First, Huizenga believes the phrase serves as a title for the whole Gospel and not simply for the genealogy or the infancy narrative or the first major section (1:1—4:16). Given how thoroughly interwoven is the concept of Jesus’ Davidic identity through the whole Gospel, the retrospective look back after reading makes this conclusion clear.
Second, Huizenga makes the important connection between the son of David and son of Abraham. He asserts, essentially, that what is true for the phrase “son of David” must also be true for “son of Abraham”. Thus, one would expect to find a significant thread sown through the Gospel that connects to this title.
These two points are largely well established within the field, but Huizenga then takes a step in a new direction by attempting to show that what Matthew has in mind is not Abraham, so much as Isaac, “the son of Abraham”. The force of his argument is that Matthew’s Gospel contains a robust Isaac typological intiated by this title: “in his first coming, Jesus was not only the Davidic Messiah but also the antitype of Isaac” (108). Central to this typology, for Huizenga, is the Akedah, Isaac’s willing sacrifice of himself. The consequence of which is a Christological category complementary to Davidic Messianism, namely, the sacrificial death of the Messiah. Huizenga writes, “The two categories of Messiah and crucified savior are wrapped up together in the one person, Jesus, with the Isaac typology providing the conceptual category of the atoning death of a martyr” (107). He concludes then the two titles provide a thematic symmetry for Matthew’s Gospel.
Finally, Huizenga’s article briefly points out places in Matthew where allusions and echoes to the Isaac story, and more specifically to the Akedah, have been overlooked. First, pointing out the correspondences between Matthew’s birth narrative and that of Isaac’s in Genesis 17 he summarizes:
The Matthean Jesus and the Isaac of Jewish tradition . . . bear striking resemblance to each other: both are promised children conceived under extraordinary circumstances, beloved Sons who go obediently to their sacrificial deaths at the season of Passover at Jerusalem at the hands of their respective fathers for redemptive purposes (110).Second, Huizenga highlights “precise verbal allusions” to the Septuagint’s Genesis 22—most notably in the Baptism, Transfiguration and Passion narratives.
What do we make of Huizenga’s idea? First, I think he is absolutely correct in his estimation of the programmatic nature of the opening phrase for Matthew’s Gospel. Second, Huizenga has usefully flagged an important and underappreciated aspect of the First Gospel’s cultural context. The evidence for a “robust Isaac typology” is present; and such recognition, at the very least, opens the door wide to fresh readings of particular passages in Matthew. More profoundly, however, the appreciation of an Isaac typology, if we were to agree with Huizenga, would pair it with Davidic Messianism as the central argument of the Gospel. It is this latter point that I still have yet to fully embrace with him.
I am convinced that Matthew has an Isaac typology, but I am less so that the title “son of Abraham” leads by straight line to the Akedah. It is difficult to deny that Mount Moriah would not have been an obvious anti-type for Mount Golgotha in the mind of a Jewish believer in Jesus; however, it is much more difficult to pin the title “son of Abraham” down so specifically. I have wondered, mostly in my own mind and not often aloud, whether or not the titles, “son of David, son of Abraham” were aimed as a barb at the Herodian dynasty; a dynasty that continued into the late first century (Agrippa II). This as least seems possible for two reasons: (1) Jews regularly disparaged Herod as a "half-Jew"; and (2) the intense focus on Herod the Great in the opening scenes of the narrative. More likely, however, the title "son of Abraham" seems most appropriately a reference the fact that as the Davidic Messiah, Israel's vocation, given first to Abraham, comes to its completion. This completion is evinced in the narrative in the so-called Great Commission—a better label I think is the "Great Implication"—likely has Abrahamic echoes.
In any event, Huizenga offers an important observation about Matthew in this good article.