Storytelling is an art. The problem with art sometimes is that not everyone “gets it.” A gifted storyteller can weave in themes and references with an obvious message in mind and readers, especially when the context of history and society changes, can miss the storyteller’s message completely.
If Dale Allison is right, then for 2,000 years most readers have missed the message hidden in Matthew’s storytelling almost completely. Dale Allison’s The New Moses explores the Yeshua as the new Moses theme in Matthew’s gospel. To be sure, many have seen Moses analogies or typologies in Matthew, but few interpreters through the centuries have had a clear understanding why Matthew made such a to-do about Yeshua as Moses.
One obvious misreading is “since Yeshua is the new Moses, he replaces what came before.” Ironically, this has been the common understanding. Matthew is the gospel to the Jewish people, many would say, to show that Christianity is the better way.
Allison doesn’t take Matthew’s version that way. Rather, Matthew lives in the time when the churches are rapidly spreading in Gentile lands and filling up with Gentiles. Matthew wants to say, “wait, let’s keep this Yeshua movement as one rooted in Judaism, even if these Gentiles are not called to live as Jews.”
Here is how Allison puts it himself, “Matthew’s gospel was written as prevention, for it was drawn up by a man with an almost Jeremian sense of foreboding, a man who solemnly undertook to write a powerful and persuasive book that would endorse the pre-Christian past and prohibit the disassociation of Christianity from Judaism.”
LISTEN ONE OF TWO WAYS:
(1) If you have iTunes, search Yeshua in the iTunes store and subscribe.
(2) If you don’t use iTunes, go to this link at derekleman.com.
My book Yeshua in Context: Sketches of the Life and Times of Yeshua the Messiah will be released later in 2010. Stay tuned for news and some ways to be involved.