My Blood of the Covenant: Reverberation of the New Covenant in Matthew’s Gospel
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Blood of the covenant
When the OT prophets looked ahead to the future redemption, they anticipated a string of redemptive-historical events to be recapitulated in the future. Such recapitulation involves a new deliverance in a new Passover, new exodus, and climaxing in a new covenant. As such, the mention of the covenant in Matthew, the declaration “τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς διαθήκης,” is the climax of a narrative progression from Abraham to the Messiah, from the Passover and the exodus to the inauguration of the (new) covenant. The present thesis aims to illustrate the significance of the new covenant for Matthew’s Gospel. The core of the argument rests on Mogens Müller’s observation, in his ‘The Gospel of St Matthew and the Mosaic Law,’ that the new covenant is a “substructure underlying” Matthew’s Gospel. The first chapter situates the present thesis in Matthean scholarship in particular and covenant research in general to demonstrate the relevance of this research. The second chapter explores the covenantal significances of the titles “υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ” and “υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ.” The aim is to show that the titles evoke strong covenantal overtones even though covenant terminology is not used. Furthermore, in Matthew, these covenants are synthesized in one christological act of covenant-making. The third and fourth chapters investigate the only and explicit reference to the covenant in Matthew’s Gospel in 26:28. The question raised in these chapters is whether the introduction of the covenant was a strategically placed climactic reference. Chapter 3 is substantial since it seeks to demonstrate that Matthew, at crucial places throughout his Gospel, engages in symbolic significations and interpretations, thus building the narrative for the climactic scene at the interpretation narrative. As such, the (new) covenant has been proleptically symbolized in the feeding miracles and anticipated in the eschatological banquet, leading up to the Last Supper. To that effect, the chapter will argue that Matthew appears to interpret the meaning of Jesus’ death within the conceptual framework of Passover ordered to exodus, ordered to covenant. The blood of the covenant in 26:28 should be seen as a climactic reference designed to provide Jesus’s death its covenantal overtones. Chapter 5 builds from these conclusions and explores the theme of interiority as a covenantal reality. Here Matthew’s particular interest on the heart is examined against the new covenant realities of the prophetic promises as the sign of the inauguration of the (new) covenant. Matthew presents Jesus as the interpreter and inscriber of Torah on human hearts in fulfillment of covenant promises. Finally, a summary and conclusion are drawn in chapter 6. In sum, chapter 2 examines the titles for their covenantal significance (de facto covenantal titles); chapter 3 analyzes Matthew’s narrative for its covenant framework (Passover, Exodus, covenant); chapter 4 investigates the only explicit reference to covenant in Matthew 26:28 (blood of the covenant), and chapter 5 examines Matthew’s focus on interiority (covenant reality).
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