Chapter 9 David’s Sublation of Moses: A Davidic Explanation for the Mosaic Christology of the Fourth Gospel

In: Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism
Joel Willitts
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The presence of Davidic messianism in the Fourth Gospel is contested ground. While once an assumption rarely demonstrated, in the recent scholarship of the last nearly half-century, scholars have denied for John’s Christology much of any Davidic influence. With only rare exceptions, it is widely held today that the Fourth Gospel is either silent about or retreating from associations of Jesus with David. Instead, scholars have argued that Moses is a more important figure and John’s Christology is far more Mosaic than Davidic. Over against this prevailing Mosaic interpretation of John’s messianism, this essay puts forward the fresh thesis that John’s Christology shares a similar sublative pattern with the Chronicler of Jewish Scripture whereby Moses is replaced but still included in David. The apparent prominence of Moses in John’s Gospel turns out to be a subversive Davidic argument. Affirming the recent work of Margaret Daly-Denton on the prominence of David in the Fourth Gospel, the essay preliminarily suggests that the significance of Moses is sublated by Jesus, the Davidic Messiah. In this way, John’s messianism is a thoroughgoing Davidic messianism.

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