From the exile to the Christ : exile, restoration and the interpretation of Matthew's gospel

Eloff, Mervyn (2002-12)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2002

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate by critical interaction with four key areas of Matthean research that 'restoration from exile' provides a valid and valuable hermeneutical prism for the interpretation of Matthew's gospel. The investigation is undertaken from a Reformed and Evangelical perspective and an inclusive approach is adopted with regard to hermeneutics, viz that interpretation should take note of the historical and literary and theological aspects of Matthew's gospel. The four key areas of investigation were chosen because they involve both particular texts and the gospel as a whole and are, respectively, Matthew's genealogy, Matthew's concept of Salvation History, the Plot of Matthew's gospel and Matthew's Use of the Old Testament. Each of these areas has already received extensive attention in Matthean scholarship, though in each case the question of'restoration from exile' has been almost entirely neglected. In each area, a brief critical survey of current scholarship is provided, both in terms of content and methodology. This survey is then followed by a discussion ofthe relevant texts and topics, demonstrating both the presence and the hermeneutical importance of the 'restoration from exile' theme. In this way, the thesis thus shows that 'restoration from exile' does indeed provide a valid though not exclusive, hermeneutical prism for the interpretation of Matthew's gospel and that such an interpretation casts fresh light on both familiar and more troublesome texts and topics of investigation. The final section of the thesis comprises a brief survey of the theme of 'restoration from exile' within the Hebrew Scriptures and a representative selection of early Jewish texts. On the basis of this survey, the conclusion is reached that despite the very real diversity within early Judaism, it is possible to conclude that perhaps the majority of Jews of the Second Temple Period saw themselves as still 'in exile', at least in theological and spiritual terms. This in turn suggests that Matthew's presentation of Jesus as the one, who by his death and resurrection brings the exile to an end, both for Israel and for the human race at large, is designed to meet a very real spiritual and theological need. Furthermore, the pervasive interest in 'restoration from exile' within representative texts from Second Temple Judaism, and Matthew's clear interest in this same theme, further support claims for the Jewish-Christian setting of Matthew 's gospel and its dual function of legitimization for the Matthean communities and evangelistic appeal to outsiders.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die proefskrif beoog om deur middel van kritiese wisselwerking met vier sleutelgebiede van navorsing met betrekking tot die Matteusevangelie aan te toon dat 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' 'n geldige en waardevolle hermeneutiese prisma bied vir die verklaring van die Matteusevangelie. Die ondersoek word vanuit 'n Gereformeerde en Evangeliese standpunt onderneem. Daar word 'n inklusiewe hermeneutiese benadering gevolg, d. w.s. die historiese, literere en teologiese aspekte van die Matteusevangelie word in ag geneem. Die vier sleutelgebiede van ondersoek is gekies vanwee hulle verb and met spesifieke teksverse en die Matteusevangelie as geheel. Die sleutelgebiede is, onderskeidelik, die geslagsregister in Matteus I: 1-17, Matteus se konsep van heilsgeskiedenis, die plot van die Matteusevangelie en Matteus se gebruik van die Ou Testament. Elkeen van hierdie gebiede is in die verlede al breedvoerig deur geleerdes ondersoek, maar die tema van 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' is in elkeen van hierdie areas feitlik totaal verontagsaam. 'n Verkorte opsomming en bespreking van die hooftrekke van die bydraes van geleerdes word vir elk van die vier gebiede gegee, beide met betrekking tot inhoud en metodiek. Dit word gevolg deur 'n uitleg van sleutelverse en relevante temas om beide die teenwoordigheid en die belang van die 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' tema aan te toon. Op die wyse word daar in die proefskrifbewys dat 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' wei 'n geldige en waardevolle, dog nie die enigste nie, hermeneutiese prisma vir die uitleg van die Matteusevangelie verskaf. Dit is ook duidelik dat so 'n uitleg van Matteus wei nuwe lig op sowel bekende as minder bekende en moeiliker teksverse en temas gooi. Laastens word daar ondersoek gedoen na die belangstelling al dan nie in die tema 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' in die Ou Testament en 'n verteenwoordigende seleksie vroee Joodse geskrifte. Daar word aangetoon dat ondanks die verskeidenheid van wereldsienings onder die verskillende Joodse groepe, daar tog 'n algemene beskouing onder die meeste Jode van daardie periode was dat hulle steeds, ten minste in 'n geestelike en teologiese sin, 'in ballingskap' verkeer. Teen hierdie agtergrond is Matteus se voorstelling van Jesus as die Een wat die ballingskap vir Israel en die mensdom tot 'n einde bring van uiterste belang. So 'n belangstelling in 'terugkeer uit ballingskap' versterk ook verder die siening dat Matteus sy evangelie vir Joodse Christene geskryf het en dat Matteus se geskrif beide 'n legitimerings- en evangeliseringsfunksie vervul.

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