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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

Christological Reading of Scripture

The primary focus of New Testament biblical interpretation is the belief that Jesus is God's messiah, the agent of God's eschatological sal‐vation. Certain texts are repeatedly interpreted with a strong messianic meaning: Ps 2; 8; 110; Deut 18.15,18–19; and 2 Sam 7.14 . Prophecies from Joel 2–3 (Acts 2.16–21 ), Zech 9–14 (Mark 11.1–2; Heb 10.19 ), Dan 7 (Mk 13.26 ), and Dan 12 (John 5.29 ) play a major role in under‐standing the risen and exalted Jesus as the one who has inaugurated the end‐time. Daniel 7.13–14 lies behind the christological confes‐sion of Jesus as the Son of Man who will come in judgment (see Mk 14.62 ). In many cases, the reference to Daniel is not explicitly marked. Readers who do not recognize the allusion‐or are not aided by the marginal notes found in a modern edition—may miss the use of allusions or partial quotations to support a claim about Jesus.

Even when the text being employed is evident, one cannot always determine whether the au‐thor is using the passage as an isolated prooftext or intends readers to incorporate elements from its larger biblical context into the interpretation. Among the Qumran texts, testimony collections gather biblical passages on a particular topic. Some combine references to a future prophet (4Q175: Deut 5.28–29; 18.18–19; 33.8–11; Num 24.15–17; 4Q174: 2 Sam 7.10–14; Ps 1.1; 2.1–2 ). If early Christians used such assemblages of individual texts on a theme, the larger context of any quotation (which would not have been given in the collection) is irrelevant. When the same texts are quoted in the same combination by different authors, such a source may well be behind all of them. Christ as the stumbling stone based on Isa 8.14; 28.16; and Ps 118.22 appears in several places (Mt 21.42; Acts 4.11; Eph 2.20; 1 Pet 2.6 ). Matthew's set of fulfillment quota‐tions, which assert that events in the life of Jesus were foretold by the prophets ( 1.23 [Isa 7.14; 8.8 ]; 2.6 [Mic 5.2 ], 18 [Jer 31.15 ], 23 [source uncertain; see Judg 13.5,7; Isa 11.1; 53.2 ]; 4.14 [Isa 9.1–2 ]; 8.17 [Isa 53.4 ]; 12.17–21 [Isa 42.1–4 ]; 21.4–5 [Zech 9.9 ]) may have been taken from a collection of prooftexts. They ex‐hibit the particular significance of Isaiah in early Christian understanding of the suffering and death of Jesus.

Christians, using the Septuagint translation, were able to read Isaiah's original reference to a young woman who will soon bear a child, as a reference to the miraculous birth of God's mes‐siah from a virgin (Isa 7.14 ). When Matthew embedded this text into the story of Jesus' birth, he fixed its Christian interpretation in the imagi‐nation. A similar kind of reinterpretation arose in dealing with the end of Jesus' life: The neces‐sity of explaining how Jesus' death fit into God's plan drew Christian attention to passages de‐scribing God's suffering righteous one. Early in‐terpretation matched details in the story of Jesus' passion to passages in Isaiah (for example, abuse of the prisoner from Isa 50.6 and 53.5 ; see Mt 27.67–68 ). Some scholars think that Jesus himself may have begun this process by applying texts concerning the suffering righteous one and the coming “son of man” (Dan 7.13–14 ) to his ministry.

Isaiah's prophecies about the salvation that is coming to Zion also play an important role in the Gospel narratives. The announcement of sal‐vation to the suffering ones in Isa 61.1–3 has been embedded in an inaugural speech of Jesus (Lk 4.17–19 ). The same passage is reflected in Matthew's Beatitudes (Mt 5.3–12 ). Images of the day of salvation from Isaiah dominate the Christian liturgical celebrations of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. So firmly are these passages fixed within a christological interpreta‐tion tradition that many Christians find it im‐possible to imagine that they could refer to any‐thing other than the coming of salvation in Jesus.

As Christians came to articulate claims about Jesus' identity as the unique Son of God, they used biblical texts to support this view in a more polemical way. Jesus is shown to prove his own superiority to the human descendants of David with a clever twist on Ps 110.1 (Mk 12.35–37 ): David himself (the presumed author of the Psalm) uses the title “Lord” of the messiah. Hebrews 1.5–14 attaches a number of other Psalm texts to Ps 2.7 as evidence that Jesus is God's Son and as such exalted above the angels. John 10.31–39 has Jesus cite Ps 82.6 in self‐defense when he is accused of blasphemy for claiming to be the unique representative of God. In all of these examples, interpreting the Bible is not pur‐sued for its own sake. Rather, Christian beliefs about Jesus are prior to the biblical passages produced to support them. The result, however, is that certain passages from the prophets and Psalms have become so embedded in the gospel narrative that for the Christian imagination they are the story of Jesus.

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