Matthew’s Portrait Of Jesus The Judge With Special Reference To Matthew 21–25 -- By: Alistair I. Wilson

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 54:1 (NA 2003)
Article: Matthew’s Portrait Of Jesus The Judge With Special Reference To Matthew 21–25
Author: Alistair I. Wilson


Matthew’s Portrait Of Jesus The Judge
With Special Reference To Matthew 21–251

Alistair I. Wilson

The argument of this thesis is that a study of Jesus as Judge, as presented in chapters 2125 of the gospel of Matthew, leads to conclusions which are incompatible with either the image of the apocalyptic prophet of imminent catastrophe (as proposed by J. Weiss and A. Schweitzer) or the ‘non-eschatological Jesus’ of M. Borg. Rather, Matthew’s Jesus makes authoritative declarations of judgement on his contemporaries, drawing deeply from the Jewish Wisdom and prophetic traditions in both form and content, yet does so with an eschatological perspective which perceives ultimate judgement to lie in a climactic event at an undefined point in the future in which he will play a dominant role. This image of Jesus as he appeared to Matthew must be seriously taken into account in attempts to rediscover the ‘historical Jesus’.

The ‘apocalyptic prophet’ understanding of Jesus has dominated research on Jesus in the last hundred years, and while there are some valid insights in this portrait, it has normally led to an assumption that Jesus expected the final judgement to come upon the world imminently, or within a generation at the latest. This has led to a neglect of Jesus’ role as a judge on his contemporary society. In response to this dominant portrait of Jesus, several contemporary scholars have advocated a ‘non-apocalyptic’ Jesus, who stands in the tradition of the wise teacher. Some trace this strand back to Graeco-Roman origins, while others see a more Jewish background. In either case, there is little interest in the concept of Jesus as a judge. Furthermore, many such studies draw indiscriminately and selectively from the synoptic gospels with the result that no one gospel is allowed to present its contribution to the discussion intact. At the same time, studies of the text of the gospels in their final forms tend to be purely

literary and raise the issue of the historical foundation which may be reflected in them.

In contrast to such trends in scholarship, this thesis sets out to examine a section of the canonical text of the gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2125) with a view to assessing its contribution to the search for knowledge of Jesus as an historical figure. Methodologically, then, this thesis respects the literary coherence of the final form of the gospel of Matthew, but raises the question of its significance for an understanding of ...

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