The Firstborn Son in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

A Study of Primogeniture and Christology


Despite scholars’ ongoing historical and sociological investigations into the ancient family, the right and the status of the firstborn son have been rarely explored by NT scholars, and this topic has not attracted the careful attention that it deserves. This work offers a study of the meaning of the firstborn son in the New Testament paying specific attention to the concept of primogeniture in the Old Testament and Jewish literature. This study argues that primogeniture was a unique institution in Jewish society, and that the title of the firstborn son indicates his access to the promise of Israel, and is associated with the right of the inheritance (i.e., primogeniture) including the Land and the special status of Israel.

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Kyu Seop Kim, Ph.D. (2016), University of Aberdeen, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Asia United Theological University. He has published several articles on early Christianity, ancient Judaism and papyrology.

Acknowledgements IX

Abbreviations XI

1 Introduction
 1.1 Status Quaestionis
 1.2 Clarification of Terminology
 1.3 Methodological Considerations
 1.4 Overview of the Argument

2 The Firstborn Son in Jewish Society
 2.1 Primogeniture in Greco-Roman Society
 2.2 Primogeniture in Jewish Inheritance Practices
 2.3 The Firstborn in the Jewish Cultic Setting

3 The Firstborn Son as Self-Perception of Israel
 3.1 The Jacob Cycle (Genesis 25:19–35:22)
 3.2 Exod 4:21–26
 3.3 Psalm 89
 3.4 Jer 31:7–14
 3.5 Jubilees
 3.6 4Q369
 3.7 4Q504 (4QDibHama)
 3.8 Sirach
 3.9 Prayer of Joseph
 3.10 Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum
 3.11 4 Ezra
 3.12 The Psalms of Solomon
 3.13 Joseph and Aseneth
 3.14 Philo

4 Πρωτότοκος in the New Testament
 4.1 Romans
 4.2 Colossians
 4.3 Hebrews
 4.4 Revelation
 5.5 [Excursus] Luke 2:7

5 Conclusion
All interested in primogeniture in ancient society, NT Christology, and the concept of family, sonship and inheritance in the NT
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