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The Dreams of Matthew 1:18-2:23

Tradition, Form, and Theological Investigation

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William J. Subash

The Dreams of Matthew 1:18-2:23: Tradition, Form, and Theological Investigation critically examines the five dream passages of Matthew 1:18-2:23 to demonstrate that Matthew employed dream narratives to defend allegations concerning Jesus’ birth and to provide etiological reasons both for why Jesus went to Egypt and how Jesus happened to live in Nazareth. A diachronic survey of dream records in the Ancient Near Eastern, Egyptian, Jewish, Greco-Roman, and Second Temple writings reveals that dream narratives fall into two major categories: message dreams and symbolic dreams. Every dream carries a distinct narrative function according to the objectives of the user. Typically, symbolic dreams appear in epic-like literature, and message dreams appear in narratives such as historical and religious writings.
The present analysis of the five dream accounts of Matthew 1:18-2:23 reveals that they fall into the message dream category. Each dream has at least one narrative function. In other words, Matthew does not merely record the dream experiences of the individuals but uses dreams to achieve his narrative objective.

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Acknowledgments xi

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to acknowledge a few important persons who played vital roles to help me complete this work. My wife, Alice, and our children, Jonathan and Judith, walked tirelessly with me in this long journey with their faithful prayers. I must acknowledge that they sacrificed willingly a great deal along the way. Next to my wife and children, the Furgersons played a major role in the completion of this work. While I was working on this project, the Furgersons became my cheerleaders by supporting me and my family with prayers and timely provisions. I praise God for them! My home church, North Garland Baptist Fellowship, walked right beside me with support of various kinds and kept me on course. Special thanks to Barry Calhoun. Finally, I respectfully acknowledge the contributions of my advisor Dr. Darrell L. Bock and my research committee professors Drs. Michael H. Burer, John W. Hilber, Richard A. Taylor, and late Harold Hoehner.

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