Leading up to Easter, I thought I’d trace the long-unknown concept found within ancient Judaism of a dying Messiah. In Messiah ben Joseph (review here), David Mitchell seeks to establish that the prominent and ancient Jewish tradition of a suffering, dying and rising Messiah was not a response to the life of Jesus, and certainly not that of Bar Kochba or Josephus. Rather, he is found within the Pentateuch itself. Mitchell’s two-pillar argument is found in deciphering the eschatological blessings of Jacob and Moses on Joseph’s seed in Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33. In this post, we will consider the second (see first post).
There is no doubt that Deuteronomy profoundly shaped the theology of the apostle Paul. However, what if his most famous letter – Romans – is completely structured around Deuteronomy? This is exactly what C. Marvin Pate argues in his book Apostle of the Last Days (and his Romans commentary in Teach the Text Series). In his words, “the outline of Romans matches the covenant components of Deuteronomy” (p162). It’s as if Romans is the new Deuteronomy; as Deuteronomy was the document for the Israelite (Old) covenant, Romans would be the formal document for the New Covenant.
Some fighting words from Daniel Block in his Deuteronomy commentary (p 254-255). I’ve adjusted the formatting a little: