Benedict I. Chapter Ten: Jesus’ Identity

         In an examination of who Jesus is, we may turn to the testimony of those present during his earthly ministry. Correctly he is called: “Christ,” “Lord,” “Son of God,” and “King of the Jews.” But, what does Jesus call himself? We find Jesus attributing two titles to himself: “Son of Man,” and “Son.”

            Firstly, “Son of Man.” In the Gospels, “Son of Man” is found only on Jesus’ lips. This is attributed to the fact that “Son of Man” was not used as a messianic title at the time of Jesus. The only access Jews had to the title was the vision of Daniel of the four beasts, the Son of Man, and the Ancient of Days. But Jesus gives a new meaning to the vision: he is the new Kingdom of God, the judge, and he is equal to the Ancient of Days (the Father). Additionally, in Jesus the titles “Son of Man” and “Suffering Servant” are newly connected, making the judge of the new Kingdom compassionate and connected to the suffering humanity.

            Secondly, Son. Here Jesus gives us his “primordial identity”: the Son who receives all from the Father, who knows the Father, and thus is in perfect communion of being with the Father. Different from the political connotations of the kingdoms at the time of Christ, “Son [of God]” here refers to a new communion extended to all humanity through, in, and for Christ.

            From these two titles Jesus ascribes to himself, we hear a call to discipleship: we should let ourselves be drawn into the new Kingdom of the Son of Man, and, through the Son, we should be drawn into communion with the Father.

Boxall: Matthews World

This article touches on several different topics including: What language did Matthew originally write in, did he write primarily for a Jewish audience, was the Christian community understood as essentially distinct from the Jewish community at the time the Gospel was written, was the author of Jewish or Gentile descent, how/why did the author have very specific knowledge of Roman language and culture, and where was the Gospel originally written.

            One consensus of the article’s different perspectives, backed by Patristic sources, is that the Gospel was not originally written in Greek, but in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Also, I agree with the more widely accepted belief that the Gospel was intended for an audience with a Jewish background (held by some of the Church Fathers), whether that is because they themselves are ethnically Jewish, or because they have a firm knowledge of the teachings of Judaism. The opinion that Matthew wrote the Gospel for a singular community (community theory) is far too narrow minded and un-probable. It seems to make more sense that Matthew surely knew of other Christian communities that were experiencing the same difficulties as the one (or ones) he was personally around, thus, he would have written the Gospel with the intention of being used by many Christian communities. Between the distinction of Jewish Christians (extra muros) or Christian Jews (intra muros) I lean towards the opinion of extra muros. Although his points on who is asking the question (e.g. a Pharisee or an Apostles) seems convincing, there does seem to be a very prevalent, essential difference between Jews and Jews who choose to follow Christ stretching throughout the Gospel (obviously not implying that Christ abolished the Law, but that He fulfills the Old Testament). Regarding the last topics, I think the best conclusion is that Matthew was a Christian of Jewish descent, who was well educated in both Jewish and Roman history and tradition, and who wrote the Gospel around the area of Syria, most likely in Antioch.