The New Testament Moses In The Context Of Ancient Judaism -- By: John D. Lierman

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 53:2 (NA 2002)
Article: The New Testament Moses In The Context Of Ancient Judaism
Author: John D. Lierman


The New Testament Moses In The Context Of Ancient Judaism1

John D. Lierman

This study is an assessment of how the New Testament, set within the context of ancient Judaism, characterizes the functions of Moses in relation to Israel and the Jewish people. Although the study focuses primarily on NT texts, other ancient writings and historical material are consulted so as to situate the NT Moses in the larger milieu of Jewish thought.

The primary aim of this study is to contribute to the knowledge of NT-period Judaism by broadening understanding of the ancient Jewish conception of Moses. Second, the thesis thereby places the study of Moses Christology on better ground. Third, the study of a theme important to both Jews and Christians offers the opportunity to compare Christian and Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. Fourth, because the study focuses particularly on the relations understood to exist between Moses and Israel the study also lays the groundwork for further investigation of early ecclesiology, which is known to derive in part from Jewish self-conception.

The Introduction to the thesis includes a survey of modern study of the presentation of Moses in the New Testament and in Jewish and Graeco-Roman writings. Following the Introduction, the thesis proceeds thematically, beginning with an examination of some roles of Moses that, while sometimes recognised, are not always properly appreciated.

Chapter Two, which treats ‘Moses as Prophet’, focuses on the exceptional eminence credited to Moses in this role, and on the conformity of his NT description to contemporary Jewish prophetic ideals.

In the context of ancient Judaism, Moses was not just a prophet he was ‘the archprophet’ (ἀρχιπροφήτης; Philo, Mut. 103, 125; Som. 2.189). Deuteronomy 18:15–19, thought in NT times to have announced the establishment of the institution of prophecy in Israel,

specifically founded it on the ministry of Moses. Eventually the Rabbis were to teach that the prophecy of Moses encompassed all that was ever prophetically revealed.

The New Testament implies or assumes the prophethood of Moses in a handful of texts, including John 1:45; 5:46; and Acts 7:20–39, and mentions it explicitly in Acts 3:22–26. Additionally, Moses receives the title of mediator in

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