Matthias Konradt on the Soteriological Significance of Jesus’s Death in Matthew

In today’s post I will look at another key quotation from this year’s BMSEC volume, namely Matthias Konradt‘s book Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew, which has been translated with great precision and elegance by Kathleen Ess. For my other posts on this book, see here.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the selective grammatical analysis can directly follow the German text.

Translation and Text

Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew (p. 298; trans. K. Ess, bracketed material added by W. Coppins): While the soteriological dimension of the Matthean model of Jesus’ divine sonship is made clear already in 1.18-25 as well as in the pericope of Jesus’ walk across the water in 14.22-33, this dimension is emphatically reinforced in the Passion Narrative. Matthew concisely expresses the soteriological significance of Jesus’ death by adding εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν [for the forgiveness of sins] to the words of institution in 26.28. Matthew left out these very words in the portrayal of John the Baptist, in contrast with Mark 1.4. In Matthew, the forgiveness of sins is linked not with the baptism of John but with Jesus’ death. In the preceding narrative, this soteriological significance is reflected in the authority of the Son of Man to forgive sins in 9.6, as well as Jesus’ ministry to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in general. Both elements together develop the basic christological statement of 1.21: “For Matthew the forgiveness of sins stands at the center of Jesus’ mission.” The connection between 1.21 and Jesus’ passion is not only achieved through 26.28 but also further substantiated in that the name Jesus, which in 1.21 is explained in the statement of salvation, is inserted in the titulus crucis in 27.37: the Markan ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [the king of the Jews] becomes in Matthew οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων [this is Jesus the king of the Jews]. It is plausible to assume that Matthew here creates an intentional reference to the interpretation of the name in 1.21, and thereby, in line with 26.28, connects Jesus’ death with the forgiveness of sins.

* The quoted sentence is from the translation of U. Luz’ commentary on Matthew 21-28 (p. 381 = p. 116 in vol 4 of the German version).

Israel, Kirche und die Völker im Matthäusevangelium (p. 320): Wurde bereits in 1.18-25 sowie durch die Seewandelperikope in 14.22-33 die soteriologische Dimension der mattäischen Profilierung der Gottessohnschaft Jesu deutlich, so wird dies durch die Passionserzählung mit Nachdruck untermauert. Die soteriologische Bedeutung des Todes Jesu findet bei Matthäus einen konzisen Ausdruck in der Hinzufügung von εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν im Kelchwort in 26.28. Ebendiese Worte hat Matthäus bei der Präsentation des Täufers gegenüber Mk 1,4 ausgelassen. Sündenvergebung wird von Matthäus nicht schon an die Johannestaufe, sondern an den Tod Jesu gebunden. In der vorangehenden Erzählung steht dem in 9,6 die Vollmacht des Menschensohns zur Vergebung der Sünden wie überhaupt die Zuwendung Jesu zu den “verlorenen Schafen des Hauses Israel” zur Seite. Beides zusammen entfaltet die christologische Basis-aussage von 1,21. “Die Vergebung der Sünden ist für Matthäus das Zentrum der Sendung Jesu”. Die Verbindung zwischen 1,21 und der Passion Jesu erfolgt dabei nicht allein durch 26.28, sondern wird noch dadurch untermauert, dass der Name “Jesus”, der in 1,21 durch die Rettungsaussage erläutert wird, im titulus crucis in 27,37 eingefügt ist: Aus dem markinischen ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων wird bei Matthäus οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. Die Annahme liegt nahe, dass Matthäus hier einen gezielten Rückvereis auf die Namensdeutung in 1,21 setzt und damit ganz auf der Linie von 26,28 den Tod Jesu als Ort der Sündenvergebung ausweist.

Grammatical Analysis

Rather than providing a selective analysis of the entire passage, let me now treat the last two sentences in detail as a model sentence: Die Verbindung … Jesu forms the subject of the verb erfolgt. Die Verbindung = the connection; zwischen = between + dative (1.21 und der Passion/the passion); Jesu is genitive (of Jesus); K. Ess has translated erfolgt with “is … achieved” rather than adopting a more wooden solution such as “takes place”. She appears to have left dabei untranslated (as I often do). nicht allein = not only. durch 26.28 = through 26.28 (it might have been preferable to write “is achieved not only through 26.28). sondern = but. I like the translation “is substantiated” for wird untermauert. She has rendered sondern … noch as “but also further”, which works well, since “not only” needs to be followed by “but also” in English. dadurch … dass has been translated with “in that”, which works well, though I might have gone with “but is further substantiated also by the fact that”. der Name Jesus / the name Jesus is the subject. It is modified by the non-defining relative clause der … wird: der = which; as usual the verb wird erläutert is moved to the end of the subordinate clause; durch die Rettungsaussage (acc) = “by the statement of salvation”. The verb of the main sentence, eingefügt ist has been moved to the end of the subordinate clause introduced by dass: I might have translated it with “has been inserted” rather than “is inserted” though I think it works well as it stands. In the German I would have expected (no doubt incorrectly!) the accusative (into the titulus crucis) rather than the dative im titulus crucis, which is correctly translated as “in the titulus crucis“. Aus X wird Y can be translated as “X becomes Y” (as K. Ess has done here). I always struggle with the translation of liegt nahe, and I might have rendered this phrase as “The assumption is suggested that” or “the assumption lies close at hand that”. But I much prefer K. Ess’s translation of this phrase as “It is plausible to assume”: dass introduces what is being assumed; that Matthäus … setzt und … ausweist. The object of setzt/creates is einen gezielten Rückverweis/an intentional reference, which is probably better than adopting a more expansive solution such as “an intentional reference back”. auf = to + die Namensdeutung/the interpretation of the name (accusative). damit is always troublesome. As K. Ess has done, I often translate it with “thereby”, which I think works well here, though I have increasingly begun to leave it untranslated or use “in this way”. K. Ess has left ganz untranslated, writing “in line with 26.28” rather than adopting a more cumbersome solution such as “completely in line with”. She has translated the last part of the sentence freely with “connected the death of Jesus with the forgiveness of sins” rather than adopting a more wooden translation such as “and thereby designated the death of Jesus as (the) place of the forgiveness of sins”, which might be preferable insofar as it retains the emphasis on place in the German.

Substantive analysis

I found this quotation to be a wonderfully compact presentation of the soteriological significance of Jesus’ ministry and death in Matthew. And for me at least Konradt’s interpretation of the significance of Matthew’s addition of Jesus’ name to the titulus was both convincing and new (it does not, however, appear to be a new idea as such; in his footnote to this point, Konradt writes: Compare Senior 1985, 131; Heil 1991a, 80; Luck 1993, 305; Repschinksi 2006, 264 (= CBQ 68); and Herzer 2009, 139).

Let me conclude this post by thanking Jason Maston again for interviewing me last week about the BMSEC series at Dunelm Road!

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.


Jens Schröter on Jesus’ use of the Son of Man Expression as Aufmerksamkeitssignal

Today’s model sentence is excerpted from Jens Schröter‘s attractive attempt to answer the Gretchenfrage of the Son of Man Problem in his book Jesus of Nazareth – Jew From Galilee, Savior of the World (2014)Jesus von Nazaret: Jude aus Galiläa – Retter der Welt (1st = 2006; 4th = 2012).

For my other posts on this book, see here. For all my Schröterposts, see here.

Jesus of Nazareth (p. 167): The Son of Man expression can then be placed into the profile of the activity of Jesus as follows: Jesus used this expression in such a way that with it the distinctive character of precisely his activity was stressed … Thus, Jesus used the expression “Son of Man” rather than merely saying “I” in order to point to the distinctiveness of his person: everything that took place through him and toward him was of singular significance because as the representative of God he established God’s reign and confronted human beings with the decision over salvation and judgment. Thus, one can understand Jesus’ use as an attention-attracting signal with which he pointed to the distinctiveness of his person.

Jesus von Nazaret (4th edition, p. 254-255): Der Menschensohnausdruck lässt sich dann folgendermaßen in das Profil des Wirkens Jesu einzeichnen … Jesus benutzt demnach den Ausdruck “Menschensohn” und sagte nicht einfach “ich”, um damit auf die Besonderheit seiner Person hinzuweisen: Alles, was sich durch ihn und an ihm ereignete, war deshalb von einzigartiger Bedeutung, weil er als Repräsentant Gottes dessen Reich aufrichtete und die Menschen mit der Entscheidung über Heil und Unheil konfrontierte. Man kann die Verwendung durch Jesus also als ein Aufmerksamkeitssignal verstehen, mit dem er auf die Besonderheit seiner Person hinwies.

Grammatical Analysis: the subject is Menschensohnausdruck/Son of Man expression. I usually translate the expression lässt sich + infinitive (here: einzeichnen) as can be verb-ed (here: “can be placed into” or “can be sketched into”). dann = then. folgendermaßen = as follows. in das Profil (acc) + des Wirkens (genitive) + Jesu (genitive) goes with einzeichnen: can be placed/sketched into the profile of the activity of Jesus. Jesus is the subject and benuzt/uses is the verb. With a view to readability, I translated demnach as “thus” rather than “according to this”. den Ausdruck/the expression is the object of the verb and Menschensohn/Son of Man represents the expression that is in view. I translated und sagte nicht einfach (and said not simply) as “rather than merely saying” with a view to English style. “ich” = “I”. um + zu + infinitive = in order to verb: the zu is found in the verb at the end (hinzuweisen = zu hinweisen = “in order to point to”). I left damit untranslated: I sometimes translate damit with “thereby” or “in this way”. auf goes with the verb (to point to); it takes the accusative die Besonderheit/the distinctiveness + genitive seiner Person/of his person. Alles, was = everything which/that (I chose “that” because it seems to me that the clause is defining rather than non-defining). sich ereignete is the verb (happened/took place); durch ihn = through him. an ihm is more difficult and I’ve never discovered a great way to capture the sense in English, since “on him” doesn’t work so well and “toward him” or “to him” is not much better; sometimes I use “in relation to him”. war von Bedeutung = was of importance/significance + einzigartiger = was of singular or unique significance. deshalb/weil literally means  “therefore/for this reason …. because” but in this construction it is probably better to leave deshalb untranslated. weil/because introduces a subordinate clause and therefore the verbs aufrichtete/established and konfrontierte/confronted move to the end of their sentence segments. als Repräsentant Gottes = as representative God; in English it seemed necessary to write “as the representative of God”, though it probably would have been better to translate this phrase with “as God’s representative”. dessen Reich is the object of aufrichtete: established his reign/kingdom. In the context, his = God’s. Given the German word choice it may have been preferable to translate Reich as kingdom, but the translation really depends on knowing what emphasis the author wants to set with each use of this term. die Menschen = “people” or “human beings” is the object of konfrontierte. mit + dative (der Entscheidung) goes with konfrontierte = “confront … with the decision”, which is defined further via the preposition über/over + the two objects of the preposition, namely Heil/salvation and Unheil/judgment. Unfortunately, the word “unsalvation” doesn’t exist in English, so it is necessary use a word such as “judgment”, “ruin” or “disaster”: one of the the latter options may be preferable. Man = one or people. Man kann …x…als … verstehen = “one can understand x” or “x can be understood as”: the latter is often preferable despite the change from active to passive. die Verwendung (object of verstehen) = the use; durch Jesus = by Jesus: it would have been possible to alter the syntax and simply write “Jesus’ use”. also = thus/therefore (not “also”, which is a false friend): in English it is often best to move “Thus” to the beginning of the sentence. als ein Aufmerksamkeitssignal = “as an attention-attracting signal”: it is in the same case as die Verwendung (accusative), which would make it an object complement in Greek, but I’m not sure if this is the way one would speak of this construction in German/English. mit dem = with which. It introduces a subordinate clause and the verb hinwies (from hinweisen) moves to the end: with which er/he … points + auf/to + accusative die Besonderheit/the distinctiveness + genitive seiner Person/of his person.

Substantive analysis: I am attracted to and convinced by Schröter’s interpretation of Jesus’ use of the Son of Man expression as an Aufmerksamkeitssignal, which I think makes good sense of what we find in the narratives of the Gospels and good sense of what seems likely for the earthly Jesus.

Let me conclude today’s post by giving a plug for my wife Ingie Hovland‘s latest blog post on the anthropology of Christianity: Hidden determinants of Christians’ behavior: Reading Annelin Eriksen and Joel Robbins on values in Christianity!

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.



Michael Bachmann on the New Perspective on Paul (Paulus Handbuch Series)

Before beginning today’s post, let me share a link to a translation competition that may be of interest to readers of this blog (see here).

This week’s post is devoted again to the Paulus Handbuch (ed. Friedrich W. Horn; Mohr Siebeck, 2013; see here and PDF).

In my last Paulus Handbuch Series post I looked at Reinhard von Bendemann‘s discussion of Bultmann, Käsemann, and the Righteousness of God in Paul. Building on this post, today’s quotation is taken from Michael Bachmann‘s section on “The New Perspective on Paul” and “The New View of Paul”.

As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the grammatical commentary directly follows the German text. Since it is a both a difficult and a short sentence, I will analyze it as a model sentence.

I. Text and Translation

If one summarizes what has thus far been said on the New Perspective, then the result is as follows: The concern is with a direction of research, which has been developing since the 1960s and is in itself quite differentiated, that finds a unifying point above all in the fact that in the proto-Pauline letters, precisely also in formulations on justification, it believes it can make out something like a sociological dimension, which has more precisely to do with the relation of early Christianity to Judaism. Here an important role is usually assigned to the expression “works of the law”, insofar as with it a connection to Jewish identity markers is often claimed. Then the concern, especially in the formulation of a justification “not from works of the law”, would be with the possibility of an inclusion of non-Jews precisely as non-Jews into the community of salvation.

Fast man das bislang zur New Perspective Gesagte zusammen, so ergibt sich: Es handelt sich um eine sich seit den 1960er Jahren entwickelnde, dabei in sich durchaus differenzierte Forschungsrichtung, die v.a. darin einen Einheitspunkt findet, dass sie in den protopaulinischen Briefen, gerade auch in Formulierungen zur Rechtfertigung, so etwas wie eine soziologische Dimension auszumachen meint, die es genauer mit dem Verhältnis der frühen Christenheit zum Judentum zu tun hat. Dabei kommt zumeist dem Ausdruck “Werke des Gesetzes” eine wichtige Rolle zu, sofern bei ihm oft ein Bezug zu jüdischen Identitätsmerkmalen behauptet wird. Dann ginge es zumal bei der Formulierung von einer Rechtfertigung “nicht aus Werken des Gesetzes” um die Möglichkeit einer Inklusion von Nichtjuden eben als Nichtjuden in die Heilsgemeinde.

II. Extensive Grammatical Analysis

Fast … zusammen = zusammenfassen = summarizes; the fact that the verb stands in the first position lets you know that it needs to be translated “if …”. man = one. das … Gesagte = that which has been said = what has been said (past particle of sagen; with the neuter article “das” + capitalization it becomes a substantive); bis lang modifies Gesagte (what has been said “thus far/to date/up to now/previously”) and zur New Perspective specifies the topic “on the New Perspective”. so ergibt sich is difficult: as part of the if-then-construction, so can be translated as “then”; ergibt sich = arises or emerges but here the sense probably needs to be unpacked to read “then the result is as follows” or “then the following emerges” etc. Es handelt sich um = the concern is with or we are dealing with. eine … Forschungrichtung depends on um. It is modified by participial phrases (sich … entwickelnde and … in sich differenzierte …) and a relative clause (die … findet), which creates a problem since this usually can’t be reproduced in English. I converted the participial modifiers to two relative clauses, namely “which has been developing and is in itself quite differentiated” and “that finds …”, using “which” and then “that” because it seemed to me that the first relative clause (which) was a “non-defining relative clause” and the second one a defining relative clause (that), but I often struggle with this issue so I could be off here. sich entwickende is present but in English it has to become a past tense (has been developing) with seit 1960er (since the 1960s): German (like Greek, I think) uses the present tense when a past action extends into the present whereas English uses a past tense in such cases. I left dabei untranslated. I translated durchaus as “quite” and differenzierte as differentiated. die is feminine singular because this is the gender and number of its antecedent Forschungsrichtung; it is nominative because it is the subject of findet (that finds). v.a. = vor allem = above all. einen Einheitspunkt is accusative because it is the direct object of findet. darin … dass = therein that = in the fact that. sie is the subject and meint is the main verb; I translated sie … meint auszumachen as “believes it can make out”, which I hope is correct. so etwas wie eine soziologische Dimension = “something like a sociological dimension”: not sure exactly how to describe what is going on grammatically, which reminds me that I really do need to work through a German grammar at some point! The relative pronoun die, which I think looks back to eine soziologische Dimension (rather than Forschungsrichtung) is the subject and hat zu tun is the main verb (has to do). I’m not sure what es is doing? Perhaps literally “which has it to do more precisely with…”? genau becomes genauer in the comparative form: “more precisely/exactly”. mit (with) + dative dem Verhältnis (the relationship) + genitive der frühen Christenheit (of early Christianity) + zu (to) + dative dem Judentum => zum Judentum. I translated the always troublesome Dabei as “Here”. kommt zu with Rolle (role) + dative (dem Ausdruck) = an important (wichtige) role is usually (meist) ascribed (zukommen) to the expression (dem Ausdruck). Werke (works) + genitive des Gesetzes (of the Law). sofern = insofar as. bei is difficult to capture in English; sometimes “in” works best and sometimes “with” is better; ihm refers back to dem Ausdruck: with it. I often translate Bezug as “reference” but I was concerned that this translation might say more than Bachman wanted to say, so I went with “connection” (relation would perhaps also have worked); it is the subject of wird behauptet (is claimed). a connection zu (to/with) + dative Jewish identity markers. Dann = then. I believe ginge is subjunctive, and that it has the force of “would be concerned with” (see further my post on es geht um). I am uncertain about the force of zumal: I think it has the force of “especially” or “above all”, but it might have the sense of “namely” or perhaps even “at least”, though I couldn’t find support for the last proposal. Here I translated bei as “in” + dative der Formulierung + von (of) + dative einer Rechtfertigung. I translated Rechtfertigung as justification (there is obviously lots of discussion about what terminology to use for the Greek word here); like the Greek the German has “not from works of the law”; English usually has “not by works of the law”, but I retained “from”. um die Möglichkeit (with the possibility) + genitive einer Inklusion (of an inclusion) + von (of) + dative Nichtjuden (non-Jews). eben has the force of “precisely” + als (as) + Nichtjuden (non-Jews). I expected to find in der Heilsgemeinde rather than in die Heilsgemeinde but Inklusion must have an active force so that the accusative is used, for which reason I chose to write “into” the community of salvation.

III. Substantive analysis

On the one hand, I agree with Michael Bachmann that one of the enduring contributions of the New Perspective on Paul resides in its sensitivity to the presence of a sociological dimension that can be discerned in many of the key Pauline texts under discussion. And I think it is a shame when detractors of the New Perspective are unwilling to acknowledge this contribution with appreciation. On the other hand, I think there is much room for debate concerning the exact place that is assigned to this dimension in our attempts to unpack Paul’s argumentation in general and his language about justification and “works of the law” in particular. To name one point of hesitation, I seems problematic to me when the language of “justification” and “works of the law” is linked too exclusively to the inclusion of Gentiles, since Paul’s argument in Galatians 2 proceeds from a claim about justification/works of the law in relation to Jewish believers to a claim about justification/works of the law in relation to Gentile believers. Readers of Bachmann’s discussion of the “works of the law” in this section of the Paulus Handbuch may also wish to consult Otfried Hofius’s critique of Bachmann’s interpretation of “works of the law” in his Exegetische Studien (pp. 49-88 and 89-94).

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! Unfortunately, I have found it increasingly difficult to write a new post each Monday, but I hope to be able to write at least two or three Monday blog posts each month. We’ll see. Best, Wayne.