On Sat., Oct 1, David Kennedy wroteL
>I have three problems with this common understanding. (1) I am not aware of
>any ancient Jewish source that looks for a Messianic birth in Bethlehem.
>Iindeed, a/the "messiah" is generally one who appears to set things right, not
>one whose birth is emphasized at all.
In response to his three problems, I have three problems.
1. While it may be true that there are no "known" sources discussing the
Mesiiah being born rather than just appearing and seting things right, the
comparative paucity of Jewish texts from the 1st century CE does not constitute,
I would argue, much more than an argument from silence. Furthermore,
why can't Matthew be the one who does this? From my perspective, the author
of Matthew is a Jew who holds that Jesus is the Messiah. Why doesn't that
constitute a Jewish source? One of my pet peeves is the assumption that
if we don't have evidence for it outside the NT, the NT itself is not acceptale
as evidence. This break-down in logic (IMHO), is far too ubiquitous in
2. I would see the relationship of the cheif priests to Jesus changing over
the course of the Gospel narratives. At the time of Jesus' birth, they
basically have no opinion at all about him and are not portrayed in an
especailly negative light. Over time, they appear in a progressively worse
light. Why is that a problem?
3. Perhaps the "recent interpreters" are correct in their understanding of
Micah 5:2, but perhaps not, so that does nto really serve as a strike against
Matthew's use in my mind. Furthermore, I would submit that, if it is the case
that this is not what Micah intended, it is in the same category as Isa. 7:14,
which Matthew sees as having a double referent, as well he might, given that
seeing a woman giving birth is about the fartherst thing from a sign that I
can imagine. That's like saying it will be sign to you when the Sun rises.
It's no surprise the king is unimpressed. So Matthew draws a second
reference from the same promise in Isa. and perhaps also in Micah, though I
think the non-future interpretation of Micah 5:2 leaves a lot to be deisred
I would also like to add
4. If, in fact, Matthew is departing so dramatically from a Jewish understan-
ding (not necessarily the majority view), why is it that there are not more
records in Jewish writings taking issue with Matthew's exegesis?