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[XTalk] Re: Messiah in spite of himself

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  • Brian Trafford
    ... I would like to pause here for a moment if I may. Mark clearly thought that Jesus was of the House of David, but he mentions it only once, and puts it on
    Message 1 of 76 , Dec 1, 2003
      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, LeeEdgarTyler@a... wrote:
      >Hence my stipulation that he knew well those who did proselytize
      >Rome. But it is not only the Davidic origin (which the gospels
      >ensure Jesus had)

      I would like to pause here for a moment if I may. Mark clearly
      thought that Jesus was of the House of David, but he mentions it
      only once, and puts it on the lips of one blind man (Mark 10:47-
      48). Outside of that it gets no further mention from him. In John
      there seems to be some ambivilence about claiming Jesus comes from
      the House of David at all (cf. John 7:42), and the author of Hebrews
      (another arguably early Christian text, contemporaneous, at least,
      with the Gospels themselves) does not call Jesus the Davidic
      Messiah, nor does he equate Jesus with such lineage. He tells us
      only that Jesus was from Judah, a point that most historians do not
      seem willing to grant in any case.

      What we see is that Matthew and Luke, for whatever reasons, thought
      that connecting Jesus to David was a big deal. The rest of the
      other authors pretty much ignore the issue, or treat it in an almost
      off hand way. Is your argument not reading back into the beliefs of
      Jesus' earliest followers based upon what we learn only from two
      sources, in fact, from two sources that are very likely to be
      related to one another by way of direct dependence, namely Matt and
      Luke, and later still (probably) by the author of Revelation as well?

      Jesus was thought to be the Messiah by his earliest follwers. This
      is an historical fact. But that he was thought to be a Davidic
      Messiah, or that the connection to the Davidic messianic
      expectations seems to be either weak, or incidental, to most of the
      authors the NT is likewise pretty clear.

      So, why make the connection at all? We all seem to agree that Jesus
      did not meet the expected criteria of just about anyone for a
      Davidic Messiah. Why not accept that Jesus was thought to be one of
      God's anointed during his ministry, but that this identification was
      not necessarily with a Davidic type of figure? That comes later,
      and is a developing feature in Jesus' Christology. A virtual non-
      issue for Jesus' followers during his life, minor point to Paul,
      Mark and John. HUGE point to Matthew and Luke, and this view
      eventually comes to dominate Christian thought. During his life
      here on earth, it looks like Jesus was thought to be some kind of
      Messiah, maybe even a new type based on his (or his disciples') own
      particular theological thought. When he dies, and is then thought
      to have been raised from the dead, the earliest Christians start
      looking for a more fixed "type" of Messiah, and among those types
      they come to use the Davidic model.

      >but the nature of the Messiah himself that's at question. I
      >wouldn't dispute that Paul concurred with the notion that Jesus was
      >of the house of David.

      Okay, and this is the puzzle. Paul doesn't need the connection. In
      fact, even Mark does not, and barely gives it a nod. So why use it
      at all? Maybe it serves as some kind of convenient lauch point for
      Paul, but if so, he seems unconcerned about using it.

      Perhaps the problem here is that everyone is wondering if Jesus
      thought he was a Davidid or not, when the real question is whether
      or not he thought he was *anointed* by God in some fashion. If the
      latter, then he thought he was the (or at least "a") Messiah, and a
      part of his message was to give the idea of the Messiah a new
      twist. The Davidic Messiah image, then only comes about after his
      death, perhaps connected to reflections on Psalm 16 as we see in
      Peter's speech in Acts 2:25-30. Such a reflection would most likely
      come about if Jesus had made some kind of extremely powerful and
      profound impression upon his followers. They thought he was God's
      anointed prior to his death, but after his resurrection, then they
      *knew* that he was much more than they, or anyone else had ever

      >I do suggest that those Jews who expected the Messiah did not
      >expect Paul's cosmic Christ. We are looking at a complete revision
      >of the concept of Messiah here, not just the particular detail of
      >Davidic origin, which was easily retained.

      And easily set on the back burner, it would seem. Paul and the
      other apostles are already busy describing their new version of a
      Messiah, and many of them do not seem all that worried about
      connecting it to the old expected versions.

      Now, all of that said, I believe that the best argument in favour of
      Jesus being seen as a Davidic "King of the Jews" before he was
      killed is that this does seem to be the principle (only?) reason
      that the Romans killed him in the first place. Perhaps by the end
      of his ministry the belief about him was starting to take on the
      character of a Davidic expectation, and this made the authorities
      especially nervous. This would account for both his execution, and
      for the early, but almost incidental, references to Jesus as Son of
      David, as well as for the later developments of Matthew and Luke.
      In contrast, a refusal to accept that he was viewed as some kind of
      Messiah at all prior to his death fails to account for any of these
      developments, except to call it some kind of weird historical
      anomaly. Since the study of history seeks to offer the best
      possible explanation to cover the most known facts, this seems less
      plausible and probable, leaving us accepting that Jesus was probably
      already viewed by some as a messiah figure prior to his death.


      Brian Trafford
      Calgary, AB, Canada
    • Ted Weeden
      Dear Listers, I had indicated two weeks ago that I would submit my own response to responses of others re the thread Messiah in spite of himself in an
      Message 76 of 76 , Dec 18, 2003
        Dear Listers,

        I had indicated two weeks ago that I would submit my own response to
        responses of others re the thread "Messiah in spite of himself" in an
        article which Jeffrey Gibson has offered to upload to the Xtalk articles
        page. With the demand of other matters, it has taken far longer than I had
        envisioned to complete the article. And with the holidays at hand, it
        looks like I cannot get this article out until after the first of the year.
        I plan in the article not only to deal with matters related to the "Messiah"
        thread but also to incorporate in it issues related to the "4Q521" thread
        and the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" thread, which I had introduced.

        Happy holidays to you all.

        Ted Weeden
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