Saturday, February 9, 2013

3X-part 3a, Then was fulfilled (intro)

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.
In the previous post I laid out the data for the usage in the NT of Isaiah 6:9-10.

Childs now gives a page or two of introduction on the 'then was fulfilled...' formula. From his coverage, the thought arose in my mind: is this citation a fulfillment or a twisting of Scripture? In C.F.D. Moule's words, these citations are "to our critical eyes, manifestly forced and artificial and unconvincing" (The Origin of Christology, p129).  When I wrote earlier in this series of getting the tip of the sword into a box of abstractions, you can begin to see what the problems are for Snoopy on his Sopwith Camel.

Childs allows the most promising of modern approaches to Matthew to be that of Rudolf Petch He will be Called a Nazorean. Petch brings the interpretive framework into a time of a later community. But Childs, though pleased with the perspective as far as it goes, is not happy with either Moule or Petch.
"The fulfillment formula quotations are directed, above all, to establishing the identity of Jesus as Messiah and Lord in relation to the Old Testament prophecy and only secondarily to extending the implications of his commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)."  
I wonder if primary and secondary can be so easily separated. Who is this Jesus who is so celebrated? But who also is the community that is taught to sing a new song? Does obedience and formation come only through conformity to a confession, say concerning 'divinity' as if a human could establish the boundaries for God?  Yet equally I can concur with Childs, even if I sense the risk of short-circuit, in his one-line summaries of Matthew such as
The entire Old Testament is understood as a prophetic revelation of God's purposes directed to the future that has now been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. A typology is assumed between the history of Israel, viewed prophetically, and the life and ministry of Christ.

But I do have some serious difficulties with these words. I would write this - maybe
The Hebrew Scriptures (Teaching, Prophets, and Psalms) are understood as a typical example of human life, individual (David) and corporate (Israel) into which tradition Jesus enacts a life of obedience to God that reveals him as unique. This unique word made flesh, the community of his presence declares Lord and Anointed (Christ), in order that humanity might learn to love as he loved, to be pure as he is pure.
But I digress... Childs' essay on Matthew - focusing on Isaiah 7:14 is difficult to summarize in that it already summarizes a host of other scholars. So let me present how Matthew uses Isaiah and other prophets - the raw data according to Childs with the Hebrew and Septuagint and Matthew side by side. Then let's see what emerges. I was thinking I could just do one table - but what's the hurry! I will do a post on each verse in the Then was fulfilled sequence. Each also needs the music of the Hebrew to bring it to our ears. The posts will include Matthew 1:23, 2:15, 17-18, 23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:18-21; 13:35; 21:4-5; and 27:9. [project deferred - see next post] Then perhaps I will see and hear more than I would if I failed to read closely.