The Apocalyptic Vision Of Jesus According To The Gospel Of Matthew: Reading Matthew 3:16-4:11 Intertextually -- By: David Mathewson

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 62:1 (NA 2011)
Article: The Apocalyptic Vision Of Jesus According To The Gospel Of Matthew: Reading Matthew 3:16-4:11 Intertextually
Author: David Mathewson


The Apocalyptic Vision Of Jesus According To The Gospel Of Matthew: Reading Matthew 3:16-4:11 Intertextually

David Mathewson

Summary

There has been much discussion on the relationship of Jesus to apocalyptic. What has been missing is a demonstration that Jesus participated in what is at the heart of literature labeled ‘apocalyptic’: a visionary experience of a transcendent reality. This article argues that Jesus’ post-baptismal experience and the temptation narrative that follows, particularly as recorded in Matthew 3:16-4.11, portray Jesus as undergoing such an apocalyptic visionary experience which resembles closely the visionary experience of early Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Thus, with the opening of the heavens to the final temptation, Matthew 3:16-4.11 depicts a third person account of a sustained visionary experience modeled intertextually after classic apocalyptic seers (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Enoch). Jesus’ apocalyptic vision functions to authenticate Jesus’ role as divine spokesperson for God and provides a perspective for the struggle that will ensue in the rest of Matthew.

1. Introduction

Since the work of Albert Schweitzer, who suggested that Jesus should be understood within the context of apocalyptic, there has been much discussion regarding Jesus’ relation to apocalyptic.1 Attempts to place

Jesus within an apocalyptic framework have usually drawn attention to supposed apocalyptic motifs within Jesus’ teaching, usually focusing on a certain type of ‘eschatology’ at its core. Jesus’ teaching concerning the inbreaking kingdom of God, imminent end of the world, and eschatological judgement are considered indications of this apocalyptic framework.2 Hence, ‘the synoptic gospels present a Jesus who lives in an apocalyptically-oriented context and proclaims a thoroughly apocalyptic message’.3 However, a more nuanced case could be made for apocalyptic as the backdrop for understanding Jesus if it could be demonstrated that he participates in the most characteristic feature of those works which are generally recognised as apocalypses: a visionary experience of a transcendent reality. The standard works on apocalyptic by John J. Collins, Christopher Rowland, David E. Aune, among others, have pointed out that at the heart of ‘apocalyptic’ is a visionary experience of a reality that transcends empirical reality, the knowledge of which, therefore, is not available throu...

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