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J. Samuel Subramanian, The Synoptic Gospels and the Psalms as Prophecy.

J. Samuel Subramanian, The Synoptic Gospels and the Psalms as Prophecy. Library of New Testament Studies 351. London and New York: T & T Clark, 2007. Pp. 166. $110.00.

This fine monograph examines the psalm citations in the Synoptic Gospels "to provide a comprehensive picture of the extent to which each evangelist reads the Psalms as prophecy" (p. 3). After surveying other scholars on the topic and defining his usage of "quotation" (pp. 13-14) and "prophecy" (p. 15), Subramanian examines the literature of Second Temple Judaism for a prophetic reading of the Psalms. He finds that David was regarded as a prophet and the Psalms as predicting the future in the Davidic psalm titles of the Septuagint, in First Maccabees, in the pesher readings of the Qumran Psalms Scroll, and in the writings of Philo and Josephus. When Second Testament authors interpret the psalms as prophecy about Jesus, they are simply developing and applying an interpretive tradition that already existed within Judaism.

The heart of the work is a careful examination of each of the Psalms quotations in Mark, Luke, and Matthew, considering (a) the text of the Gospel citation compared to the Septuagint text of the psalm, (b) the context of the quotation in the Gospel, (c) the meaning of the quotation in its original context, and (d) the ways in which the Evangelists interpret the psalm quotations as prophecy. All of the Evangelists creatively reinterpret psalms and apply them to Jesus, understanding his life, ministry, death, and resurrection as fulfillment of scripture, even though they expect further fulfillment at his parousia.

A commendable feature of this study is that it does not presuppose any source hypothesis. Nevertheless, the author mentions, without discussing other possibilities, the consistency of the pattern of Synoptic psalm quotations with the Griesbach hypothesis (Matthew, then Luke, then Mark) as advocated by William R. Farmer, whom the author acknowledges for commenting on an early draft of his work.

This book makes a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature that examines how the Second Testament authors made use of the Jewish Scriptures. It will be of interest to scholars interested in Second Temple biblical interpretation, in the Christian Scriptures' reading of the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the Synoptic problem.

Peter S. Williamson, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI
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Author:Williamson, Peter S.
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:384
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