Book Review: Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias, eds., “What Does the Scripture Say?” (LNTS 469) – Part 1.1

Evans Craig A. and H. Daniel Zacharias, eds., “What Does the Scripture Say?”: Studies in the Function of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity: Volume 1, The Synoptic Gospels. LNTS 469; Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013. Hb; Pb; Logos $31.99  Link to Bloomsbury T&T Clark    Link to Logos

[Due to the length of this review, I will break each volume into two posts:  Volume 1, part 1, volume 1, part 2, volume 2 part 1, volume 2, part 2].

Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias edited this two-volume collection of essays on the function of Scripture presented at the Society of Biblical Literature’s Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity program unit in 2008 and 2009. Volume one collects essays on the Synoptic Gospels, the second volume will includes the Gospel of John, the epistles and liturgical tradition. For the most part, the papers in this collection deal with specific examples of “the use of the Old Testament in the New,” although many also use the literature of the Second Temple Period. These essays could also be described as intertextual studies and some of the authors make use of this language despite the imprecision of the word.

Evans LNTS 469In “’Fasting’ and ‘Forty Nights’: The Matthean Temptation Narrative (4:1–11) and Moses Typology” Daniel M. Gurtner argues Matthew has used a Moses-motif to connect Jesus’ fasting for “forty days and forty nights.” The primary question raised here why “fasting” was expanded to include “and forty nights”? Commentators have suggested Matthew was influenced by Exod 34:28 or Deut 9:9, but Gurtner argues Matthew has drawn from Moses texts in which he is presented not as the “Law-giver” but as the “Law-receiver” or mediator (4). After surveying the fasting passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy along with the Second Temple literature, Gurtner concludes Matthew intended to draw attention to Moses as a mediator since the Gospel presents Jesus as the mediator of the Law.

Christopher N. Chandler explores the use of Leviticus 19:18 in the New Testament and Second Temple period (“Love Your Neighbour as Yourself” (Leviticus 19:18b) in Early Jewish-Christian Exegetical Practice and Missional Formulation”).  Chandler suggests the common view of God among Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, etc. was that God is a God of judgment punishes Israel’s enemies. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches his disciples to love one’s (Roman) enemies (cf. Matt 5:43–48/Luke 6:27–36). Chandler suggests Jesus was aware of the way the “love your neighbor” saying was applied to the judiciary. Jesus applied the command to his advocacy of “Israel’s mission to include Gentiles in the kingdom.” The missional nature of Matt 5:43–44 is often overlooked, but if Chandler is right and the “enemy” to be loved specifically to Gentiles, then there are some implications for both for understanding the teaching of the historical Jesus as well as for Matthew’s theme of mission to the Gentiles (27).  He examines Matt 5:43–44 and the prodigal son parable in Luke 15 and concludes both express love for the enemy, the Gentile, even the Roman occupation.

In “Rest, Eschatology and Sabbath in Matthew 11:28–30: An Investigation of Jesus’ Offer of Rest in the Light on the Septuagint’s Use of Anapausis,” Elizabeth Talbot surveys the uses of the anapausis word group in the LXX and suggests three potential groundings for the call to rest in Matt 11. In Sirach wisdom is personified and invites people to draw near (ἐγγίσατε πρός με in Sir 51:23; “Come to me” (προσέλθετε πρός με) in Sir 24:19). This observation should highlight Jesus as a wisdom teacher, but Sirach present the invitation in the first person as Jesus does. A second potential grounding of the saying is Exod 33:14. In response to Moses’s prayer is that he may know the Lord (Exod 33:12, 13) God promises Moses that “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exod 33:14). A third potential grounding of the saying is the strong eschatological context based on the promise of rest from enemies in 2 Samuel 7:11 (cf. 1 Chr 22:9; Ezek 34:15). Combined with an allusion to Jer 6:16, this eschatological rest includes purification. Her conclusion is that “Jesus can be seen as the embodiment and fulfillment of the eschatological Messianic rest typified by the Sabbath and proclaimed by Wisdom” (69).

Alicia D. Myers examines “Isaiah 42 and the Characterization of Jesus in Matthew 12:17–21.” Scholarship usually assumed the use of Isaiah 41 in Matthew 12 reflected a “suffering servant theme,” although this has been abandoned recently. Myers neither avoids servant imagery in Matthew 12 nor does she attempt to force it into a “Son of God” Christology. This is not an either/or question for Myers, the citation of Isaiah “reinforces Matthew’s overarching characterization of Jesus as God’s divinely appointed ideal king who was sent to vivify God’s will on earth” (72).  Scholars almost universally interpret the “bruised reed” alongside the “smoldering wick” as the marginalized people in Jesus’ ministry who receive compassion and healing (12:15–16), but Myers argues these metaphors refer to Herod as “an impotent ruler—a useless ‘bruised reed’ and ‘smoldering wick’” (84). Herod is not the one who is in power, but rather Jesus is the spirit-filled servant who will crush “faltering and impotent kings” like Herod in order to establish God’s justice on earth. Matthew’s use of Isaiah 42 therefore reinforces an eschatological view of Jesus.

In “Blood and Secrets: The Re-telling of Genesis 1–6 in 1 Enoch 6–11 and Its Echoes in Susanna and the Gospel of Matthew,” Catherine Sider Hamilton compares several Second Temple texts to Matthew in order to offer a solution to the problematic declaration “let his blood be on our heads” (Matthew 27:25). Sider argues Matthew created a narrative in which innocent blood forms “an ancient and constant progression” beginning with the blood of Abel and looking forward to a final judgment and restoration. “It is a narrative to which the problem of blood poured out upon the land” (139). Pilate’s words echo Daniel at the climax of Susanna. By reading the motif of “innocent blood” in Matthew within the world of this Jewish literature, “stark divisions implied in such categories as ‘anti-Jewish’ lose their heuristic value” (92).

Sider argues Matthew alludes to Susanna when Pilate saw a riot was beginning and he washed his hands before the crowd saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man” (ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου, Matt 27:24). In Susanna’s trial, when she is condemned to death, Daniel says “I am innocent of the blood of this woman” (καθαρὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος ταύτης, Sus θ 46). Most note the allusion without comment, but Sider observes that after Daniel’s protest against shedding of Susanna’s innocent blood, “the whole people turns to him in dismay” (125). The shedding of innocent blood is also a major theme in 1 Enoch 9 “five of the seven words in this phrase in Matthew and in 1 Enoch are the same: αἷμα ἐκχυννόμενον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς and Matthew is closer to 1 Enoch than Q. In addition, Both Matthew and 1 Enoch link this blood poured out to the blood of Abel” (133). Sider provides detailed argument that the Book of the Watchers is thoroughly immersed in Gen 1-4. 1 Enoch and Susanna are therefore both meditations on the creation story and both focus on the motif shedding of innocent blood. This innocent blood corrupts the world and results in a cleansing judgment. She argues the intellectual tradition represented by 1 Enoch 6–11 is a way of understanding the world through the lens of creation, corruption and purification.

Part two of the review.

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