The Messianic Banquet And The Eschatology Of Matthew’s Gospel -- By: Daniel S. Steffen

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 05:2 (Jan 2006)
Article: The Messianic Banquet And The Eschatology Of Matthew’s Gospel
Author: Daniel S. Steffen


The Messianic Banquet And The Eschatology Of Matthew’s Gospel

Daniel S. Steffen

Adjunct Professor of New Testament

Central American Theological Seminary, Guatemala

Introduction

This paper is a portion of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation with the title, “The Messianic Banquet as a Paradigm for Israel of interest in the dissertation is what the Gospel of Matthew teaches its Jewish Christian readers about the salvation and inclusion of Gentile Christians into the people of God. Its major focus is the ecclesiology of Matthew. However, as Bornkamm has shown long ago, it is impossible to divorce Matthew’s eschatology from his ecclesiology. 1 Today there is revised interest in Matthew’s use of Jewish apocalyptic imagery as it relates to both eschatology and ecclesiology. 2An important, but often overlooked, apocalyptic theme in Matthew is the Messianic Banquet. Matthew’s use of the Messianic Banquet theme is a key component of Matthew’s theology concerning the nature of the church, Israel , and the future of the true people of God. The dissertation has been done to fill in the gap of the lack of studies done on Matthew ‘s use of this theme.

Here we will assume that it is highly probable that the author and his audience were primarily Jewish Christians. As Jewish Christians it is likely that they would have had a pre-understanding of the theme of the Messianic Banquet which Matthew employs in his apocalyptic eschatology. That pre-understanding is studied with a look at Old Testament prophetic literature, especially Isaiah and Ezekiel. The Jewish expectations of the eschatological Messianic Banquet found in the prophetic literature is then traced through the Jewish apocalyptic literature, Qumran, and rabbinical materials. What emerges is not a single unified set of expectations, but a number of possible options that a particular group of first century Jews might have. Defining those possibilities will allow for some new approaches of reading Matthew as a first century Jew might have done given the possible expectations surfaced in the literature.

A number of key passages in Matthew make use of the Messianic Banquet theme. In this paper, we will discuss only the story of the Centurion’s servant (Matt 8:5-13). The dissertation’s detailed exegesis of other significant passages must be omitted here. They include the parallel passage concerning the faith of the Canaanite Woman (Matt 15:21-28). Also significant are the three eschatological parables that utilize the Messianic Banquet theme, the Vineyard (Matt 2...

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