Confluence of Texts? Matthew 27.43, Psalm 22 and Wisdom 2.18

“HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” Matthew 27:43 NASB

He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” Matthew 27:43

We begin with Matthew 27.43, in which we find the Pharisees mocking Christ on the Cross, fulfilling, as Mathew as often pointed out, the words of the Prophets. It is a pivotal scene in the Jesus Hour, in which the Healer failed to heal, the Liberator was captivity, the one who had returned people to life was now going to die. The Jewish Leaders were present as was the Roman soldiers – the religious and the earthly empires had come to bid Christ to the grave.

In a final act, Christ spoke the words of Psalm 22 – but only after the Pharisees seemingly did so.

“Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” Psalm 22:8  NASB

“Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!” Psalm 22:8

From here, we find Christ began to speak the words of the Psalm in Matthew 27.46. John records the last words of the Psalm; compare John 19.30 with Psalm 22.31 (See the Discussion here).

As the NASB nighlights, Matthew 27.43 is a near direct quotation from the Psalm, but the Pharisees added ‘for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’. Is this a conflation of Psalm 22.8 and Wisdom 2.18?

First, Wisdom’s echoes are seen throughout the New Testament, as it should be considering that it is a document of the community which produced Paul and was no doubt known by the Pharisees. (I take the early date, pre-50.bc for it’s production).

He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.” (Wisdom 2:16-20 NAB)

The key verse here, although it is a rather powerful passage, is verse 18, which reads,

For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.

I also note that Luke’s soldier calls Christ ‘δίκαιος’ while the other Gospel writers denote the saying as “Truly, he was the Son of God.” Throughout the first chapters of Wisdom, we find the story of a Righteous (δίκαιος) Man who is persecuted and so forth, which if we compare to the Gospels we see something more than coincidence.

Could this be a confluence of text and ideas in the mouth of the Pharisees (skipping the discussion of inspiration of certain texts, for the moment)?

I would tend to believe that considering the amount of fluidity of the Jewish canon during this time, and that the book of Wisdom is clearly written along the community’s lines, that Matthew’s community – and Luke’s as well – would have read it and seen Christ in it.

Post By Joel L. Watts (10,125 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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2 thoughts on “Confluence of Texts? Matthew 27.43, Psalm 22 and Wisdom 2.18

  1. I think the influence of Psalm 22 on the gospel authors is clear here. I’m not too sure about the Wisdom text, but maybe.

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