Matthew And “Psalms Of Solomon”’s Messianism: A Comparative Study In First-Century Messianology -- By: Joel Willitts

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 22:1 (NA 2012)
Article: Matthew And “Psalms Of Solomon”’s Messianism: A Comparative Study In First-Century Messianology
Author: Joel Willitts

Matthew And “Psalms Of Solomon”’s Messianism:
A Comparative Study In First-Century Messianology

Joel Willitts

North Park University

The idea that Matthew’s messianism is significantly different from the one found in Pss. Sol. 17 is commonplace. Most often, one will find it stated in almost an axiomatic fashion with a waving of the hand toward the militaristic perspective of Psalms of Solomon as sufficient evidence to make the point. While there can be no doubt that Matthew’s messianism evinces differences from that of Psalms of Solomon’s, such an overly simplistic assessment appreciates neither the number and depth of similarities of perspective between the two messianologies nor their implications. This article will show that Matthew’s messianism stands in close affinity with much in the other expressly Davidic conception of messianism in first-century Judaism, namely, Psalms of Solomon, although representing a new, creative moment in the reception history of biblical expectations related to the Messiah.

Key Words: Psalms of Solomon, Gospel of Matthew, Davidic Messianism


Arguably, there are no two documents that have emerged out of the Judaism of the Second Temple period that could be said to have a more thoroughgoing Davidic messianism than Psalms of Solomon and the Gospel of Matthew. This article enumerates several messianic parallels between the pseudepigraphon and the First Gospel. The parallels are of such a significant number and depth as to suggest a relationship between the two works. Simply put, the messianic parallels reveal a common messianic conception. Furthermore, while differences between the texts do not surprise and are often pointed out, it is the parallels that are much more intriguing and, more significantly, underappreciated. Perhaps in the desire to show how Matthew’s messianism is different, we have undervalued the similarities and have left their implications underdeveloped.

The purpose of this article is to expose several of these lines of similarity in hopes that, on the one hand, scholars will be more cautious in their statements about the differences between Psalms of Solomon and early Christian messianism, or better, a messianism among at least one group of early Jewish Christ-believers and, on the other, some will be motivated to investigate further the implications for the messianism of Matthew’s Gospel—particularly the more this-worldly and concrete elements of a thoroughgoing Davidic messianism.1

This essay will demonstrate that ...

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