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The Dreams of Matthew 1:18-2:23

Tradition, Form, and Theological Investigation


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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List of Abbreviations xi


ABBREVIATIONS ABRL Anchor Bible Reference Library AGJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums AJS Association for Jewish Studies AnBib Analecta biblica investigationes scientificae in res biblicas AOAT Alter Orient und Altes Testament BA Biblical Archeologist BASOR Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research BibInt Biblical Interpretation BibOr Biblica et orientalia BIS Biblical Interpretation Series BRev Bible Review BS Biblical Seminar b. Babylonian Talmud BTB Biblical Theology Bulletin BW Biblical World BZAW Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly CBQMS Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series Cels. Contra Celsum Dial. Dialogue with Trypho 1 Apol. First Apology Giṭṭ Giṭṭin GKC Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar Ḥag. Ḥagigah Hist.eccl. Historia ecclesiastica HNT Handbuck zum Neuem Testament HTR Harvard Theological Review HUCM Monographs of the Hebrew Union College ICC International Critical Commentary xiv The Dreams of Matthew 1:18–2:23 Inst Orat Institutio Oratorio ITL International Theological Library JANESCU Journal of the Ancient Near Eartern Society of Columbia University JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society JBL Journal of Biblical Literature JR Journal of Religion JSJ Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement LNTS Library of New Testament Studies NGS New Gospel Studies NovT Novum Testamentum NTS New Testament Studies OIUC The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago Assyriological Studies Progym Progymnasmata Prot. Jas. Protevangelium of James Qidd. Qiddušin SAAS State Archives of Assyria Studies SHANE Studies...

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