Thematic association in the Gospel of Matthew: situating exegesis in the Gospel of Matthew in its Second Temple context
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This thesis situates Matthew’s interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures within a Jewish setting. I argue that Matthew uses a Jewish technique that I call “thematic association.” The technique involves using scriptural quotations to point to themes in the quotations’ original scriptural contexts. Evoking the themes facilitates implicit interpretations of the unquoted scriptural contexts. I begin by identifying examples of thematic association in the Dead Sea Scrolls to show how thematic association is used. This discussion not only illustrates the process of implied interpretation, but it also shows that thematic association was used by Jewish sources before the Gospel of Matthew. It is, of course, one matter to show a precedent, but another to demonstrate that Matthew actually uses the technique. To that end, I will attempt to show that Matthew’s narrative exhibits the same technique. I argue that Matthew uses thematic association when quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures to point to themes in unquoted parts of the scriptures, implying that these themes are relevant to events during Jesus’ life. I analyze Matthew’s quotations of Isa 7:14, Mic 5:2, Hos 11:1, Jer 31:15, Deut 8:3, Isa 9:1-2, Isa 53:4, Isa 42:1-4, Ps 78, and Ps 22. Comparing themes in these quotations’ contexts to themes in Matthew reveals Matthew’s use of thematic association.