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Matthew's conception of Messiahship (was Re: request for...)

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  • Jim Deardorff
    ... I d also like to see some opinions on this, Bernard, gathered from Matthew as a whole, if only to see if my own impressions are at all close to the norm.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 1998
      At 07:19 PM 6/25/98 EDT, BMDainton@... wrote:

      >[...]
      >i) Mark G has already queried how well the readers of Matthew could be
      >expected to understand the temptation narrative in terms of Jesus as
      >EIRHNOPOIOS, given that the term does not occur in the gospel until 5:9. I
      >second the suggestion that someone on the list attempts to answer the question
      >narrative-critically. However, a quick check in the concordance (either paper
      >or electronic) will reveal that Mt 5:9 is actually the only occurrence of
      >EIRHNOPOIOS, not only in Matthew, but in the whole NT. The cognate verb also
      >only occurs once, in Col 1:20. I venture to suggest, then, that EIRHNOPOIOS
      >is perhaps not quite the central term in Matthew's conception of Messiahship
      >that you want to make it. Which begs the question, what is?

      I'd also like to see some opinions on this, Bernard, gathered from Matthew
      as a whole, if only to see if my own impressions are at all close to the
      norm. Does not the writer of Matthew view the Messiah as the Son of man and
      thus like the figure in Daniel to whom was given dominion & glory & kingdom,
      and who would come (again) with the clouds of heaven, as also in Mt 24? Is
      he not most concerned with a Messiah whose return is hoped to be imminent,
      with the accompanying judgment being (one of?) the most important thing(s)
      he will do? I gather that his views on this pertain to both the living (if
      Jesus' return is soon enough) and to the dead (who will either be
      resurrected and dwell with Jesus in heaven, or be condemned to the fiery
      hell). Hence much of his redactive discourse pertains to gehenna, good
      versus evil and the devil. His device for keeping this view of the Messiah
      in the reader's mind throughout was to make frequent use of the Son of man
      title.

      This is not to say that the writer of Matthew did not also have other
      attributes in mind for the Messiah, which Christians were to try to emulate.
      This would include not only Jeffrey's theme of peacemaking but being humble,
      poor in spirit (which may mean receptive to authority?), serving others,
      etc. Of course with some of these, contradictions occur, such as Mt 10:34
      ("I have not come to bring peace"). I view most of these contradictions as
      arising because the writer's source document frequently expressed teachings
      different than what he wished to accept, and he did not get them all
      consistently redacted or sufficiently redacted.

      >iii) I don't think you [Jeffrey] have entirely escaped the discrepancy
      between >the
      >temptation narrative and the rest of the gospel. Let's face it, in the
      >temptation narrative Jesus resists procuring miraculous events at the Devil's
      >behest, while in the rest of the gospel Jesus procures plenty of miraculous
      >events. There is a discrepancy here. I quite agree with you that if the issue
      >at hand here is whether or not Jesus is a thaumaturge, then Matthew is (in
      >your words) "either a bungler as a story teller or an incompetent theologian".
      >But granted your understanding that Jesus is here presented as someone who has
      >the right to demand that God acts on his behalf, then in the rest of the
      >gospel either Jesus still has that right, but now chooses to use it, or Jesus
      >is able to work miracles himself, and is therefore no longer dependent on
      >asking God to do them for him. Either way the discrepancy is still there.

      This seems like but one of many discrepancies that the redactor overlooked.
      The straightforward interpretation of Matthew's temptation story seems to be
      to show that Jesus could and did resist succumbing to the devil's
      inducements, and could outsmart him scripturally. The redactor no doubt
      didn't think through every implication and nuance of his story before
      setting it in writing.

      Jim Deardorff
      Corvallis, Oregon
      E-mail: deardorj@...
      Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
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