu>v - Mt. 4. 15). 1n this
region~ there was conflict between the grammateus Matthew and village scribes
who were in the process of establishing the first phase of a Pharisaic rabbinate.
T11e Gospel of .Matthew could therefore be seen - like Q- as a product of scribal
activity within the context ofthe.revitalization of villages after the destmction of
the Temple in Jerusalem.55 These communities stn tggled to come. to grips with
the Joss o f Jei'Usalem and the Temple.
Since the city o f God no longer existed, they had to find God's presence in the
envil·onment of village conununities.56 In these. villages there was contlict between
two sets of scribes: the tbllowers o f Jesus, who acknowledged him as Messiah.
and other lsn.1elites who upheld the tmditional view of the Messiah.

5-l. Sec. forc-x.nmpk. Kiisc.maM. ·The Beginnings of Christian 11loolo~y·. w. &3. 86: M. H~ongd.
·s itnt my Right H:md!', in Strulies in far&=CitriMolo,tr~'(Edinbtrrgb: T&T Clark. 199.5}. pp. 1.55. 15&.
167. I &I. Htngd (pp. 83. 86) puts it as follows:
In early Cbristillllity at13logous ideas are supposed in Mutt. 19:28 ... Luke 22:30: I Cor.
6:1(. and Rc.v. 20:41l More signillcnnl wns the pnrallcl tradition thnt the Son of Man/
Messiah as reprcscnlativcand.snviourof the true poopkofGod is gi\·cn th~ authority to
judge: this isdocunttntcd in the Similitudes of I Eno~:.h and in particulnr in th~ teaching
ofJesus and in c.1rli($• CluiSiianity ir.cluding Matt 25:31ff.... )A}pparentlydcpendent
upon the: Jungu:~ge. o f thcSimi l itudc:s . . . )M.auhcw - 19:28: 25:31) . . . twice mc:n•
thlu the:. Son of ).fan 'sits on the: throne of his glory· and the: twcln: disc.iplcs ns the:.
followers of Jesus become his collc:g-c: of associate judgcs ... '
According to Hengel (p. 173), ·in p.1rticular l.h<: motifof.fe:.·Jio adde.rteram was material common to
early Christian congreptions. whethct in Corinth. Antioch or Rome.and in my opinion d~monsltntes
incontcstnbly that l.h<:y go back to earliest Jesus group in Jerusalem congn.;gation•.
55. R. A Horsley (withJ. A. Draper). Jnmn"t.'r J./rors t011 Hears Me: PIYJphets. Pelfomumr:etmd
TroditiQII i11 Q (Harrisburg. J>:\: Trinity Press InternationaL 1999), pp. 145-6. 193-4.
56. ihc Jesus movement in Galikc and the work of early post-70 a:. rabbis. calkd th~- 'cnrlier
scribes and s.'tgcs' b)' 1-lorslc:y (Whoe1-•er l·!.•ors Y(}fl Heors Me. pp. IS 1-4}. can be: SlX'n as a ·rcvit:ali

zation ohillagceommunitil'$'. Aftc:rthc: Tcmplc:.was ck.stroycd. the Phnrisnjc.scribcsand sages reor 4

g.:~nizcd thc-1nsd vcs in plncc:s such as Jamnin (in Jud~-a) . Gnlik-c-. and Syria. Thct-c:. they ui~-d to
duplic-ate the: old value systems ofthe: Tcmpkin the households of the:.villag-es. cspocinllyrcgulations
concerning hierarchy in sociely and the purity id~'Oio~y ofth~ Temple. A similar activity revitalizing
villnge communities was found among the:. Jel>US groups. Tbc value: S)'Stc:m th~y implemented was
OOsc:d on lcsus· alte-rnative UJl(krstanding ofthe Torah. The: in \'alues-ystcms and intcn:sts
led to confl ict bc:-twe~·n Pharisaic saibc:s and scribes among the- followers of Jesus.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 179

The conflict centre.s on the interpretation of the Torah: Jesus could be seen as
the new f\·foses who fulfilled the.Torah, versus a traditional Mosaic view as it was
1·egulated by the temple cult. Amid Roman exploitation, scribes were.engaged in
village restoration. Scribes in the synagogues had a problem with Jesus' being
seen as the.healing son of David. They could not concede that he was Israel's new
Mose-s. They did not understand that Jesus could ·replace the temple· when he did
.away with purity regulations~ demonstrated by his act of healing on the Sabbath
(Mt. 12.1-32).
By means ofa par<ttext, Matthew refe1·s to the implied author of his discourse
as a scribe (YPCliJ).IO:T£US') who bec-.ame a disciple of the kingdom of heaven (Mt.
13.52) and whose background is Je111salem and the leade1·ship conflict there.ll1e
author carries 'baggage' that consists of the convictions held by the earliest Jesus
group in Je.msalem before James (Je-sus' brother) began to dominate this cultic
A number ofcharacteristics, as discussed in the next section. reveal Matthe.w's
orientation and affect the ·encyclopaedic echoes· behind the Joshua story as
Matthew's hypenext.

5. The Term o~GJ and Its 'lntertexls ·

At the start of the Gospel (Mt. 1.2l c), the-name ·Jesus· is linked with Jesus'
vocation as the saviour who will save (ocJou) the people oflsrael fro m thei1·sins
(a~apnc.iv). Functioning as the title, the wo1·d ~~~~~0, in Matthew 1.21c is
therefore one o f Matthew's most distinctive paratexts. For Matthew. ·Jesus' is
not a common appellation. (n Mark, people such as Bartimaeus and the two men
possessed by evil spirits called him ·Jesus' (Mk 1.24; 5.7; 10.47), but not in
Matthew (M!. 8.29; 20.30). In Matthew, by acknowledging Jesus as Ihe Davidic
Messiah , the two healed blind men see what God's salvation is all about (]YIL
20.30) and the Gadarenes possessed by demons announce publicly that God heals
Israel th1'0ugh Jesus, God·s sou (Mt. 8.29).
Matthew's understanding of Jesus' bi11h is analogous to the mirnculous binl1of
Moses in Josephus's .inliquities (2.205-6. 210- 11. 215-16) and Pseudo-Philo's
Liber Auliquilatum Biblicarum (9.1 - 10). dated between 70 and I00 CE. 11te
expression to 'deliver(= sa\•e) lsmel' in the · n ormative~ rabbinic. tradition (for
example. in Meg. 14.2) pe11ains to Miriam's reference to he1· mother Jochebed
who will give birth to the future saviour (Moses). ('My mother shall bear a son
[Moses] who will deliver.) This expression alludes to the word ;Joshua· in Num.
13.17. Other documents also refer to this Moses-tradition and tb r f\·1atthew they
sometimes function explicitly and sometimes implicitly as inte11ex1s.
The vel'bal stem of the Hebrew· word is jas!Ja·. The hiphil of this word is used
as a substantive participle. mosltiah~ in a number of Old Testame.nt texts (Judg.
6.36: I Sam. 10.19; 11.1 3; 14.39; Zech. 8.7; Ps. 7. 11 ; 17.7). 11te substantive par-
ticiple means 'helper'(= saviour) in these cases. This meaningofmoshiah recalls
the name of Afoses and is a play on words (paronomasia) on th~ participl~ mes-
180 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

l\·le-$siah became the technicus /ermitws for the anointed son of David (or
David's son) as the king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5. i-3).1n Ps. 118.25. an example
o fwordplay between moshia (= Moses} and messialt (= son of David) is found in
the Greek expression ltoshiah na. In Matthew 2 1.9. the Evang~list cit~s, ~n~ns
other texts. Psalm 118.25: 'Hosanna to the Son of David ' (CV00:\1\IQ T(J) \H(J)
What such healing implies becomes clear when other passages where the word
o~cv appears in Matthew' s Gospel are s1udied. The encyclopaedic echo for the
stilling oflhe storm in Mt 8.18-27 is the ancient Near Eastern idea that the sea
(especially a storm at sea) symbolized the ofchaos and evil as opposed to
God. The Matthean episode is rooted in Psalm 107.23-30 as intertext. By show-
ing that he has power over the sea Jesmt does what God does. according to Ps.
74.13- 14 and 89. I0-12. These Psalms are paratexts taken up in the intertext. The
paratexts are apocalyptic in nature and they refer to the sea monsters Leviathan
(Ps 74.14) and Rahab (Ps 89.10), which became symbols of the evil powers
defeated when God 's kingdom comes in its fullness (see 2 Bar. 29.4 as another
Matthew·s account of the interwoven story of the daughter of the aristocratic
official (not a ruler ofa S}'nagogue as in Mark) and the haemorrflaging woman in
Mauhew 9.18-26 is ' paradigmatic.' of the exclusivity of the 'old ' Israel and the
inclusivity of the Matthean community as the ·new' lsrael.31 Matthew as metatext
changes Mark's emphasis on menstrual bleeding to bleeding in ge-neral. In the
metatext the age of the daug.hte1·of the official ( 12 years) is omitted. At twelve a
young woman in that culture would be considered sexuall}' mature aJld ready for
man iage. According to Lev. 15. 19-30 - a para/ext in Mark as t\·latthe.w's
- women who menstruate are unclean and are not to be touched. In Mark, Jesus
is touched by a menstruating woman. In Matthew as metotext, the issue is not
menstruation and the woman does not take the initiative. However, she remains
someone who 1-eceives Jesus' love just like all other unclean people. Restoration
to life is highlighted by the. threefold use of o~~<il in 9.20-22 in Matthew's
·comments" on Mark.
Matthew's notion ofinclusivity is also expressed by the word ' all' (OAos,'O~T))
which occurs freq uentl}'· Matthew's understanding of an authentic life involves
iutegrilylcongruenc~v(n~w)TT)')): a ·complete-ness .. . whic.h unites e.verything in
complete harmony· Congruency makes inner life correspond with outer behav-
iour. Hypocrisy conceals congn1ency {Mt 23.13-36}. According to Matthew
(23.2). the hypocrites sit on Moses' seat and they love the best seats in the syna-
gogues (Mt. 23.6). They repre-~'ient the Israelite elite who collaborated with

57. These. stories art- ·muc-h more than <:xampii."S of faith'. According to Elaine WainwTight
Toword:; a Femini.ft Critical ReadingojJ/Je Gospel According to Mollhew(BZNTW. 60: Berlin: Oc
Gmyter. 1991). p. 214. th~'Y nrc ·s1orics of n woman and n )'0\lllg giri oppressed by n: ligious. socinl
and hum.1n boundaries nnd of Jesus as the one who rcachcsotlt across these boundari~-s offering new
c~p~x-hlti ons for life and wholeness ... •
58. B. ~1. Newman. A CcndseGn"ei:- English Dklionoryofll~e Ne"' Testomrnt (London: United
Bible Societies. 1971 ). p. SO.
VAN AARDE Th~ Presentation ofJesus as Healer-Messiah 181

Roman imperial power (Mt. I 0. 17): the ouvi1ipux (local Israelite village c.ouncils)
and ouv<iy(.)ya1 (synagogical sc.ribal meetings) which joined fOrces with the
Dyt~c.5v (Roman governor.;) and the ~IXOIAEiS (Roman client-kings). Endurance
in facing the might of this world power of nations (ToIs E&vso!V) will lead to
salvation (eli~ uno~eivas Eo> ri>-os ooros ow9Jiono:1 - Mt. 10.22).
In Mt. 14.24, Jesus saves the disciples' boat. which is buffeted by the waves of
the sea. In both cbs 14 and 16, the ambiguous role ofthe disciples' spokesperson.
Peter. is highlighted. In ?vlt 14.28-33, Jesus reache-s out his hand to the doubting
Peter. a ·man oflittle faith· (f\·1t. 14.30). who cries: ·Lord. save me· (KUpte, oc.3o0v
IJ€). After Jesus reprimands Peter, he reminds the disciples that 'whoever \VOuld
save (ouloat}his life will lose it. and whoever loses his life for my sake will find
it' (Mt. 16.25).
When Matthew narrates the disciples· astonishment in chapter 19 at the fb.ct
that Jesus' under.< tanding of congmency (Ei &iAet> riA£10> itV!Xt) is that ihe
rich should sell thei1· possessions and give it to the marginalized pOOr (06) rois
ITTc.:>XotS- Mt. 19.21 ). they ask. 'Who then can be saved (oc.:>afiva1)' (Mt. 19.25)'1
The blasphemy of the passers-by at the crucifixion scene 1'C fers to Jesus' words
about the destruction of the Temple (Mt. 27.39-40). fn view of the memory o f
Jesus· words of the destn1ction of the Temple, his ·prophecy' offumre tribula-
tions by ·all nations', and his remark about love (d:yciTTT}) that could grow cold
(Mt. 24. 1 -1 4)~ 1o.·latthew reminds his readers of what the.prophet Daniel sajd about
the victory of d1e Son of Man (ML 24. 15-28. 29-31) over the Roman empire
which God used to Mstroy JenlSalem (ML 24.27-28). God will bring together the
"elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other' (Mt 24.31 ).
In Matthew 24.22, the Evangelist alludes to another known apocal}'ptic idea
which is also expressed by 2 Bar. 83.1 (cf. Josephus. Ant. 19.1 3).59 This inte-rtext
refers to God 's salvation in the midst of affliction: ·And i f those days had not
been shortened. no human being will be saved (£oul9q}; but for the sake of the
elect tpose days will be shortened'. They who endure •to the end will be .saved
(oc.:>91)0ETIX1)' (ML 24. 13).

6. Conclusion
T11e end of this chapter echoes the type of end by means ofwhid1Malthew ·con-
cludes' his own discourse, that is by keeping the end open - similar to the notion
of inte11extuality itself: 'Every text is a locus of inte1·sedions, overlaps. and
collisions between other texts. Every text is an intertext, that is. a be.tween-text
(intC'r, .. between"), a paradoxical locus ofd islocation. without center and without
boundaries. ' 60

59. D. J. Harrington. The Gilspel ~{.4falliU'11' (Sar:ra Pagin.1. t Collcgc,·ille. MN: Litutgic-nl Press.
1991). p. 337.
60. T. K. Bcal. 'lntcnc.xtualily•. in A. K. M. Ad.1m(cd.). Hamlbook q/Pa(tmockm Biblical lt~Jt·r·
pretatim• {St Louis. MO: Chulicc Press. 2000). p. 128.
182 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

According to Matthew (24. 14), the euo:yyfAtOVT~5 ~O:OtAelo:s will be pro-

claimed 'throughoU1 the 111/Jole (0Am world, as a testimony to all ( rr<iotv) nations;
and then the end (TO riAos) will come' . Against the background of their present
conflict with the powers that be1 Matthew leaves his 1·eader:s in the hands of God
who alone decides the close of the age (OUVTEAela Tov aiwvos (Mt. 28.20) so that
the Church~ in the mission to rr&:vro: tel £9vn, experiences the f.1ct that Jesus is
God-with-us, for the followers ofJesus have seen the coming of the Son of Man.


Lawrence M. Wills

A peculiarity ofMatthe.w·s redactional style. one that may be of some significance.

has neverthe-less not received sufficie.nt attention in scholarly wol'k on this GospeL

I. Precise A111ithetic Parallelism in Malfhew 's GospC'I

When Matthew cnc.ounters a saying that invol\'esany kind of<.'.Ontrast, the material
is often pressed into a precis~ antithetic parallelism: one line with a positive state-
ment~ and a second which is repeated won~forword(rather than the more typical
thought contrast). but now negated.1 for example, Mt. 12.35:
The good person oul of a good trcusurc btinp forth good things.
and the-evil pe-rson ou l of an evil h'\'aSUI't" bring:; forth C\'il things.
0 O:yatlOS" 0ll6pwnos Etc ToU O:yo:&OO 6nooupoU 0:~0:)J.f 1 Oyoi!O,
Ko:l 0 novnp0) Ov&pwnos i:K TaU nOV'lpo\.t eqoaupoO i:l(rlO:lli· lTO\IT)pc):.

I. This essay appeared in CoJ/wlic Biblicol Q11urterly63 (200 1), pp. 241- 57. This is a re\·iscd
2. Some instn•'nts htl\'e been nt.."lde about parallelism in the-Gospe-ls in g-eneral and
i1s re-lation co Hdm:w parallelism: SC'e Vin«nt Taylor, 77•e Formoli011 oftht! Gospel Trodilion: £igl11
L«tw-es(LoOOon: Macmillan. 1960). pp. 88-90: C. F. Burney. Tlw Poetq o.fOw· Lord(O.xford: Clar-
endon. 1925): JoachimJeremias. New Teswmenl Theology 1: TM PJ'(H:Iomt~ficm New
York: Scribner's. 1971). pp. 14-20: Robert C. Tannehill, 111e Sll'ordofllis Mouth(PhiiOO.dphia: for·
tress/Mis:ooufa. MT: Scholors.. 1975). pp. 39- 59: M. 0. Goukkr. Midauh a11d Le<tkm in Maulww
(The Sp:aker's L«tures in BibiK:al Studies. 1969-71: London: SPCK. 1974): and A. Iknau~, 'lkr
Spruch \'On d~·n Zwei Wegcn im Rahme-n des Epitogsder Bergprcdigt (Mt 7. 13-14 pat. l k 13. 23-24):
Tmdition uDd ROOnktion'. in JoCI Dclobd (ed.). Logio: Les paroles de Jems - The SayiltgJ ofJe:ms:
MimoriolJoJeph CoptNns(BETL. 59: L.cuwn: Leun:n University Press, J9S2).pp. 305-35. Even in
these works. the e:ttcnt of Mn.tth~v•s parnJidism is often underestimated. as whrn Jeremias as.scns
(p. 17) that althotlsh Matthew has ·tautencd' Mark's patalldism. the-first Evangdist has introduced
no new parnUdism.
W. 0. O.wics nnd D. C. Allison. A Cr-itiC'tr!aJtd£.;egdkal Commelllaryon thi"Gosptl AccrmJ.
iltg to Mouhew (3 vols: ICC: Edinburgh: T&T Clark. 1988-97). vof. 1. pp. 94-5. have emphasized
the incrcasOO: pnralld ism in Matthew in gen~':fnl. l n the.second ' 'olumc of their commentary (2.177).
the)' futi.h<r reported the-rc:suhs of my rer.c:uch that 1had submiuOO to Professor Alii!iOn by lc:ttcr. 1
W(luld like co express my thll.ltks to Professor Allison for nlso m:tl:ing some very vafuabk suggestions
to me in response.
184 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

T11is redactional process c-an be seen in Matthew II times by my count, both in

material that is taken over from rvtark and from Q, and in special Matthean mate-
rial (6. 19-24 [3 times]; 7.13-14, 24-27; I0.32-33; 12.33, 35: 16.19; 18.18; 23.12).
It pi'Obably also influences the composition ofMt. 25.33-46. a passage that will be
analysed below. It is clearly, then, a trait on the. redactimw/ Jevel. and not to be
assigned to the.sources:~ Although f\ofauhew does not impose this pa«ern at every
available oppo1·runity. it is not an incidental nuance or idiosyncracy ofthe 1\
but a st•·ong tendency. lt may, in fact, reflect an impo11aJll tJleological Tendem and something of the social background ofdte redactor, indicating a certain kit\-
ship betwee-n Matthew the t'edactor and some early rabbinic rhetorical techniques.
The sayings that are rewritten in this formulaic way are not all of the same
type. Some are wisdom sayings~ such as 6.1 9-20:
llo oot store. up for yootsdve:s ueasures on Cllrlh.
where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves dig in and ste-al.
but store up for yourselves 11'¢1lSUres in heaven.
where neither m(l(h nor ruSI dcsnoys.
and whcre thieves do not dig in and steaL
Mh enoo.vpl<<n iluiY 611001.1poV5 i nl Ti)S: yir;,
Onou ol)s' Ka't ~~~5 O¢ovi~u
Kal Onov .:Ainta t OtopUooouolV Ko:i xAin-rovotv·
&l)oavpi~n Of U~iv &ijoaupcils iv oOpavc;>,
Orrou oUn ali$ oVn ~pClOI$' a~avi<u
1<al Onov .:Aima t oU OtopOooouotv oU5! kAin-rovow.
Even when wisdom sayings have lost their original generalized formulation, they
can retain this precise antithetic parallelism, :tS in this invective against the Phari-
sees ( 12.33):
Either mllkc the-tm- good. and its ftuit good.
or m..'lkc-the 11ce bad. and its fruit bad.
.. H no.i)oa n ro 6Ev0pov KoA(w !::O:i TOv KapnOv o.UToV KaAOv,
h not~oau TO .S£Y5povoonp0v Koi T0v .:apnOv a\noO oo:npOv·
This Q saying as fo und in Luke 6.43 is parallel. but not as pre.cisely as in Mat-
For thcr~· is no good troc that bears bad fruit.
nor. indeed. a bad 11«' that b~-ars good fruit
OUyO:p iOTtV OEvOpov tcoAOv rro•civv KapnOv oo:npOv,
oOOi n6Aw 6Ev0pov oo.npOv notcitv Ko:pnOv KoAOv.

3. Conlin ROOolfBultmann. Tltt• HUtoq ofthe Synqplk Trodilion (trans. John Mars.h: New Yor\::
Harpcr & Row. 1963}. p. 111. wfto argues that Matthew retilins the parallelism ofQ. while- Luk< alters
it This. I would argue. occurs only rarely.
~. Comp:tr< GoJ. Them. 43. which nppeurs to be adnptcd from an older saying. but recoining in
Coptic the prec.ise parallelism of M-atthew.
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 185

Other instances in Matthew make a strong distinction between those who al'e
saved and those who are damned. those who are in and those who are out, suc.h
as 7.13- 14:
Ent'-'f by 1M narrow gate.
for the gote is wide and tile:-wny is C"SSY that leads to d~-stru<:ti on.
and those-who enter by it arc many:
but the gate is narrow and the way is ha.rd that leads to life.
and those-who find it arc fcw.S
E.ioiAea"Tt 610: T~$ onvi)) nitAT'IS'·
:;,., nAo:nla ~ rtiJ)..n ~:a·, tUpU;<w~ h 0005 il O:rrOyouoa ti) -rlwO rrt.J~oo:v
Ko:i no).).oi tiono ot t ie<px01JE\o'tlt Oi o:Urits"·
~~ OE o-ntffl i] rrV).q Kal n6).tl.ltJill1} it OOOs i1 Cmiryoooa Ei5 T~v ~w~v
1<o:i OAiyot £iolv oi t\,ploKovns o:Uri)v.
Still other examples in Matthew approximate the form of·sentences of holy
law'. as descl'ibed by E.('nst Ktl.semann.6This prophe-tic form is defined as being of
the type, 'To those who dox, God will do x to them! (or •x will be done to them').
Kllsemann 's first example from the New Testament is I Cor. 3.17: ' If anyone
destroys God's temple, God will destroy him.' Other examples include 2 Cor. 9.6,
Rom. 2.12. and Rev. 22.1 8-19. Ka.~emann loc.ates the sentences ofholy law in the
pi'Ophetic utterances ofthe-early community. They impose an eschatological judge-
ment and define who is to be-fou nd acceptable and who is not. Says Kasemann:
'There is only one punishment. i.e. the delivetyofthe guilty pa11y over to Satan -
which is identical with exclusion from the community' .1 To be sure, K5semann 's
attribution of the sentences of holy law to an early prophetic layer has been chal-
lenged. but the refinements of his analysis by others have borne him out." Still,

5. With original readingofVaticanus. Matthew h•u introduoc:d two gates whe-re luke 13.24 -
probably reftc:e~ i ng the Q \"C:rsion - hns only one. Two gates would imply two scp11r11te roads or
approaches. One might expect an application of the twowoys doctrine. found in Diducl•e. Banwbas.
and nt Qummn. but Mauhcw nowh~~re explic-id)· attests this common topes. Sec F. W. Beare. The
Go.fJX'I According to Mafl1u•w: Trcmslolim~, !mrodu<tioll. omiCommrlltOJJ'(San Francisco: Harper &
Row. 1981 ), pp. 193-4. on the:.choice: oftwo paths and thep.''lrallels in Hcsiod. Worl:sa11d Days286-
92. Prodi, .us on Hemdc:s. and Life ofAcJiJP 94. Tt.c dcscription of the two p.'lths in these sources is
often expr-essed in a OOionccd nntithc:tK pnrnlld ism. but is not as precise--or as cncapsulatod as the
sayings of Mntthc:w.
6. E. Kiise-mann. ·sentences of Holy Law in the New Testament'. in E. Kiisemann (ed.), New
Tesmme11t Que.\"liOIIS of Today (Pbifttddphia: Fortn:s.s. 1969). pp. 66-81.
7. Kiimnann. ·sentences of Holy Law in the: New Testament'. p. 71.
8. Klaus Berger. ·zu s.ogennant.:n S.iit7.e-n hc:iligen Rcchts'. NTS t 1 ( 1970). 10-40. argued that
the fom1 cannls.o be found in wisdom trOOitions. but Eduard Schwe-izer. · •a!Keof the La wand
Charismatic Ac.tivity in Mnuhcw·. l\75 16 ( 1970). 226-7 n. 3, had orguc:d that the apocalyptic time--
frume of the sc:nll'flttS necessarily ttSso6atcd them with prophecy. This line of re-asoning may appear
strained. bt1t be. that as i1mny, Don3J.d N. Swanson. "Basic Fom'ls of Christian Prophetic- Spccch '.
(ThDdissenation. HtllV3rd Divinity Sc:bool. 1 981~ pp. 171-2 t 5, has demonstrated tbc propheti' origin
of tiK precise: fonn fotmd in the New TcS1ament s:tyings.lnrgdy on the basis of the dose.par.tllds to
propht-tic p:.ssngc:s in tbc: Hebrew Bible: I Sum. 2.30: Jet. 30. 16; 2 Chr. I5.2: OOO:d. 15: nn~i lsa. 33. I.
Sec nlso M. Eugene Boring. n.!!Ccmimtillg Voiceq(Jesus: Christian Prophecy and the Gospe/Tmdi-
lioll (louisvilk: Wcstminsten'John K no~. 1991). pp. 162- 3. nnd Dnvid E. Aunc:.. Prop!lf!('l' in EOJ·t••
186 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

the of holy law are not identical to Matthewts precise antithetic paral-
lelism. although in one instanc.e, 10.32-33 (based on Mk 8.38), the Matthean
sentence is at least similar, and is probably based on this fotm:
Ew1yonc:. who confesses me:-bdOre pt.<ople.
I will also confess be-fore my futhc:r in heaven.
and wbocwr dmics mr: before people.
I will also deny before my father in hcan:n.
TTOs oOv Ocnt5 0.-o>.oyT,ou iv i:p.oi £1.mpoo6n" rt:lv Ov&pWnCo)v,
hJ,oAoyi)ow tcO.yW ~v alm;, i.,_ ffpoo~ u ;00 no:tpbs' 1.100 TOO iv Tois
Ocm~ 6 Gv O:pv~orrroi ~ i~onl'poo&tv ;Wv O:vEipcSrrwv,
Opvi)o®at ~tOycilo\rr(wip rrpoo&v TOO no:;pOs ~oo ToVi:v ToiS
It is important to note. then, that Matthew could have included sentences of holy
law as they were found elsewhere, but chose not to. Just as tvlatthew altet•ed a wis-
dom form above~ here the prophetic tb rm of the se-ntence o f holy law is altered in
a characteristic way. Kasem.ann, in fuct, rightly describes Matthew's general pro-
cedure thus: ' (Matthew) is characterized by an anti-enthusiastic tempe.r which
causes the teacher and Christian rabbi rathet· to conceal than to expose to view the
activity of primitive Cluistian prophecy ... (T)he heir of the prophets ha..o; here
been taken over and altered in character by the CIU'istian rabbi' (p. 78). Dieter
LOhnnann also perceives similar developments in Matthew•s n.~ctio n al changes,
when he refet·s to ' cine halachische. Form . . . der Gemeinde' reflected in Mat-
the.w's redaction ofQ.9 t\~1atthew still retains an intense eschatological orientation,
but the pi'Ophetic fol'lll is dropped in favour of a systematized community order.
Another passage in Matthew. 16.19 (compare 18.18) is del'ived from a church
order tb t·mulation that looks toward an eschatological inclusion and exclusion:
I shull gl"c-to ym• the keys of the. kingdom of heaven.
and whatc\'Ct you bind upon cutth will be bound in hean:n,
and whatC\'Ct you loose upon canh will be loos~-d in hC:lvcn.
OWow oot T<x$ ~~:Al:i&as rirs ilootArios TWv oUpovWv.
~~:o:l 0 £0:v O[jo-os inl TiJS yi)s £oTOI O.&ptvov i-v Tol5 o\,po:vol5,
Ko:'i 0 £0:v AUons l:nl -ril5 yi)s toro• AtAu!Ji-vov iv ToiS oUpovois.
Scholarly interpretations o f the meaning ofbinding and loosing differ,10 but the
other examples of precise paralle.tism in Matthew would push us to tJ1e view that,
among othe1·things. the reference here is to the inclusion Ol' exclusion of members
in the present conunuJlity sn·ucture and in the eschatological judgeme.nt.11

Cilristianit)' amithe Ancient ,\·ft·diU.'ITtllleon Wor/d(Gntnd Rapids. Ml: Ecrdmnns. 1983). pp. 166-8..
9. 0. Uihtmann. Die Reda!·Jionder L(}gknqut'lle: Anh.: Zur weiterelf Obi!r!iefmmg der Logim-
Qitelle (WMANT. 33: Ncuk i rchcn~Vluyn: NcukirthCll('t. 1969). pp. 107- 21: quotulion rrom p. 107.
10. Davies and Allison. The GoJJ)t'l.4uonfing JtJ Soint Mollhew. \'OI. 2. pp. 634-41.
II. J. Andrew 0\•ermun. Mollhl"''l' :S Gospel ond Formati\te Judaism: The Sociol ll'odcl of the
MaJtheon C(}nummity (Minneapolis: Fortress. 1990). p. I39.
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 187

Whereas il is true that ]l.•latthew·s redactional use of this technique does not
always result in word-for-word parallelism. even when it is not absolute-ly precise
it often reflects a clear redactional tendency in that direction. Fo1· instance. f\·11.
6. 14-15 is not as precise as the examples above:
If you forgi\'C' people their sins.
your hca\·rnly father witJ also forgive you.
If ym1do noc fof¥i\·c: pcoplc-.1-
neilhl:'r will your fnthcr forgive your sins.
' EO:v yO:p 0:cflfrn: Tol) O:vl}pt.lno•S' TO: napo: rrT~ucna a \m:)v,
O:¢~ou Kc£1 i.t1.iiv 0 ncn f-p U:~~t:>v 0 OOpO:vtO)"
iav& pftO:+hn ToiS 0:\IEII)(o)no•S,
006£ 0 noTftp i.JIJClV 0:¢~ou Ttl nopo:rrrt.)IJOTO: ~&lv.
But even here Matlhew has evidently taken over Mk 11.25, insened it into the
Sermon on the MoUJll. and rendered it in parallel lines.
To be sure, precise antithetic parallelism can occasionally be found elsewhere,
as tb r example when a simple paradox is stated in Q (Lk. 14. 11: cf. Mt. 23.1 2):
All those who c:talt themsdvcs will be humbt~-d.
and all those-who humble thcmsd \'CS will b.: c..xahcd. D
nO:s 0\r.I!Wv iOVTOv ;a nt~vc.:.&ftonoe,
~eol 0 ;anu~v favTOv V4'c-X!~o.:.Tcu.

Matthew. however, moves well beyond such simple conn·asts in a number of

ways. First, Matthew's sayings can be grouped. Mt 6. 19-24 consists ofthreesay-
ings with antithetic pairs, the first two pl'ecisely parallel and the third containing
a variation of the verbs. Only in the last case does Luke contain close parallelism.
In Matthew, three general e.thical maxims. presumably from different parts ofQ,
are brought together, arc all arranged with two central lines in precise antithetic
parallelism (varied only by one word in the third saying). and then each is con-
cluded with a summill)' line. Second. some of M atthe w ~s examples of precise.anti-
thetic parallelism t·un on fot· a number of verses. as. for instance, in the case of the
wise person who built a house upon the rock (7.24-27; compare Lk. 6.47-49).
Especially importaJlt is a culminating example in the Gospel. Mt. 25.33-46.
The two halves of the contrasting thought, the positive and the negative, are here
arranged in parnllel columns:

12. The bcSI uncicnt textual witnc:;sc:s arc divided here on wllc:th~·r to include ' thtir sins· ntthis
point. thus tightening the p.'lralld ism. but the Inner ahc:m:Ui\•.: is viewed b)' many te:tt critics as a
corre«ion. und i,; lhus not gctK'rally the preferred text. For l.he purposes of di!leussion l ehercforc
ac-OCpc the less prcc.isd y patnJk .J rt-~1ding. uhhough the alternative would only strengthen the
conclusions of the plC$Cilt chspter.
13. This pattem i,; noc unusual when used to !>laic a p:undox: compare Diogcnes Luenius.. Lin's.
Chikl 2. who recounts thul when Chilo as-ked Aesop whut Zeus was up to. Aesop "-"Plied. ·He. is
lowering what i,; ll.tldc:tulting wh:u is low.' Compare in nddition ·Entb. 13b: ·1~ im whohumbk s
himselfthe HolyOnc. bk'SSCd be He. raiStCs up. and him who cxahs hin-.sclf the Holy on~·. blessed be
He. humbk s. •
188 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels
J.I'J"hc (son of hunmnity) will set the shee-p on his right and the goats on his felt
uThcn the-king will say co those 11 Thc:n he will say to lhosc

on his right on his len.

·come here. you who arc-blessed 'Get away from me. you who are
by my father. inhc:ritl.hc kingdom condemned. to the eternal fire
that has been prepared for you from the that has been prcpnrcd for the dcYil !lnd
foundation of the world: his mcs.scngc:rs:
J~or I was hungry and you gave me •:for I was hungry and you did not give
something to Ctll. me something to c.ul.
I was thirsty and you gii\'C-Illl:' I was thirsty a1ld you did not s)\'C- me
something to drink. something to drink.
I was a sltangcr and you took ml' in. ul \'laS a stranger and you did not tnkc me
'"naked and you clothed me. naked and you di-d noc clothe me.
sKk nnd you looked nficr me. I was in sicl: and in juil and you did not loo\: after
jail and you came to visit me.' me:

Jfjhcn the. rightcotiS will ilnswcr himand "Then these also will answer and say.
say. ·tord. Vlflen did we St:e you hungry ·Lord. when did we. sec you hunyy
and focd )X>U. or thirsty and gi\'c you or thirsty
something to drink?
J~When did we sec you a stnmgcr and or u sltungcr
take you in. or naked ond clothe you'? or naked

JV..\Ihcn did we sec yot• sick or in jail and or l1Kk or in jail

come to ' 'isit you?• and not cake care of you'?'
'The king will answcr and sa)' to the-m. .j,!Then he will answe.r th~·m and say.
Truly I say to you. \vflate\·er you did to ·Trui)· I say to you. wflate\'cr yotl did
one-of the le-11st of m)' brolhcrs and noc do to one of the: leust of these.
sisters. you did it to me.: you did not do to me:.:
•t.And these will prooc:ed to an eternal punishment. but the: righteous to ctemallife.
The pamllelism between the two halves is not absolutely precise.1J A thor-
oughly rigid antithetic parallelism extended over so many vet•ses would probably
have seemed artificial and not conducive to the rhetorical effect desired. Never-
theless. the parallel use of language is quite close, and appears to b uild upon
themes developed in the previous examples; that is, the issue of inclusion and
exclusion is here projected explicitly onto the eschatological judgement. as it has
been implicitly until now. (tis possible, even pt'Obable, ihat all of Matthew's uses
ofpt·ecise antithetic parallelism are interpretation and application for the com-
munity of Mt. J6.19. the saying on binding and loosing.

14. Ahhough it maybe suggested that here the: patalfdism i ~ a mnemonic device that indicnte~ nn
ora] tmdition for the passage:. I think chat it is unlikely (pace Charlc:s H. Lobr. ·oral Techniques in the
Go!'pel ofMauhcw'. CBQ 23 119611. 403-2>). Cenuinl)• in the case of shortersarins:;. it is mrialion
that is typic-al of proverbs. In grn..:ml. I nm inclined to agree:. with Dennis MacDonald. who in a
personal oommunic3tioo has ~atcd th..<tt he bc:lic:'•c sthacMal1hcw does not reflec-t tlx- inRuenoc of ora)
tradi1ions.. but only works with written sourc-es.
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 189

2. Precise Aulilhetic Parallelism in Jewish and C/ Literature

Since the compositional pattem that f\·1atthew is using of\en involves wisdom
sayings. and a lways involves parallelism, the fi rst place one might look fo r a
similar sort of composition would be in biblical texts such as Proverbs and Ben
Sira. wisdom texts that utilize parallelism. However. in cases ofHcbrew compo-
sition where the second line reflects some kind of negation or opposition to the
first. tlle identical tem1s are intentionally no/ used in both lines. Instead. there is
always an artful variation of the terms of the two contl'asting lines. For instance:
A wise son mokes a glod falhct.
but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. (Prov 10.1)
:~Oi~O" t :J'I i j:l
:1c.- t il.r.n *,·o:J p1

He wt.o walks wilh wise men bccomC'S \\isc.
but the companion of fools will suO·ct harm. (Pro\' 13.20}15
l::l.1' e·o:m·r~ -,~:i
:VI- · c·.,·o:~ lu-,
T11ese wisdom sayings could have been as rigidly constmcted as the one in
Matthew. but with a loss of a great deal oftheir poe.tic appeal. ln f.1ct, there is not
to my knowledge a single instance of this precise so11 ofantithetic parallelism in
a ll of Proverbs or Ben Sira. nor in the wisdom texts from Qumran. Although the
neat division of biblical parallelism into synonymous. antithetic and synthetic
parallelism has come in tOr a good deal ofjustified criricism by James Kugel and
Adele Berlin, 16 we should note that Matthew's usage is so ditle rent from Hebrew
parallelism in general that it lies comple.tely outside the purview o fKugel's and
Bel'lin's studies. Matthew is evidently appl)ring parallelism in a new way.
Outside of the wisdom books1 some isolated instancesofthis p1-ecise antithetk
parallelism can be found. As noted above~ the sayings concerning binding and
loosing al Mt. 16.1 9 and at 18.18 a1•e both precisely parallel. and Jhe fir.< I, where
the binding and loosing is tied to the keys of David~ echoes lsa. 22.22, which is
also organized in precise lines o f antithetic paJ'a llelism:

15. Reading lhc qere lnr/k for hlwk.1111d 'ii: O for li:J'::.
16. J. Kugd . Tht-Idea q{BiblicYJI Pol!l(l': ltJ PantiMism<lltd ill Histwr(Ncw Ha\·cn: Yuk Univct·
sily Press. 1981): A. Bcrlin.nw 0)'namks (}/Biblical Parolldi.rm (Bloomington: lndinnn Uni\'trsity
Press. 1985).
190 Bib/ical/nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels
And I will lay the key ofl.hc house of David upon his shoulder.
and he shall open. and no one shall shut
and he shall shu1. and no one shall ope-n.U
'!O~r::ri;~ i 1i"il:l nr;!lC ·r.-u1
i:C r ~l rn~,
: fiji~ p t "! - ;0'1

Where this same passage of Isaiah is alluded to in Rev. 3.7. it also retains precise
The-one who llus lhe key of David.
the-one-who opens and no one shui.S.
and d oses :md no one opens.
0 Exwv Ti)v Kkt:l v .O.auiO.,
0 Ovoiyt.>v Kal oV0Ei5 t::: ).t iail
Kal Kheiwv.:a i oOOEis O:voiyn·

Other passages could be brought forward as well, such as Jn 20.23 or Mk 16.16.

but thes.e are isolated. and not always p1-ec.isely pamltel. lt is interesting. however,
that this entire group of passages sugge..~ts the use of this pattem to expres..o,; the
community's final power to include or exclude people for the judgement at the
The blessings and curses fOund in several passages in the Hebrew Bible also
divide the world neatly into a binaJy opposition. Gen. 27.29 refers to the cove-
nant with Abraham:
Cursed be lhc one who cutsc:s )W .
and bk ssed bl~ the: one who blc:sses you.
,'\,~ r~,~

:r~,:J -r::r1:Jo,
At Jer. 17.5-8~ as above at Mt. 25.33-46, the more developed curses aJld blessings
can be arranged, as above in rvft. 25.33-46, in two columns:
1Cursl."d are the)' who trust in wlltu is ruk sscd are the)' who trust in lhe Lord.
human. a1ld their trust is the lord.
and take flesh as the-ir strength. and whose
beans tum away fromlhe lord.
'iflc)· shall be like- a shrub in the desert. "rhcy shall be: like a tree:.planted by tile:
waters.. and by lhc ~ream it will sc:nd forth
its rools.

17. Tbc prttise p:ualk li!>m is rclainc:d in the:.torgumim. lsa. 22.22. like- the other texts. has an
cscha1ologlcat perspcc.tiw-. C\'tn if the t"'tnts n:f~red to are und~r.:tood \'try ditTcrc-ntly from those
refc:ITtd loin the Nc:w TesL1mtnt tcxts..
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 191

and shall not sec when help comes. and shall not sec (or fcar)l i ,...tJcn heal
and shnJI dwell in the parched plae<s in btu its lcnvcs shuJJ stay green. und it shall
the.desert in 11 snh land that is noc be anxious in the y~-ar ofdrought. 11nd
uninhabi1~-d. it does not oc:asc bearing fruit
Compare also a similar passage at the conclusion of Shepherd ofHermas:
Whocn:r therefore.shall walk in th(SC commandments shall live.
and shall~ happy in lik
but whoc\'Of shall ncgkct them shall not lin:.
and shall be unhappy in life.
QuinuruJtu· ergo in his mamlmis amhulurerit.
l'in'l cr folix erit ilt ~·ita JtJa;
quicumque 1~1v TWgleurit.
11011 ._.;vet el erit it~felix ifl riUJ .ma. (Simi/. 10.4. I)

The beatitudes and woe.s in lk. 6.20-26 fl\3}' a lso attest this limited use of anti-
thetic parallelism, common. as we see here. in blessings and curses.
But these isolated instances are ofonly pa11ial help; Matthew uses this pattern
often, not just once or twice. It appears to be one ofMatthe.w's favourite.modes of
recomposirion ofsaying$. Although f\·1atthew does not apply it in evety occ.asion.
it is as strong a redactional tendency as one is likely to find in the Synoptic Gos-
pels. To my knowldege~ there is only one othe.r place.where this pattern appears
often enough to suggest a significant kinship with its usage. in Matthew: the
mishnaic tractate Abot.

3. Precise Antithetic Parallelism in A bot

Abot, ·fathers'. also called Pirkci Abot, 'Chapters of the Fathers'. is unlike the
othermishnaic tractates in that it contains no legal material, but is largely com-
posed of the wise sa)•ings of the pl'incipal rabbis. f rom the beginJling of the third
century CE Abot was treated by the rabbis as the foundationdocument oft he Mish-
nah. h delineates the pi'Ogre-ssion of oral law fi'Om Moses o-n Sinai dO\VIl through
Joshua, the elde1·s, the prophets, the men of the Great Synagogue. through all the
generations of rabbis to the time. of the codification of the Mishnah. It c--an be
divided into different sections, which were likely composed in different periods.19
T1le three sayings attributed to oneofthe students of Johanan ben Zakkai. Hanina
ben Dosa, are all in precise antithetic parallelism. One. example will suffice:

IS. The ketib h:u yr'. 'fcnr•. bul the: qere n·ads at this pointyr'/t, 'sec•. which is mor~ precisc:ly
19. Louis Finke-lstein. ' lntroduclory Study to PiJ'/;e Abet' .JBL 57 (1938). IJ.- 5-0: idem.Mabole·
Mas.w!kttJI Abot W!·Abot <I'Rabhi Nalmt (New York: Jewish Th~'Oiogital Seminal)'. 1950).pp. i:t. xv-
xvi. 52- 64: nnd Anlhony J. Saldarini, ·r he End ofthe Rabbinic Chain of Trndition·. JBL 93 (1974 ).
91- 106.
192 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels
E\'cryone whose dc:c:ds is more than his wisdom.
his wisdom endures.
And t -\'el)'Onc: whose wisdom is more than his docds.
his wisdom docs no I endure. (3.9b)W
'! _""..,n""'
~~ ....-! t.l .,.,
( -
_.., ·•:::''""',..
I ..,.., _.,_, L,.,
/ .J
no..pno 1~n
-, , ...· ...,- ·-...
·n~""r- - n~·: ~.,_ ,
.. ...... _ ' - !11 • ..1 w /~

nrY·pro 1rr-:::m r~
Conveniently enough tb1· our comparison, this rabbi lived at the end of the first
century CE, an exact contemporary o f Matthew. It is, however, unwise to date
these wisdom sayings on the basis of the rabbis to whom they are attributed. The
Mishnah was edited in the early third century CE. and although it is likely that cer-
tain sections of Abot were composed and collected earlier. the1-e was a tendency to
ascribe. important sayings to the. leading sages of the tradition. The lack o f a pre-
cise dating fo1·Abot traditions is not a prohibitive.problem, ho,veveJ'. Although the
rabbinic traditions in the Mishnah are often mined for the light they may shed on
the NewTestament, this single direction ofime1-est sometimes limits discussion of
the common stream of tradition that Matthew and some rabbinic traditions may
share. Matthew and Abot may reflect similar p1· arising in the first to second
cenn1ries CE.
In addition to these sayings of Hanina ben Dosa, a mm1be:r ofsayings attributed
to other rabbis reflect this pattem~ such as this one attributed toR. Jonathan ben
The-p~~rson who fulfi ls Torah while-poor
will iUihl it in the c1ki \...tlen rich.
And lhc person who makes void the Toruh while rich
will make il void in the end when poor. (4.9}
· : l £.'0 ii- ,r.,-n~ c··pcT;:J
,ir!'lt.'C ;-~ ..p; ·,:;';C
i~.tlt: iii1ni·n~ ; l:::::Di '?::.1
· :,liO ii':io:h 1!n:
In Abo! ( count twelve clear instances of precise antithetic parallelism ( 1.3: 2.9;
3.2, 3. 5, 9 [2 times], I0; 4.6, 9, I I a, 20)-" Two ofthe.m. 1.3 and 4.11a, also con-
clude with a moral tag line ve1y similar to what was noted above for Mt 6. 19-24.

20. 1'1le other sa)·ings are 3.9b. I 0. Numbering is according to the: Mishnnh. ootthc pmycrbool:.
Note that Finkelstein and Saldarini in the-foolnOteabo\'t' usc the prn)'('r book numbering of S.'l)'in.g.sin
Abo/, and thus their re-ferenc-es will not e.orrcspond precisely to those I have given. Churlcs Ta)·lor
notes the possibility that the: sroond p!!rallcl l in~· in tbc:s~- thrcc: snyings may have be:en added. because
they an:.not in .4boJ de Rabbi l1lothon 22 (Sayings ofrl~ .Je,riJ/1 Fat/~J·s, comprising Pirqe Aboth ill
Hebr.:wutJd Engli.\'h. will1 Notes and E.ww·suses (200cdn: New York: Ktav. 1969}. p. -l9}. 1iowt\'C:r.
Taylor rightly considers this 11 conjc:eturc.und it would not inany C-ilse.diminatc the: othe-r instnne<:s
of precise antithcttc: pnralld ism in AbfJI.
11. Nine 01hcr instaoccs are not !IS procisc (2.-l: 3.17: 4.5. lib: 5.16. 17. IS. 19 {2 times]).
suggesting. as in Mauhcw. that the goal wus not an ubsolutc rigidity. btu simplyadarityofc.ontrasLI
hav~- also found occasional uses of this form d scwhe:rc in rabbinic literature. '...tlich Isimply list here:
Sukk. 53a: B.&ll. 12b: '£rub. IJb. 53a: nnd AbfJt di! Rabbi No1lum (A) 24 (paralld to Ahot 3. 17).
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 193

Tlms, although Abo/ as a whole is closer in genre-to Q- they are both collections
of 'sayings of the wise' 1:! - many sayings in Abot, as in Matthew, utilize precise
antithetic pamllelism in sayings that dL~ttinguish those who are righteous from
those who are not.
This rhetorica l similarity betv.•een Matthew and A. bot suggests that the fom1er
was more in the orbit of 'Jewish Christians' (or more accuratel)r. Jegally obser-
vant followei'S of Jesus) as opposed to 'Gentile Christians· (or more accurately,
non-observant followers of Jesus). Although it has recently become quite common
among scholars to assume this.21 it has by no means been a unanimous conclusion.
Georg Strecker, Hans Dietel' Betz and John rvfeier have aU attempted to restrict
the Jewish-observant influence in Matthew to its earliest stages. and aver that
Matthew the redactor has moved into a Gentile-mjssion phase that is no longe-r
tied to strict Jewish observance.u If, however. it is the reformulalion of sayings in
Matthew that is so similar to Abo!. then Matthew the redactor \Vas likely schooled
in the same technique-s, and the similarities adduced here speak to the final layer
o f Matthew and not to its sources.
But beyond this general statement of the background of the t¥iO documents,
can we be more specific about the similar social context for Matthew and ..fbol?
One might assume that whatever explanation is suggested fo1·this redactional ten-
de-llC)' o f .Matthew, the same or a similar explanation would apply to Abel as
well. 25 T\VO possible approaches may be considered here. One possible explana-
tion is that Matthew and Abet are both auempting to provide boundary definitions
for their groups. Matthew is certainly a sectarian document, and much has been
written about the sectarian nature of various Jewish groups in the first ce.nttlly.
W. D. Davie-s asserts tJlat implicit in much of the Se.rmon on the Mount is the
same contrast between True Israel and False Jsrael as that whic.h is drawn more
explicitly in the antitheses.16 The beatitudes draw a contrast between those who

12. Jame$ M. Robinson. ·toGOJ SOPHON:On thcGattung ofQ'. in idem :md 1-ldmul Kocs1er.
Trajectories Througll Early Cltristianity (Philacklphin; Fonrcss. 19i t ). pp. 71- 113.
23. A. J. Snldarini. Muttht•w 's CIJriJficrll-,h:wi)·h Conummily (Chicago Studies in the 1-listory of
Judaism: Chicago: Uni\'·of Chieago Press. 199-1);!\.hnin Hcngd . ·zurtnanhii s.:h('tllk~tpredi.:t
und ihrem jiidisehcn l·lintcryuncl>. TR 52 ( I 987). 327-400: and On:rman. Mattlww 's Go.~pel.
24. Georg Strecker. Der ll'eg ckr GentCIJtigkeil: Untersud11mg :ur Tlleo/ogie des .4fauMu.s
(FRLANT. 82~ GOuingcn: Vundcnhocd: & Rupn'thl 1971): HansDicttt He1z. £mryso11th<! Sm iJ(m
on life Mount (trans. L L Wd bom: Philadelphia: Fortress. 1985): and John Meier. Lmv tmd HiJtO(I'
ill Matthew S Gospel: .4 Redadio11crl Swdy of .4ft. 5: I i-48 (An Bib. 71: Rome: Hibfical lnstilutc.
1976). pp. 15- 2.l
25. The suggestionsofD.wid E. Orton. The U11derJtamfir1g Xribe: Mallhnlla11d1he Apomb1t~k
/detr/(JSNTSup. 25: Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 1989). pp. 165- 76. 239 n. IS. conc-erning
Matthew's reworking of sayings ns an ·apocalyptic scribe' arequilc suggcstiw. but in lightof t.hecvi-
<kncc here. one would also have to ask what !l.fatthcw's method has in common with Abot: thai is.
Mallhcw•s apocaJyptie scn'b.1fism shan~ a c.ruciafcharoctttistic wi1h Abot's unapoealyptic. scrib:tlism.
Further. Onon dis1inguishes (pp. 161-2) Pharisaic·rabbinicscribalism from that ofMauhew. whose
.scribalism more closely approximnles proph~'t)'. On this s~-.c the- d ir.cus~ion below conc-erning
Matthew's limitation of propbcty.
26. W. D. D.wics.. n~~ Sumunm•1he Mmmt(C-nmbridge. VK: C-ambridge-Uni\X'Nity Press. 1966).
pp. M-1.
194 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

are pure and good and those who are not: ·You are the sah of the e.arth·,' You are
the light of the world'. A recent analysis by Anthony J. Saldarini presses this sec-
tarian interpretation fi.111her. and argues that Matthew condemns the scribes and
Pharisees, along with other Jewish leaders, as pan of a programme to define the
community's sectarian boundaries.'~? This could conceivably be caJTied over to
such seemingly innocuotL:; sayings as Matthew's version of the wise man who
built his house upon a rock. Placed in precise antithetic parallelism. the contra.~tt
between the man who buih his house upon a rock and who bui lt his house
upon the.sand is taken to be an eschatological distinction between those who have
the proper orientation and those who do not. This theory commends itself espe-
cially when one considers that one of the few places outside ofMatthe.wandAbol
where precise antithetic parallelism occurs is in the appropriation of the binding
and loosing tradition in Jn 20.23 and Re.v. 3.7. a tradition that is certainly appro-
priate for bound'lry distinctions. It could be argued that what is emphasized in
these antithetic S3yings in f\•fatthewand Abot is the t•adi<:·al demand ofa cet1ain life-
style and the imposition of a sectarian, divided-off consciousness. The sayings
attempt to simplify an approach to religious life that is based on a single ethos.
However, Matthew is likely a more.sectarian document than isAbot. Although
one could attempt to date the rele,•ant sayings in Abot at an carl)• period, more
contemporary with Matthew, the sayings in question simply do not seem to be
applied to the task ofboundary fonnation.211 Saldarini, while emphasizing the sec-
tarian na1Ure of Matthew, has rightly also minimized a sectarlan tendency among
the Pharisees in the first century. or among other groups that would constitute the
beginnings o f the rabbinic movemem.29 Shaye J. D. Cohen, indeed, argues that

17. SnJd:uini. Mut!hew :S Christian-Jeui:dt Cmmmmity.11uoughotu this chapter Itake ·sectarian·

to refer to small groups thnt div«kd ofr from l:ugc:rsocittaJ grouping:;. Debates
about the definition of:<c:ci.Scross-cuhurally need not detain us hc:rc. ifwe understand thc:ireSS(nc:C: in
tc:nns or the: strong ·~·ns.lon with society.
28. Si.ncc: Abo! is likdy a composite text. we may wonder whet:hc:r this form is round mote orten
insoctionsthat arc ascribed bySI(holars to okkr collcetions ofsayings. Procise antithetic pamllc:lism
is used ortc:-n in 3.1· 10. which is. according to Finkelstein. aShamrnaitecolloction ofsayings orsages
who li\·cd nt the c:nd ofthc firstlllld the: be-ginning or the second century. that is. roughly contemporary
with Mattbew(Finkdstc:in. ·lntroductorySrudy;' itlf!m.Maholc-'-MosJ.l'kllJt Abot. pp. ix, xv- :wi. 52-64:
and see Saldarini. 'End ofthc:-Rabbinic Chain'). 11lc oorn:spondc:n« posited h~'!J'ebctwc:en Matthew
and a Shsmmaite oolloction ofsayings is nJso interesting in light of Mntthc:w•s promulg-ntion at ML
19 .9 ofthc:.Shammaitc: position on the ~'Tounds for divorce: (cf. Gir. 9. 10). II is also used elsewhere in
Abo!. bowc:ver.and in sayings notaltributed by Finkelstein to oldcrcollcctions. Procisc nntithc-tic: pur-
allelism is used in all thrcc: or the sayings auributc:d to Hanin:t be-n Dos.1 from the Shammaite c:ollc:c:.-
tion {3.9 -10). where the word wisdon1 figures prominen1ly. but it is also used in a number of ether
sa)•inp,. most of which arc.attributed to s•ud~"nts or Akibn. where.the word Torah grnc:rnlly appears
prominently (3.3. .f.6. 9. II a: compare l ib).
29. A. J. Snld:uini. Pharisees. Scribt~s m1d Saddtt<(-'f!S in Pal~ililtiun So<ie1y: A Sociologirol
Apprc><N:h (\Vilmington. DE: Michlld Gluzic:r. 1988). pp. 285-7. He often combiMs the: scribe,.; and
Pharisee-s in his an11lysis of Mauhc:w. as indeed the:. Evangd ist does. but as he and other Sl(hobrs note..
the fomlc:t tcml is negative-when ll$$0Ciatcd with the: Ph.1risccs. atld neutral or positive when it is not
{Saldarini. Mutt/u:w ·.f ChJ·istialt.J~wish Comm1111ity. p. 103: Ovc:nnan. Matthew ":;Go.wel. pp. 115-17:
Reinhart Hummel. Die AusdJialtlll'!rse/Iung zwischen Kin:hc- und Judenttlffl im MallhiiJtsewmgi!lium
(Bcitriigo.ur Evangdischc:n Thrologk: Thc:ologisc:bc: Abhandlungen 33~ Munich: Knjscr. 1963}. p. 18).
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 195

a lthough sectarian divisiveness was a part ofJudaism befOre the Jewish Wm·, the1·e
was a gradual acceptance at Ya\rneh of the-princ.iple of agreeing to disagree.30 T1ms
the group that was responsible for collecting alld passing on Abot \Vas not likely as
concerned with boundary formation, and it would be difficult to reconstmct a
sectarian period in the earl}' sayinw; ofAbot.
As a second possible explanation of the relationship, we note that a numbe-r o f
scholars have argued that Matthew's scribal inte.restsco1-respond to scribal prac-
tices among Jews in the first ce-nttuy .) 1 The scribe was a professional who had the
training to be able to read and write, but was also steeped in the ethos of learned
study and expertise in the written traditions of Israel. On several occasions Mat-
thew takes up the image o f the scl'ibe and carries it over to a community o fbelie-
vers in Jesmi that m.a}' have contained few actual scribes. Matthew concludes
chapter 1 3~ the parables chapter, with a paean to the ·scribe trained for the king-
dom of heaven· .n it is possible that precise antithetic parallelism was a common
compositional technique in scribal circles at lhe end ofthe first century, and was
used by Matthew. a scribal, Jewish tbllower of Jesus, and by the scribal fOrebears
of rabbinic Judaism) .l
This can perhaps be specified more precisely. l would propose that a tbrm that
in Matthew emphasized inclusion and exclusion has in Abot also been used as the
means of discerning the-person with the proper ethical lifestyle. Ben Sira had
earlier invited his readers to take up a lifestyle committed to wisdom, but for him
this lifestyle was a professional option for wealthy males only, understood to
apply to all aspects of a gentleman's concerns. Abo/, like Matthew, affimts the
ideal o f scribal wisdom. but the unadorned simplicity of the precise antithe-tic

30. S. 1. 0 . Cohen. 'The Signihconce of Yuvndt: Phari s~'t's. Rabbis. and the- End of k.wish
Stttnrianism'. HUCA 55 ( 1984). 27- 53: id;.'m. From the Maccahf!es tolhe Mishnah (Library ofEurly
Christianity: Philaddphiu: Westminster. 19SS}. pp. 119. 124-64.
31. Kristcr Stcndabl. The School ojS1. Ma1thr>1' tmd Its UJr ofthe 0/dTeJtament (Philadelphia;
Fortress. 1968): M. lack Suw. H'iJdcm, ChriJWfogy tmd Lm~ ;, Molt/sew ·s GoJpel (Cambridge.
MA: Harn1rd Uni\'ersity Press. 1970). pp. 11~7: and Cdia M. Dc-uiSch. Lady Wisdom. Jesus. orul
lite Sages: Metophcr andSoda/ Context in MuulU'w's Go.<pd(Vallcy Forge. PA: Trinity Press Inter·
nation.1f. 1996).
32. Orton. Under-stu.mling sm·fw. p. 141.
33. This possibility wouJ.d become cwn more interesting if we could noc:ept an early roc:onstn•c-
tion ofJacob Nrusncr (·Thc FonnationofRabbinic Judaism: Ynvnch [Jamnilll from A.D. 70 to 100'.
in H. Temporini nnd W. H:l3sc (cds).A•tfitirg 1111dNiedergu.ngdf!r riimisclhm Weltl/.19.1.{Berlin: de
Gruytcr. 1979j. pp. 3-42). Hc a~ucd thut the-PhnristC$bc-forc the Jewish \VIlf\VCrt-not chumctcrizcd
byscribuJ interpretution of the Scriptures nnd did not exhibit other S~Cribal interc.s!S. but were mnrkcd
instead by lhc promulgution of oral legal traditions. Scribulism. on lhc other hand. was not p:.nictl·
larfy nssociattd with these oral hlllakhic ttnditions.. but ralhcr with lcumcd interprctution of legu]
mauc-rs based on Scripture. After the Jewish War in 70 CE. the interests of lhcsc two groups mc:rgcd
in what we now call rabbinism. Matthew. in such a scenario. might then be likened to scrib~-s who did
notjoin the merger with Pharisaism. This would aocount for both Mallhew•s fondness for scribes nnd
scriba1 mctbods. and tbe heighte-ned pok-micag.oinst Ph11risccs. The-problem. howt\'er. is that so little
is known about the rdationsof the scribes and Pharisees before 70 a: that such rcoonstmctions remain
speculative. Nc:usncr himsclflate-.r rej«tcd this rcconstruCiion and c->;presscd doubts about our ability
to discern with any precision the relations of Phsrisccs with anybody in the first century (Judaism:
The £ridenc'e tifl!le MiJI111a/J (Chicago: Uni,·crsity of Chicago Pn'SS.. 1981 ). pp. 70-1).
196 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

parallelism, separating unmistakably those tb und to be righteous from those who

are not, is directed to a broader cross-section of society, at the same time that it
increases t:he demand of moral perfection. In both Matlhew and Abo/, the bal-
anced, either/or contrasts of the sayings are framed in such a way as to leave no
doubt in the minds of the audience that one path leads to acceptance before God,
and the other to destmction.
Further, in Abo/ and f\·fatthew wisdom has found its perfect incarnation. for the
studems of Akiba. wisdom is realized in Torah (Abot 3.3 ; 4.6, 9. I I). while for
Matthew. it is realizc.d in the teachings of Jesus. As M. Jack Suggs would press
it.J4 Jesus in Matthew is the incamation of wisdom and Torah. and so Matthew's
criterion is not so differen t from the 5a)'ings in Abot. Wisdom is experienced in
Matthew not simply through traditional wisdom motifs, but through a sort of
intensified scribalism. are good scribes and bad scl'ibes in .Matthew, and
the good scribes are marked by the crucial tem1 ' righteous', dikaios (f\·ft. 23.29-
30. 34: compare 13.1 7). Russell Pregeant and Earl James Breech also emphasize
the extent to which Matthew increases the theme of the ·persecution of the just
man·. a wisdom motif analysed thoroughly by George W. E. Nickelsburg.Js In
neither Matthew nor A. bot are the traditional wisdom motifs presented as they had
bee.n for centul'ies. Rather. what is common to the two is an orientation to wisdom
that is transrnutcd into an all-cmbmcing demand for a righteous ethos and
lifestyle. Matthe\v's saying. 'Evel)• scribe. trained tbr the. kingdom of heaven is
like a householder who brings out ofhis stores some.thing old and sonlething new'
( 13.52). seems to reflect on this development within what had formerly been a
very conservative tradition:t5The wisdom aspect in all of these c.ase.~; is not tb und
in lraditional wisdom, but in the new experience o f the scribe and sage.

3~. Suggs. Wisdom, ChriJtoiO[;J', lmd L«w.prusim. Ahhough Marshall Johnson ('RcAoctions on a
Wisdom to ).fanhcw's Clui!:tology', CBQ 36 (1974). 44-64) nnd Oa,·ies nnd Allison(T1te
Golpel A«ording Jo Suitll Muuhe1r. \'OI. 2. pp. 295) critieiu Suggs for O\'Cm.1imnting the
imponanoc: of the wisdom Cluistolo~v in Matthew. they failed to r'-wgnizc all 1M implications of
Suggs' suggestive book. Admittedly. Suggs did not drow out all of lhc implications, but see 11lso
Orton. Untkrstmuli11g St'rib<-: Oeutsth. Lad)· Wisdom:and Ben Witherington Ill. Jesus theSog.e: The
Pilgrimage ofWiJdom (Minneapolis: Fortress. 1994).
35. R. Prcgcant. 'The. Wisdom Pass11gc!> in Mlllthew>s Story·. in Dtwid lull (ed.). SBL Semi11ur
Papers /990 (Adnnta: Scholars. 1990). pp. 469- 93; ~ J. Br'-"CCh. ·crucifix ion as Ordeal: Tmdition
and lnterprctation in Matthew 26-2&' (PhD dissertation. ~l 11rvard Uni\'etsity. 1976): and G. W. E.
Nickdsburg. Reslln·e t'lion, lmmmtuliry, mtd Eternal Lifi• ;, lfltertestamenra/Judaism (Hiltvard Thco·
logic-at Studies. 16: Cambridge. ).fA: Harvatd Unin:rsity Prt$$. 19i1). pp. 48- 92: idem. 'The-Genre
and Function of the Markan Pwion Nlllf3tive•. HTR 73 ( 1980). 153-S•t. Brooch notes that in p.1rticu·
Jar M.atthcw focus~-son thetc-n n dikaios. nnd the c-rucifixion SCCtl('COntainsd car pamllcls to \Visdom
2- 5 (compare cspcc:ially Mt. 27.43 with Wis. 2.10·20). Bernard Bra1ldon Scott IISSUffiC$ but do(S not
dcmonstmtc the presence of wi!OOm motifs in Mauhcw ('TheGospcl ofMnuhcw: A Snpiential Pcr-
fonnnnc<.ofan Apocalyptic Discoum·. in B. B. Scott l.G. Perdue.and W. Johnston \\'iscm.:"'n J~-dsJ.
In Search ~{H'isdcm: E.mrys ir1 Memory ofJuhn G. Gammie (louisville: Westminster/John Knox.
1993}. pp. 145-62}.
36. Compare here.a latersnying from the Talmud. 'Emh. 21b (quoted also by Davies and Allison,
The Grupe! According w Saint Mallfutw. \'Ol. 2. p. 447): Regarding th( ·new and t.he.old' of Cant. 7.14.
·the old arc the commandments <kri\•cd from the words of Torah while lhc new 111c those dcrivcd
from lhc wonls ofthescribes'. Saldnrini. Mou!lell' ':; C/~ristialf.Je•~· Community. p. 103. notc.s thnt
WILLS Scribal Melhods in Mal/hew and Mishnah Abot 197

1\·lichael Fishbane hns chm·ted the general course of such a development in

ancient Judaism when he speaks of the rise of scribal is m as a fonn of Jewish
exegesis, learning and spirituality after lhe Exile, and its culmination in rab- Many o f the texts of this period, of ditTerent genres, reflect the scribe's
special way of appropriating ancient tradition and interpreting it. According to
Fishbane-, some texts lean more toward a sectarian claim to final revelation (Daniel.
Qumran texts)1 while others denounce and even repress such claim.s to final reve-
lation. and point the audie.nce to a benign assurance in the efficacy of legal obser-
vance (Ben Sira 1 rabbinic literature). In this last regard~ Fishbane adduce-s many
passages from A. bot (though none of the Mtithetic parallelism passages). and sees
in the rabbinic appropriation of scribalism a ·neutralization of the prophetic
impulse - its scribalizatio n~ one might say, and it'> reemployment in the service of
the Law' (p. 75). Klisemann (above) used almost identical words to describe
MaHhew·s own attenuation of the prophetic se.ntences of holy law, and here we
may be closer to the significant similarity between the sectarian Matthew and the
non-sectarian Abot, a sort of intensified scl'ibalism that also has the effect o f
delimiting the direct revelation of prophecy. Matthew and Abot bl'ing to scribal-
ism an intensified moral demand that leads, in effect1 to a new relig ious disci-
pline. To be sure. there may remain a number of important differences between
them. Aside from the Christo logical divide, f\·fatthew e.mphasizes intentions and
inner dispositions in t:he demand for a moral perfectionism more strongly than
does A bot. This is the clear thn1st of the antitheses of Matthew 5. the instn1ctions
on tbsting in Mt. 6. 16- 18. and is at least part o f the basis for Matthew's con-
demnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. Although motives and inner disposi-
tions are sometimes addressed inAbot, more sayings emphasize actions. and do so
more stro ngly }~ (f a new religious discipline is advocated by each text, the fOcus
of that discipline is chm1ed ditlerentl}'~ and the more sectarian Matthew was
probably aware o f that Matthew probably le.amed a scribal tradition- including
the use of precise antilhetic parallelism - from teachers similar to those in Abot,
but dramatically redirected it.
Yet the force of the precise antithetic parallelism is still present in both. The
requirements laid before the audience - the ethos that will lead to righteousness
before God - are remarkably simple, so simple that they do not need adornment,
and should not be made complicated. There isx andnot-x. To paraphrase Shab.
31a. the 1'est is commentary.

MI. 13.52 iO\•o lves both old trndi1ion and new. btu on p. 97 follows Johnson. ' Rc:Rcctions on a
\Visdom Approach'. in minimil'.ing any wisdom inflw:nccs on Matthew.
37. Mic-hael Fishbane. TIJi•GantwltsojToroh: fs.suys in Biblico/ J./entlt'm'Uti<s(lndisnuStudies
in BibliClll Litcrntuw. Bloomington: lndillna Uni\·c:rsity Press. t 989). pp. M- 78.
3S. Motives nnd inner dispositi-ons are ~-agucly addressed mAbot l.3: 2.2, 4. 9: 4.21 : 5.13. 16. 19.
while actions nrec:mphasizochtrongly nl 1.2. 15. 17~ 1.1. 14. 15: 3.9. 15. 17; 4.2. I I. 17: 5.8. 9. 14: 6.7.

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Old Testament 20.7 127 Numbers

G~lti!Jis 20.&.11 39 3.1 65-6
1.27 50 20. 13 127 12.3 139
2.2-3 35 20. 14 127 13. 17 179
2.4 64, 66 20. 18 141 18.21-32 39
2.24 51 21.12 127 24. 17 98. 110
5 66 21.23-4 127 27.1 7 134
5.1 64. 66 23.20 50. 123
5.3-32 66 24.8 90. 133. /Hmeronomy
6.9 65- 6 141 4.1 41
6.10 66 24. 16 127 5-6 42
10.1 65- 6 5 3. 30.41
12.3 94 Lc\'ilk lu 5.1 41
14.10 86 1- 16 42 5.6 41
15.9 95 2.13 90 5.10 32
17 81 3.2 90 5.16-2 1 41
19.30-7 70 II 169 5.17 127
27.29 9. 190 15. 19-30 ISO 5.18 127
32.1 4~ 1 5 95 17- 26 42 6 41
28.14 94 19 3. 30. 42- 3 6.1 41
38.8 51 19.3 42 6 .2 41
38.12-30 70 19.9-10 42 6.3 41
4 1.45 172 19. 11-12 42 6 .4-9 32
4 1.50 172 19. 12 127 6.5 31- 2.40--
49.11 86 19.1 3 42 I. 51
19. 14 42 6.6 41
E:wdu.s 19. 15 42 6.1 3 50.53
1.15- 2. 10 68 19. 16 42 6.16 50. 125
2.11- 15 68 19. 17-IS 42 8.3 50. 123
2.15 68 19.1 8 31- 2. 41- 10.12 32
2.19-2 1 68 3. 51.127 11.1 32
3.6 51 19. 19-31 42 11.22 32
1-9 109 19.32 42 14 169
19.13 141 19.33-4 42 14.22-9 39
19.16 92. 141 19.35-7 42 17.5 127
19.19 141 21.7 71 19.21 127
19.20 68 21.14 71 22.23-7 23
20.1- 17 32 24. 19-:W 127 ?_ .,,
" .)• 70-1
20.1-7 39 27..1().3 39 23.23 39
20 .3- 17 68 24.1-4 127
Judex ofRcforences 217

24.1 39.51. 169 I Kings 78.71-2 134

24.3 169 11.1 8S-6 89.3 161
25.5 51 I U2 161 89. 10-11 ISO
25.6-10 43 14.8. 161 89. 10 ISO
26.12-1 5 J9 17. 17-N 83 89.20 161
31.1 6S 19. 10 so 89.3940 160
31.24-5 LX.~ 127 19.14 so 91.11 50
31.24 68. 126 22.17 134 107.23-30 ISO
32.45 6S II 0. 1 51. 125- 6
34.1·4 6S 1 Kings 118.22 51
35 <3 I iS 118.25 ISO
1.8 15
Josll11a 1. 10-1-l 83 Prowrbs
2.1-2 1 70 4. 1&-37 83 10. 1 IS9
6 .25 70 8.19 161 13.20 IS9
13.14-19 140
Judges 19J4 161 lsoioh
6.36 179 20.6 161 1.1-5 S6
13.5 69 23.13 SS-6 5.1 51
13.15 95 23.29 92 S.S·IO 43
15.1 95 6.9·10 124
16.7 156 I C!lrolliC'Ies 6.9 50
16.11 156 112 134 7- 9 24
16.17 156 17.4 161 7.2 24
17.7 161 7. 13 24
Ruth 2. 14-15. 22~. 19. 50-2.
3.6-9 70 1 CluYJIIide.\· 122
3.7 69 15.2 ISS 7. 17 69
4.13 70 35.25 92 8.4 53-4
8.8 122
1 Samuel Psalms 8.21- 9.1 50.54
2.30 185 2 36 8.23- 9. 1 24
10.19 179 2.2 36 10.1-3 43
II.B 179 2.7 6. 36.1 21 11.1 50
14.39 179 7. 11 179 13. 10 51
11.3 86 S.J 51. 124 14.13 so
15 31 14. 15 50
1 Samuel 17.7 179 18.3 141
3.18 160 18.14 92 20. 1 ~ 140
5.1-3 ISO 22.1 51 12.22 189- 90
5.2 50. 52. 22.2 51. 116 27.12-13 141
134. 138. 22.& 51 2"7. 13 141
161 22.9 51 18.8 120
15 160 22.19 51 28. 16 51
7.8 160 46.6 LXX 141 19. 13 42. 50. 53.
7.13-14 160 41.5 141 124
11 .2-27 70 6922 51 33. 1 185
12.15-25 70 74.13-14 ISO 33. 15-16 32
15.30 85-6 74.14 ISO 35.5 50
78.2 50. 54 37.35 161
218 Bib/ical /nterprelalion in Early Christian Gospels

l.fUiah (cont.) Jeremia!• H (W>(t

3&.21 136 1.5-7 120 3.1-5 140

40 78 7. 11 34. 120. 6.6 50
40.3 50. so. 125 124 11.1 50.53-4.
40.24 156 13.1 7 142 69. 122
4 1.8- 10 150 17.5-S 9. 190 11.6 156
41.16 156 23. 1-6 135
42.1-4 50. 52. 30. 16 185 Amos
149. 158 31.15 50. 52- 3. 2.6·1 43
42.1 6. 121. 69 5.4 32
130. 152 31.3 1-4 141 5.10-12 43
43.10 153 32.6-9 54
44.1·2 150 32.9-15 140 Obodioh
44.21 150 34.4 156 15 185
45A 150
46.1J 1J9 Ezekiel Jmwll
47.12·1 5 109 1.13 92 1.17 50
48.9· 10 151 2. 1-7 110
48.20 150 1.2-4 120 Miroil
49.3 ,_
I"' 4. 1- 5.1 7 140 2.6 161
49.1-6 149 6. 1-7 &6 5.1 50.52
49.6 151 6. 11 -14 &6 5.2 69. 134.
52.7 149 11.23 SS-6 138
52.13- 53. 12 149. 153 12. 1-7 140 5.3 50
52.13 152-3 16.<!0-3 141 5.4 IJ4
52.15 151 22.6-31 43 6.8 32
53 s. 147. 24. 15-27 140 1.6 50
H9- 51. 34 8, 141- 1.
153. 157. 16 1 Nalmm
160-1 34.2-3 161 1.1 62
53.1 149 34.4 136. 161
53 A

8. 50. 54.
147- 9. 34.8 134
155. 157- 34.2.3-4 160- 1 Haggai
62 34.2.3 134. 161 -2 1.1 1 86
535 149 37.14-S 141
53.6 149 37.14 161 lt-'<'huri(lh
53.7-S 149 43.1 ll6 1.1 140
53.9 149 2.13 95
53.11 151. 156 Vall if!/ 3.8 153. 160
53.12 149 2.5 l.X); 109 4.14 95
55.3 141 7. 13-14 94 6.5 95
56.1 51,120. 7.13 51. 53. 93. 6.7 95
124 126 8.1 179
57.13 156 8.11 156 8.20-3 95
58.6-10 44 9.11 51 9-14 7. 90-1 .
6 1.7-8
10.6 92
1Sl 9-11
94. 133-4
62.11 51.138 12.3 151 9 141
Judex ofRcforences 219

9.4 133 12.6 91.96 3. 1 50. so. 12.~

9.6 71 12.&-9 96 3.24 80-2
9.9-10 7. 138-9. 12.9 91 4.5-6 t:NG 15 I
144 12.10- 13. 1 94 4.6 f:N(j 80--2.151
9.9 5. 7. 51-2. 11.10-14 89-91.93-
54.86- 7. 4. 97 Apocrypha
89. 133-4. 12.10-12 51.53 TtJbit
137-41. 12.10-11 91 1.1 62
144 12.10 91. 93.
9.10 86. 95. 140. 145-6 Judith
JJS- 9 12.11-14 95 10. IS 92
9.11-12 141 12.11 96
9.11 90. 133. 11.12-14 92 Wisdom
141 12.1! 91. 133. 1. 13·20 152
9.14-1 5 141 140 2.13 152
9.14 92. 141 12.14 140 5.3-6 152
9.16 96. 141 13.1-6 92
10.1-3 90 13.1-2 96 Sir(l('h
10.2-3 134 13.2-6 94 11.12-13 151
10.2-6 136 13.4 96 17.28 136
10.2 133- 6 13.7-9 87. 90. 18. 13 135
10.3-6 135 144-S 30. 14 136
10.3 134-5. 142 13.7 5. 51.54.
10.6 135 86-7. 89. &mC'h
IO.S 141 125. 133. 1.1 62
10.10 141 140. I H .
11- 13 144 144-5 1 M(t('NJfx.e-,_s
II 135. 143. 13.8-9 142 8. 12 92
145 14 5. &9. 9~7
11.1-3 90 14.1-5 86. 88. 95 3 M(t('NJfx.e-,_s
II .13 145 14.1 95 3. 17 92
II .17 144 142 95
11.10 140 14.3 95 1 Esdras
I 1.11 96 14.4 SS-6. 9S- 1.1 62
11.12-1 3 133 6. 133. 140 13.6 85
11 .12 89 14.5 5. 94--5. 13.49 177
II .13 51. 54.89. 133. 142 14 67
142-4 14.6 96 14. 1-6 67
11.15- 11 144 14.6-7 95 14.22 67
11.15 137 14.7 5. 96 l.f.24 67
11.16-11 142 14.&-12 95 14.37 67
II .16 133. 135- 14..& 94
96 14.42 67
7. I·B. 1 ~5 14.9 95
11.17 90 14.13-21 95 New Ten :unt nt
12- 14