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Jesus as shepherd in the gospel of Matthew

Hedrick, Terry J. (2007) Jesus as shepherd in the gospel of Matthew. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that Matthew and those who first received and transmitted Matthew's Gospel during the late first century believed that Jesus was the righteous and royal Shepherd-Messiah of Israel, the Son of David. Matthew also believed that Jesus was the true teacher and interpreter of the law who could give definitive leadership and guidance to Israel in the aftermath of the Jewish war. Matthew's Gospel was written sometime during the last quarter of the first century, during the formative period of early Judaism. In this context, Matthew presented Jesus as the defining figure for the future of Israel. Jesus, as the righteous royal shepherd, will provide the authoritative understanding of Judaism and her traditions. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David, and fulfils the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, as God's choice, he is the one to be turned to during this time of transition and change. As the Son of God and Messiah, he has been given God’s authority and is personally present with the community to give this guidance. One of the ways the evangelist demonstrates this is in his use of the shepherd metaphor in regard to Jesus. The ancient metaphor of shepherd was an image for leadership in the history of the tradition. The shepherd metaphor was often associated with the spiritual and national leaders in Israel, for example, Moses and David. According to Matthew qualities of this kind of shepherd leadership are now revealed in their fullness in Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus as Shepherd-Messiah is revealed both explicitly and implicitly in Matthew. He is revealed explicitly in the shepherd texts of Matthew and implicitly in the Gospel through the literary and typological correspondences in the history of Israel. The shepherd metaphor has a long history both inside and outside Israel’s tradition. Kings and rulers of many types were referred to as shepherds. In the thesis, the metaphor IS explored in the Ancient Near East generally, the biblical tradition, second Temple Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Philo. The shepherd metaphor was also used to describe evil, false or abusive rulers and leaders. In Israel's tradition this false shepherd metaphor became especially prominent in the exilic and post-exilic prophets. After the time of the exile, messianic hopes grew. The shepherd metaphor became associated with these messianic expectations. Other relevant texts from Rabbinic Judaism and Greco-Roman sources are also considered. In light of this social and historical background, the intertextual and narrative implications of Matthew's use of the shepherd motif will be investigated in relation to his christological concerns. Finally, the shepherd metaphor as it is applied to 'Jesus as shepherd' is thoroughly examined in regard to the Gospel of Matthew. It is the intention of this thesis therefore to make a contribution concerning Matthew's use of the shepherd metaphor in the wider context of Matthean Christology.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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