Friday, January 03, 2014

My new article in JBL - "Jesus as the Davidic Temple Builder and Peter's Priestly Role in Matthew 16:16-19"

I am pleased to announce that Journal of Biblical Literature has published an article I wrote in their most recent volume. The article is entitled, "Jesus as the Davidic Temple Builder and Peter's Priestly Role in Matthew 16:16-19". 

The article synthesizes part of my doctoral dissertation, which is currently being revised for publication. 

You can download it here

Here is the abstract: 
It is widely accepted that Matthew presents Jesus as fulfilling Jewish eschatological expectations, particularly, Davidic hopes. However, although Jesus frequently speaks positively about his disciples' participation in the cult in Matthew's narrative (e.g., 5:23-24), little attention has been paid to Matthew's interest in Christ's fulfillment of the cultic dimensions of future hopes. In fact, ancient Jewish sources repeatedly express not only the belief in an eschatological temple but also expectations of a reformed and/or new priesthood. In this article, I argue that such hopes inform Matt 16:17-19. I begin by arguing that Jesus' building of the church is best understood in light of Matthew's Davidic Christology, an aspect of the evangelist's portrait of Jesus that many scholars have noted. Specifically, building on the work of others, I contend that Jesus' response to Peter's confession involves allusions to Davidic traditions of temple building (cf. 2 Sam 7:12-13; 1 Chr 17:7-10) (e.g., Ådna, Meyer, Wright). Going on, I demonstrate that Jesus' description of Peter's role in the following verses seems to portray him as one holding a priestly role. In particular, as many scholars have noted, Jesus' words to Peter appear to echo the description of Eliakim in Isaiah 22 (e.g., Davies and Allison, Hagner, Willis). What is frequently overlooked is that this passage describes Eliakim as wearing garments usually associated with the high priest (cf. Isa 22:21 with Exod 28:4), an aspect of the passage not lost on Jewish readers (e.g., Tg. on Isaiah; b. Ta'an. 29a). "Binding" and "loosing" also seem linked to responsibilities typically associated with the priesthood (teaching, judging, mediating divine forgiveness). In light of this I argue that this passage provides Jesus with the perfect quarry: if the church is a temple, its leadership is naturally described in terms related to priestly responsibilities.


Thomas Renz said...

I re-posted the abstract at
because this would fit nicely with the allusions to Solomon in Matthew 2 on which I had just written.

Richard Fellows said...

Thanks, Michael. I'll read this with interest when my library gets it. Meanwhile here are two provisional thoughts:

1. Are you suggesting that the name "Cephas" (to Aramaic speakers), and the name "Petros" (to Greek speakers) signified a role for Simon specifically among the Jews? If so, this could explain why Paul translates the name into Greek for his Greek audience only at Gal 2:7-8 where he discusses Simon's role among Jews. Does Gal 2:7-8 then refer back to the commissioning of Simon by Jesus?

2. Have you explored the parallels between the naming of Peter and the naming of James, the brother of Jesus? Bauckham argued that the name "Oblias" that was given to him refers to the temple (The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting).