"If You Are Willing to Receive It": The Presentation of John the Baptist as Elijah in Matthew's Gospel
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Scripture References in this Resource
Malachi 3:1-5; Malachi 3:22-24; Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 3:1-17; Matthew 4:12-16; Matthew 9:14-17; Matthew 11:2-30; Matthew 14:1-13; Matthew 16:13-14; Matthew 17:1-13; Matthew 21:23-22:44; Matthew 27:45-50
Goldstein, Aaron, J. “‘If You Are Willing to Receive It’: The Presentation of John The Baptist as Elijah in Matthew’s Gospel.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2021. 214pp.
In Matthew’s Gospel, John the Baptist demonstrates a viewpoint of himself and Jesus, in their respective roles in the in–breaking kingdom of heaven, which is correct, but also insufficient. An exploration is undertaken to better understand this phenomenon.
With John identified in the Gospel as ‘Elijah who is to come,’ Malachian texts concerning expectations for Elijah’s return are examined. From this context, three figures emerge, each with an expected role: ‘My messenger’/Elijah, the Lord/Messenger of the Covenant, and Yahweh himself.
A survey of relevant Second Temple Jewish literature aids in reading as Matthew’s implied reader. This survey demonstrates diversity, but also certain general contours of Elijanic expectation during the period.
Analysis of the Matthean Baptist’s narrative arc focuses on the insufficient viewpoint demonstrated in the narrative by John and others. Interest is taken in the nature of this insufficiency and how the Gospel’s narrator supplements the portrayal of John and Jesus. This occurs prominently through the use of Isaianic texts, as well as the narrative’s development and the use of other Old Testament texts.
Regarding this supplementing work of the narrator, four major themes emerge. First, rather than enacting immediate and full eschatological judgement, in the manifestation of the kingdom’s in–breaking, there is an emphasis instead on eschatological blessing in the ministry of Jesus. Second, when Jesus does take on the role of eschatological judge, the expressions of judgement are all, in some sense, partial in nature. Third, though the kingdom has broken in with the ministries of John and Jesus, it continues to suffer violence at the hands of violent men, such that both John and Jesus will suffer and die. Fourth, the narrator of Matthew’s Gospel expands the portrayal of Jesus’ messianic identity, such that Old Testament texts and themes associated with Yahweh are associated with Jesus.
Goldstein, Aaron, ""If You Are Willing to Receive It": The Presentation of John the Baptist as Elijah in Matthew's Gospel" (2021). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 94.
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