Continuing the series of posts reviewing France's Matthew commentary in the NICNT, I begin addressing specific passages. The first is the Genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17)
France’s comments on the genealogy reveal his view on the question of the proper theological context for the interpretation of the First Gospel. France rightly presents Davidic Messianism as fundamental to Matthew’s presentation of Jesus.
Matthew’s genealogy is divided into three sets of 14 generations as is well known. Careful study shows that this can only be accomplished by a selective and historically imbalanced presentation. The point that France makes from this observation is that Matthew’s genealogy is a selective “survey of the history of the people of God” including a “royal list”, a “dynastic document” to imply that the succession of the Davidic throne continued while the actual monarchy had not. France concludes that the genealogy “focuses on the royal dimension . . . which finds its culmination in the coming of Jesus, the “son of David” and thus potentially in the restoration of the monarchy” (32).
The structure of the list with its two pivots at David (1:6) and the Exile (1:12), reveals Matthew’s interests in the issues of Davidic kingship and exile. France summarizes:
Its aim is clear enough: to locate Jesus within the story of God’s people, as its intended climax, and to do it with a special focus on the Davidic monarchy as the proper context for a theological understanding of the role of the person to whom Matthew, more than the other gospel writers, will delight to refer not only as “Messiah” but also more specifically as “Son of David” (33).
The Davidic character of the opening of the Gospel is absolutely the “proper context for a theological understanding” of Jesus’ mission. This observation is impressive and important. Although most would not disagree, few, even France himself, have yet to provide a reading of Matthew that is thoroughly Davidic.