Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Studies on Messianism

Probably the two best books on messianism that I've read (so far) are:
John Collins, The Scepter and the Star
William Horbury, Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ
Horbury offers some very good evidence for the Suffering Servant of Isaiah as a "messianic prototype".
1. The figure is interpreted as Messiah in the Isaiah Targum.
2. Justin Martyr gives the text a messianic spin which Trypho purportedly agrees with (Dial. 13.2-9; 18.2-90.1).
3. The Israelite king appears as a suffering servant in Pss. 89 and 39.
4. The "annointed one" is God's servant in Zech. 3.8.
5. The LXX can be read with a messianic interpretation though it does not demand this sense.
6. Mk. 10.45 could be said to combine a martyrdom and messianism.
7. In counter-point the Ethiopian Eunuch of Acts 8 does not know who the Suffering Servant of Isaiah is, thus, the messianic interpretation was hardly uniform and not immediately recognizable to all.
He concludes: "It was perhaps orginally formed on the model fo the suffering king, and a messianic interpretation was probably current in the Second Temple period, but the passage was not then regarded as obviously messianic" (p. 33).

1 comment:

Brant Pitre said...

You simply MUST read the Jewish scholar
Joseph Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, which treats OT, Pseudepigrapha, and Rabbis.

It is a masterpiece, which saw the significance of, for example, the ingathering of the exiles, long before E. P. Sanders was a twinkle in his daddy's eye! It is also a good antidote to Fitzmyer's messianic minimalism from a man who knows how ancient Jews think.