Confessional Titles in Matthew
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Matthew: The Second Edition of
Mark-II (or Third Edition of Mark-I)
Mark emphasizes the crucifixion in order (1) to combat the notion of Jesus (and the Christians?) as a Hellenistic-type 'wonder-worker', and (2) along with this, to emphasize that one can only truly see/know/recognize Jesus as God's Son (a) in the Cross and (b) as one goes with him in the way of the Cross (i.e., 'faith' as obedient trust and creedal knowledge, with obedient trust being the only path to creedal knowledge). Yet Mark is apparently ambiguous with regard to the confession of Jesus as Son of God (i.e., is he in Mark 15.39, etc., simply a Hellenistic-type benefactor who might be called 'a son of God' or is he the unique Son of God, Israel in its calling in the covenant?).
Matthew and the Letter of James (which, along with the Didache and Ignatius of Antioch, share the same form of the tradition of Jesus' sayings) both combat a later first-century shift of emphasis which takes 'faith' as orthodox belief to the detriment of obedient trust. James does this baldly; Matthew more subtly. In Matthew the disciples know who Jesus is, confessing him as God's Son (14.33) even before Caesarea Philippi (16.16). Thus Matthew removes most of the Markan 'secret' and instead shifts the meaning of 'faith' so that it refers only to obedient trust, and what the disciples are defective in is this obedient trust, not in knowledge, which is why it is for their lack of obedient trust that they are called 'little faithful ones' (ὀλιγόπιστοι
Furthermore, Matthew allows no thought of Jesus as God's Son apart from that Sonship which is Israel's calling in the Covenant (see Exod .22 f.), so that Jesus as the unique Son of God embodies the whole of Israel in its vocation. Through Jesus, the unique Son of God, those discipled from all the nations are to be 'sons of God' (5.9, 48) as befits true Israelites. The pattern of their sonship is to be his sonship: the meek and lowly way, the way of the cross. In this way Matthew combats syncretism.
He does this ( as Paul and Mark have done it before him) by presenting Jesus as the true Adam, the true Man (i.e., Son of Man), the one in whom we are becoming truly human, but he does this by tying his presentation more explicitly than Mark to scripture and scriptural types.
,6.30; 8.26; 14.31; 16.8) who have 'little faith' (ὀλιγοπιστία, 17.20).
CONFESSIONAL TITLES IN MATTHEW,
as used by (a) others), (b) Jesus, (c) the Evangelist.
- to bow the knee), has clear overtones of divinity.
(a) Jesus is confessed by men as:
'Son of David' according to the flesh, i.e., confessed by 'natural' man (by Gentiles: Magi, 2.1-12, Cnaanite, 15.21-28; by blind: 9.27-31; 20.29-34; by crowd of Jews: 21.8 f.; by children: 21.15), i.e., by all men of good will - only Pharisees (and scribes) refuse to do so and try to prevent others from doing so, 12.23 f.; chief priests and scribes do the same also, 21.15 f.;
'Son of God' according to the Spirit, i.e. under pressure of the preternatural (14.33; 16.16 f.; 27.54), by disciples (or those becoming disciples in the case of the centurion and his companions);
'The Christ' only 'before the time' (8.29; cp. 1.16 f. where 'Christ' is the 14th generation; cf. 16.20: silence that 'this is the Christ', 17.9: silence about the 'vision' of glory); cp. scoffing 'thou Christ!' of 26.68; 26.63; Pilate in 27.17, 22;
'The King of the Jews' - meek and lowly on the Cross (cp. Mark 10.40 to Matt 22.21: for Mark Jesus is in his glory on the Cross, for Matthew he is in his Kingdom with the glory coming only at the Resurrection/Exaltation in Matt 28; note tying of his Kingship to persecution/passion motifs in the story of the Magi, 2.1-12; the title linked to Son of David and Temple motifs, e.g. 12.3-7: David and Temple shewbread, 27.37, 40, 51: King-title and Temple destruction;
'The (eschatological) Prophet': tied, in Matthew's lectionary sequence, as follows:
21.9 ('Son of David'), 11: 'This is the Prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee' - tied in lectionary to Gen 20.7, Abraham as 'Prophet' (in whose seed 'all nations' shall b blessed; cf. 'Galilee of the nations' in Matt 4.15, citing Isa 9.1 f.);
21.46: Crowds (those called to be the Church) 'took him for a prophet', apparently linked again to Gen 20.7;
26.68: 'Prophesy to us, Christ!', linked to Deut 34.10-12 and presenting Jesus as a prophet greater than Moses;
Note the links to Son of David (explicitly made), Christ (explicitly), and Son of Abraham (implicitly made by lectionary setting);
'Rabbi' - only by Judas, 26.25, 49, both times connected with his betraying Jesus;
(b) What the Evangelist calls Jesus:
'Christ': 1.1, 16, 17, 18; 2.4; 11.2 - cf. myrrh, 2.11; cf. 12.18-21 (Isa 42.1-3)
'Son of David': 1.1 - cf. frankincense, 2.11.
'Son of Abraham': 1.1 - cf. gold, 2.11
'Emmanuel, God-with-us': 1.23 (Isa 7.14)
'Son (of God)': 2.15, quoting Hosea 11.1 (Israel's sonship)
'Nazarene': 2.23 - apparently, in Gibbs' estimation, playing on two roots, (1) Hebrew nétzer, 'branch' (a Davidic title, like based on Isa 11.1: 'There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.'), and (2) Aramaic natzir, 'obedient one'
'Jesus' (which means 'Yahweh saves'), 'for he shall save his people from their sins' (1.21) - Matthew adds 'Jesus' about 40 times to his sources.
- to bow the knee), has clear overtones of divinity.
Jesus' self-designation in Matthew
'The Son of Man' = (probably) 'Son of Adam' of simply 'Man' (cf. Ezekiel, whom God addresses repeatedly as 'son of man'), the true Israelite as the true Man, as per Dan 7.13 f. and Damascus Document (CD iii.12-21).
'One is your Teacher' (διδάσκαλος
'One is your Guide (καθηγητής
'The Son' (of the Father, Lord of heaven and earth), 11.27
'The Christ', 17.9; 16.20;
'Smallest (μικρότερος) in the Kingdom of Heaven', 11.11; cf. 13.32 (note members of the church are called μικρόι
'Wisdom'/'Torah': 'Wisdom is justified by her deeds, 11.29 (cp, Luke 7.35); 'I am sending to you ...', 23.24 (cp.Luke 11.49); 'my yoke' (i.e. yoke of Wisdom/Torah), 11.29, 39.
'Shekinah': 18.20: 'where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst' (Image of tabernacle, cherubim at ends, Shekinah in between - picked up in Jesus' day and applied to study of Torah, Mishnah, Pirke Aboth 111.6).
Note the great Matthaean emphasis on Jesus as the Fulfiller (i.e. Embodier as 'Guide', 23.10) of the Scriptures and their Perfecter (i.e. Interpreter as 'Teacher', 23.8) in depth (i.e. deeper, ore radical obedience) rather than in breadth (i.e. rather than greater obedience in particulars as demanded by the Qumran sect). See 23.23: justice, mercy, faith/faithfulness as deep things of Torah.
Matthaean pattern of:
|Word||Testing of the Will||Deed|
|Stones/bread||Temple||Kingdoms of world/Gentiles|
This is the pattern of Jesus' Sonship: He alone gave the Word, in him alone (by the Father's strength) it has been embodied in Deed; the disciples are joined with him in willing it.
Christological titles in Matthew which are either unique to Jesus or associated with disciples:
Son of Man
|8.20: no place to lay head||17.12: must suffer||20.28:
13.41: send his messengers
16.27: come in glory
of Abraham (cf. 3.9)
21.11, 46: tied (?) to Gen 20.7 (in lectionary): Abraham as 'prophet'
(23.24: I will send ... prophets)
21.9: 'Son of David'
26.68: 'Prophesy, thus Christ!'
of the Jews
|Jesus came down (aorist), 8.1||Jesus and disciples (together) coming down (present indicative)||Angel of Lord came down (aorist), 28.2|
Persevering will in the face of all testing
Son of God
|3.17: At Baptism - by God||17.5: At Transfiguration - by God||27.54: At Cross - by Centurion and companions|