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Title: The Quotation of Isaiah 42:1-4 in Matthew 12:18-21
Subtitle: Its Relation with the Matthean Context
Author(s): MENKEN, Maarten J.J.
Volume: 59 Issue: 3 Date: 1998
Matthew usually handles his fulfilment quotations in such a way that the scriptural words are fulfilled in the events that are narrated immediately before a quotation, at least primarily or in the sense of making a later complete fulfilment possible. Another characteristic is that normally the entire scriptural passage as quoted by Matthew is fulfilled. At first sight, it seems to be very difficult to explain the long fulfilment quotation from Isa. 42:1-4 in a way that meets both standards. Scholars either perceive only a very limited fulfilment in what precedes or they recognize the elements from the quotation all over Matthew 12.
In this article, it is explored whether due attention to Matthew’s redactional emphases in the immediately preceding narrative (12:14-16) may help to explain the quotation in such a way that it meets Matthew’s normal way of using fulfilment quotations. In the preceding narrative, the evangelist introduces Jesus’ awareness of the plan of the Pharisees to destroy him. In Matthew’s view, Jesus withdraws because the appointed time for the execution of their plan has not yet come (cf. 26:18, 45). The subsequent command, to those whom Jesus has healed, “not to make him known” has to be interpreted along the same line: Jesus’ true identity as the Christ and the Son of God can be made known only after the execution of the plan of the Pharisees (cf. 16:20-21; 17:9).
The quotation from Isaiah has then been fulfilled in the narrative of Matt. 12:14-16 in the following way: Matthew recognizes Jesus’ true identity, including his significance for the Gentiles, in 12:18; Jesus’ response to the Pharisees and their response to him in 12:19; his healing activity in 12:20ab; his death and resurrection as the realization of justice, again in connection with his significance for the Gentiles, in 12:20c-21. Even here, Matthew has carefully attuned quotation and preceding context to each other. The unusual traits of the function and size of the quotation are due to the circumstance that in the preceding context, Jesus’ death on the cross comes explicitly into view for the first time in Matthew.