Jesus’ Knowledge in the Storyline of Matthew’s Gospel

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Fr. James Martin finds himself one of the most popular public Catholics today, and, as a Jesuit tacking a bit left on the issues confronting the Church today, also finds himself embroiled in controversy.

Some time ago he put forth a common reading of the story of Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21–28. The woman asks Jesus to exorcise her demonized daughter. Jesus refuses, and the disciples want him to send her away. Nevertheless, she persisted. Jesus tells her he was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She persists. Jesus tells her it’s not right to give the children’s bread to the dogs. She persists, replying that even dogs get to eat the food that falls from the table. Jesus then relents, and tells her that her daughter is healed.

On Twitter, Fr. Martin offered a common reading of the passage that gets Jesus off the hook:

Others went further, claiming that she caused Jesus to overcome his prejudices:


The idea that Jesus’ knowledge was limited is a problem, for it implies that what he and the Gospels that present him teach is either limited or in outright error. And so many, such as Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., offered responses. Fr. Petri’s response, like many substantive responses, approach the issue from a dogmatic, doctrinal point of view.

The difficulty with those responses, however, is that they don’t take full account of the force of the passage, especially as it is situated within Matthew’s storyline. And so I want to offer here something I wrote for an SBL presentation a few years ago that might provide a way of resolving tension between Fr. Martin’s position and those responses rooted in the Church’s magisterial tradition on the other. For it seems that either we have to side with the Church and read against the grain of the passage (if Jesus is trying to tease faithful persistence out of the woman, it’s not all that obvious), or side with Fr. Martin’s reading and run the risk of denying what the Fathers and the Church in its more recent magisterial teaching has said. With regard to Jesus’ knowledge, we run the risk on one hand of an Ebionite or Nestorian Christology, or, on the other hand, a docetic or monophysite Christology.

Reconciling the two positions requires a complex position that takes account of Matthew’s narrative dynamics. The Gospel of Matthew requires two readings: A first reading, and then a second reading demanded by Jesus’ words at the end of the Gospel to teach the disciples everything Jesus has commanded them–which is found throughout Matthew’s Gospel prior to that point. Matthew’s presentation here invites its readers to reconsider again and again what Jesus has taught, now in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, now in the time of the mission to the Gentiles.

I’ve eliminated a big section on the theory of reading for textual intention. Hopefully what’s below sheds some narrative light on the question and takes seriously the dynamics of the passage at issue (Matthew 15:21–28), which Fr. Martin is attempting to do, and the Church’s teaching on Jesus’ knowledge, holding together the knowledge pertaining to both the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Matthew and the Ecclesial Time of Eucharistic Mission

I have been asked to consider the question, “What difference does Jesus make for Matthew’s understanding of the time he and his community inhabit?” In my own teaching I have often taught my students that the necessary prelude to a good answer is proper interpretation of the question, and so it will be helpful to provide my understanding of the question here.

But that understanding is not what I think the author of the question—whoever he or she in particular was, whatever the composition of the committee was that formed it—had in mind. Given how the term “community” has functioned in Gospel scholarship, I suspect whoever authored or approved the question was thinking in terms of the Sitz im Leben of the community of the empirical author of the First Gospel. I think it best to answer the question posed to me by first asking what particular understanding of “community” the Gospel itself evinces, however, so that we might read with the grain of the Gospel and not against it.

In short, the Gospel of Matthew understands itself as a universal, authoritative document persisting for all time and its community as the universal Church perduring through time. It understands itself and the Church in this way because it believes Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God in whom resides all authority, to be the final fulfillment of God’s promises, inaugurating the final period of God’s plan, until the end of the age should come, and that Jesus Christ has commanded what the Gospel of Matthew records to be taught to disciples in the age of the Church until the end.

[here I omit a section on the theory of reading for textual intention–LAH]

2. Reading the Gospel of Matthew

2.1 Preliminaries

Reading the Gospel of Matthew, then, requires significant attention to its narrative dynamics. But these are dynamics, not statics, a process far from the now-quaint explication de texte, a process involving attention to the Gospel’s intratextual constitution, intertextual references, and extratextual connections.[1] This would permit careful consideration of the Matthean community’s Sitz im Leben by understanding the world of the text as an index of the world of the author.

But when one examines the Gospel of Matthew, one finds the Gospel pushing not backward but forward. Its final words are oriented not to its own original community in some sort of self-referential way but to the future. True, it draws deeply on the past; it is a Gospel of radical continuity with the tradition of the Scriptures of Israel and their community of Israel. Yet that continuity is neither repristination nor nostalgia. It draws on that tradition as a resource for mission in the perpetual present, as the tips of leaves draw on roots.

2.2 The Fundamental Matthean Storyline

The Gospel of Matthew tells an ironic story of reversal that is both tragedy and triumph. Ironic, because the initial expectations the Gospel raises for the reader are ultimately reversed, and tragic, for Israel qua Israel loses its status as the privileged community of mission, but triumphal in that God’s purposes for the world are not thwarted in spite of the human race’s rejection of the Christ.

The first chapter of the Gospel sets the reader deeply in the world of traditional first-century Palestinian Judaism. The first verse suggests that Jesus Christ is to be understood in terms of two fundamental Christological categories, Messiah (=son of David) and sacrifice like Isaac (=son of Abraham).[2] The genealogy begins with Abraham (Matt 1:2ff), the first Jew. And then the reader confronts the story of the Virgin Birth, identifying Jesus Christ with God in some way (1:23) and thus investing him with divine authority. Most interesting is the explanation of Jesus’ name: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21). The explanation raises two implicit questions for the Model Reader: Who are his people, and how will he save them from their sins?[3]

In reading the human mind confronts and answers questions raised by such “nodes” (Eco’s term) of the text automatically again and again in a subconscious fashion. But here it is helpful to engage in some conscious hypothesizing: the intratextual constitution of the text here raises these question for the Model Reader, and drawing on encyclopedic, intertextual knowledge, the Model Reader first hazards that “his people” are the Jews and he will save them from their sins by killing for them, for, while there were indeed diverse messianic understandings in antiquity, that is what the Davidic Messiah was generally expected to do. The people are under the oppression of Roman rule (however indirectly; it is true that there wasn’t an Italian centurion on every streetcorner in Jerusalem) because of their sins, and forgiveness of sins means violent liberation from oppression so that the Jews once more might have something even more than what the Hasmoneans achieved; they might have a new, eschatological United Monarchy ruled by a new David.

So far, then, the Model Reader expects a story of violent conquest in which Israel’s liberation will be achieved in the time of the eschaton. But for the reader those initial assumptions are almost immediately thrown into question with the story of the Magi in Matthew chapter two. The Magi, pagan astrologers from the East, arrive searching for the “King of the Jews,” a title already bequeathed to Herod the Great by the Senate roughly forty years prior, a fact known to the Model Reader by virtue of encyclopedic knowledge. Herod and “all Jerusalem” are “troubled,” not pleased, not overjoyed, by new that some are seeking a new king. Unless one is in Narnia, there can be only one king (or queen). And so Herod tries to kill baby Jesus. Herod wants to destroy him (2:13; cf. 12:14 and 27:20).  Being warned about this in a dream, Joseph takes mother and child and flees to Egypt.  Then follows the formula citation of Hos 11:1b in Matt 2:15: “Out of Egypt I called my son,” which functions to present Jesus as the embodiment of Israel.  Further, the formula quotation occurs immediately after the Holy Family travels to Egypt and they do not return from Egypt to Galilee until Matt 2:19-21.  The Gospel of Matthew thus subtly describes the infant Jesus’ contemporary Israel as Egypt and therefore inverts Egypt and Israel.  Further, it is Herod, the king of Israel, who seeks to destroy Jesus, whereas the Magi, Gentile foreigners, are paying Jesus homage.  Moreover, Hosea provides no heroic recollection of the exodus.  Rather, God’s love for Israel is contrasted with Israel’s abject failure, detailed in Hosea 11:2: “The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols” (MT/NRSV).  The episode is thus an early instance of the significant Matthean theme of Jesus’ conflict with Jewish leadership leading to Gentile inclusion.

The Matthean Jesus, however, does not know that his mission extends to the Gentiles. He sends his disciples only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:5) and refuses, at first, to aid a Canaanite woman’s daughter because he believes himself to have been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 15:21ff). Jesus does in the instance of the healing of the centurion’s servant voice the conviction that “many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness” (Matt 8:11-12), but otherwise seeks out no gentiles and says nothing positive about them until the after the resurrection (Matt 28:16-20). Given that the healing of the centurion’s servant appears before Jesus’ declaration of the restriction of his mission to the house of Israel, it is likely that the Matthean Jesus is thinking not of a mission to the Gentiles in history, in the time of Israel or the Church, but the eschatological coming of the Gentiles to Zion (cf. e.g. Isa 2:2, 5:26, 49:6b). The centurion comes to him; Jesus does not go to the centurion.

The divine perspective is different, however. The narrator shows in the story of the Magi and tells through explicit prophecy that God’s promises to the Gentiles will be realized in Jesus through the quotations of Isaiah 9 in Matthew 4 and Isaiah 42 in Matthew 12: “He will proclaim righteousness to the Gentiles…and in his name the Gentiles will hope” (Matt 12:18, 21). The transformation of Jesus’ perspective that his mission is restricted to Israel is achieved only after the resurrection and only then reconciled with the Model Author’s knowledge that God intends Jesus’ mission to extend to Gentiles.

But if the God of Israel who prophesied through Isaiah knew all along that Gentiles would receive their promised blessings through Jesus, their inclusion requires Jewish rejection of Jesus on a human level, a pattern seen throughout the New Testament (cf. Acts 28:28; Rom 9-11). Herod, the King of the Jews, had tried to kill little baby Jesus, and John the Baptist excoriates those who will become Jesus’ foremost opponents even before his baptism of the latter. Indeed, in an oft-overlooked instance of Matthean parallelism, the Gospel presents both John and Jesus facing mortal threats that lead to Jesus’ withdrawal and then a quotation from Isaiah promising Gentile inclusion. In Matthew 4:12 Jesus hears John is arrested and “withdraws” (aÓnecw¿rhsen) from there to Capernaum, near Zebulun and Naphtali, according to Matthew, occasioning a quote from Isaiah 9:1-2, promising good things to pagans:

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

In Matthew 12:14ff, Jesus encounters the threat of the Pharisees’ murderous conspiracy and aware of it “withdrew” (anachoreō) from there, upon which the narrator supplies another quote from Isaiah promising good things to pagans, this time from Isaiah 42: “My servant…will proclaim righteousness to the Gentiles…and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In Matthew 16, then, after rising opposition, Jesus founds a Church, a remnant community formed, it appears, to continue Israel’s mission of redemption of the world as Israel’s leadership refuses to let Jesus lead.[4] But here Gentiles are not yet in view. In the prior chapter Jesus had ignored the Canaanite woman (Matt 15:21ff) and refused her request for a remote exorcism of her daughter, claiming again that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (v. 24). Too often popular piety protects Jesus in this passage, claiming that Jesus is trying to tease faith out of the woman but really wants to help her all along. A better read more faithful to the cultural and literary context of the passage sees Jesus here as a conservative male Jew who has little time for either women or pagans.

So the Church in Matthew 16 should not yet be envisioned to include Gentiles. The Church appears implicitly in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46). Jesus tells the parable against “the chief priests and the elders of the people” (21:23), telling them fatefully, “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation (ethnē) producing its fruits” (v. 43). Crucial is the fact that “nation” here is singular, not plural; we do not have here—nor do we find elsewhere in Matthew—ethnic Israel replaced by a Gentile Church. Rather, given the flow of the narrative, at this point the singular “nation” is likely the Church, but the Church is as of yet regarded as Jewish, a body continuing Israel’s redeeming work in the world.

But it will continue that redeeming work apart from the mainstream body of Israel’s institutions, such as rabbinate[5] and temple. By this point in the narrative, the Model Reader is hazarding a different answer to the question, “Who are his people?” The initial and justified assumption is that his people are Israel, the Jews. But now the Model Reader is starting to see that “his people” is the Church. And as that body breaks from the parent body, the Model Reader finds Jesus erecting himself and his sacrifice as replacements for the rabbinate and the temple. In Matthew 23:7, Jesus says, “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher”—presumably Jesus himself—“and you are all brothers.” In Matthew 21:12ff Jesus “cleanses” the temple and not-so-subtly prophesies its destruction by quoting from Jeremiah 7, a prophecy of destruction made explicit to the disciples and the Model Reader in Matthew 24. And most notably in Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus institutes the Eucharist in the context of the Passover meal. Here Jesus sets himself up as a new Passover, something well understood in early Christianity (cf. 1 Cor 5:7). He takes the Passover ritual but transforms it into his own rite. In particular, Jesus claims the chalice is “my blood of the [new?] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” His blood is “poured out,” or “shed,” using a Greek word with sacrificial denotations and connotations in the LXX in Exod 29:12, Lev 4:7, 12, 25, 30, 8:15, 9:9, etc. The unexpected answer to the second question, “How will he save his people from their sins?”, then, is by dying for them, not by killing for them.

By this point in the narrative, then, the Messiah has fulfilled the promises to Israel, ushering in the inbreaking of the Kingdom, but having encountered opposition, has formed the Church as a remnant community to carry forth Israel’s work of redemption in the world, a community with its teacher in Jesus, its leaders in the Twelve, and its sacrifice in the Eucharist.

Gentiles, then; when do they enter Jesus’ plans? After the Israel contemporary with Jesus rejects him utterly. In Matthew 27, Jesus Christ is before Pilate, along with Jesus Barabbas (if we make a certain textual decision). Pilate attempts to release Jesus Christ, whom the Model Reader knows is the true Son of the Father (cf. e.g. the Johannine thunderbolt of Matthew 11:27), but the crowd demands his crucifixion and the release of the imposter son of the Father, Barabbas. The craven Pilate washes his hands of the matter and declares he is innocent of Jesus’ blood (Matthew 27:24). And then “all the people” cry out some of the most horrifying and consequential words in human history: “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25). “All the people” recalls for the Model Reader “all Jerusalem” being troubled along with Herod at the rumors of the birth of a new King of the Jews (Matthew 2:3), and here what is adumbrated in chapter 2 is fulfilled: the ultimate rejection of Jesus not just by Jewish leadership, parties, and sects, but indeed “all the people.”

It is crucial at this point to understand several things: (1) Gentiles are not yet in Jesus’ picture; ethnic Israel is not being replaced by a Church of Gentiles. (2) Jesus remains Jewish, and his original disciples remain Jewish, and all will remain so past the time of the Gospel into the period of the Church and indeed the eschaton. (3) “His blood be on us and on our children” need not imply a perpetual curse upon Jews. Rather, in the world of the Matthean story, any “curse” here lasts two generations: upon the generation calling for Jesus’ crucifixion, and their children, the generation which endures the siege and destruction of Jerusalem predicted by Jesus himself.

But again, on a human level, this Jewish rejection of Jesus precipitates Gentile inclusion. Only after but soon after “all the people” utter these terrifying words does Jesus utter definitive positive mention of a Gentile mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Here, now, for the first time, Jesus encourages mission to Gentiles. The direction is important: Jesus sends the Church to them. In the story of the Gospel itself, Jesus never goes to Gentiles; they come to him, whether the Magi (Matthew 2:1ff), the centurion in Capernaum (Matt 8:5; though Jesus is willing to go with him, the centurion comes first to him, and Jesus ultimately does not go with him), or the Canaanite woman (Matt 15:21ff). Here is something new: deliberate mission to the Gentiles.

2.3 Rereading Matthew as Christian Scripture

All of which brings us to the question, for the Gospel of Matthew, what time is it? The answer: From resurrection to eschaton, it is the time of the Church.

That last line from Matthew 28:20a quoted above—“teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”—functions to make the Gospel of Matthew more than a mere Jewish document from antiquity, a textual artifact bearing witness to a long-dead apocalyptic sect within Judaism, but a Christian document of perpetual relevance, sacred Scripture. For as many Matthean scholars have recognized, the phrase “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” invites rereading of the Gospel of Matthew with the knowledge that the Model Reader has acquired along the way, as all that Jesus has commanded them is contained in the prior material of the Gospel itself.

This enables a reading of Matthew that is allegorical (as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, as representatives of the West, would understand it, in a limited sense, rooted in the letter). For instance, in light of Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist, references to the altar throughout Matthew’s Gospel now may be understood to refer to the Christian altar of the Eucharist[6] and not only the altar of the temple, as in Matthew 5:23-24: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go.” In this way does material that Jesus’ predictions of the destruction of the temple would seem to render more or less pointless find perpetual relevance. Put simply, why would the Jesus of the Gospel Matthew spend so much time on the concerns of Judaism in the shadow of the temple when he knows it will not long endure? If on a first reading the Gospel of Matthew presents a Jesus who would lead Israel into and in the new age as her Messiah and savior, on a second reading the Gospel of Matthew presents a Jesus who would lead the Church into and in the new age as her Messiah and savior.

There are thus two Gospels of Matthew the Model Reader encounters, as “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” puts the Model Reader on a cyclical loop into that future “to the end of the age” (28:20), making the Gospel of Matthew a document of perpetual relevance for the Church. And in either of these Gospels—the one the Model Reader encounters on a first reading, or the one the Model Reader encounters on a second reading—it is a time of fulfillment.

The theme of “fulfillment” in the Gospel of Matthew has occasioned much discussion, particular in light of the “lure”[7] of the formula quotations. Perhaps one of the best but under-discussed pieces on the issue belongs to J. R. Daniel Kirk, “Conceptualizing Fulfillment in Matthew.”[8] Avoiding the “lure,” Kirk proposes a “diachronic, narratival typology” that avoids collecting discrete typological resonances and instead “see[s] that [Jesus’] life takes the shape of Israel’s story.”[9] This makes sense of the structure of the Christian Scriptures, which situates the Gospel of Matthew in the canonical center as the First Gospel, as well as the Gospel of Matthew itself. The Gospel of Matthew comes first precisely because it is a Gospel of fulfillment, the canon suggesting to Christians that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of the prophets’ words, which come last in the Christian Old Testament. In and of itself, the Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as a new Israel, as the embodiment of Israel. The formula citation of Hos 11:1b in Matt 2:15 (“Out of Egypt I called my son”) functions to present Jesus as the embodiment of Israel.[10] The Testing narrative concerns the testing of Jesus as both the embodiment of Israel. There is some question, however, as to whether Jesus will be faithful, for Israel’s history contains instances of gross failure and disobedience by corporate Israel and otherwise heroic individuals therein.[11]  Hosea 11 itself recounts the disobedience of Israel. The Testing narrative (Matt 4:1-11) answers this question affirmatively and definitively.[12] Jesus is tested (Matt 4:1); Israel was tested in the wilderness (Deut 8:2).  Jesus is in the desert forty days and nights (Matt 4:1); Israel was in the wilderness forty years (Deut 8:2).  Jesus is hungry (Matt 4:1); Israel was hungry (Deut 8:3).  In this brief story there are three quotations from Deuteronomy (Deut 8:3 in Matt 4:4; Deut 6:16 in Matt 4:7; Deut 6:13 in Matt 4:10).  In this section of Deuteronomy Israel is adjured repeatedly to be faithful to the Lord in light of the Exodus and the giving of the Commandments (Deut 5).  As such, “we have before us a haggadic tale which has issued forth from reflection on Deut 6-8.  Jesus, the Son of God, is repeating the experience of Israel in the desert.”[13]  Jesus obeys perfectly, unlike Israel in the wilderness. If one has an incarnational reading of Matthew 1:23, then, God himself (who is not the God of the philosophers, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel) in Jesus fulfills Israel’s story himself. All other Christological typologies and titles ought to be subordinated to this one. Jesus fulfills not only particular biblical personalities in a typological way but indeed the entirety of the “Law and the Prophets” (Matt 5:17).

If God fulfills Israel’s story in Jesus, then the Model Reader sees more clearly the Matthean emphasis on continuity. It is easy to emphasize discontinuity in the Gospel of Matthew, given the history of Christian anti-Judaism, the Gospel’s own historical role in generating that history as it suffers misreading, and the radical claims of newness in the Gospel rooted in the uniqueness of the divine authority of Jesus’ person (e.g., “for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes,” Matt 7:29), the one who is so bold as to issue his own commandments (Matt 5:19-20, in which the near demonstrative pronoun qualifying “these” commandments and the repeated references to the Kingdom of God Jesus inaugurates [cf. 4:17] seem to indicate not the Law and Prophets per se are in view, but Jesus’ own commandments which follow in the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel as a whole). Jesus fulfills the line of Israel as son of Abraham (a new Isaac, and thus a sacrifice) and son of David (Messiah) (Matt 1:1-17) as God himself come to earth (Matt 1:18-25). Jesus is and remains Jewish. Jesus assumes a Jewish worldview, whatever his particular mindset within Judaism. Jesus does not start from scratch, as the worst docetic and moralistic Enlightenment theology would have it. And the Model Reader perceives that continuity: The story of Israel culminates in Jesus the Jew, but—as a result both of the divine plan as indicated in the story of the Magi and the quotations of Isaiah 9 and 12 and also human hostility—Jesus founds the Church not to replace Israel in a brute substitution but to continue her work to be the servant proclaiming “righteousness to the nations,” Jesus himself leading those Jews (and post-resurrection, Gentiles) who would join him as his disciples as he, God with them (Matt 1:23), present in their midst when gathered (Matt 18:20), promises to be with them to the end of the age (Matt 28:20). The time of the Gospel of Matthew, then, is the time of the Eucharistic mission of the Church to all the nations, as the Church is to do what Jesus commands, which chief among many other things is to “Do this in remembrance of me.”

[1] See Stefan Alkier, “Intertextuality and the Semiotics of Biblical Texts,” pp. 3-21 in Reading the Bible Intertextually (ed. R. B. Hays, L. A. Huizenga, and S. Alkier; Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2009), 8-11.

[2] See Huizenga, New Isaac, 139-143.

[3] See Powell, “The Plot and Subplots of Matthew’s Gospel,” NTS 38 (1992): 196.

[4] Crucial reading on this difficult point is Matthias Konradt, Israel, Kirche, und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007).

[5] “Rabbi” in Matthew is never positive. Cf. Matt 23:7, 26:25, 26:49.

[6] Early Christians were indeed speaking in terms of an altar, as Hebrews, another document from the orbit of Jewish Christianity, and perhaps roughly the time of the production of the Gospel of Matthew, makes plain: “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” (Heb 13:10). See also 1 Cor 10-11, which presents significant parallels between the Jewish altar and the Christian eucharist.

[7] Donald Senior’s phrase, from his piece “The Lure of the Formula Quotations: Re-Assessing Matthew as A Test Case,” pp. 89-115 in The Scriptures in the Gospels (ed. C. M. Tuckett; BEThL 131; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1997).

[8] Tyndale Bulletin 59 (2008): 77-98.

[9] Kirk, “Conceptualizing Fulfillment,” 77.

[10] See also Exod 4:22-23: “And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my first-born son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.”‘”

[11] It is often noted that the genealogy itself indicates this.  See Stefan Alkier, “Zeichen der Erinnerung – Die Genealogie in Mt 1 als intertextuelle Disposition,” pages 108-28 in Bekenntnis und Erinnerung (ed. K.-M. Bull and Eckart Reinmuth; Rostocker Theologische Studien 16; Münster: Lit Verlag, 2004), for an insightful treatment of its intertextual dynamics.

[12] On this, see Gerhardsson, The Testing of God’s Son (Matt 4:1-11 & Par): An Analysis of an Early Christian Midrash (CBNT 2; Lund: Gleerup, 1966), who argues that this episode is similar to rabbinic exposition of the Shema. The pertinent rabbinic texts are m. Ber. 9:5 and Sipre Deut. 6:5.

[13] Davies and Allison, Saint Matthew, 1:352.  It is fitting, however, that one does not find material from Deut 7 in Matthew.  For Deut 7 contains instruction to drive out the nations, a theme that hardly fits with the Matthean theme of Gentile inclusion.  The Model Reader thus leaves Deut 7 narcotized.

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