Monday, July 07, 2014

"Matthew's Temple Tax as Ransom: Interpretation of the Second Passion Prediction"by Rob Haskell


This paper expands on an idea mentioned by William Thompson in his study
Matthew’s Advice to a Divided Community, namely, that Matthew intended the temple
tax pericope (17:24-27) to be read with the second passion prediction (17:22-23) and so
to function as an interpretation of the death of Jesus. As such this pericope suggests that
Jesus’ death is a replacement for the temple tax and the sacrifices that it funded.
Thompson’s observations were brief and have not been incorporated into subsequent
scholarly discussion of this passage, but it is my contention that this is an extremely
fruitful approach and that there are several reasons for adopting it which go beyond those
noted by Thompson.
I present the following evidence. First, in the first century the temple tax was seen
as a “ransom for life” based on Exodus 30:11-16 and was thought to give its payer
representation in the sacrifices it funded. Second, various exegetical details, including the
parallel introductions of the second passion prediction and the temple tax pericope, and
the use of ἀ in 17:27, seem to point in this direction. Third, a similar pattern, also
noted by Thompson, can be discerned in Matthew’s two other passion predictions. Each
one is followed by a pericope that mentions ransom. The entire pattern climaxes in 20:28
where Jesus is said to give his live as a ransom for many. Finally, this approach also helps
explain the otherwise puzzling use of the phrase “the kings of the earth,” from Psalm 2:2,
in 17:26. I argue that this phrase refers to the chief priests of the Jerusalem Temple, thus
bringing the pericope into the thematic stream of Jesus’ impending death.

Full paper here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!