Proskynesis of Jesus in the New Testament writings
Lozano, Raymond Matthew
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An intriguing literary feature of a number of New Testament writings is the depiction of Jesus as a recipient of proskynesis—that is, as an object of the Greek verb προσκυνέω. The term προσκυνέω is generally used in antiquity to express reverence directed toward a superior, often through prostration, but takes on more specific reverential connotations in individual instances, such as extending a respectful greeting to an elder, paying homage to a king, or giving cultic worship to a deity. In the NT writings, not only is the term frequently used for worship of Israel’s God (e.g., Matt 4:10; John 4:20–24; Rev 4:10) and for idolatrous worship of false gods (e.g., Matt 4:9; Acts 7:43; Rev 9:20), but it is also in some instances used to express a form of reverence considered inappropriate for God’s human and angelic servants (Acts 10:25–26; Rev 19:10; 22:8–9). In the numerous instances of Jesus as an object of προσκυνέω (e.g., Mark 5:6; Matt 2:11; 14:33; 28:17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; Heb 1:6), he is not only portrayed legitimately receiving such reverence, but even doing so in a number of overtly striking scenes where he appears to be more than human. Surprisingly, there is very little thorough scholarly attention given to the significance(s) of Jesus as a recipient of proskynesis in the NT writings. Those who have discussed this NT phenomenon, whether in individual NT works or in the entirety of the NT writings, come to different conclusions regarding whether Jesus is reverenced/worshiped with proskynesis as a human figure or as a divine figure. The goal of this thesis is to determine the significance(s) of the proskynesis of Jesus in every NT writing that this literary phenomenon appears through an in-depth exegetical, literary-critical analysis of such works (the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, the Gospel of John, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation). It is argued in this thesis that each of these NT writings, in their own unique ways, presents Jesus as a divine figure uniquely and closely linked to the God of Israel in his reception of proskynesis.