Thursday, May 31, 2007

OUTSTANDING article on Matthew's Davidic Christology

Mark Goodacre has a list of articles from the Volume 3 (2006) edition of the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism that are available on-line. One of them caught my eye: Richard Van Egmond's article "The Messianic ‘Son of David’ in Matthew". Of course, Davidic Christology is one of my favorite areas of research, so the title immediately got my attention.

The article is extremely helpful--if you're interested in this area, I can't recommend it to you highly enough. Van Egmond does a great job surveying the relevant material and highlights several Davidic allusions in Matthew's narrative often overlooked, for example, the parallels between Jesus' passion and the sufferings of David [which I discussed in brief in my Good Friday post]. What I also really like about his approach is his initial examination of David's role in the Old Testament and Jewish tradition--something frequently overlooked. Again, it is a great article--there is much more, so you're going to have to read the whole thing. The following stood out to me from his conclusion:

. . .this presentation illustrates that the relationship between messianology and Christology needs to be carefully delineated. While the findings of much recent research in the area of Second Temple messianism have provided needed correctives to a straight-line, one-for-one correspondence between Second Temple messianic paradigms and early Christian claims that Jesus was ‘the Messiah’,112 a clear relationship between these two is nevertheless quite evident. While the relationship is more complex and nuanced than has been traditionally understood, it is visible and significant. Writing as a follower of Jesus the Messiah, but reappropriating a variety of traditions within the parameters of Judaism, Matthew has given a new but intelligible configuration to the messianic paradigm.
Do yourself a favor and check it out yourself....

Joel Willitts (whose Cambridge dissertation [scroll down] on Jesus' role as Davidic-Shepherd Messiah can't come out soon enough for me) makes a great point in the com-box here. Be sure to read what he says about the problem of the language of "reappropriating" traditions. I couldn't agree with him more...


Taylor Marshall said...

That article is great. Thank you for sharing it.

The parallel between the suicide of Judas with that Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17.23) in the context of the Mt. of Olives is pure gold. (p. 62)

The idea that David was a presecuted and sorrowful prophetic and priestly king is something often neglected.

It all brings out the idea that the Psalter is truly the vox Christi.

Michael Barber said...

I'm glad you enjoy enjoyed it... you just made the post worthwhile! By the way, I forgot to mention it earlier (I have added the link), but I did mention the Davidic echoes in the passion narratve in this post.

Taylor Marshall said...

Please check out my post on St Paul's teaching on the "elemental spirits" in Galatians.

I'd love to get you're take on it:

Robin L. in TX said...

Personally, I was struck by the presentation of the blood on the lintel at Passover as a foreshadowing of the Blood of Christ on the lips of Christians in the Eucharist, showing our lips as the portal to the New Temple.

I can't wait to hear your talks in Houston in June!

In Christ's peace and joy,


Anonymous said...


Thank you for this reference. I want to arm wrestle you for the one of us that is most interested in this theme. Perhaps we are a match.

I am uncomfortable when I read words like 'reinterpret' or
'reconfigure' or 'reappropriate' though. Wright is rife with these kinds of ideas. He wishes to insist that Jesus is Jewish, but then dies what is fundamental about a Jewish eschatological expectation: concrete realization of YHWH's promises. To my mind, Jesus then is something, but not Jewish. Likewise, this article has an excellent discussion of Messianism in OT as you have pointed out. Furthermore, it is true that he has highlighted aspects of Davidic messianism that have been overlooked or downplayed in matthew, still I imagine that Matthew's Jesus in the mind Van Egmond is less that the David Messiah.

Michael Barber said...


Um... I'd agree to meet you for an arm wrestling match at SBL, a la Stallone in "Over the Top", but I think that would be unfair. By then you will have spent about a year twin-lifting. (And since you do have TWINS, don't even bothering saying, "I'll do it lefthanded", since I'm sure both arms are getting quite a work out!)

More substantively, I completely agree with your point about the problem of "reappropriation" language: "...Jesus then is something, but not Jewish." Well said! I too dislike that tendency in Wright. What I appreciated (among other things) was Van Egmond's attempt to show the important role of Davidic expectations--an important corrective to works by people like Fitzmyer who make it seem like the "Davidic Messiah" was a novel concept.

I also appreciated the Old Testament background he gives in flushing out the Davidic echoes in the Gospel narratives.

Now let's start carrying the work of Mark Strauss (Luke), Van Egmond (Matthew), Sott Hahn (Luke 22) and others over to Historical Jesus research. If Matthew saw Davidic connections and Luke saw Davidic connections, it seems probable that they inherited such an understanding from a previous source... hmmm, I wonder what that source could have been? (And if you say "Q", "proto-Q" or "pseudo-deutero-Q" I'll strangle you!) Clearly the Davidic connections would have been played DOWN by later Gentile Christians concerned about political implications--not played UP and developed outside of the primitive Jewish-Christian milieu. But I digress...

It seems a little scary to me how deep the similarities in our thought go. I CAN'T WAIT to read that dissertation of yours.

By the way... "Zion"--what a cool name choice given your thesis! I may not be as good at it when the time comes for Kim and I, but I'm looking forward to having a "Mephibosheth".