Matthew's Use of Isaiah as Prophecy
Five of Matthew's "formulaic passages" are unique because they are taken directly from the book of Isaiah, in this paper, the writer analyzes 5 passages taken from Isaiah's pages.
# 29221 | 2,932 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2003 |
Published on Jul 17, 2003 in Religion and Theology (The Bible) , Religion and Theology (Christianity)
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Matthew's text contains around sixty allusions and citations to the words of the Old Testament within its pages, of which the writer examines ten in this paper. Ten of Matthew's references to the Old Testament are enclosed in a category of their own; they are referred to as the "formulaic passages." The writer focuses on Matthew's use of Isaiah (passages from Isaiah compose half of Matthew's formulaic quotations and the writer focuses on five of them: 1:22-23; 3:3; 4:13-16; 8:17; and 12:17-21) as prophecy. It begins with a textual analysis of these passages and then provides an observation of Matthew's theology of fulfillment through use of the Old Testament.
From the Paper:"Matthew 1:22-23 is the first of the formulaic quotations that I will introduce and is probably the quotation that offers the most debate. Here, Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7:14 to show how Jesus fulfills prophecy because he is born of a virgin and named Emmanuel. The passage reads: "All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us"" (Matt. 1:22-23). However, M. Eugene Boring in the New Interpreter's Bible, points out that the context of Isaiah's passage was God's promise to Judah of salvation from the threat of the approaching Syrio-Ephriamitic War "before the child of a young woman who was already pregnant would reach the age of moral discernment," adding that as a symbol of hope, the child was to be given the name Emmanuel, "God is with us" (Boring, 135). Boring makes the important argument that Matthew misunderstood the Hebrew translation of the word "almah (correctly translated as young woman) as virgin (or referring to virginal conception) (135). Boring also notes the importance in the tense of Isaiah's passage. The conception is not meant to be seen as an event in the future, instead it is directed towards Isaiah's own time and context (135). Robert Horton Gundry in his book The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel, however, would disagree with Boring. Gundry believes that all commentators who fail to see the prediction of a "miraculous birth of the Messiah in Is. 7:14 neglect to establish one of two things which must be established for those views to stand" (Gundry, 226). Gundry then proceeds to delve into his own argumentative literary analysis of the passage. He begins, "First, if the almah is a virgin, she will lose her virginity, conceive, and bear" meaning that if the young woman is in fact a virgin, she will not be much longer. However, if the woman were married or marriage was contemplated before the conceiving and birth, the text would be expected to say ishah or wife (Gundry, 226). The text's tense also suggests that the pregnancy has already begun, so therefore the conception and birth of the child must take place before or without the young woman's becoming ishah (226-227). He continues, "Second, if marriage is not contemplated, almah is used in the sense of a young married woman." He concludes, "Almah refers to a mature young woman of marriageable age, but unmarried and presumably virgin unless otherwise stated" (Gundry, 227). Gundry therefore disagrees with M. Eugene Boring and concludes that Matthew correctly interpreted Isaiah's passage. Given Gundry and Boring's separate arguments, are we to say that Matthew interpreted Isaiah correctly or incorrectly" And how would the answer to this question effect Matthew's use of Isaiah as prophecy? This raises an interesting and likewise important question about the impact of Matthew's correct and/or incorrect interpretations of the Old Testament (such as Isaiah) that will be addressed later."
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