This study argues that sonship and obedience are prominent and related themes
in the Gospel of Matthew, and the Evangelist's christological articulation of obedient
sonship is drawn from the calling of Israel to be Yahweh's obedient son in
Deuteronomy. Thus, it is argued that a consideration of Israel's scriptural traditions
is necessary to understand most fully Matthew's teaching of the sonship of Jesus.
Chapter 1 explores Matthew's use of the OT and, building on the work of
Richard Hays, outlines a method for identifying subtle intertextual allusions, and
suggests a composition criticism approach to Matthew that focuses on the gospel as a
literary and redactional whole.
Chapter 2 seeks to establish the historical plausibility for the claim that
Matthew was heavily indebted to Deuteronomy by tracing the circulation and use of
Deuteronomy in general in ancient Jewish and Christian literature. The purpose of
this chapter is to provide a foundation for the claim that Deuteronomy would likely
have been an important text for Matthew.
Chapter 3 then focuses on Deuteronomy, tracing the covenantal context for the
themes of sonship and obedience. It is argued that the sonship of Israel is a key motif
in Deuteronomy, and this sonship was predicated on obedience. Key texts include
Deut 1; 8; 14; 21; 32, and the themes of love, election, and inheritance are also
Chapter 4 traces the influence of Deuteronomy under the specific rubric of
obedient sonship through ancient Jewish and Christian literature, including texts
which Matthew may have known. Here it is argued that obedient sonship, in
association with Deuteronomic themes, is prominent in a wide range of texts.
Chapters 5-7 focus specifically on Matthew. It is argued in chapter 5 that the
Temptation Narrative (Matt 4.1-11), the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), and the
accusation that Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard (Matt 11.16-19) all demonstrate
rather strong resonances with Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic call to obedient
sonship. Chapter 6 proposes two significant possibilities: that the baptism of Jesus
(Matt 3.13-17) and the Transfiguration (Matt 17.1-21) may also be influenced by the
Deuteronomic perspective on sonship. Finally, chapter 7 suggests three additional
clusters of texts that may also indicate Deuteronomy's filial influence on Matthew:
Matt 1.20; 12.46-50; 21.28-22.14.
1.20; 12.46-50; 21.28-22.14.
Chapter 8 offers a conclusion and synthesis, arguing that chapters 1-4 provide
the foundation for the claims in chapters 5-7. It is concluded that the Deuteronomic
teaching of obedient sonship was quite pervasive in the ancient world, and there is an
historically plausible case to be made that Matthew was influenced by this tradition.
However, it is also argued that Matthew has appropriated the Deuteronomic concept
of obedient sonship in unique ways, applying it messianically to the person of Jesus
as the New Israel, and consequently also to the disciples of Jesus, who are able to be
a part of God's family through Jesus, the preeminently obedient son.